The June 16, 2018 Local Government Election in Rivers State provided opportunity for a chat with Hon Kingsley Chinda, representing Obio/Akpor Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives. In this chat with National Point managing editor Constance Meju and colleagues from Rivers Today, the former Environment commissioner in Rivers State speaks on the local government election and some burning national issues.
What is your comment on the conduct of the Rivers State local government election?
Hon. Kingsley Chinda
Election in this part of the state, I can testify was peaceful, orderly though it started a little late at about 10:30am/11:00am. Response and interest of the voters were very impressive. Though it rained, a lot of persons came out to exercise their franchise and thus interest in determining who becomes their chairman and councilor.
What were some of the issues?
Well, RSEIC, I score RSEIC very high, the electoral processes are continuous and there are areas to improve on like late arrival of materials. We expected materials here before 8am to be able to accredit and vote and end at 2pm. It appears rag centers were not put to use to enable early distribution. Distributing materials from one part of 17 wards in Obio/Akpor to the other and 23 wards in PHALGA- it was not possible to get to polling centres before 8am.
Also, the voter register was not updated to capture names of recently registered voters, this needs to be put in place.
What would you say about level of awareness?
No doubt, people are becoming conscientized in contesting elections. I observed a new spirit in the people. We appeal that those yet to collect their PVCs should do so and that names be updated. I saw many still sitting after voting, wanting to know the outcome of their votes cast.
Do you foresee a state of people voting for character rather than party?
I think that of PDP must be a strong influence because of candidate and the governor, people will want to support PDP but where you have a candidate that is bad, people are most likely to vote for a better candidate from another party. In my ward 5 if the councillorship candidate of the PDP is not suitable, another party can be the winner.
What’s your reaction to attempts by the APC to scuttle the Rivers LG election?
Not surprised that APC not only attempted to scuttle but boycotted the election. APC is not on ground in Rivers State and was aware in the LG election it was bound to lose, so decided to boycott the election to save face. We all know the boycott will not have effect but it is to allow APC members have courage up to 2019. It is for those who say that in Rivers State nothing is happening, we are going to work against the PDP, to see that something is happening.
Today, we are in Elelenwo; going back about 12 to15 years ago when I had my office in D/Line, I used to go home by 2am to avoid traffic hold-up from 8pm to 12 midnight. This community only had one egress and ingress- Refinery/Aba Road a major road which was always locked in. Today, we have Woji/Elelenwo Road, a double carriage way; Abuloma/Woji commissioned and dualized with inter-change. The old Refinery Road is 85 percent completed and dualized.
The community is completely developing, the economy changing, and face of the community changing and land value appreciating; with traffic lights, beautiful round- about- things we would not have expected in Elelenwo. Any other party coming to contest against Governor Wike will look for another message. Use of federal might, might not work.
Message for Detractors?
Need to provide service, PDP believes in service delivery to the people. Be good ambassadors and serve with the fear of God. On the other side, Rivers State should come first before party/individual interest. If you cannot make it today, you can make it tomorrow. Do that which the people want. We need to keep peace.
And your expectation on the recently assented to Not Too Young To Run Bill?
Expect the Too Old To Run Bill. Very old leaders are also affecting public service administration in the country. Why is there retirement age in public service? You can’t give your best, you begin to grow weak. Even at our age the brain is not as strong as before. At 70/80., I don’t see what anybody should be looking for in public service; public office/elective office which calls for higher service is not where to be. What do you have to offer? It is time for the Too Old To Run Bill age limit for public office.
Your word for young upcoming officer seekers?
Have a vision, dream of what to achieve and begin to work out how to achieve them. Don’t wait until you get into office to begin to plan what to do. Before campaign, sit down and think of what you want to change and you must have a zeal to hit the ground run as soon as you get in not waiting for six months as we had (with the presidency). Slowing down the country for six months is responsible for the recession in the economy. Let’s not allow that happen again. Don’t contest election with money at the back of your mind.
As you get into public office, it is not a money making venture. Even your private business you sow and grow slowly; no billionaire overnight. If money is your consideration you will not end well. Have the fear of God and care of humanity. Target to leave a positive mark for when you are not there.
The president recently signed into law the Judiciary and State Assembly Autonomy Bills?
The applaud to the president is misplaced. It was a constitutional amendment that came from the National Assembly and State Assemblies and we would have overridden the president if he failed to assent.
And the Abiola honour?
That was being smart by half. The Yorubas are the most enlightened ethnic group so the award to Abiola will not give the expected political mileage. The recognition and reversal of June 12 as Democracy Day will not stop them from increasing.
The award was not given legitimacy. Reversal of Democracy Day is unlawful. The president ought to have brought an executive bill before the National Assembly under the Public Holidays Act. May 29 is mentioned as Democracy Day in Nigeria. The National Assembly has to deliberate on it and we expect that the right thing will be done. Until it is done, Democracy Day remains May 29.
The president has power to declare June 12 a public holiday not Democracy Day: What he has done is attempting to obtain votes by false pretense, 419. When did he begin to love Abiola? He had said in the past that he did not regret the murder of Abiola for sponsoring the coup that sacked him from office as head of state. What has changed? Abacha killed Abiola and Abacha is an idol to him and at the same time he wants to give recognition to Abiola. Apologizing for Abiola not being made the president but not the mindset, which is to show remorse as a country.
People are also asking for honour for Prof Humphrey Nwosu who mid-wifed the first freest and fairest election in the country?
Very soon may be near the elections he might make a u-turn and honour Humphrey Nwosu to get South East votes (laughter).
Do you foresee Nigerians voting for candidates rather than parties in 2019?
I foresee that in 2019, we will be voting for candidates that have done well. We need new party system and restructuring and everything will fall in place.