As the 2019 general elections in Nigeria begins to heat up, there are worrisome accusations and counteraccusations concerning alleged plans to rig the polls. But, from Bayelsa State, the home state of former President Goodluck Jonathan, there is an emerging allegation of arms buildup that rattling frayed nerves in the state.
The immediate past State Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Tiwe Oruminighe, is alleging that some prominent APC leaders have been stockpiling arms for a bloody elections, and accordingly called on security agencies to immediately investigate the weighty allegation.
Bayelsa is one of the states in Nigeria’s main oil and gas region, the Niger Delta. It has a physical handicap to easy development because it is riddled with an intricate system of water channels through which the Niger finds its way into the sea. The state has very difficult terrain that constrains settlement development or expansion, accessibility to settlement sites and exploitation of natural resources.
Human activities are determined by natural conditions and other ecological opportunities. The state’s hostile ecological conditions limit the occupation of the people to fishing because she has too much surface water with a high rainfall and long rainy days.
This poses considerable problems for human settlement and land use. Almost every part of the state is under water at one time of the year or another. Associated with high rainfall, long rainy days, porous and very sandy soils, is prolonged and disastrous flood. These flooding incidents lead to continual changing of river courses in the state and renders rivers useless as good channels of transportation.
Environmentalists say these problems also have a tremendous influence on the pattern of human life and economic activities in the state. Highlands are dry throughout the year and can therefore be used as settlement sites and for agricultural practices are very limited.
Inter-settlement movements in the state have been restricted because of poor road and water transport development. The available roads are those within the towns and villages.There is near total absence of inter-town links.
The terrain of the state makes the development of land-based transportation difficult requiring the application of modem and costly technologies. Inter-state movement is restricted to water transport which is equally confronted with many problems.
Exploitation of forest resources is equally constrained by the terrain of the region. The major ecological problems of the state are thus flooding, coastal erosion and pollution.
In spite of these ecological challenges, the state has been a hotbed of arms uprising in the oil and gas region. This is why the arms buildup allegation in the state should be a matter of serious concern to the authorities.
Before the latest development, the State Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Cleopas Moses, had raised an alarm that the APC led by a former governor of the state and a former speaker of the state House of Assembly were allegedly stockpiling arms to cause election mayhem in the state.
But the former APC chairman at the weekend gave credence to the allegation in Yenagoa, the state capital. He said on a live radio programme, The Mandate, that the alleged evil plot was real and must be taken seriously in order to avoid loss of innocent lives and destruction of properties as was the case in 2015.
Though the APC chieftains could not be immediately reached for comments, Tiwe however, claimed he also got wind of the alleged political plans and was not surprised because it was the usual strategy of the APC leaders in the state.
‘’Security agents should act on the information provided by our chairman. It is not a false alarm because some of us are also privy to the source of such information. We need to avoid any form of violence as we have seen in the past. Killings and destructions are not party of politics in a civilised society.
‘’What the people of Bayelsa wants is a free, fair and credible electoral process. We don’t want anyone to die. But the security agents must act fast because those who are behind the plot are known by their antecedents of violence and they want to take over Bayelsa by all means’’, he said.
APC has been suffering from internal bleeding in the state, leading to bitter in-fighting. One of the factions made an alleged failed arrest some chieftains including the Caretaker Committee Chairman of Brass Local Government Area, Victor Isaiah, suspected of disloyalty.
Sources say Tiwe’s exit from the APC is not going down well with some of the party. Majorly, the crack in the party, according to some concerned insiders, has to do with attempts to foist electoral candidates on the party.
Meanwhile, Tiwe who is also a former Chairman of Southern Ijaw Local Government, said he called it quits with the APC because he was tired of a party that allegedly lacks internal democracy in the state.