Rivers State governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, has advised officers and men of the 6 Division of the Nigerian Army in Port Harcourt to be apolitical throughout the 2023 general election.
The governor stressed that in the interest of the country’s democratisation process, the military must adhere to President Muhammadu Buhari, Chief of Defence Staff and Chief of Army’s commitment not to interfere in the 2023 general election.
He stated this during the 6 Division West African Social Activities (WASA) 2022, that held in Port Harcourt over the weekend.
Governor Wike, who was the special guest of honour at the occasion, was represented by the Chief of Staff, Government House, Port Harcourt, Chief Emeka Woke.
The governor, who commended the military for its active role in fighting crime in the State, urged officers and men of the 6 Division to work assiduously with personnel of other security to provide level playing for all political parties and politicians in the State.
“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 allow 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 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 a successful completion of the training year 2022 and the beginning of a new year, 2023.
Governor Wike extoled the GOC 6 for efforts put in place since his assumption of office to fight all forms of criminality especially, in areas of crude oil theft and kidnapping in his area of responsibility.
“Your effort has brought about maintenance of peace in the region. I want to congratulate you and the entire personnel of 6 Division for a job well done and also urge you not to relent in your efforts.
“Let me use this opportunity to solicit for support of all stakeholders to join hands with the 6 Division to eradicate criminalities in our society.”
In his remarks, 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 ushering Nigerian Army into the new year.
Highlight of the event was presentation of awards to some personnel of the Nigerian Army who distinguished themselves in the previous year.
Kelvin Ebiri
Special Assistant on Media to the Rivers State governor.
February 5, 2023.