ANAYO ONUKWUGHA in this report writes that the multiplicity of pressure groups within the Rivers State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is counterproductive especially as the 2019 general elections draw nearer.
Just like most major political parties, the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State is ‘blessed’ with several pressure groups within its fold, with the aim of working for the victory of the party in the 2019 general elections.
Some of these pressure groups within the APC in the state include the Freedom House, the Rivers Unity House, the Free Rivers Development Initiative (FRDI), the Intra-Ethnic Network for Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi (INCRA), the Kairos Media Group and M30.
Apart from FRDI and INCRA, believed to be working for the interest of the party and that of the leader of the party and Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, the rest seem to be promoting the interest of individuals, who have governorship ambitions in the 2019 general elections.
Prominent amount these interest-based pressure groups within the APC are the Freedom House and the Rivers Unity House.
The Freedom House, which has its secretariat along Evo Road in GRA Phase 2, Port Harcourt is projecting the senator representing Rivers South-East district in the National Assembly, Senator Magnus Ngei Abe as the APC governorship candidate.
On the other hand, the Rivers Unity House, believed to be one of the newest pressure groups within the party, is vigorously campaigning for the emergence of Tonye Dele Cole as the next governor of Rivers State. However, unlike Abe, Cole is yet to make his intention known to the public.
The Freedom House, established about four months ago at an event that coincided with the senator’s declaration of interest in the governorship race, already has full structures of a campaign organization with a Director-General and other officers.
Speaking at the inauguration of the Freedom House, Abe stated that his intention to contest the seat on the platform of APC was to bring to the state, the needed change in governance which the APC stands for.
The senator said, “This office will be called Freedom House, a place where good things will happen, a place where ideas will be articulated and debated, a place where visions that will change Rivers State will be articulated.
“I, Magnus Ngei Abe, have decided in the interest of our state and future of our people, to seek the nomination of my party, the APC, Rivers State, for the office of the governor of the state in the 2019 elections. In doing so, I want to make it clear that there is no gun shot ambition.
“I want to assure the party and Rivers people that if there is a fair process, I will not only support the candidate but I will campaign for him. I will do so when members of the party are given opportunity to elect without intimidation and undue threats.”
The Freedom House has not hidden its involvement in the legal battle trailing the APC Ward, Local Government and State Congresses, which produced Hon. Ojukaye Flagg-Amachree-led State Working Committee (SWC) of the party.
For the Rivers Unity House, if believes it is not yet time for its principal, Tonye Dele Cole (TDC) to declare his ambition to run for the governorship race on the platform of the APC.
A statement posted on the pressure group’s Facebook page reads in part, “Just as we can no longer accept mediocrity, incompetence & mendacity as the new normal, TDC too will not be expected to break the laws of the land. Yes, we know that the “murkiness” of our politics has come to accept brigandage wanton disobedience of the laws of the land, but we shall not encourage anyone who desires progress for Rivers state to start by violating the laws.
“And because TDC is the epitome of the paradigm shift that we crave for, we will not pray that he is stampeded into doing things the old way. In the last weeks, since the advocacy for a TDC governorship gained momentum, we’ve been inundated with questions about the authenticity of the TDC project.
“The advocates have been harangued and TDC himself pilloried. And this is even before the gentleman has even made public his position on 2019. There have even been disclaimers for and on behalf of TDC.
“TDC advocates have been called names for merely exercising their democratic rights. Even if we accept that this is the murky attitude they want to use as scare tactics, we shall not hesitate to say that this is not and pedestrian, but an exercise in monumental and historical futility.”
Apparently to make its presence fully known in the state, the Rivers Unity House recently organised the June 12 Unity lecture, with the theme: “June 12: Our pain, Our gain”, which featured former Deputy Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon. Leyii Kwanee and the member representing Ikwerre Constituency in the Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon. Azubike Chikere Wanjoku as speakers.
In his lecture titled, “Unity and Party Supremacy”, Kwanee said there are many within the APC family in Rivers State that are working against the interest of the party, warning against giving leadership trust to people of questionable character.
He said, “That we will get into the Brick House in 2019 is not in doubt by the grace of God. But there are many anti-APC elements with the Rivers APC family. Those from outside see all of us as APC members, but not all are for the APC. Some are working for the PDP.
“Our leaders must understand that trust is earned. As we begin out journey towards the 2019 general elections, we must be careful. So that we don’t give trust to people that should not be trusted.”
Also speaking, a member of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon. Azubuike Wanjoku, said the APC under the leadership of the Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, is trying to rescue Rivers State from the pains inflicted on them by the present administration in the state.
On his part, leader of the Rivers Unity House, Kingsley Wali, has said the Transport Minister, Amaechi is the poorest high profile political officer in Nigeria today, adding that his description of the former governor is based on his character and passion for selfless.
Wali said, “Like Abiola, the Ameachi aura is about a belief and commitment to that belief. Abiola had all the leverage to walk out of prison free, but he said he would not do so without his mandate, not for any personal interest but to serve public good.”
“How many political leaders would go through what Amaechi went through in his second governorship term and will not break? And he took all the pain for public interest and that is why Amaechi today is the poorest political officeholder in Nigeria.
“He would put his family on the line, talk less of scarifying his private vault to ensure that the other man is not deprived under his leadership. He once borrowed to pay a former commissioner son’s school fees. That is why he is poor and when he told the National Assembly I am not corrupt, he meant it”
To a chieftain of the APC, Reverend Minaibi Dagogo-Jack, the springing up of pressure groups within the party is not strange as it helps to further the course of the political party.
Dagogo-Jack said, “What is happening in APC is common to every political party. Crisis is common unto men; right from the Garden of Eden there was crisis between God and man, when man failed God. So, it is common. I don’t see any side.
“The issue is that Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi is the leader of the party in Rivers State and the South-South. Amaechi is asking everybody to drop their political ambition and put the party together first; fight for the unity of the party first.”
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