Monday, January 23, 2023, a high powered delegation of a group known as, “The Rivers Debate Group”, powered by Rivers Entrepreneurs and Investors Forum, visited the Governorship candidate of Accord in Rivers State, Dumo Lulu-Briggs, at the Rivers Accord party Secretariat, New GRA, Port Harcourt.
The leader of the team, Mr Ibifiri Bob-Manuel (President, The Rivers Debate Group) stated that, their purpose of visit was to congratulate him for emerging top five (5), amongst those contesting for the top job in Rivers State, and officially invite him for a Governorship Debate, which they have set out to organize.
In his response, the Governorship candidate of Accord in Rivers State, Dumo Lulu-Briggs said, “We are glad to hear from you that Accord in Rivers State is amongst the Top five (5) contenders, perhaps even the top amongst others.
“We will be glad, because we want Rivers people to have a better platform to assess all the candidates that are asking for the top job, and I thought the Rivers debate group over the years would have done something great.
“Last election, I understand the PDP didn’t participate, I hope that you are going to get them to participate in this one. They are the government in office, even though the Governor is not going to be on the ballot, they are the party that have been in Government here over the years, since 1999 till today it has been a PDP government, Therefore we are hopeful that they will attend.
“We are hopeful that it will be a full debate, and you should be able to work out the modalities on how it will appear. I have a slight bruise on my left leg, and I would not be able to stand for too long. So, if we are able to sit down and get up, sit down and get up, that will be nice. So that it’s not a three hours standing, even though we can be there for five or ten hours, provided we can sit and stand up. I thought I should mention this upfront.
“But I tell you, 2015 debate was great, it was attended by all the leading contenders. Dr Dakuku Peterside of the APC at the time, a leading contender, Ezenwo Wike of the PDP, also a leading contender, Tonye Princewill was in that space with them at that time. So, we hope that you are able to bring all the leading contenders, all the five (5) as you have said, to participate in this debate, that would be very great.
“We are very willing, we are very willing. We need Rivers people to hear us speak, to have a proper assessment of the person, the man or woman who will be their next Governor. Your platform is a major platform for them to make that assessment. Without more, we are convinced to go with you”, Dumo Lulu-Briggs said.
Reacting, the leader of the group, Mr Ibifiri Bob-Manuel gave his assurance as, “Be rest assured you are going to be on a platform where in a couple of years to come you will always look back and say “yes I did the right thing by being here in this event”, because Rivers State is too important to each and everyone of us, we need to cease the opportunity at every given time to give nothing but the best to Rivers State. In that spirit, I think that is why we decided to come together as private sector, key industry players, to see that we contribute our own little cooperate social responsibility by giving this space, the democratic space in our State. So we thank you once again for giving us this audience within this short notice given you, and we wish you well in your endeavors”, he said.
SPEAKING TO NEWS MEN THEREAFTER:
After the visit, speaking to News men about the Saturday, 21st January, 2023 attack on the “Rivers Guber Road Show” Train at Igbo-Etche, on measures he thinks that can be put in place to put a stop to such baberic act, the Governorship candidate, Dumo Lulu-Briggs said, “we will allow the law to take its course. We have reported the matter to the Police, the Police commissioner has informed us that he is going to conduct a thorough investigation into the matter, we want to believe that that will be done, and appropriate actions will be taken.
“Next action is to continue with our campaigns as we have done. Recently we didn’t get to Igbo-Etche as we were headed, we didn’t go to our campaign office because of the shooting. We didn’t want any kind of bloodbath, but we turned around and went to all the other communities in Etche, before we arrived back at our destination.
“Even today, we were supposed to go to a few other places, tomorrow we will do the same thing, the next day we will do same, so the campaigns are on.
“We will not be distracted, it’s just unfortunate that violence is a component of our campaigns at this time. Part of what I said to AIT when they spoke to me yesterday, (not ARISE TV, AIT also spoke to me yesterday). You see, if you have a Government that say, “as e dey pain Dem, e go dey sweet us”, it will begin to embolden surbordenates, whether or not the leader wants that. It sounds humorous, so you may think that it is something said out of humour. But then the people who are following will begin to think that causing pain on the opponents will probably please my master, and then they do what they do.
“So sometimes these are probably actions of overzealous council chairmen, and I think that what the Governor needs to do now is to rein his people in.
“In our own case it was very clear that this was an organized gang of the Rivers PDP, not anybody else. Because our candidate for House of Assembly, Etche constituency 2, was there in the morning making preparations to put the stage on, for us to come to commission our Party Secretariat and speak to the people, said he was there when the Chairman for Revenue collection in Etche and one other guy, I think it was Frank Wingwe, came there with these gang of boys and destroyed the entire thing, All the preparation that was done, destroyed our campaign office.
“In fact basically just to make sure that we don’t have a campaign office; that was done right before him. So, at least we have names that have been given to the Police. These are people that are working directly with the council chairman. Now, we don’t know to what extent we can stretch that, and I don’t want to do those sort of things, I am a Lawyer by training. I will like to do and say things that I am certain of.
“But I think that the Governor needs to rein his people in. We had gone to Bonny on the 24th of December, 2022, and we were at the market doing what we normally do; go there buy a few things, share with people, it was Christmas time after all.
“So we were buying Garri to share with people and all, when the Local Government Chairman came and said we have to leave the market. First we were told that we can’t get into the market because we had Accord dressings and all that, and we had gone to see some persons in our party. We thought that was not to be, but in the end they said okay, not more than fifteenth (15) of us should go in. So, we agreed, they counted and fifteen (15) of us entered the market.
“Even at that, once we started and they saw the excitement of the people at the market; the market women applauding and calling our names, excellency and all of that. I think that it probably just brought out some very Dirty instincts in them, and the next thing the council chairperson had come there to try to stop us, saying that the market was built by the PDP, so we should leave the market.
“Now, they came with their security people, we had our own security team, if we had engaged in any kind of thing thing, then maybe we would have given a terrible name to ourselves. As very law abiding people, we took the pain and just did a detour, went round, saw a few persons and left Bonny.
“So, this is recurring too much. Even during the pandemic, on no apparel of party, Nothing! I just as a concerned Rivers person who know that some communities have been devastated by the flood, took some relief materials, went to Ahoada to go and deliver the relief materials, and we were stopped. That we needed to go and take permission from the PDP council chairman before we could access the IDP camp and give them the relief materials. So, we politicize everything! This is very unfortunate, it shouldn’t be! These are elections.
“2023 is going to be our defining moment in our politics, even Nationally, we need to awaken the Giant. If Africa will arise, then the biggest of her which is Nigeria; we have to be awaken from our slumber.
“So, Nationally and everywhere people are trying to do things. Rivers State should not be known every election circle to be a State where violence must be an integral component of the electioneering. Therefore, all of us right thinking people must come out to comdem what happened to us in Etche. SDP has also made similar complain, the APC has also made similar complain. I am not here to speak on there behalf, because I don’t have a detail of what happened in their situations, But I know what happened in my own case and I have made my case very clear.
“In my own case, well I will not say the Police have failed to act. The commissioner has given his word that he is going to act on it. I tried to call him on phone I couldn’t access him, i sent him a text and he responded to my message. So by the Grace of God we’ll see how that goes.
“So to your question, “what are we doing Next?” Well, we are waiting for the law to take its course’, he said.
State Publicity Secretary,