Dr. Doyin Okupe, a former senior aide to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria, Tuesday morning explained why he wanted Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike as well as Transport Minister Rotimi Amaechi out of the state in any subsequent election rerun exercise.
Okupe, who was Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs to Jonathan had said hours before the polls that Wike and Amaechi, who was also the governor of the state, as well as their loyalists be moved out because of the level of violence that marred Saturday’s election rerun in Rivers into the state House of Assembly and the National Assembly.
He also demanded the prosecution of all those involved in the violence that claimed up to 10 lives including that of a member of the National Youth Service Corps.
Shortly after, the official of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, received a barrage of condemnation from those who responded to his declaration on social media.
“I have seen and read many responses to my post on violence accompanying our electoral process. This is the beautiful part of the social media. It is interactive.
“It is interesting that most of the comments have nothing to do with the killings and loss of lives involved in this mayhem. It will appear that we have come to accept killings and thuggery as part of our national life.
“As Dele Giwa said: ‘nothing shocks us as Nigerians again’. But this ought not to be so.
“For me, I was particularly overwhelmed by the killings and especially the death of the innocent and young ‘youth corper’, just trying to serve his country. I felt highly repulsed and too deeply pained.
“Regrettably, I really did not consider the legal and moral implications of actually moving a state governor out of the state. I truly never intended to undermine the mandate of the Rivers people freely given to Governor Wike. I am truly sorry about that.
“My thoughts were mainly focused on what we must do to avert this unnecessary and wanton bloodshed and deaths following our elections nationwide,” he said in a reaction to comments by some Nigerians to his earlier position.
Okupe said he had watched the American presidential primaries in the various states and caucuses and had never seen any police officer close to the various venues even though there must be a winner and a loser.
“Nigeria and Nigerians must move away from this derogatory barbarism and move along with the rest of the civilized world.
“If the violence that marred our electoral process in 1966 is still very prevalent in our elections in 2016, then there is something seriously wrong with Nigeria and the way we are and the earlier we all addressed this the better for us all,” he added.
In the earlier post, Okupe had indicted Wike, who is his party man, Amaechi, a former ally and now member of the All Progressives Congress, the Independent National Electoral Commission and the security agents for the level of violence that characterised the election rerun.
He also demanded a stop to the use of NYSC members for elections especially in volatile areas of the country.
“All principal participants must accept responsibility for this intolerable acts of savagery. By all principals I mean the PDP, APC and their leaderships, the INEC, and the entire gamut of our security agencies.
“In 2016, the wanton destruction of lives and properties that accompany our elections in varying degrees is no longer excusable.
“The frequent deaths of citizens, electoral officials, members of the security forces has assumed highly barbaric proportions. Of particular importance is the reported death of innocent ‘Youth corpers’.
“As a Nigerian parent whose children will still go through this national calling, I seize this opportunity to call on other Nigerian parents and well-meaning Nigerians to prevail on INEC to stop with immediate effect the deployment of our children for electoral services.
“We can no longer bear the pain of losing our wards to mindless acts of lawlessness by thugs and hooligans acting for and on behalf of reckless, desperate and irresponsible politicians and power mongers.
“INEC stands accused in all these dastardly developments. Before going into an election in any volatile area, they ought to obtain full security reports of the area in question and also confer with the police and the army to get written assurance that they can guarantee the security of electoral materials and officers,” Okupe said.
He wondered why INEC would still be involved in the movement of electoral materials on election day rather than do this two weeks before the election in company of security agents.
He also suggested that in special volatile areas like Rivers and others as to be advised by police and the intelligence agencies, a minimum of five armed personnel per polling station with availability of standby re-enforcement in each Local Government Area should be considered.