By Ignatius Chukwu
Two new arrowheads have emerged in the endless internal disputes in the APC in Rivers State; Dr Sokonte Davies vs Chief Tony Okocha.
The presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is set to touch down in Port Harcourt for the Rivers State wing of his presidential campaigns.
This otherwise happy expectation is causing crisis as everything APC Rivers does. The factional lines in the state have reappeared with each group claiming right to organize the presidential rally.
Problem began long ago when the name of Tony Okocha, a man who is at loggerheads with his former master, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi. Okocha was the second chief of staff in Government House in PH under then Gov Amaechi.
The crisis in the state between Magnus Abe and Amaechi found Okocha against Amaechi. Abe moved into the newly formed Social Democratic Party (SDP) as governorship candidate but Okocha stayed back ostensibly to fight from inside.
Okocha’s name appeared as Rivers State coordinator of the BAT presidential campaign council (APC-PCC) but the Amaechi group stayed away. When this seemed to cause worry at the BAT camp, effords were said to be made to bring the former governor and minister’s camp in.
This must have led to the emergence Sokonte Davies as the new man on the scene. In fact, he is recognized as the chairman of the Presidential Rally Planning Committee for Rivers State.
Davies was member of the National Assembly, the director of finance of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), former director of finance of the Presidential Election Committee.
It was said that Okocha and group walked out at a meeting by Rivers APC to organize the rally.
Davies said he was not a PCC member but that he was qualified to preside over a PCC meeting because he had held a higher appointment.
He said the APC was seriously campaigning for Tinubu and all other APC candidates in the state and that it could not be true that the Amaechi group or the APC in the state were not campaigning for Tinubu.
He said: “We are campaigning and we are working for the elections of all the APC candidates. I am the chairman for the rally.”
His outburst was provoked by Okocha’s claims that Amaechi group was not campaigning for Tinubu.
Amaechi had fought hard for the APC presidential slot to the extent of sacrificing his ministerial position. He came second but felt that there was gang up in the party arranged by Tinubu when many northerners and others stepped down for Tinubu.
He seemed to walk away but the APC national caucus continued to pursue him and Yemi Osinbajo to get into the Tinubu campaign effort probably to create an image of a united front.
The Abe/Okocha faction of the APC in Rivers State however appeared happy at the misfortunes of Amaechi, and Okocha seemed to pick up the gauntlet to lead the party in the state.
Okocha, said to be a member of the APC Presidential Campaign Council, again, accused the party’s leadership in Rivers state of not campaigning for its Presidential candidate ahead of the 2023 general elections.
Speaking as a guest on a radio station, Okocha took a swipe at former Transportation Minister and the APC Governorship candidate in Rivers state, Tonye Cole, for a seeming division in the party at the state level.
Okocha alleged that some members of the party in the state, among other conditions, asked the national body of the party to remit 25 per cent of monies spent on purchasing nomination forms to the state, if it wants support for the Presidential candidate, Tinubu. Two Rivers son contested and spent N200m to procure the forms. The 25 per cent would amount to N50m.
Instead, the Amaechi camp accused Okocha of dropping the name of the governor of the state by saying if he (Okocha) was not made to head the committee, that the governor would not grant approval to use the stadium.
Wike had said he would name the presidential candidate to support. He was rumoured to have a secret agreement with Tinubu over the years. Now, many say he has told his supporters to vote BAT.
The Amaechi camp does not however see eye to eye with Wike. Alliance by Wike with Tinubu is thus seen as a stab in the back to Amaechi.
An APC chieftain, Dakuku Peterside, has openly challenged Wike to name his presidential candidate since he has rejected his own party candidate, Atiku.
Wike has just cancelled approval he earlier granted Atiku to use the new stadium in the state built by Amaechi administration, saying he found out that Atiku was hobnobbing with the APC to allow APC (which he calls the opposition) to hold a rally. It therefore creates surprise that Wike would not grant approval to APC but is said to be asking his supporters to support Tinubu.
Analysts have described this as another wonder that would require soothsayers to decode.