Nyenson Wike, a Lawyer and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, governor of Rivers state had been very inquisitive for the much of last month to know who will emerge the governorship Candidate of the All Progressive Congress, APC, in their September, 2019 primaries. The governor was interested in knowing the APC Candidate who would slug it out with him in the 2019 general elections in the state to perfect his winning strategies.
Initially, he had the premonition that the governorship contest in the state would be between him and Dakuku Peterside, the Director General, National Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA . This is because of the close relationship between the NIMASA Director General and Rotimi Amaechi, the minister of Transport and the party leader in the state who could use his influence to ensure that he wins the party primaries. He was hoping to use the same political strategy applied in winning him in the 2015 general elections to defeat him again in the 2019 general elections.
Unknown to him, Amaechi, who incidentally was a former governor of the state has asked Peterside to withdraw from the race and support the person who would emerge as the preferred Candidate of the party to give Wike a run for his money. The minister may have also read the handwriting on the wall that peterside, his political godson would fail the direct primaries and had no option but to ask him to withdraw from the governorship race on the platform of the party. The NIMASA boss was said to have kept it a closely guided secret and continued to create impression in the mind of party members and the ruling PDP government in the state that he is still very much in the race.
The pressure was said to been too much on him from both official and unofficial quarters to declare his stand last August that he said, ” I have not made up my mind. I am still consulting, and the decision whether to run for the governorship race of the state on the platform of APC will be made any moment soon”. He never made up his mind forcing Wike to go back to the drawing board to prepare his mind for whoever that would emerge the party Candidate in the primaries .
The Magazine learnt that Wike, the unopposed governorship Candidate of the PDP and his political associates monitored the APC governorship primaries on Saturday, September 30, 2018, to know his likely opponent . Senator Magnus Abe, Dawari GGeorge, Dumo Lulu-Briggs or Toye Cole, an urbane Opobo-Nkro born Oil magnate based in Lagos were said to have faced the party delegates in the primaries.
Inially,Wike was optimistic that the battle for Brick House in the 2019 general general elections would be between him and Abe because of his over blown image in the party. He never gave any opportunity to Cole, seen as an” underdog” to win the party primaries . He got it wrong.
Amaechi, his arch political rival in the state and President Muhammadu Bhari were said to have tactically thrown their weight behind Cole, who may not be popular in political circles in the state but very good in Boardroom politics and who could maneuver his way out of any situation and still come out stronger. The duo were said to have used him as a replacement for the much rumourd Peterside , as the governorship candidate of the party in the state because Wike may not have known his weak points , and therefore may find it difficult to take on him by surprise to avoid a backlash.
It was therefore not surprising why Amaechi spent money and time to mobilise support for the Oil magnate and former Managing Director, Sahara Energy to beat Abe and the two other Candidates to it in the party primaries, thus sending a signal to Wike that the battle line have been drawn for the governorship election of the state in 2019 . The governor is seeking re-election on the platform of PDP while Cole is the flag bearer of the APC.
Political analysts believe that the governorship elections in Rivers state may not be an easy battle between the duo. This is because the APC Candidate is well connected that he may have many money bags both within and outside the state who could support him financially and volunteer foot soldiers who may be willing to work for him to beat Wike in the 2019 polls. Amaechi was said to have transferred the state party machinery to him , an indication that he may not have start afresh to raise his own political structure to face Wike, who is on ground in the state.
But there are fears that Abe and Lulu Briggs may not want to support Cole in his electioneering Campaigns because of the allegation by the duo that they were deliberately denied victory by Amaechi, who threw his weight behind Cole, an alleged political greenhorn. Lulu- Briggs, could not hide his anger as he had consistently accused the minister of ”imposing his preferred Candidate, Tonye Cole on the party”.
The duo may still be in APC but work behind the scene to support Wike, the PDP governorship Candidate, to be returned to Brick House in the 2019 general elections. They may want to teach Amaechi a lesson that his plot to take over Rivers state through a subterranean means would never work.The PDP governor, political analysts said, may have to watch it to avoid what happened at Ekiti or Osun states governorship election repeating itself in the state where Amaechi could use federal might to rub him of victory in the 2019 general elections.
Admitted that Peterside his godson, may not not be on the governorship race in the state but he is a trenchant critic of Wike, thus providing ammunition for Cole, the APC, governorship Candidate to effectively confront him in his electioneering Campaigns with facts and figures about the running of the state over the last three years. ”Wike’s government achievement has been blown out of proportion and does not represent what is on ground in the state, he had said”.
He has made people to believe that Rivers state is number three in federally allocated Revenue, in 13 percent derivation, number two in terms of Value Added Tax, VAT, and next to Lagos state in terms Internally generated Revenue, IGR. The NIMASA helmsman claimed that the state got over N160 billion from IGR in 2017, noting that these could not match what is on ground in the state, an indication that the PDP government may have frittered away the resources of the state in less than four years. He may be speaking the mind of Amaechi, his godfather to turn peoples mind away from Wike .
Peterside,who never see anything wrong with the past Aaechi Administration in Rivers state, claimed that ”anybody can deny the Administration of anything but not performance”. He believes the election of Cole as the next governor of the state in the 2019 general elections would sustain the good works started by Amaechi . He noted that governance is assessed in terms of transparency and accountability but Wike do not follow due process in the hiring of contractors except for projects which he is trying to assess through the world Bank.
Critics claimed that he may have his world views about Wike but insist that Rivers state is a basically PDP state and it would be difficult for the combination of Amaechi, Cole and Peterside to defeat him at the 2019 general elections.The critics who described Aamaechi, Cole and Peterside as Abuja and Lagos based politicians said the Wike may not be worried about Cole, his APC, opponent in the 2019 general elections because the people are behind him, both in thick and thin.
Moreso, they see him as having an edge over Cole who is from the riverine area of the state considered a minority to the upland which is in the majority and Wike’s political base. The question on the lips of most people is: who occupies Brick House in 2019 Wike or Cole? The governor is optimistic that he would still be returned to office in 2019 to continue the infrastructural development of the state.