Governorship election in Rivers State, Governor Nyesom Wike of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and Dumo Lulu-Briggs of Accord Party, AP, were absent at Thursday’s debate organised for governorship candidates by the British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC, in Port Harcourt.
Nduka Ojimo, the anchor of the programme that was beamed live globally, said while Lulu-Briggs left before the start of the debate, Wike never responded to the invitation of the organisers. But Precious Elekima, the candidate of the Social Democratic Party, SDP, who was not on the original list of the debaters, was allowed in after his supporters blocked the entrance to the venue of the debate and demanded that he be allowed in.
But it turned out to be a stimulating one-and-half hour session with the four candidates that showed up. Toyosi Ogunseye, Head, BBC West Africa, who read out the ground rules, said the Port Harcourt debate was the eight so far hosted by the organisation in the current electioneering in Nigeria.
Elekima, a public relations practitioner and businessman, said if elected governor, he would work for freedom, prosperity and peace, promising to achieve full employment within six months.
The candidate of the Action Democratic Party, ADP, Victor Fingesi, who said the people of Rivers State were tired of poverty and hunger, promised to restore the confidence of investors in the local economy if elected governor.
Iniye Braide, the candidate of the African Democratic Congress, ADC, said he will restore peace by bringing together all the stakeholders to discuss peace.
The candidate of the Labour Party, LP, Isaac Wonwu, said he would provide free education, empower women and institute mechanised farming.
On tackling unemployment in Rivers State, Braide said he would adopt an Oil and Gas Refinement Initiative to expand the oil and gas industry in the state to produce more jobs. Wonwu said his government would establish industries, technical training centres and farms, while Fingesi said he would embark on rural development.
On transportation, Fingesi said he would introduce a bus system and reduce cars on the road. Wonwu said he would expand the roads. Braide said he would build bridges, while Elekima said he would construct a second rail track and complete the Port Harcourt monorail.
All of them blamed the soot Port Harcourt on illicit petroleum refineries and promised to find alternatives to Kpo Fire, as the refineries and called in the local parlance.
On power supply, Elekima said he would bring in six turbine trucks within six months to power the state. Fingesi said he would expand power generation. Braide said he will use legislation to improve power, while Wonwu said he will improve power generation and distribution network.
The candidates also took questions from the audience and contributors from the social media.