It was like a bolt from the blues when the news came out last week that court had nullified all primaries conducted by the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State.
What this means is that if the party fails to approach another court of competent jurisdiction to set aside the judgment, its candidates will not participate in the 2023 general elections.
This was exactly the same scenario that played out in 2019 which prevented APC from fielding candidates in the election. A court had barred APC in 2019 from participating in that year’s elections.
One thing that is not easily comprehended is that, it had always been the aggrieved members of APC that had taken the party to courts. The latest nullification was as a result of a case the APC members who said they were excluded from the primaries instituted against the party.
However, right from 2019 this problem started up till now, Rivers people had expected the APC to put its house in order, but it had rather fallen deeper into the miry clay, where it had become difficult for it to come out.
Those that could be described as pillars of the party in the state, including Senator Magnus Abe, Chief Chidi Wihioka and a host of others had since left and joined other parties.
The party’s problem is compounded by the defeat of Hon. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi the APC leader in the South-South at the Presidential Primaries. Many APC members\supporters had hoped that Amaechi would win the primaries, and if he won, the party would be strengthened in the state. Unfortunately, Amaechi lost, and with his loss, more problems had surfaced.
For instance, while the past defections of members from the party was attributed to Amaechi’s high-handedness, the latest gale of defections is attributed to his loss of the presidential primaries. The latest defections saw the likes of Chris Finebone, the party’s spokesman in the state, Hon. Ogbonna Nwuke, a top member, Hon. Tamunosiki Tiene immediate past chairman of the party in Ogu\Bolo, left the party and moved to the PDP.
Before the latest resignations, Chief Dr. Sam Sam Jaja APC BOT member, Opobo\Nkoro LGA, Prince Dike, APC major stakeholder, Ikwerre LGA, Chief Ogbonna Tochi, APC chieftain, Oyibo LGA, Hon. Nathan Dokubo, APC chairman Ogu\Bolo LGA, High Chief Dr. Muma Gift Eke, APC stalwart, Ahoda East, Amasenibo Hon. Adonye Dappa Wilcox, APC caucus Chairman, Bonny LGA, Comrade Marvin Yobana Africa Youth Amb.\APC stakeholder, Khana LGA, Hon. Suleiman Atago, APC leader, Ahoda East Constituency II, Chief Malaya Tuyork, APC chieftain, Andoni LGA and a host of other top members had earlier resigned and joined the PDP.
These gale of resignations, or even the court’s nullification of its primaries do not seem to bother Arch. Tonye Cole the APC Governorship Candidate in the state who had continued to maintain that with, or without nullification, he will go ahead with his Guber campaigns. In a press briefing last week, Cole had urged APC members\supporters not to bother by the nullification of the primaries, stressing that he would be in the ballots in the 2023 elections. The APC Governorship flag bearer also assured his supporters that the party would challenge the nullification in another court of competent jurisdiction. Some other APC stalwarts, including Darlington Nwauju its current Spokesman had also assured supporters that the party would participate and win the election. But these assurances appear watery considering the myriad of challenges the party is facing in the state.
First, the party should move fast to set aside the nullification of its primaries by the court. From the look of things, time is running out for them, and except they set aside the nullification order between now and December, the party’s hope of taking part in the elections may become a pipe dream.
Secondly, the APC faces formidable opposition not only from the PDP which had impregnable structure in the state, but from Senator Magnus Abe’s SDP, Dawari George’s AA, Dumo Lulu- Briggs’s Accord Party (AC) and Soboma Jackrich’s NRC. By the time APC finishes the court case challenging the nullification of its primaries and come back to put its scattered house in order, the opposition parties would have gone far with their preparations for the election, which would have given them a head start against Cole’s APC.
With the incumbent factor and the arsenal of war chests Governor Wike would amass in favour of the PDP candidate Sim Fubara, the popularity of Magnus Abe and Dumo Lulu-Briggs, the credibility of Dawari George and Soboma Jackrich’s vibrancy, it remains to be seen how APC would bounce back, participate and win the Guber Election in the state.