2019: Who Occupies Brick House, Wike or Cole?

Steve Ubanna

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.

Toye Cole: APC Governorship candidate In Rivers state

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.

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