Nigeria 2015 Elections Scenarios and Recommendations: Rivers State

Published January 15, 2015
By Peace and Security Working Group
Nigeria Election Scenarios and Recommendations
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Disclaimer: The following analysis is based on discussions with State-level actors and so reflects their perceptions, not the view of the Peace and Security Working Group. These scenarios were produced prior to the 2014 primary elections and are thus subject to change. Where relevant, updates have been made to reflect evolving dynamics.
 
 

Rivers At-a-Glance

 

Current Governor
Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi
 
Current Ruling Party
All Progressives Congress (APC)
 
Key February 2015 Elections
Presidential
Gubernatorial
Senate
State House of Assembly

 
Prognosis
Rivers State is identified as a high level risk (red category) in CLEEN’s report
  CLEEN Map of Hot Spots for Election Violence
   
Peace Map (www.p4p-nigerdelta.org) Violence Heat Map Jan 2009-Dec 2014

 

Elections in 2011

  • In 2011, the state was predominantly a single-party state (PDP). At the gubernatorial level, PDP won 85.81% of the vote; APGA won 8.19%; ACN won 4.39%. The APGA gubernatorial candidate was Celestine Omeiha, who had a history of quarrels with Governor Amaechi; both are from Ikwerre, where the election was fiercely contested, though state-wide the results were decisive. Elections were not very violent, though there were a few incidents of thuggery, kidnapping, and clashes, particularly in Abua/Odual LGA. In Degema LGA, women were reportedly targeted for intimidation as voters and candidates. Voter intimidation was reported in Akuku-Toru. Clashes of political rallies and other incidents were reported in the Riverine areas of Asari-Toru, Okrika, Port Harcourt (Borokiri), Ogu/Bolo, and Obio-Akpor.
  • Ethnic Tension in 2011: To the extent that there was some political polarization along ethnic lines, ACN had more support in the Riverine communities, while PDP had more support in the Upland communities. Governor Amaechi, who won on the PDP ticket with 85.81% of the vote, is from Ikwerre (upland).
  • Response: NDI brought CSOs together, Situation Room, police
  • Gaps in Government Response: No hotlines for victims; No tribunals to handle offenders; No instruments for sanctions (special courts).

 

Key Political Developments Since 2011

  • Change in the ruling party leadership in the state (PDP to APC)
  • Merger of opposition political parties to form APC
  • Emergence of political pressure groups; GDI, Save Rivers Movement’ Kengema Unity Forum, Ogoni 2015 Project
  • Nyesom Wike, Former Ministry of State for Education, resigns to join gubernatorial race under PDP and emerged from the primaries as the PDP Candidate.
  • Beks Dagogo Jack, Chairman of Presidential Task Force on Power resigns to join gubernatorial race under PDP
  • Party defection and counter defection (e.g. former Khana LGA Chairman)
  • More female aspirants have emerged
  • Ex-militant leader – High Chief (Senior) Comrade Ateke Tom contested as gubernatorial aspirant under PDP
  • Nollywood actor/comedian – Julius Agwu contests for gubernatorial position.

 

Major Political Players in Rivers State

 

Name Position Elected/
Appointed
Party Additional
Information
Rotimi Amaechi State Governor 2011 APC
Tele Ikuru Deputy Governor 2011 APC -
George Thompson Sekibo Senator 2007 PDP -
Magnus Ngei Abe Senator 2011 APC -
Wilson Asinobi Ake Senator 2007 APC -
Nyesom Wike Former Minister PDP (1)
Dakuku Peterside Member of House APC (1)

Additional Information:
(1) Running for 2015 Governor

 

Elections in 2015

 
Conflict Drivers

  • Political Polarization (PDP/APC)
  • Perceived politicization of security services
  • Monetary Inducements
  • Politicization of Cults Groups (rumors that cult groups are being equipped with weapons and ammunition in the run-up to the election)

 
Areas at Risk of Possible Election Violence:
 
Obio/Akpor (wards 9, 10, 11); Khana; Gokana; Degema (Bakana); Akuku-Toru (Abomena); Asari-Toru (Buguma – wards 3, 6, 7); Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni; Emohua; Port Harcourt (ward 20); Omuma; Ahoada East
 
Possible Types of Violence:
 
Political Thuggery, Assassinations, Abductions/Kidnappings, Sexual Violence, Destruction of Property, Clashes during Rallies, Intra/Inter Party Violence (Power Tussle), Intimidation of Aspirants/Candidates, Upland/Riverine Division
 
Sources for Situational Awareness:
 
Rhythm 93.7 (News media), Social media (Facebook, Twitter), Key points of contacts (friends); plugged into UNLocK
 

2015 Election Possible Senario

Amaechi, from Rivers East Senatorial District, has been in power for eight years (formerly PDP, now APC). According to the zoning formula, the PDP ticket would normally go to a candidate from Rivers Southeast (Ogoni axis, Kalabari axis, or Okrika axis.) However, former minister Nyeson Wike, from Ikwerre (Rivers East) as PDP candidate upsets the rotation. Going into the general, Dakuku Peterside's emergence as the APC candidate from Rivers Southeast may play into the ethnic sentiments of the region. A number of cult groups and ex-militants, for example, have aligned themselves with the “Ogoni 2015 Project.” Meanwhile at the Presidential level, PDP needs to win Rivers, despite APCs ascent in the state, raising the stakes and increasing incentives for possible irregularities and election violence, which could escalate significantly if the results of the Presidential election are disputed.
 

Before Elections

  • There is a suspicion that women may be schemed out of the race
  • Violence will be high before elections (abductions, arrests, violent protests)
  • Emergence of new cult groups
    Update: Currently 16 aspirants still reject the outcome of the primaries, they are threatening to throw their support behind another party.

 
During Elections

  • Security deployment to potential flashpoints
  • Security agents may be use to intimidate opposition parties
  • Use of cult groups to intimidate electorates
  • Vote buying and selling

 
After Elections

  • Party defection
  • Court cases
  • Settlement of aggrieved candidates

 
 
These reports are a collaborative effort of The Fund for Peace and other members of the Nigeria Peace and Security Working Group (PSWG) in Nigeria. These reports reflect the result of a participatory process with national and local-level stakeholders on potential risk factors and scenarios for the February 2015 Nigeria general elections.
For more information, please contact:
Nate Haken at The Fund for Peace, nhaken@fundforpeace.org.