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One APC, Two Factions In Rivers



The All Progressives Congress, APC, in Rivers State is probably now in a situation where things have fallen apart and the centre could no longer hold, while the falcon no longer hears the falconer, writes ANAYO ONUKWUGHA.

These are not the best of times for the ruling All Progressives Congress, across the length and breadth of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The uneasy quiet in the party was occasioned by the recently concluded congresses of the party across the country.

But the festering crisis in Rivers State APC, which was occasioned by the 2019 gubernatorial ticket of the party, and which pitched the senator representing Rivers South-East senatorial district in the upper chamber of the National Assembly, Senator Magnus Ngei Abe against former governor of the state and Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, reached a head few days ago, precisely on Monday, June 18, when the immediate past state Deputy Chairman of the APC in Rivers State, Prince Peter Odike, declared himself the acting Chairman of party in the state.

Although it is more or less an open-secret long before now that the APC, which is the main opposition political party in the state, had been divided along loyalty lines, and with Odike declaring himself as the acting Chairman, it has become obvious that the APC is factionalised in Rivers State.

Even before the declaration, several groups within the APC loyal to Senator Abe, had moved their programmes and activities to Freedom House, the liaison office of the senator in the capital city of Port Harcourt.

Another faction, which has Hon. Ojukaye Flag-Amachree as its state Chairman of the party is rallying support for the Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Amaechi.

In as much as the two factions believe that Amaechi, who is the immediate past governor of Rivers State, is the leader of the party in the state and in the South-South geopolitical zone, the Abe group seems to be aggrieved over alleged plans by the minister to deny the senator the party’s governorship ticket ahead of the 2019 general election.

Declaring himself Acting Chairman of the APC during a media briefing at the Freedom House, located in GRA, Port Harcourt, Odike, who was in company of some former members of the State Working Committee, SWC, of the party, stated that the election of Flag-Amachree as state chairman of the party had been voided by the court.

He said, “As you are very much aware, the APC Congress in Rivers State has been mired in controversy, culminating in two court orders, which were roundly disobeyed by the Flag-Amachree faction of the party led by Amaechi.

“True to their threat to disobey the court order, they proceeded with the congress. Later, on their own still, they cancelled the congress, rescheduled all and held them in a succession of weekend days of Saturday, Sunday and early Monday.

“They now claim that Flag-Amachree is the new Rivers APC chairman arising from the said weekend-midnight congress.

“Our party faithful who went to court to protest their unlawful exclusion, returned to the court to complain of the illegality of holding the congress in defiance of the order of the court. They urged the court to void the obviously illegal exercise and the court did.

“In unambiguous words, the court declared as null and void the purported ward, local government and state congresses which produced Flag-Amachree and his group. With the voiding of the Flag-Amachree midnight congress, our State Working Committee which they sought to succeed is still in place and intact.

“Since the court has decided that no congresses have been held with the voiding of the so called congresses, the Dr. Davis Ikanya led-executive committee will continue with its work of running the party.

“However, the chairman, Dr. Ikanya is in London, United Kingdom, for his eyes medical examination and treatment. I communicated with him on this development over the weekend. I wish him speedy recovery.

“And as stipulated in the provisions of the APC constitution, the Deputy Chairman acts on the chairman’s behalf pending his resumption. Other members of the Working Committee and I have met. We agreed that we should not allow APC Rivers State to die; not even by suicide.

“Consequently, I announce to you this morning that I, Prince Peter Odike, JP, the Deputy Chairman of the APC in Rivers State, pending the return and resumption of duty by the chairman, is the acting chairman of the APC Rivers State.”

But, in a swift reaction, the Publicity Secretary of the APC in the state, Warisenibo Chris Finebone, said the party is one under the chairmanship of Hon. Flag-Amachree and the leadership of the Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Amaechi.

Finebone said, “For the avoidance of doubt, the Rivers State chapter of the APC under the able chairmanship of Hon. Flag-Amachree and leadership of Rt. Hon Amaechi, the Minister of Transportation of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. That is settled reality.

“Our reaction will expectedly and advisedly be measured. The reason is that any matter that is directly or indirectly in court should not suffer subjudice one way or the other due to the indiscretion of persons involved.

“What happened this morning (yesterday) is a classic case of delusion of grandeur. It is like climbing the tallest building in town and proclaiming, ‘I am now Pope Francis of the Catholic Church, all Catholics must recognise me.’

“Sadly that is not how the world works except in the world of the kindergarten that plays in the sand. We wish them well in their house of exile. Be informed that not even an eventual creation of a faction of the party in Rivers State, which they have been struggling to achieve, will get them anywhere. They should ponder this deeply.”

Recall that on June 9, 2018, eleven days before he declared himself as the acting Chairman, Odike had issued a statement advising APC members not to attend a rally being organised by the party in Bera community in Gokana Local Government Area of Rivers State, the hometown of Abe. The rally was held to receive some prominent members of the ruling PDP who defected to the APC.

Also, the senator, in his own statement, issued in Port Harcourt by his spokesman, Parry Saro Benson, described the rally, that was later graced by the Minister of Transportation, Amaechi as “provocative and being organised by a faction of the APC.”

While calling on the good people of Gokana in Gokana Local Government Area and Ogoni at large to remain peaceful and law-abiding in the face of provocation, Abe insisted that the Flagg-Amachree-led executive of the APC has been voided by the court and has no legal right to speak or act on behalf of the APC in Rivers State.

The APC governorship aspirant said, “It has come to my notice that the Ojukaye Flagg-Amachree-led factional executive, a group that has been voided by the court is planning to hold a rally in Gokana today. I urge you all to ignore them as their efforts will yield no benefits.

“This is a grand design by some unscrupulous politicians in the area to instigate violence amongst us. I, therefore, urge you to go about your normal business as no individual or group could stop a people whose time has come.”

It definitely is clear from the foregoing that all is not well with the APC in Rivers State and the earlier the national leadership of the party wades in to nip the crisis in the bud, the better.

This became imperative as the 2019 election is fast approaching and as they say, a house divided against itself would end up crumbling. Each gladiator in the rift needs to put the interest of the party in the state and the interest of the people of the state above every other interest or consideration. Failure to do this will be tantamount to courting calamitous failure in 2019, the result of which will not do the party or its members in Rivers State any good.

A stitch in time, they say, saves nine.