* Traces Rivers APC crisis to Abe’s loss of guber ticket in 2014
*If Amaechi’s advice for everyone to keep ambitions under wrap was heeded, APC
would have been a winning machine in Rivers State by now
- Way out: Eze urges Abe’s camp to follow Allwell Nyesoh’s suggestion; leave the party to ‘more organised’ one
Did the crisis still distilling the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State start the moment one of its chieftains, Magnus Abe, lost the guber ticket in 2014? This is the verdict of one of the party, Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, a former national publicity secretary of the defunct New Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP).
Eze just released a statement revealing how reports had in 2014 talked about how the mobilised Ogoni youths marched through the popular Azikiwe Road to the main gate of the Government House in Port Harcourt, insisting that the then Governor Amaechi betrayed the Ogoni interest by ‘anointing’ Peterside as the governorship candidate of the APC.
The protesters, who had earlier blocked major points of the East-West Road in Eleme Local Government Area, chanted war songs, even as some of them threw stones that damaged some vehicles parked near the Government House. Most of us including the then Governor Amaechi were held hostage in the Government House by the protesting Ogoni youths.
Eze quoted the Public Relations Officer of the Movement for the survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) then, Legborsi Esaen, as stating, “Amaechi has betrayed the Ogonis. We have resolved to support any party that presents an Ogoni son as its governorship candidate. We are no longer prepared to play second fiddle in the politics of Rivers State. It’s either governorship or nothing”.
Eze, a close associate of both the Minster of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, and Senator Magnus Ngei Abe, has expressed shock over what he called attempts by Abe to rewrite the history and genesis of the crisis that engulfed the Rivers APC which culminated in the exclusion of the party from the 2019 general elections.
In a statement made available to media houses on Sunday, Chief Eze said he has now recanted his earlier stand never to comment on any issue pertaining to Senator Abe and the Amaechi matter. He said the AIT and Vanguard Newspaper interviews by Abe which he considered disparaging, spurred him back to the trenches.
Abe had revealed his anger, saying Amaechi had visited him in his Abuja residence and asked him to kill any guber ambition for 2019. He also said a press statement from Abe’s quarters had said the origin of the crisis was because of failure to obey court orders. Eze however said these were actually not the true reasons for the crisis.
Eze argued that a visit by a close ally to plead with you not to contest a particular position could not have been cause of such a cancerous crisis. He further quoted Dike Princewill, a stakeholder in the politics of Rivers State, capturing what transpired during Amaechi’s visit to Abe, “My big friend and brother, Sen.Magnus Abe, is begging the issue in his narrative. The real problem erupted when people started nursing ambitions that were creating schism in the party that was in dare need of repositioning. CRA’s only advice then was that there had to be a party first before ambitions could be realised. Let’s know when the rains started in order to seek proper shelter. This is the same advice that Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has recently canvassed in order to reposition the PDP ahead of the 2023 elections. If there was discipline in the rank and file of Rivers APC at that time and CRA, the leader’s advice was heeded; the party would have been a winning machinery. Vaulting ambitions made reasons to take flight. Sad.”
Eze said Dike’s position succinctly captures the issue, not Amaechi’s visit, not even disobedience to court orders, because selfish interests and inordinate ambitions led to the floodgate of litigations that resulted to court orders.
Eze pursued: “Senator Abe’s position that a face-off between the Judiciary and the APC ignited the crisis is a mere myth, emanating from the abyss.” Eze reiterated that the crisis actually started when Senator Abe failed to clinch the APC ticket during the 2014 party primaries which led to the mobilisation of youths from the Ogoni axis to protest the choice of Dr. Dakuku Adol Peterside, the consensus candidate for the 2015 gubernatorial election.
“The Ogonis were affirmative when they further stated, during the protest, “Governor Amaechi made us to defect from the PDP to the APC with hope to give us the governorship ticket. He made us to fight the Federal Government. Governor Amaechi deceived us into following him and now he wants to marginalise us. Amaechi used us and dumped us. Why will he want to make somebody (Dakuku) from Opobo a Governor? Opobo is a single community. They are a minority. Why will he want us, the Ogonis who have four four Local Government Areas, to concede to a minority? So we are saying that an Ogoni man must become the Governor of Rivers State in 2015”
Eze said to give credence to the stand of the Ogoni as stated above, a key stakeholder in the politics of Rivers State and one of the pivotal Pillars of the so called Abe’s camp, Chief Allwell Onyesoh, after five years of this historical protest, stated recently in an interview with the Vanguard Newspaper, “Magnus Abe was the standout card. We needed a man much mature, competent and had the support base to confront Wike. Wike is from Ikwerre with four LGAs, Abe, Ogoni, with four LGAs too. Then-governor (Amaechi) brought Dakuku from Opobo, the smallest LGA, if I am not mistaken. He brought running-mate from another small ethnic group – Engenni – who wasn’t even politically experienced”.
He said Chief Oneysoh, one of the great Irokos of Rivers State politics, went further to insinuate, “As a political party, we have the most lucrative offices. One of them is Director, Operations of NPA. People supply water to ships, clean NPA; do all kinds of things in wharfs. All those you can use to employ massively. What of NIMASA, what of railway? Sam Sam Jaja heads the board of a higher institution, are there no contracts there? You want to win election? Opobo, a tiny place, Dakuku is from there. Sam Sam Jaja is from there and a place as large as Etche and Omuma with over 200,000 voters, not one recognition. How do you take care of only a few and expect the majority to vote for you?”
