2023: Tight Race For Rivers Brick House As 30 Aspirants Submit Nomination Forms

…Check List: Obuah, Abe, Sekibo, Lulu-Briggs, Dakuku, Danagogo, Farah, Maeba, Opara, Cole, Ojukaye, Tolofari, Awara, Wenike-Briggs, Sim Fubara, Pidomson, Others

Amid rising tensions and frayed nerves in Rivers State over who occupies the coveted Brick House as the tenure of Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike ends on May, 29, 2023, National Network can authoritatively report that not fewer than 30 governorship aspirants have collected and submitted their expression of interest and nomination forms to contest for the guber tickets of their political parties except the All Progressives Congress, APC aspirants who are yet to purchase their Nomination Forms.

As at the last count, aspirants from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and  All Progressives Congress (APC) as well as parties like Accord Party and Young Progressives Party (YPP), have started secret consultations across the state and party lines to market themselves and convince every ear that cares to listen about their potentials and capacity to occupy the Brick House, come 2023.

In PDP, following the apparent nod of the governor, no fewer than 15 aspirants have purchased and submitted the governorship election forms and have set out machineries in motion to woo the critical stakeholders of the party ahead of the primaries.

As at the last check, governorship aspirants in the PDP who obtained and returned the duly completed forms include: Bro. Felix Amechi Obuah, Dr. Abiye Precious Sekibo, Sen. Lee Maeba, Sir. Austin Opara, Senator George Thompson Sekibo and Sen. Olaka Nwogu.

Also on the list are Dr. Tammy Wenike Danagogo, Chief David Briggs, Hon. Isaac Kamalu, Mr. Siminalaye Fubara, Hon. Boma Iyaye, Alabo George Kelly, Doctor Farah Dagogo, former Deputy Governor, Engr. Tele Ikuru and Dr. Gabriel Pidomson.

Those jostling for the guber ticket of the APC are Senator Magnus Ngei Abe, Mr. George Tolofari, Dr. Sokonte Davies, Dr. Dakuku Adol Peterside, Dr. Dawari George, Arch. Tonye Cole and Prince Tonye Princewill.

Others are Engr. Biokpomabo Awara, Chief Francis Ebenezer Ada, Hon. Mina Tende, Hon. Ojukaye Flag Amachree and Hon. Ibinabo Michael West.

From the Accord Party, there is likelihood that Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs may be the sole candidate if no other person declares interest in the coming days. 

There is also Dr. Leesi Gborogbosi who is likely to pick the guber ticket of the Action Peoples Party (APP); and Engr. Danagogo Taribo Wenike-Briggs, National President of Community Reformed Youths Initiatives (CRY) who for now is the only governorship aspirant seeking the ticket of the Young Progressives Party (YPP) in the state.

The governorship aspirants of APC had on Monday agreed to collapse their structures to any one of them that emerges as the party’s governorship flagbearer. 

Given the political permutations in the state, there are those in both PDP and APC who pundits believe are to watch as it concerns the 2023 governorship election in Rivers State.

Major Aspirants In PDP

The PDP has remained the ruling party in Rivers State, except for the brief moment when then Governor Amaechi defected to the APC prior to the 2015 election. These are some of the aspirants aiming to get the ticket of the party.

Bro. Felix Obuah

Bro Felix Obuah

Popularly known as ‘Go Round’, Felix Amechi Obuah, a philanthropist and politician of note played a great role in the emergence of Nyesom Wike as the flagbearer of PDP in 2015. Obuah is believed to be cashing on his close link to the grassroots as the immediate past Chairman of PDP in the state to clinch the party ticket.

Dr. Tammy Wenike Danagogo

Dr. Danagogo

The Kalabari-born politician and Secretary to the State Government is another politician considered to be eminently qualified to fly the PDP ticket in 2023. A PhD holder in Law, Dr Danagogo is said to be the eyes of the governor in the Kalabari axis of the state where he was said to have mobilized grassroots support for the governor.

Dr. Danagogo is said to be banking on riverine/upland dichotomy politics to assuage support and sympathy to actualize his ambition.

Doctor Farah Dagogo

Hon. Dagogo

The Degema-born politician representing Bonny/Degema Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives has braced all the odds against the directive of Governor Wike and declared his intention to vie for the 2023 governorship election.

Farah, who seems not to have a good relationship with Governor Wike declared weeks ago that he is going to contest the governorship election.

Dagogo was a very strong advocate of the Petroleum Industry Bill in the National Assembly, a move that garnered support from the grassroots.

Senator Lee Maeba

Sen. Maeba

A former senator who represented Rivers South East Senatorial District has been nursing the ambition of becoming the governor of Rivers State since 2015. He could not get PDP’s nod to fly its ticket in 2015.

