Port Harcourt – The gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State, Arc. Tonye Cole has tasked members of Correspondents’ Chapel and all journalists to hold politicians accountable for their actions as public officers.

The gubernatorial candidate who was represented by his spokesman, Barr. Eli Sogbeye, made the statement over the weekend at the dinner night of the Correspondents’Chapel week theme “Media Vigilance Ahead of Peaceful 2023 Elections in Rivers State”.

While speaking, he said the enactment of the obnoxious Order 21 and 22 by the Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike is to truncate the campaign of other political parties, thereby distablising democracy.

Cole, who lamented the effect of such laws, insisted that any system that prevents political parties from carrying out their functions is unconstitutional.

He recalled the ugly incident at Okrika in 2015, where APC campaign train was attacked, leaving many people maimed and property worth millions of naira destroyed.

He cited recent attacks on the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Accord Party and APC by anti-democratic forces, who he said were bent on stifling the opposition, and therefore tasked the media as watchdog of the society to expose the perpetrators.

Cole extolled the qualities of the media, who said battled injustice from Nigeria’s independence up to the military era and delivered the current democracy after some of their members, like Dele Giwa paid the supreme price.

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The APC gubernatorial hopeful described the theme of the week as a guiding compass for the governed, and pointed out that any society without the media is doomed.

“Media as Fourth Estate of the Realm must hold politicians accountable. The media had always led the race right from independence. Even during the military era, the media paid the greatest price in reviving democracy. The media had always held the politicians accountable and we acknowledge the the sacrifice of the Fourth Estate of the Realm,” he said.

The chairman of the occasion, Dr Jossy Nkwocha, who is head of corporate communications, Ndorama-Eleme Petrochemicals, said the Correspondents’ Chapel’s call for a peaceful election shows that the entity is responsible and peaceful.

In his remarks, a former Commissioner for Information in Rivers State, Mr Paulinus Nsirim, who was represented by Mr Celestine Ogolo commended the chapel for job well done.

Also speaking, the General Manager of Rivers State Newspaper Corporation and immediate past chairman of the Correspondents’Chapel, Chief Sir Ernest Chinwo commended the Chapel leadership for sustaining the week and urged other chapels of the NUJ to take a cue from the Correspondents.

Earlier, the Correspondents’Chapel chairman, Amaechi Okonkwo, had said that this year’s week was truly a reflection of last year, when the Chapel passed through a harrowing experience of losing two of its members to the cold hands of death and a bus donated to it by the Governor of Rivers State, Barr Nyesom Wike was also stolen by armed robbers.

He appealed to government, corporate bodies and public spirited individuals to come to the rescue of the chapel by replacing the missing bus, as it is the only way the Chapel can effectively monitor the forthcoming general elections.