Eze countered: “Abe and his group, after failing to clinch the 2015 ticket of APC hatched a deadly plot to sabotage the candidature of Dr. Petetside by after been mobilised for the elections stayed back in Port Harcourt without going back to their various constituencies to canvass for votes for APC with the idea that if Dakuku fails to win the 2015 election he Dr Dakuku will not go for a second term in 2019 thereby creating an opportunity for Abe to clinch the party’s ticket by then. Sadly for him and his co-travellers none of these plots worked out as it would have been foolhardy to trust such a character that sabotaged the party in 2015 to be given the party’s ticket by 2019.”
Eze insists that his is the true history of the APC Rivers crisis. On the way forward, Eze said he supports the position of Magnus Abe aptly captured by Chief Onyesoh when he stated, “If we, too, after so much and nothing is happening, decide to move, that won’t make us bad people. If we can no longer organise ourselves and the powers-that-be are not helping matters, we will look at those who are organised if we must continue to play the game. There will be realignment of forces.”
Eze said the Amaechi camp understands all such game plans. He pleaded with Abe and his group to leave Amaechi and those who are still interested to reposition the party for a better future for Rivers State and her teeming populace.
….. From Abe’s camp
Immediate past representative of the Rivers South-East Senatorial District at the National Assembly, Senator Magnus Ngei Abe has said that no member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State is dispensable nor indispensable.
Abe, who spoke on a national television programme in Abuja on Tuesday said, that for the Party to rise above its present predicament, it required all hands to be on deck.
He bemoaned a situation where stakeholders of the party throw tantrums at each other stating that such behaviour, cannot pull the Party out of its political doldrums and urged the leaders to desist from such unruly acts.
The Senator, who was responding to what he described as Senator Andrew Uchendu’s wild, childish and baseless comments in the media posited that in an atmosphere of mutual respect and acceptance, members should be able to make compromises that can move the party forward.
“I believe that any sensible politician who understands politics and can see where the APC in Rivers State is today after all the sacrifices that members have made over the years, would be very unhappy and I am very, very unhappy.
We need peace in the party and if we can change our language and stop talking the way we do, do things differently, we can have different results.
I have been circumspect about my choice of words when talking about Rotimi Amaechi and have said it over and over again that he is the leader of the Party. But, a leader must lead in such a manner that your supporters and followers can have confidence in the leadership. Leadership should not be designed to hurt anybody or group.
As far as the party is concerned, we need to bring everybody together, even Senator Andrew Uchendu, if only he will behave as an elder. We cannot be chasing one another in the public. He was my colleague at the National Assembly.
We sat together at the Senate and common decency demands that there are certain things we should not say about one another in the public. That decency he cannot respect.
If we can change our behaviour, rearrange our ways, curtail the excesses of our supporters, the party will unite again as one indivisible group.
In response to Senator Andrew Uchendu’s offer that himself and Senator Abe should both renounce their ambitions for the sake of the party, Abe said: “I am ready to do whatever we need to do to bring the party together, but if the foundation of the peace is that Senator Abe should announce that he has no ambition, I will not make that announcement. In the same vein, I will not sit here to say whether I will contest or not, that question is for the future.
People supported me for governorship because they could see that I was close to the fruit and if given a little push, I can catch it and they thronged behind me, if tomorrow am not in a good position and somebody else is better positioned, I will support that person”.
Contrary to the claim of Senator Andrew Uchendu that he was personally present at a meeting in Amaechi’s house where Senator Abe claimed that he was the greatest investment of Rotimi Amaechi, Abe said: “That statement was made at the heat of the crisis, at a rally in my village. The pictures are there. What I had on paper was that Amaechi is our biggest investment in the politics in Nigeria but when it came to the time to say it, I decided not to say it that way because I was looking for peace.
I felt that, If I say it that way, I felt it was too challenging and contentious to the man who was my governor and boss, so I switched it around because I wanted to appeal to his sense of humanity that you cannot build a house and destroy it.
So I said, listen, I am your biggest investment, in order words, don’t destroy what you have built. We supported Amaechi. We have helped one another and we are all friends.
The origin of this whole problem was the disobedience to Court orders that brought the face-off between Rivers APC and the Nigerian judiciary. It has nothing to do with a third party. It has to do with behaviour of the people in the party.
Wike was the governor of the State in 2016 during the senatorial rerun, he fought us to a point that, nobody was campaigning but I was campaigning and I won, the whole country knows that but Uchendu did not win he had to go to court. If Wike is that invincible, how did we win”?
The senator further said: “If you are living in an area that is close to earthquakes, you don’t go and build your house with bamboo sticks because at the slightest shake of the ground the sticks will fall apart. We know that we have a formidable political opponent with a large war chest in Rivers State.
We must build a structure that will overcome him because if our structure is not strong enough to overcome him, then everything they are shouting Wike, Wike this and Wike that, do you need Wike to cooperate with you before you win”?
“Senator Andrew Uchendu has no ambition to sacrifice because at about eighty years, he cannot win another election. More so, he had earlier publicly promised the people of Etche in 2015 that he will contest only one term only for him to return to Etche in 2019 claiming that the leadership ordered him to go back.
A man who had no balls to defend his own public position before the people of Etche cannot be trusted with power anymore,” Abe maintained.
(Source: Parry Benson, spokesperson to Senator Magnus Ngei Abe)