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Battle For Rewa

August 22
12:27 2014

Pio Tikoduadua is a quiet unassuming man. But behind his humble personality is a powerhouse of organisational brilliance and service delivery.

The former Permanent Secretary in the Prime Minister’s office is from from Nakorovou, Namalata, Tailevu, but FijiFirst is banking on him to counter Ro Teimumu’s growing presence and influence just across the border in Rewa in the context of the election. Rewa is her traditional powerbase.

She has recently changed her tact. She has ditched her reservations about the media and has stepped up.

In a short time, she has become media savvy, appearing on multi-media platforms in a bid to get her message across about equal citizenry, common identity, secular state, indigenous and qoliqoli bill issues

In the one constituency election, Rewa, becomes a crucial piece of the jigsaw puzzle that will influence the final outcome of the election. The jigsaw puzzle is the Suva-Nasinu-Nausori corridor.

It has the highest population density in the whole of Fiji. To win big here would mean securing seats in Parliament.

Ro Teimumu has other Rewan SODELPA candidates like Tomasi Vakatora and Samu Saumatua to help her.

Mr Tikoduadua will help Rewan Jimilai Wainibalagi stamp FijiFirst’s mark in the area for the first time. Undoubtedly he has no illusion over the mammoth task facing him and FijiFirst in trying to neutralise the Ro Teimumu factor in Rewa. She is the paramount chief and she has been mobilising her traditional forces on the ground to reinforce her hold on the delta.

If there is one candidate in the FijiFirst team who can counter Ro Teimumu, it is Mr Tikoduadua. Not only is he well trained as a career military officer he is well versed with government service in civilian life. When he took over from Parmesh Chand as Permanent Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office, he reportedly developed a reputation of always getting the job done, no matter how big or small. That can-do attitude has been the driving force behind the outstanding service delivery from the PM’s office not only on national priorities but also on community needs.

The office has gone out of its way to bring relief to those in need, from church groups, to villages and communities and social organisations, to sports teams.

Mr Tikoduadua has established a culture of compassion as part of the office’s corporate social responsibility. In turn, it builds an image that this high office is not inaccessible but responsive and connected to the grassroot.

It is this same style, that party strategists in FijiFirst, hope Mr Tikoduadua will take with him on the campaign trail and beyond.

His military background compliments his civilian life. He has an impressive record. He joined the cadet training school with the current RFMF Commander, Brigadier-General Mosese Tikoitoga, after some legal experience in the courts as an interpreter. Since then he has held several leadership roles before becoming Chief Of Staff Operations. When Mr Chand left to join the Public Service Commission, Mr Tikoduadua slotted in comfortably.

Rewa has always been a fierce battleground in previous general elections. Even the favourites have lost there. In 1977 maverick nationalist Sakeasi Butadroka stunned the ruling Alliance Party by capturing the seat. While there is no longer a seat now in Rewa, votes there will add to the votes in the Suva-Nasinu-Nausori corridor.

There is a saying in Rewa that no one knows who you vote for when you go into the polling booth. The unpredictability of the voting trend will add a bit of drama and excitement when it comes to counting the votes cast.

That works in Mr Tikoduadua’s favour.

nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

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