– Ibim Semenitari, commissioner for information, Rivers State
What is APC doing currently to ensure that more women participate in the oncoming governorship election?
One of the things that have happened is that the collection of forms for women is free. That in itself takes away the added burden of having to pay money for nomination form. That already bridges the gap and keeps them a foot ahead of their male counterparts. Over and beyond that, as a party we found that in most of the local government areas, LGAs, we insisted on a minimum of 30 per cent of women to hold ward offices and LGA offices. In my LGA, for instance, in Okrika, in Ward 11 we have as much as 11 women out of the 22 ward executives. So, you almost have a 50-50 arrangement in that case. Quite frankly, in many of the LGAs this is what has happened. We’ve got a party that is insisting that women must be allowed to participate.
In respect of zoning, what is your party’s position?
We haven’t got to that yet.
What are the chances that your party, APC, will win the oncoming governorship election in Rivers State?
We believe that if these election are fought and won on the basis of the work that has been done, the government of Rivers State can rest assured that it has already won the election. We have a scorecard that we can present to Rivers people. If our opponent has a better scorecard, let him or her present it. We have a scorecard that we can present and we believe that that scorecard is sufficient to win the elections in Rivers State.
Some Christian denominations in Rivers State have reportedly vowed not to vote a cultist as governor. Does your party have any plan to screen out such aspirants who are believed to be cultist in order to have the votes of Christians?
For us in the APC, we do not believe in cultism but what we are concerned about is fighting and winning on democratic principles. And we think that if we have something to offer people, we will offer it. We believe that Rivers people are enlightened enough and will go with the best candidate. And we will not give to Rivers people any candidate that is not worth their trust.
Rivers State has a history of violence. What measures is the government taking to ensure the coming election is not marred by violence?
I think that is where people like you in the media come in, because it is not up to government, (rather) it is up to the security agencies. For us in the government of Rivers State, Governor Amaechi has never been involved in violence or militancy of any kind or form. Therefore, he will not be involved in anything that will lead to a breakdown of law and order. However, it is going to be up to the security agencies to make sure that they do guarantee the lives and properties of Rivers people. And we hope that they will not be compromised by anyone regardless of how lowly or highly placed the person may be.
Do you believe the government is disposed to a particular aspirant in the 2015 governorship election?
The government cannot as a government have an aspirant. All aspirants must be allowed a level playing field. And I believe that everyone is welcome to contest. We will as a party, of course, pick who our best person is. You can be assured that all that APC will field will be our first 11.
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