Why investors organize Rivers guber debate series since 2015 – Bobmanuel

Investors have explained why they keenly organize the Rivers guber debate series since 2015.

They have also given some hints on how they have succeeded in getting the candidates to abide by the peace accords they usually signed, saying they bring their weight of their international partners and foreign governments to bear on the candidates during and even way after the elections.

The chairman of the Rivers Debate Group (RDG), Ibifiri Bobmanuel, who is the president of the Rivers Entrepreneurs and Investors Forum (REIF), told newsmen on Thursday, February 16, 2023, how ready they were for the 2023 edition, the third in the series since 2015.

Bobmanuel, CEO of Bobtrack Tractor Nigeria Limited, makers of indigenously produced and assembled tractors, briefed the press on readiness of the Sunday event.

He hinted that investors invest very much in an economy and would love politicians to conduct their craft in a way that leaves sustainable environment for peace that would allow other sectors to operate too.

He said election must not be about death. “If you lose today, it does not mean you won’t win tomorrow. The moment we accept this in our minds, elections would no more be do-or-die.

“We the investors are keen on this. That is why we do not accept a kobo from the candidates or parties. We think that’s the best way to go.”

He said those in the private sector know there is a circle of elections every four years and they have a stake in the economy. So, he added, they are very keen on peaceful elections.

The CEO, who recently signed a deal with Luma Brazil for tractorised rice revolution in Nigeria, said a lot goes on behind the scene to get candidates to sign and keep to peace accord.

Answering a question, Bobmanuel said; “We are the first to organise a peace accord for the candidates to sign. It’s not proper for us to share all details of what happens behind the scenes”.

He said in 2015 when they got all the top candidates to sign the accord, that they followed through with their international partners to ensure the candidates did not exceed the boundaries of the accord.

“He went on: “Even when the results were announced, we went behind to press them to keep to agreement. I will tell you it yielded a lot of fruits. We are saying this for the first time.

“It will not be different this time. The US government came out last two weeks to make a pronouncement on the Nigerian elections processes. We are fully in support of it and we have got some other governments to toe the US line.”

He went on: “As I said, in 2015 we had the same peace pact that was signed. We are not structured to come to the open to say what and what we do. We don’t do that. We work behind the scene with our international partners to see that the candidates stay with the agreements they signed.

“In 2015, Rivers State was a boiling point. You will not imagine what went under the scene to arrest the situation.’

He said when the gladiators were confronted by their partners, they were able to see the other side of the coin. “That is what we will do. We won’t tell anybody what exactly we are doing to avoid us being partisan or being too involved.”

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On the preparations for the debate, Bobmanuel said it was important that they properly updated the media on how far they had come. “The D-Day is this Sunday, February 19, 2023. We had a press briefing with you people to start, and we must have it now we are to start.

“All the selected candidates would be present. They have affirmed on their presence.”

He assured that the debate would dwell on issues, nothing more. “If you leave out issue-based debate, violence will take over. We think Rivers State is too important to allow anything other than issues to dominate debates. We did same since 2015 to show we dwell only on issues. We are now in the 3rd edition. We expect Representatives of the National Peace Committee to be at the event. They will be part of what we are doing.’

The REIF president said they also have representatives of the international community to be part of what they are doing. “On that day, the candidates will sign a peace accord and agree to reign them in. Anything apart from that will not go down well with us.”

Some of the national dignitaries expected at the Rivers State Sunday evening include the bishop, Hassan Kukah, while Mathew Ayibakuro, the Governance Adviser, Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) would deliver good message.

The candidates on the hot seat who were selected by voting by members of the public include Dumo Lulu-Briggs of Accord Party, Tonye Cole of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the only female, Beatrice Itubo of Labour Party (LP), Sim Fubara of the PDP, and Magnus Abe of the Social Democratic Party (SDP).

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