Senator Maeba, one of the strong supporters of Wike, has made his intention to contest the 2023 governorship election by obtaining and submitting his Expression of Interest and Nomination Forms.

Sir. Austin Opara

Rt. Hon. Opara

Born August 28,1963, Sir Austin Opara was elected to the House of Representatives in1999. He was reelected in 2003 and served as the Deputy speaker until 2007.  The Port Harcourt-born Austin Opara is one of the pillars of the PDP in the State and close ally of former Governor Peter Odili.

Dr. Abiye Sekibo

Dr. Sekibo

Dr. Abiye Precious Sekibo was former Secretary to the Rivers State Government as well as former Minister of Transport.  A politician with a strong grassroots support, Sekibo contested the governorship of the state in 2011 under the ticket of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). 

Sen. George Thompson Sekibo

Sen. Sekibo

Senator George Sekibo (CON) is one of the oldest serving senators in the country, having been elected senator in 2007. As Chairman of the Senate Committee on Solid Minerals, Sekibo severely criticized the Solid Minerals Ministry for failing to release $10 million granted by the World Bank to assist artisanal miners in the country. He may be one of the strongest and most experienced aspirants on account of having once served as Executive Chairman of Okrika/Ogu-Bolo Local Government Area and member of House of Representatives before going to the Senate.

Sen. Olaka Nwogu

Sen. Nwogu

Sen. Olaka Nwogu, currently the Chairman and CEO of Landmark Hotel in D-line and Hinterland Construction Company in Eleme, was a member of the House of Representatives from 1999 until 2011 for People’s Democratic Party. He represented the Tai–Eleme–Oyigbo Federal Constituency. Prior to being elected to the House of Reps, he served as Mayor (Chairman) of Eleme Local Government Area. In 2015, he contested for the seat of Senator in the National Assembly and won by 408,353 votes, defeating incumbent Sen. Magnus Abe of the APC, but later lost at the tribunal.

Chief David Briggs

Chief Briggs

Chief David Briggs, Kalabari-born chieftain of the PDP in Rivers State, has often been described as a square peg in a square hole and the best man for every job he has been assigned to do. At a recent interview with the press in Port Harcourt, the governorship aspirant highlighted few areas his administration will focus on if given the opportunity, while not neglecting the efforts of Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, CON.

Hon. Isaac Kamalu

Hon. Kamalu

Hon. Isaac Kamalu before his declaration of interest to contest the governorship of Rivers State was the State Commissioner for Finance after taking over from Dr. Fred Kpakol in 2019. He was also the immediate past Commissioner of Budget and Economic Planning upto December 2015. He is a staunch member of the Rivers State People’s Democratic Party.

Isaac Kamalu hails from Alode community in Eleme Local Government Area. He served as Chief Whip and member of the Rivers State House of Assembly for the constituency of Eleme from 2007 to 2011.

Hon. Boma Iyaye

Hon. Iyaye

An accountant, politician and now resigned Commissioner of Sports in the State, Hon. Boma Iyaye entered into politics and successfully ran for a seat in the Rivers State House of Assembly, where he served until 2007 representing Ogu–Bolo. He was the Chairman of the House Committee on Sports as well as member of other sub-committees at the Assembly.

In December 2015, he was inducted into the Gov Wike’s Executive Council as the Commissioner of Sports. Iyaye had previously served in the same office from April 4, 2008 to  June 4, 2009 and again from July 2009 to June 2011.

Mr. Siminalaye Fubara

Hon Fubara

Little known in political circles, Siminalaye Fubara was the Rivers State Accountant-General before he took everyone by storm by collecting and returning the PDP governorship nomination form last weekend.  Described in many quarters as a resourceful bean counter because of his knack for accounts and record keeping, Fubara was former Permanent Secretary, Rivers State Government House.

Engr. Tele Ikuru

Hon. Ikuru

Born Telenyem Renner Ikuru but, commonly known as Tele, the former Deputy Governor of Rivers State, Ikuru was first elected Deputy Governor of Rivers State in 2007 on a PDP ticket with Gov. Celestine Omehia. After the court nullified Omehia’s election that year, he was picked to serve under Chibuike Amaechi and was re-elected to the office in 2011.

Ikuru was among state officials who refused to join the All Progressives Congress with Gov. Amaechi in 2013. Tele Ikuru served as Commissioner of Agriculture and Natural Resources under Gov. Peter Odili from 1999 to 2003. He was moved to Housing and Urban Development as pioneer Commissioner from 2004–2006.

Alabo George Kelly

Dr. George

Like a gold fish without a hiding place, George Kelly was spotted by the leader of NEW VISION 2015, the political campaign mantra of Nyesom Ezenwo Wike as he began his second term in office after the March 2019 Re-run of the Governorship election in Rivers State.

