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Rivers: Amaechi Beating The Drum Of War

By Gift Osaze

Rotimi Amechi, a former governor of Rivers state and minister of Transportation is not a happy man. Amaechi’s  source of unhappiness was the exclusion of the All Progressive Congress, APC, Candidates by the Independent National Electoral Commission. INEC, from  the governorship, National and State Assemblies election in Rivers state in this forth coming election.

The Commission had told those that cares to listen that it was a deliberate effort to spite the party but to rest a Port Harcourt High Court ruling on May 18, 2019 which  nullified the party last primaries in the state and subsequently ordered the electoral not to endorse any APC Candidate for the election. The party was said to have conducted two primaries : direct and indirect primaries. The direct primaries had produced Senator Maganus Abe as the governorship Candidate  and other Candidates for other elective positions.

Rotimi Amaechi, a former governor of the sate  and minister of Transportation who controls the party structure was said to have organised an indirect primaries which produced Tonye Cole, an a Lagos based business man and other Candidtates for other elective offices. The elected  Candidates , formed the Amaechi, which was submitted to INEC, for endorsement . Abe , who felt short changed did not find it funny  engaged Amaechi in a legal battle to frustrate his plan. 

With backing of other 22  aggrieved members of the party, Abe had dragged the party to Court to stop the endorsement of the  list of  Candidates presented to INEC for the election. He was said to  have armed himself with his own list of Candidates as a replacement, which he claimed were elected at the party primaries. The case had dragged on to the Supreme Court but the duo finally lost out on Wednesday, February 13, 2019, thus, throwing the minister’s Camp into confusion.  

 The minister  may have exhibited  his frustration on Tuesday, February 12, 2019, during  President Muhammadu Buhari electioneering Campaigns rally  in the oil city of Port Harcourt, the state Capital. He could not control his emotions as he walked out the stage to weep up sentiments in the state. Neysom Wike, the People’s Democratic  Party, PDP, governor of the state who is seeking re-election was his major target. He threw caution to the wind  without recognising the presence of Buhari, the party flag bearer as he trivialised the Campaign.

He claimed that the governor has been” lobbying and negotiating with the party to be allowed for a second term in office” while promising to support to the APC Presidential Candidate total support to win Rivers state in the February 16, 2019, Presidential election.  He may have shot himself on the leg when he said ”  we will battle him to the lat”.

 Adams Oshiomhole, a former governor of Edo state  and National Chairman of the APC,  regarded as the major problem of Buhari in APC, because of his flippant statements ,could not hide his frustration as well as he said ”we must fight for our right to ensure that our Candidates   were fielded by IEC for the various elective offices in the state, from the governorship to state Assemblies.

The duo had expected Buhari, to speak on the Court ruling asking  INEC  not to field any APC Candidate for any elective office in Rivers state in the forthcoming election  as he said he would not interfere with the workings of the inherited  institutions, insisting  that the Institutions including the Courts  must be allowed to do  their job.

  He was said to have made it clear to the party Chieftains that  he would ”respect the Court ruling” barring APC from fielding Candidates in the election notwithstanding the pressure on hm. What surprised many was the large turnout of people during the Campaign that there was stampede  at the Amasieamaka Stadium, as the Katsina state born Nigerian President made his way out of the venue at the end of the rally  as people struggle catch a glipnse of him.

Amaechi and his foot soldiers may have worked round the clock to mobilise the teeming from all the 36 local government Areas of the state with hope that Cole, his godson , would be given the party flag by the President as the party flag bearer. He was disappointed.

Nnamdi Omoni, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, DSP, and the Rivers state Police Command Spokesman confirmed  that four people died in the struggle to maneuver their way out of the Stadium, which the APC , Presidential Candidate considered very disturbing when he heard about it . But Wike, who is a trechant critic of the Buhari Administration , for bringing suffering to the people of Rivers state claimed that 17 people lost their lives in the APC  Presidential rally.

 The large  turn- out at the APC, presidential rally  may have sent a signal to the Rivers state state  governor that he must not take things for granted  as Amaechi and the APC could pull a surprise during the Presidential and governorship elections.

 Political watchers fears that Amaechi, the godfather of APC , in the state , might mobilise the party supporters  to vote either for the Labor or the Social Democratic Party  governorship Candidates who are on the race to the Brick House and  the other of their Candidates  seeking elective offices to frustrate the PDP .

The  minister may have told his arch-political rival  ”since, I cannot have it, you too, cannot have it”. The governor may have read the handwriting on the wall that he had no option but to reach out to the non-indigenes in the state to seek their support in the February 16 and March 2, 2019 , elections , to gurantee PDP victory in the state. Many believe that the signing of the second peace accord between Buhari, Atiku Abubakar, the Presidential Candidate of the PDP  and the  other Candidates under the close watch of Abdusalami Abubakar and other members of the National peace Committee may have saved an impending doom in Rivers state. This is because ,Amaechi, the minister of Transportation could go to any length to make trouble with INEC  for stopping his Candidates in the election.

Appealing to Nigerian youths to” eschew all forms of violence”,  pleading the Candidates  to” accept the final outcome of the election” for peace to reign. Note that in every of his Campaign rallies in the states including the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, , he had repeatedly told the people to vote whoever they like during the election and not necessarily him.

 He may have been guided by the record set by former President Goodluck Jonathan, who conceded victory to him in the 2015 , election, when he saw the way the result was going. Atiku, who many believe that his supporters would not take it if he loses to Buhari in the election because of his alleged popularity and poll forecast that he will win, may have re-echoed Jonathan’s message to the youths , ”my ambition  was not worth the blood of any Nigerian”.   

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