By Gift Uwakwe
Nyesom Wike, the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, governor of Rivers state, appears set to return as the occupant of Brick House, the Rivers state government House, after Saturday, March 2, 2019 governorship election.
This is because there is no clearly defined governorship Candidate of the rival Opposition All Progressive Congress, APC, from the state to slug it out with him in the election. The two claimants to the position, Tonye Cole, a Lagos based oil baron, who has the backing of Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, a former governor of Rivers state and minister of Transportation and Magnus Abe, a Senator of Federal Republic of Nigeria are still battling it out to win the heart of the party leadership to be endorsed as the governorship Candidate of the party.
The case of Cole may have been made worse by the Court of Appeal, Port Harcourt Division which confirmed an earlier judgment by a High Court in a case brought against him by Senator Abe, one of the aggrieved governorship candidates and former close political ally to Amaechi, erstwhile governor of Rivers state, who felt shortchanged in the governorship primaries and thus may not be ready to allow him stand in for the election.
The appeal Court had ruled that the party will not field any Candidate during the 2019 governorship election in the state when it dismissed the appeal filed by Cole, the party governorship Candidate Cole , according to sources, may not have had any intention of going into partisan, let alone going to vie as a governorship Candidate of any registered political party because of his oil business.
He was said to have been lured into politics and into the governorship race of Rivers state on the platform of the APC by Amaechi who sees himself to be in the class of Ahmed Bola Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos state and National leader of APC, who has carved a niche for himself as a” king maker” in the south west geo-political region. The former Rivers state governor and acclaimed political godfather may have settled for Cole when it became obvious that Dakuku Peterside, one of his godsons who has been settled with a juicy appointment as the Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, may not be willing to leave the position to run for an elective position which is money guzzling in the state.
Wike alluded to this when he said Rivers people will not allow a single political godfather to succeed in planting their godsons like one of the states in the south west, where Tinubu, a political godfather could say something against a sitting governor and it will be carried out with objection. He is optimistic that he will defeat whoever may be fielded as the APC governorship Candidate on the governorship election will mark the end of dictatorial tendencies in politics in the state.
In spite of the claim by Wike that the defeat of whoever would emerge as the governorship Candidate of APC in the election would mark the end of godfather politics in the state, the aggrieved Senator Abe thinks differently. The Rivers south Senatorial District representative in the Senate believes that the crisis rocking the party in the state would further ”strengthen and boost its chances of taking over the Brick House from the present PDP occupant in the 2019 governorship election”.
The Rivers state born Senator , however, said the APC could come out stronger and emerge victorious in the governorship election and take over the state House of Assembly could only be possible if the leadership of the party do the right thing to sustain the unity, instead of taking the issues of the party personal. He may be alluding to Amaechi, the party leader in the state who has taken the issue personal with him for daring to challenge in Court, Cole, his godson.
He reportedly said on Friday, January 4, 2018, through his Media Aide, that the issues that had brought the party to its knees in the last couple of months was the failure to produce a governorship Candidate that was acceptable to the party members and the Law.
Abe who could not hide his feelings disclosed that from the onset he had made up his mind to support whoever emerges as the governorship Candidate of the party in a free, fair and credible primaries. According to him, he was forced to fight Cole, the APC governorship Candidate because the process of his emergence was wrong.
He stated that people who put their lives on the line to create and sustain the party in the state have every right to fight for what they believe is right, noting that it will not weaken the party in any way as being speculated in certain quarters. He maintained that at the ”end of the day, APC will come out stronger if the right thing is done to field the right governorship Candidate”, to beat Wike , the PDP governorship Candidate in the state.
Given a further insight into the emergence of Cole as the party governorship Candidate, the Senator said the” legal foundation in which the oil baron Candidacy was based was faulty both morally and legally” The lack of internal Democracy in the party, Abe confirmed may have forced Dumo Lulu Briggs, one of the aggrieved governorship Candidates to dump the party instead of instituting a Court action against the party, Amaechi and Cole, to ensure that the right thing is done.
It is not surprising why Wike , the PDP, governorship in the state seeking re-election had said that ”Rivers politics cannot be controlled by any single politician ,because it is not a state in the south west where Tinubu, a political godfather has usurped the mandate of the people”.
The unresolved APC governorship crisis may have forced former minister of State, Education, under former President Goodluck Jonathan to heave a sigh of relief that he is returning to Brick House without much troubles as his foot soldiers are everywhere in the state to counter moves to use security operatives to rig in the election by the suspected godfather to plant a stooge as governor of Rivers state.
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