Allow Rivers residents vote freely during 2023 elections, Wike tells army

Port Harcourt—The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has advised officers and men of the 6 Division of the Nigerian Army in Port Harcourt to be apolitical and allow residents of the state to vote without fear at the 2023 general elections.

According to Vanguard, Wike stressed that in the interest of the nation’s democracy that the military must adhere to President Muhammadu Buhari, Chief of Defence Staff and Chief of Army’s commitment to a poll without the army’s interference in 2023.

The governor said this over the weekend at the 6 Division Nigeria Army’s West African Social Activities (WASA) 2022, held in Port Harcourt as the special guest of honour.

Wike, who was represented by the Chief of Staff, Government House, Port Harcourt, Chief Emeka Woke, commended the military for its active role in fighting crime in the State, urging officers and men of the 6 Division to work tirelessly with personnel of other security to provide level playing for all political parties and politicians in the State.

He said: “We want to thank you for the relationship we have enjoyed. You have also contributed a lot in terms of crime fighting. But as you are aware, we are now in election season. It is on public notice that Mr President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces (Muhammadu Buhari) has said at different forums that he will not interfere in the forthcoming election.

“And that he will ensure a free and fair election. The Chief of Defence staff has also said at different forums that the military will be apolitical and they will not interfere in the general election. I want to believe that men and officers of this 6 division will follow suit.

“I want to believe they will follow the position of Mr President, Chief of Defence Staff and Chief of Army Staff not to interfere in politics. I am saying this because of the ugly experience the people who live and do business in Rivers State had during the last election.”

Governor Wike recalled how the Nigerian Army Bori Camp barracks, which is the headquarters of the 6 Division in Port Harcourt, was practically converted to a collation centre during the 2019 governorship election. He expressed dismay that the military allows itself to be used to interfere in what ordinarily ought to be a civil exercise.

The governor, however, said that with the level of discipline and focus that the present officers of the 6 Division have shown and exhibited, he is hopeful there would not be a re-enactment of the despicable incidences of 2019 general election.

“Allow the citizens of Rivers state to exercise their civil responsibility in an atmosphere of free and fair election. Work with other security agencies to provide level playing field for politicians,” he said.

He, however, congratulated the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Faruq Yahaya, the General Officer Commanding, Major General O.O Oluyede and the personnel of the 6 Division for the successful completion of the training year 2022 and the beginning of the new year, 2023.

Meanwhile, the GOC 6 Division, Major General O.O Oluyede, who was represented by Brig. General A.A Idris explained that West African Social Activities (WASA) is customary in the Nigerian Army to mark the end of each training year as well as an usher the Nigerian Army into the new year.

The highlight of the event was the presentation of awards to some personnel of the Nigerian Army who distinguished themselves in the previous year.

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