Thus, he was brought into the executive cabinet after his resignation from the services of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). George Kelly was appointed as Special Adviser to Rivers State Governor and Head, Bureau for Special Projects. Here he has supervised more than a hundred high profile projects, with most of them completed while others are ongoing making Rivers State Governor to always beat his chest that he can never leave any project uncompleted at the end of his tenure because George Kelly’s signature rings the bell around such projects with impeccable supervision coming to the excellent Quantity Surveyor-George Kelly.

Dr. Gabriel Pidomson

Dr. Pidomson

A former Rivers State House of Assembly member, one-time Secretary to the Rivers State Government and currently the Chairman Board of Trustees of the Pro-Wike Group in Rivers State, Wike Solidarity Movement. Pidomson is reputed as a goal getter. A strategist and savvy politician, the Ogoni-born graduate of Walden University, Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States, purchased his PDP governorship nomination on Friday and submitted same on Saturday.

Major Aspirants In APC

Prince Tonye Princewill

Hon. Princewill

The scion of a prominent Kalabari traditional ruler, Tonye Princewill has not hidden his ambition to occupy the Rivers State’s seat of power. His burning desire to bring change in the governance pattern of the oil rich Rivers seems to be the reason behind his ambition to occupy the Brick House since 2007 when he was the candidate of the Action Congress and in 2015 as the Labour Party governorship flagbearer.

Princewill, we gathered, has a very strong political movement from the grassroots where many youths, men and women were empowered through his philanthropic programmes.

The Buguma-born prince is said to have consulted widely with party stalwarts and leaders on the prospects of his intention to vie for the governorship ticket of the party.

He recently met with the leaders of both Port Harcourt and Obio/ Akpor Local Government Areas and other party stalwarts in a series of closed-door meetings.

Dr. Dakuku Peterside

Dr. Peterside

The immediate past Managing Director of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr Dakuku Peterside, is also working very hard to realize his ambition to occupy the Brick House in 2023.

Despite his loss to Governor Wike in 2015, Peterside was believed to have made a strong showing in that very election. A two-time Commissioner in Rivers State and a member of House of Representatives, Peterside is said to be a grassroots man and is said to be relying on his empowerment of Rivers youths during his foray in NIMASA and closeness to Amaechi as his selling point to grab the party’s ticket for the plum job.

Senator Magnus Abe

Sen. Abe

Senator Magnus Abe who could be described as a torn in the flesh of Amaechi for the control of APC in the state has declared his intention of becoming the next governor of Rivers State.

Two attempts he made in 2015 and 2019 to secure his party’s ticket ended up in protracted litigation. Abe has not hidden his ambition to occupy the Brick House and he is fighting very hard despite his disagreement with Rotimi Amaechi, whose loyalists are in control of the party executive in the state.

Pastor Tonye Cole

Tonye Cole

The Chairman of Sahara Energy and a strong ally of Amaechi is said to be nursing the governorship ambition again after his chances of having a shot at the coveted seat was thwarted in 2019 when a legal battle denied the party from presenting candidates in the governorship election.

After his ambition to fly the party’s ticket failed, he was said to have gone back to his oil and gas business but analysts believe the Kalabari-born politician is still a credible candidate for the 2023 guber election.

Dr. Dawari George

Dr. George

A former federal lawmaker who represented the Asari-Toru/Akuku-Toru Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Dr. George is another politician to watch in the 2023 guber race in Rivers State.

George, who was a former Commissioner of Petroleum and Natural Resources under former Governor Rotimi Amaechi joined the billionaire-businessman Cole, Lulu-Briggs and Senator Abe, from Ogoni land to seek the ticket of the APC during the 2019 gubernatorial election in Rivers State but his ambition was frustrated by the court injunctions that stopped APC from fielding a candidate for the election.

Flag Ojukaye Amachree

Hon. Amachree

A strong supporter of Chibuike Amaechi, the former APC chairman in the state is another politician to watch in the 2023 governorship election. A deep grassroots mobilizer, Ojukaye, who is a former Chairman of Asari Toru Local Government Area, is said to be loved by teeming youths of Rivers State because of his advocacy for youths’ involvement in political governance of the state. During his foray as Asari Toru Local Government Chairman, he was said to have empowered so many youths through his dredging business.

Major Aspirant In Accord Party

Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs

Chief Lulu-Briggs

The scion of the late philanthropist O.B Lulu Briggs is considering having another attempt at occupying the seat of power, having failed to accomplish his ambition under the platform of Labour Party in 2019. Dumo has used his Foundation, O.B Lulu-Briggs Foundation to empower many Rivers indigenes, especially the youths.

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