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Rivers APC Crisis, Adams Oshiomhole's Dilemma

…As Amaechi, Abe's Factions Sell Nomination Forms
By Chris Konkwo


When the crisis in the Rivers State Chapter of the All Progressives Congress, APC, started last year, ahead of the Ward and Local Government Area congresses, with regard to which option between direct and indirect primaries will be applied to keep in check acrimony and bitterness that usually follow such elections, it was never imagined the trouble the exercise wanted to avoid was going to be so intractably multiplied.

As it was in Rivers State, so it was elsewhere, particularly in nearby Imo State where Governor Rochas Okorocha on one side, had to contend with his deputy, Chief Madumere and Senator Ifeanyi Ararume on the other side.

The fight between these titans is still on with the Imo State deputy governor pushed to the edge of impeachment by the Okorocha infected House of Assembly and only being wedged by court injunction.

In Rivers State, the chief protagonists are the two former allies, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, the current Minster of Transportation and Hon. Magnus Ngei Abe, incumbent Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Both political office holders from Rivers East and Rivers South-East Senatorial Districts respectively were disciples of the one and only Golden Governor of Rivers State (former), Sir Dr. Peter Odili.

What makes the Rivers APC experience special however, is thought to stem from the economic relevance of the State to the national economy which to those whose vision is limited to oil and gas as the only reliable foreign exchange earner, offers so much earnings to help line their pockets.

For this reason, it's either Rivers State or no other. This, to some political commentators is the sole reason whoever is to become the Governor of the State has to be dictated, endorsed and delivered from outside the State, by the powers that be.

Election of the Governor of Rivers State has arguably followed this line of endorsement and any opposition to this policy has always triggered off crisis.       
Could this seeming fact or better put, hypothesis be true of the current imbroglio between Senator Magnus Abe and Rotimi Amaechi and who could possibly be their drum beaters that the almighty Adams Oshiomhole with all his threats of fire and brimstone to solve and unite all warying factions of the APC in a matter of weeks so as to silence the PDP opposition once and for all, have turned to mere pouring water on stone and further created an impression of a toothless bulldog of Adams Oshiomhole.

Fillers have it that the Edo born politician and two term governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole, may have underestimated the enormity of the APC crisis in Rivers State or perhaps, is yet to appreciate the complicated theatricals that characterize the Rivers politics scanning through personal ambition, avarice, god-fatherism, ethnicity, upland/riverine dichotomy, senatorial districts arrangement, overt and cover pacts with power brokers from outside the State and the last but not the least, external influence from oil multi-nationals and other investors.

Unless Adams Oshiomhole is confused, otherwise, people are tempted to ask, why are both factions of the APC in Rivers State selling Interest and Nomination Forms to House of Assembly aspirants as well as aspirants for House of Reps, Senate and Governorship from both factions collecting Interest and Nomination Forms.

Where did they obtain these forms from; who issued out the forms to both factions; Are the two factions recognized; is Rivers APC going to be given the privilege of fielding double candidates for the 2019 elections; what happens if the September 24th pending court case is ruled in favour of either faction. What about the likely appeals against the ruling from the loser in view of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, deadline for conclusion of all related matters and submission of party candidates. What is the positions of Oshiomhole as the National Chairman of the APC and the National Leader of the APC, Bola Tinubu on the political bubuyaya between Amaechi and Abe?

By the way, what is direct and indirect primary about, the very manifest symptom of the Abe and Amaechi disagreement?
Direct primary, according to Parry Benson, Senator Abe's Media Adviser can be summarized in his principal's position on unit by unit and ward election for all aspirants as the only fair and democratic means of choosing the party's candidates for all political offices down to the Governorship.

To him, every aspirant should be given the opportunity to complete and test his popularity and acceptability by the people in which case, the people are the ultimate deciders of the candidates' fate and not just one self appointed Emperor who calls the shots from the comfort of his bedroom.

On the other hand, the indirect primary which aims to avoid waste of resources by aspirants who are sure to be rejected by the party members upon submitting themselves for election, is said to be the idea of the party leaders and elders anchored on the wisdom of Solomon to select only those candidates that can win elections especially against the incumbent. Such criteria used in selecting candidates by indirect primary include loyalty, relationship to the party leader (s) etc.

To Magnus Abe, the indirect primary favoured by the Trasnportation Minister, Rotimi Amaechi amounts to imposition of candidates and is not only undemocratic but also maverick, autocratic and of stone age, and therefore unacceptable.

Pursuant to his preferred indirect primary, Rotimi Amaechi with all the good intentions to deliver a crisis ridden free election may have succeeded in complicating his troubles even among his followers as many of them are now allegedly singing discordant tones.
This is perhaps, sequel to his conflicting endorsement of candidates in almost every senatorial district to various political offices which does not seem to augur well with many of his supporters.

The last straw that broke the Camel's back is unarguably the endorsement of his friend, and alleged business associate and Managing Director of Sahara Energy, Tonye Cole as the APC Governorship candidate for Rivers State.

Mr. Tonye Cole, the son of once, a presidential aspirant during Gen. Ibrahim Babangida's zero party election, Patrick Dele Cole seems to have a lot of hurdles to scale through before he could be accepted even by the Amaechi's supporters.

The Amaechi's grudging supporters are not only querying Tonye's paternity but also his membership of the party, commitment to the cause of the APC and knowledge of administrative politics.

Some alleged that with Tonye on the Governor's seat, Amaechi has automatically become the De-Facto Governor, a sort of third term in office. Tonye Cole is believed to be a Lagosian and has lived all his life in Lagos and hardly knows any part of Rivers State. This is not the kind of governor we want, one APC member retorted.

Elsewhere, in Rivers East Senatorial District, the aging Senator Andrew Uchendu who promised only one term in the Senate to make way for other parts of the district notably, Etche/Omuma local government areas after spending 12 years in House of Representatives is said to have picked nomination form for a return ticket to the senate on the orders of the Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi, another case of indirect primary. This has correspondingly split Amaechi's supporters in Emohua, Ikwerre, Etche and Omuma Local Government Areas according to media reports.

In Rivers South-East, the senatorial district of Senator Magnus Abe, Amaechi allegedly did not only ask Engr. Samson Ngerebara and Davis Ikanya, the immediate past chairman of APC in the State to pick senate forms but has also allegedly endorsed Nigeria's Ambassador to the Netherlands, and former executive chairman of Eleme Local Government Area, Chief Ngofa Orji for the same senate.

Engr. Ngerebara is however said to have stepped down for Mr. Davis Ikanya on grounds that both of them are brothers from Andoni.
In Rivers West, the story is same with Honorable Asita and his nephew, Iwori Miller having allegedly been endorsed for the senate and Rivers State House of Assembly respectively.

Not particularly happy for all this, more Amaechi supporters are said to have started kicking against the indirect primary and going ahead to pick nomination forms.
One of such supporters is Dumo Briggs who has also picked form for the office of Governor and which has given another dimension to the APC crisis in the State, lending credence to the hypothesis: “Crises and deadlock when they occur have at least this advantage, that they force us to think”. – J. Nehru
Perhaps, this is why Senator Magnus Abe may have reasoned along Theordore Roosevelt that man is not worth his salt who is not ready at all times to risk his well-being, to risk his body, to risk his life, in a great cause which is confirmed by yet another great thinker, William Bryan: “That the humble citizen of all the land, when clad in the armour of righteous cause, is stronger than all the hosts of Error.
The Rivers APC seems therefore to have proved right that there are basically three things in a man's life when it's useless to hold him to anything: when he is madly in love, drunk or running for office. But whatever happens, “A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul” – Bernard Shaw.