TEXT OF ACCEPTANCE SPEECH BY TONYE PATRICK COLE FOLLOWING VICTORY AT APC’S GOVERNORSHIP PRIMARIES FOR RIVERS STATE
My Leaders in the APC starting from the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Mohammadu Buhari GCON, the National Chairman of APC Comrade ADAMS Oshimole and the National Exco, the State Chaiman Ojukaiye Flag-Amachree and the State Exco, the leaders of APC far and near, present or not, my People, my State permit me to stand on all existing Protocal.
Let me begin by giving gratitude to whom all thanks must go. To my Lord and Master, My Father, the Almighty God, without whom I most certainly would not even be in this process and who is most assuredly responsible for my emergence as the gubernatorial flag bearer for APC today.
This is an incredibly special day for the people of Rivers State. Indeed it is a day that signals that the people of Rivers State have determined to chart a different course in the way the want to be governed, in the type of candidate they want governing them and in the manner with which partisan politics is viewed and represented from henceforth.
The journey thus far has been an extremely humbling one where I have come to increasingly appreciate on a daily basis the incredibly important roles the men and women at every level of the political hierarchy have to play in determining the political future of a people, a state and indeed a nation.
The weight of responsibility on the shoulders of the delegates who voted today is enormous and by voting overwhelmingly in my favour, they have transferred that burden on to my shoulders to lead this great party in this incredibly blessed state.
If these delegates get this process wrong and an unworthy candidate emerges, the resultant hardship on the people of Rivers State is beyond what words can describe. as we have witnessed and lived through in recent times.
It is therefore not a decision or a call I take lightly at all but one that requires continuous deep reflection of what direction the people of Rivers State wish to be led and who will lead them. I am fully convinced that the choice the delegates have made by granting me their mandate today is a direct reflection of the deep yearning of the greater percentage of the Rivers people for a positive and life impacting change.
SO WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
There are certain things that have become synonymous with Rivers State that is not a true reflection of who I know we are as a people nor does it do justice to our rich heritage and proud culture.
1. One of such things is a pervasive narrative of electoral violence that spills over to well after elections are over. This narrative and its negative cause effect has been a major disincentive to investment in the state, an increased level of unemployment and a crushing level of poverty. This must end.
We exhibited today by conducting a safe, secure, free and fair primaries that violence and the threat thereof is something we can and will certainly eradicate. We will strive to ensure that every eligible voter in this state, indigene and non-indigene alike must not only be able to exercise their fundamental human right to vote, they must do so in a safe environment and must know that their votes WILL count.
Of a priority therefore is to return a sense of peace and security to the people of this great state.
2. This can however not be achieved unless genuine reconciliation and a sense of purpose is given to many who have been deeply aggrieved by bitter politics, deadly rivalries, winner takes all mentality and a me first psychology to life.
We will embark on a reconciliation exercise with members of our APC family who in the process of electing flag bearers may have lost out and feel aggrieved by the process. They will be made welcome in the task or rebuilding Rivers State for the better.
We will look to embrace those from other political leanings that are willing to put the rebuilding of the pride and honour of the State before their personal and political ambitions and welcome them into the family.
3. The pattern of the delegates votes today reflects a great desire for a more inclusive bond and infrastructural interconnectivity between the peoples of the riverine communities and those of the upland communities which will not be ignored.
The damage to the ecology and economies of the riverine communities of this State, the pollution and loss of livelihood have to be addressed.
4. Unity of our people and purpose is a cardinal anchor with which we will be canvassing for the support of the people to usher in a new administration come 2019.
In our government, everyone matters and we will do our best to bring in key segments of our people that we know are a critical factor in building great economies of the world. Women, People With Disabilities, the Aged, Teenagers and Students must have an increasingly visible role in how the future of the state is determined and their contribution to the GDP will not be ignored.
It is not lost on me that the people, starting from the delegates who voted today, are the ones who have granted me their mandate and as a result this will be a people’s government, focused on the people for the benefit of the people, by the people.
Let me close by extending my deepest and most sincere gratitude to the men and women of the armed forces who put their lives daily on the line to ensure that we sleep well at night. The Police, the Civil Defense, the DSS, the Army, the Navy, the Air Force all of whom are deeply involved in the State. Your efforts are not ignored at all and deeply appreciated.
I thank INEC and Col Lawal Jafaru Isa and his team for exhibiting with each election cycle that goes by, a clear mandate to conducting credible elections in Nigeria that is increasingly bringing greater recognition to Nigeria as a thriving democracy.
The success in Edo, Anambra, ONDO, Ekiti and Osun since 2015 where votes actually counted is increasingly giving the electorate confidence that those they truly want to govern them will be voted in and any one not living up to the mandate given them will equally be voted out.
Long live APC
Long live Rivers State
Long live the Fed Republic of NIGERIA!