As early as 6:00am on Monday, May 21, 2018, the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State had concluded its rescheduled state congress at the Elekahia Community Hall in Port Harcourt City local government area of the state.
The congress, held under tight security saw the emergence of former Chairman of Asari-Toru local government area, Hon. Ojukaye Flag-Amachree, is the new Chairman of the party in the state with Chief Emeka Beke and Senibo Chris Finebone, retaining their positions as State Secretary and State Publicity Secretary of the party respectively.
The state congress, which was to be held on Saturday, May 19, 2018, was rescheduled for Monday, following the cancellation of previous congresses by the national leadership of APC.
National leadership of the party, had in an undated statement issued on Friday,, May 18, 2018 and signed by its National Chairman of APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun and two others, announced the cancellation of the two previously held congresses in the state and announced new dates for the exercise.
The new dates fixed for the congresses were Saturday, May 19, 2018 for Ward Congress and Sunday, May 20, 2018 for Local Government Congress while the State Congress of the party was to hold on Monday, May 21, 2018.
However, the congresses were boycotted by some members of the APC believed to be supporters of a governorship aspirant of the APC in the state, Senator Magnus Ngei Abe.
Abe, who is also the senator representing Rivers South-East district in the National Assembly, has been having a running battle with the leader of the party in the state and Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi over who becomes the standard bearer of the party in the 2019 elections.
Addressing journalists at the Freedom House, Port Harcourt, the liaison office of the senator, stakeholders of the APC, declared that they boycotted the rescheduled congresses of the party because the exercise was contrary to a pending litigation.
The stakeholders, made up of about 15 chieftains of the party, including members of the National Assembly, said there is a subsisting interlocutory injunction from the Court, restraining the party from going ahead with the congresses.
Immediate past Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Worgu Boms, read the resolution of the group, faulting the letter from the national leadership for the rescheduled congresses.
Boms noted that the document was not dated, National Chairman’s name, Chief John Oyegun was altered with a red ink and the party’s National Legal Adviser did not sign the letter.
He said it would amount to contempt of court to carry out any APC congress in the State, when a court order against the exercise has not been vacated, adding that they would not participate in illegality.
The former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice stated that the party has no right to conduct congresses in the state when the order of the court has not been vacated, calling on supporters of the party not to take part in the process.
Boms said, “The congresses of APC cannot hold in Rivers, hence the court order persists. We are calling all party faithful to shun the jamboree of illegality.
“We are not party of the congresses because it is illegal. The matter is in court and coming to conduct the same process amount to subjudice of court. We will only participate when the matter is hard and vacated on the 26th of June.”
He noted that the decision captured in the letter signed by the Chairman of the party, John Oyegun and two other officials of the national leadership of the party would not stand, pointing out that the letter was not dated.
He further said the national body of the party has not amended the guidelines for the process, stressing that it would be inappropriate to hold party congresses on three successive days.
Flag-Amachree, had in his acceptance speech after the state congress, thanked God and the Minister of Transportation, Amaechi, for giving him the opportunity to serve the party
He said, “Quickly, I will want to thank God Almighty for this opportunity and for today. I will also want to thank the leader of our great party in the state and in the South-South, the Hon. Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi, for this wonderful opportunity.
“I also thank the immediate past chairman of this party, Chief Davies Ikanya, for a wonderful job he did, he has made my job easy. With my emergence, we will do everything within our power in making sure that in 2019, we will take over the Brick House.”
To James Majit, Chairman of the State Congress Committee in Rivers, James Majit, the congress was conducted in accordance with with the laid down rules and guidelines of the party.
Majit said, “I am happy for your peaceful conduct. The congress, from the accreditation to the election, was in accordance with the laid down rules and guidelines of the party.
“I encourage you not to relent in the task of taking the party to the next level, especially in producing an APC governor in Rivers State in 2019.”
It is widely believed that Flag-Amachree choice as new Chairman of the APC in the state was concluded at a last minute strategic meeting presided over by Amaechi on Sunday night, May 20, 2018 in Port Harcourt.
The new APC Chairman is a wells respected grassroots mobiliser and die-hard supporter of the Minister of Transportation and enjoys widespread respect within the party in Rivers State.
Less than two hours after his emergence, Flag-Amachree paid a visit to a chieftain of the party and Director-General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Adol Peterside in his residence in Port Harcourt.
Peterside was Commissioner for Works during the first term of Amaechi as governor, former member of the House of Representatives and governorship candidate of the APC in the 2015 election. There are speculations that he is likely to be the minister’s choice as the party’s flagbearer in the 2019 governorship race.
Receiving the new Chairman of the party in his residence, Peterside charged the new executive of the party in the state to lead the party to victory in the state come 2019.
While congratulating the new state executive for their emergence “in a free, fair, peaceful and credible state congress,” the NIMASA boss tasked them to be committed to the dreams of a “united, peaceful & prosperous Rivers state.”
He said, “The new exco should lead us to victory so that Rivers people can smile again. Rivers people are desirous of change from a government that has robbed them of their wealth, dignity and progress. In 2019, they are ready to sack Governor Wike from office, so I expect the new exco to mobilize massively and ensure that the task is accomplished.”
Peterside, who was the governorship candidate of the APC during the 2015 general elections, commended the immediate past executive of the party for fighting doggedly in challenging situations.
He said, “Let me commend the immediate past chairman, Chief Davies Ibiamu Ikanya for the leadership he showed and for leading the party through challenging times. He was a stabilizer and a seasoned administrator. I praise him for being courageous and for being a team player.
“Let me also commend all those who worked with him. They gave their best effort and survived where many would have crumbled. It is a great testament to their doggedness and perseverance. The party will never forget their efforts.”
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