JUST IN: AMAECHI’S ALLEGED ENDORSEMENT OF COLE

Ahead of the 2019 general elections, the Rivers
State chapter of the All Progressives Congress
(APC) has been thrown into confusion with a storm
gradually gathering over who becomes its
governorship standard bearer.

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Besides, the party is being plagued by the defection
of some of its members to the ruling Peoples
Democratic Party (PDP), further depleting its
strength. While political parties prize cohesion and
unity, particularly, as they prepare for election, the
APC in the State, seems to have discarded the
virtue
At the centre of the raging storm rocking the APC
and threatening to tear it apart, are the Minister of
Transportation and former governor of the state,
Chibuike Amaechi; Senator Magnus Abe,
representing Rivers South East Senatorial district;
and the party’s governorship candidate in 2015 and
director general of Nigerian Maritime Administration
and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dakuku Peterside.

The Guardian learnt that Amaechi who was troubled
by the fragmentation of the party between
supporters of Abe and Peterside, over their
perceived 2019 governorship ambition, recently
convened a meeting of APC stakeholders in Port
Harcourt, to express his displeasure.
Amaechi who had foisted Peterside, over
candidature on the party in 2014, reportedly
cautioned that the crisis rocking the party might get
out of control if Abe and Peterside do not exercise
restrain over their governorship ambition.

Thus as a means of ensuring a truce, the minister
allegedly urged them to drop their ambition and
announced that his preferred choice would be the
billionaire oil tycoon and co founder of Sahara
Energy Resource Limited, Mr.

Tonye Cole, according
to a reliable source at the meeting.
Some within the party assume that it was part of an
immediate measure taken by him to compel
supporters of Abe and Peterside to pull back from
entrenched positions. The announcement of Cole as
the preferred choice did not go down well with Abe
who sources claimed insisted that he would
proceed with his arrangements to actualized the
ambition whether he was endorsed by the minister
or not.

Abe, whose relationship with Amaechi was almost
marred by the imposition of Peterside as APC
governorship candidate in the 2015 election, was
said to have argued that party primary election
should be the sole determining factor to decide
who should emerge as the party’s standard-bearer
in 2019.

Amaechi’s choice of Cole, who no doubt has carved
a niche for himself in the oil industry, has triggered
uproar within the party. Sources in the party
maintained that the APC is now polarised.
On one side of the divide are those who think that
the only way to stem the rancour and acrimony
within the party is to allow internal democracy to
determine who gets the governorship ticket.

On the contrary, are party members loyal to
Amaechi who contended that his choice should be
allowed to stay being the leader of the party in the
state. Although the decision is still shrouded in
mystery, some political observers assume that the
minister in considering the financial implication of
wresting political power from Wike in 2019 might
have deemed it expedient to throw his weight
behind a man who can muster the resources
required to prosecute governorship tussle.

Already, signs of intra-party skirmish reared its
head recently when some youths stormed the venue
of a meeting between the minister and select
youths of APC from across the 23 local government
area of the State and forced their way in.

It was alleged that those who invaded the meeting
were perceived Abe supporters who felt they were
tactically left out of the meeting. Some APC
stalwarts, who spoke to The Guardian said in a
‘hostile’ political climate like Rivers State, argued
that it would be politically suicidal for the APC to
be in disarray and expect to wrest power from a
formidable governor like the incumbent and the
PDP.

A supporter of Abe ho pleaded anonymity disclosed
that the APC would merely be galloping towards
disintegration if Amaechi insists on imposition with
regards to the governorship candidate of the party.

“Honestly, we are not saying that Abe should be
given the ticket without any contestation. Anybody
who wants to emerge as the party’s governorship
candidate should do so through the ballot. The era
of imposition is over.

“We will not tolerate what happened in 2014 to
repeat itself in 2018. To be candid, if Abe or
Peterside is denied the ticket this time around, the
APC risk angering their many supporters.
Fragmentation of the APC in Rivers State at this
time will be her worst nightmare. The party will just
become easy prey for the ruling PDP,” he said.

A political analyst, Godwin Azubuike, argued in an
interview with The Guardian that any political party
worth its salt couldn’t afford to be fractured if it
wants to grab political power from an incumbent
government.

He said that since Abe and his political associates
from the Rivers South East senatorial district were
able to dislodged PDP in the recently concluded
legislative elections, it would be unreasonable to
undermine their interest in determining who
emerges as the party’s standard bearer.

It is not clear if Amaechi would recant on his
decision to support Cole’s governorship ambition or
throw his weight once again behind Peterside. But
having unveiled his preference and given the
attendant rippling effects, the intra-party skirmish
could easily escalate resulting in further defections
from the APC.

Recently, a known APC strategist, Mr. Emeh Glory
Emeh, led other members of the party to defect to
the PDP. Emeh who has held several positions in
the state including Senior Special Adviser on Media
and Strategy, Commissioner for Commerce and
Industry, Commissioner for Transport and Aviation
during Governor Peter Odili administration; and
Chief of Staff during Celestine Omehia’s brief reign,
was alleged to have coordinated the daily
defections of members and leaders of the APC to
the PDP.

A former Special Assistant on Internal Revenue,
Nwankwo Nwankwo, and a former Commissioner
for Culture, Sunny Nwokekoro, who served under
Amaechi’s administration have also relocated to
PDP. Similarly, the APC Leader in Ogba/Egbema/
Ndoni Local Government Area, Merino Okiraija and a
former Chairman of Emohua council, Bob Okala,
have also defected.
Hundreds of APC supporters led by former leader of
the Asari-Toru Legislative Assembly, Orolosama
Amachree, dumped APC for PDP. They alleged that
they opted to leave the party because they were
deceived by the promise to bring change to
Nigerians.

“I was not convinced by anyone to decamp. No one
gave me money and no one lobbied for me and my
brothers and sisters to leave the APC. PDP was my
root and because I was deceived to join the APC, I
have retraced my step and I am back home,” he
said.
Also, the Vice Chairman of APC in Degema Local
Government Area, Samuel Ikiroma, has joined the
train of defectors with his supporters in the area.

APC spokesperson, Chris Finebone, told The
Guardian that the party remains united irrespective
of fears that it risks fragmentation. According to
him, the major preoccupation of Amaechi as their
leader is to rebuild the party ahead of 2019.
Finebone said it was laughable to hear Glory Emeh
refer to APC as party of lies and propaganda,
declaring that the so-called high numbers of their
members that left with him to PDP, was over
exaggerated.

He explained that APC stakeholders in Asari-Toru
council have a dossier on the romance between
Amachree and the PDP over time. Subsequently, the
APC placed surveillance on him especially given his
purported treacherous behaviour during the
December 10 rerun elections.
His words: “Therefore, Orolosama Amachree
formally pitching camp with the PDP is long
expected and he is not likely to refrain from his
penchant for easy money which has become very
dire of late. On that account we believe it is good
riddance to bad rubbish especially to the APC
stakeholders in ASALGA who have endured and
tolerated Amachree’s antics for too long.

“The APC will encourage the PDP to look for all
manner of persons and parade as APC defectors as
long as the essence of the exercise is for the
schemers to put food on their table and smile to
the bank.

True members of APC will continue to
remain true to the party and its ideals while persons
who place pecuniary interests above anything else
are free to go scrounge for crumbs under Caesar’s
table.”

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