* But rally ends without hitches
· As Tinubu promises end to oil vandalism, restoration of economic prosperity
By Ignatius Chukwu
The big fish of Rivers APC, former governor, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, was conspicuously absent the day Bola Ahmed Tinubu stormed the garden city for the presidential rally.
Aides however said Amaechi was engrossed in classroom work as a law school student.
The much-feared presidential rally in Port Harcourt by the flagbearer of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has successfully come and gone without hitches.
The candidate promised to end oil vandalism and restore the good life through economic prosperity in the region.
Tension was in the air all week before the D-Day (Wednesday, February 15, 2023) due to claims of ownership of the rally by both the Beke/Cole camp and the Tony Okocha camp.
Emeka Beke is the chairman of the party in the state and works with the party’s candidate, Tonye Cole (all of who are loyal to former governor, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi).
On the other hand, Okocha is believed to work with Wike behind the scene in the governor’s push to help Tinubu win without going through his sworn enemy, Amaechi.
Close to the rally, both camps insisted on being in charge and to prove it, the camp that got the key of the Yakubu Gowon Stadium from the governor would be regarded as the owner of the rally.
The matter seemed to go to Okocha who easily got the keys and seemed to get the ear of the national leadership and the presidential candidate, but this development provoked the Amaechi camp which decided to muscle their way through to press their legitimate ownership of both the candidate (Tinubu) and the rally.
This was said to be aimed at forcing Tinubu to openly endorse Okocha and lose Amaechi camp or vice versa.
It was at this point that Tein Jack-Rich Jnr stepped in on Monday, February 13, 2023, to create a truce. Both camps decided to put down issue of supremacy and work together for the success of the rally.
Amaechi was however not present and nobody sent his regrets. Contacted, the publicity secretary of the APC in the state, Darlington Nwauju, explained that Amaechi is fully occupied in the law school with class work.
Both camps were generously commended on that and all parties sheath their swords. The rally however took off very late, about 4.01pm. The national chairman and the flagbearer each profusely apologized but said it was not their fault, but due to the nature of politics.
This was indication that serious meetings had to be held to reach a truce before venturing into the venue.
Speaking, Tinubu promised to stop oil vandalism and rather restore the economic prosperity of the region.
If elected, he assured, industries including the ports work effectively, adding that insecurity will no longer thrive in the country.
He stressed the need to revive the nation’s industries, insisting that with better utilisation of the ports, stable security in the country, and developing the youths skillfully, Nigeria would achieve it’s position as the giant of Africa.
“Here we are in Nigeria and in Rivers. Is not fish that we are looking for, is not crayfish, is in Lagos too. What we are looking for is authority to change your lives for prosperity.
“Power and magnitude to give you the best of life, to take care of your inheritance, to make sure that all of you, particularly the youths are empowered to have the best skill in the world that can manufacture, that can produce things that other countries want. That can produce for export from Nigeria, make Nigeria proud, a nation of prosperity, joy and happiness beyond one day.
“We are talking about prosperity in Nigeria, without our own factory, without better utilization of our Ports, without peace and stability, we cannot achieve those aims and those dreams.”
He said he would want them to take their lives seriously beyond politics. “I will become your president by the grace of God. By the power of your votes make sure you have your PVC, make sure your votes and ballots is ready. I know that you are looking for president, you will vote for me as your president.”
Rivers State produced two presidential aspirants that came second each in the primaries and Tinubu seemed to take note. “One day you will be president too, let’s build a nation of joy, unity, that is hardworking, that is working together and not killing one another.
“Today, I must promise you, if we can work together, we must work together to stop vandalisation of our properties, of our oil pipelines. It is only in unity, working together with prosperity will be part of our hope”.
He commended Rivers people for their turnout in numbers and patience while the rally was delayed, he emphasised on a joyful and progressive future for the state.