Rivers 2019: Wike And Amaechi Back To The Trenches

By Stephen Ubanna

Rotimi  Chibuike Amaechi, a former governor of Rivers state  and now minister of transportation and Nyensom Wike, a former minister of State, Education, under  former President Goodluck Jonathan Administration and the current  governor of the state appear to be back to the  trenches for control of the state in the 2019 general election.

Amaechi had made the first attempt to take over the state from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP when he decamped to the All Progressive Congress, APC, in the 2015 general election because of his frosty  relationship  with Dame Patience Jonathan, wife of the then President Goodluck Jonathan.

Adol Dakuku Peterside, an indigene of Opobo -Nkro local government  area and the APC,  governorship Candidate in state  sponsored by him had lost to Wike of the PDP. The minister did not find the loss of the state to the PDP funny as he had assured the national leadership of the party  that he would deliver the state to the party. But that was how far he could go.

The  Rivers state born minister of Transportation  may have gone back to the drawing board to redeem his sinking  image in APC political circles by being a politician of note by ensuring that the party take over the state from the grip of PDP in 2019.

Given the state party officials impression that what happened in  July  governorship election in Ekiti state  might happen in the state  with the support of the  Federal might, the party leadership, may have  zoned  the  governorship Candidate to the Riverine  Area of the state and the Deputy governorship Candidate to be selected from the upland.

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It was not surprising why the party leadership   had thrown the door open to    all governorship Aspirants  from  the Riverine area to  go ahead and buy the governorship Form . The  Magazine learnt that the last count Toye princewill, Tonye Cole, Chairman of Sahara Energy,  Dumo Lulu- Briggs,  Senator Magnus Ngei Abe and Peterside, Director General, National Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, had paid the N22.5 million each to collect the party  governorship nomination Form.

The  Magazine learnt that there have been pressures on Cole, Princewill, Lulu- Briggs to step down for the Amaechi’s annointed Candidate, Peterside.  The fear in party circles was that if the Riverine  governorship Candidates who had collected the  party nomination fail to heed to elders appeal to step down  for peterside   who had slugged it with Wike in 2015,   Senator Abbe, may get the upper hand in the primaries and which might give Wike a smooth ride  back to Brick House , the Seat of power in  Rivers state.

The argument in party circles was that the Amaechi’s annointed governorship Candidate , from Opobo/Nkro local government was the only APC  governorship  Candidate among the lot  who could  easily beat  Wike in the  2019 general election.

Given the determination of  President Muhammadu BUhari and the APC National leadership to take  over Rivers state from PDP,  The emergence  of a new National Working Committee, NNWC, in the party, led by Adams Oshimhole, was ostensibly to gurantee  an exciting  and democratic contest for  the nomination of the party’s Candidate for the 2019 general elections in the state and other states of the Federation through the introduction of  direct  primary mode of electing Candidates, an offficial said.  The intervention of the National leadership in supervising the party  governorship primaries in the states may have provided a level playing field for the Candidates in Rivers state, who feared that Amaechi and his handpicked state party Executive might impose Peterside on them  to slug it out  with Wike of the PDP in the 2019 general election.

Oshimhole was said to  reassured the governorship Candidates in the states including those of Rivers state that  not  ”only  would the  NWC instill  internal democracy in the party,  but that nomination  of Candidates will be by direct primaries, where all the  registered members of the  part will be eligible to vote for the party’s Candidates to test their popularity”.

The arrangements, according to a party source, may have put to an end a situation in the past  where one or few  godfathers had  handpicked Candidates and imposed  them on the party, described  by many as an arbitrary method which caused the party to lose  in past elections in the states  due to ”imposition of unpopular Candidates”, particular Rivers state.

Information filtering out from Peterside and other APC governorship Candidates Camp in Rivers state shows that  the situation was getting to a feverish pitch as the Aspirants prepare to slug it out at the primaries. It would be recalled that Amaechi, the minister of Transport and the leader of the party in the state had  unilaterally handpicked  Peterside, the NIMASA  Director General as the party governorship Candidate in the 2015 general election  against  Senator Abbe, described as  the most popular among the   governorship Aspirants.   There are fears in both official and unofficial circles that the NIMASA boss may lose to Abbe this time around because of sympathy votes from members.  It is not surprising  why Amaechi had been talking  to Lulu-Briggs, Princewill and Cole to step  down for Peterside to be able  to beat his former political son, Abbe, in the party primaries.

A close source told the Magazine disclosed that Amaechi had been waxing very cool since the party  came up with the  direct primaries mode  of  electing the party  governorship Candidates in the states.  He had expected  as usual to be allowed to handpick  the party governorship Candidate, who could have been, Peterside and impose him on the party in the state.

Many had had expected him to endorse the new party  arrangements like Ahmed Bola Tinubu, the National leader of the party did in the south west geo-political region. H e was said to have  asked both serving governors and   other potential  governorship Aspirants  to be ready to present themselves  in the party primaries to test their popularity.

But Wike, Amaechi’s  arch political rival in the state  said APC has no reason whatsoever to worry about presenting a governorship Candidate  to slug it out with him in the 2019 general election, stressing that  something is fundamentally wrong with the party. The governor declared  apart from plot by the party to rig  in the state,  the  Candidate may not have the platform to Campaign upon in the state. He expressed regrets that as the APC does not believe in credible polls, but ”rigging and  fraud , a credible would not emerge in the party primaries to challenge him the 2019 polls. .

He has raised alarm that the party want to win the state at all cost but  warned of the dangers ahead. ” All their meetings and  all their gatherings at the Federal level ,they must have Rivers state in their agenda, he said. He  fears that the party optimism of taking over the state s from the PDP was anchored on the deployment of  sodiers, Federal Anti Robbery Special Squad, FSAR, and DSS personnel to the state, to maintain security during the  election.  The governor  Challenged Amaechi, as minister of Trasportation to show the projects he has attracted to the state.  Wike, who could beat his Chest , thatas the minister of State, Education, under the then President Jonathan Administration, claimed he brought Faculty of Law to University of PortHrcourt . He also claimed to have  brought a grant of  N500 million to Ken Sarowiwa Polytechnic and  Inatius Ajuru University of Education in the state.

He disclosed that  for the APC and its state leadership to  have even think of  bringing up  a governorship Candidate this time around  to challege him, whether, he has  something to show  or not, was an indication that something  was fundamentally wrong with the party .

Many  ebelieve that the   governorship contest may end up being  a straight  fight between  the incumbent state governor, Wike, and  Abbe or Peterside because of the powers behind them. Political observers posits that February 16, 2019, would determine  new occupant  of the Rivers state Brick House in Port Harcourt: PDP OR APC   governorship  Candidate.

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