ANAYO ONUKWUGHA in this report writes on the recent declaration of Rivers State governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike of the PDP, to seek for second term against the readiness of the opposition APC to gain control of the state next year.
On September 1, 2018, Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, declared his intention to seek for a second term in office on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The declaration by the governor came barely 24 hours after the leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state and Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi endorsed the aspiration of billionaire entrepreneur, Architect Tonye Dele Cole, popularly known as TDC, to contest the 2019 governorship election on the APC platform.
Long before Amaechi gave the endorsement, the TDC brand has been sold to the people of the state by a political pressure cum advocacy group within the APC, the Rivers Unity House, led by a legal practitioner, Kingsley Wenenda Wali.
Wike’s declaration, which came after months of calls and rallies by several women and youth groups in the state, was in Port Harcourt, at the official opening of the secretariat of one of the groups clamouring for his second term in office, the One Million Youths for New Rivers State.
Speaking at the event, the governor said his decision to seek for a second term in office, was due the support of youths from the 23 local government areas as the principal reason for his declaration.
He acknowledged the endorsements from women, elders, ethnic nationalities and non-indigenes from the 23 local government areas as yet another reason to fight for protection of the state, post-2019.
Wike said: “I want to tell you that I am prepared for that election (2019). Since the youths are the ones saying that I should come out to contest, I am ready to come out.
“Let the security agencies know that we are prepared. When they are thinking of shooting, they will fall asleep, until the elections are over and we are declared winners.”
The governor used the opportunity to comment on Amaechi’s decision to endorse Cole’s aspirations, saying that the duo were business partners and would be defeated in the 2019 general election.
He said: “We will not allow two business partners to take over this state. We are aware in Rivers State. Nobody can do to this state the charade that is obtainable in Lagos State.
“People intentionally sold key assets of Rivers State to themselves and now they want to take more through business partnership.
“They sold to themselves the gas turbines, sold to themselves Olympia Hotel and Abonnema Wharf. If we allow them, they will sell the whole GRA to themselves. They should know that we are prepared.”
Many people in Rivers State believe that the 2019 governorship election in the state will not be a walk-over for Wike and the PDP, considering the calibre of politicians that have indicated interest in the APC governorship ticket.
Some of these political heavyweights include: the senator representing Rivers South-East district in the National Assembly, Senator Magnus Ngei Abe; the Director-General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Adol Peterside; former Chairman of the Governing Council of the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Iron, Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs and Cole.
However, the Rivers Unity House (RUH) believes that the APC needs a gubernatorial candidate like Cole, who is neutral in the seeming crisis within the party to confront Wike in the 2019 general election.
According to Kingsley Wenenda Wali, the convener of the group, the seeming division within the APC in the state to the premature gubernatorial ambition of few members of the party.
Wali urged the party to give its gubernatorial ticket to Cole, who is the co-founder of Sahara Group, saying that his leadership is a panacea for resolving the life threatening politics of hate and contention in the state.
He said: “The unique selling points of The Rivers Unity House advocacy of a Tonye Cole leadership as a panacea for resolving the life threatening politics of hate and contention in Rivers State were and still remain as follows:
“The present division within the All Progressives Congress (APC) as a political party, especially occasioned by the premature gubernatorial ambition of a few, and the clandestine push of the others for the same purpose, requires a neutral person.
“Tonye Cole will be the elixir for Rivers State electorate that have desire for real and effective governance away from the present rancorous knee jerk governance deficit of the PDP
“Tonye Cole possesses the finesse that befits the new narrative of responsible and progressive political leadership. Tonye Cole packs a formidable credential, out of his personal endeavour that he will not be perceived as a political lap dog.
“Tonye Cole possesses the political war chest to substantially fund his campaign and thereby depend less on public resources for the purpose. Tonye Cole can leverage on the political/business goodwill he has with leading industrialists and political leaders in the country & the world.
“As a practicing Christian of the Pentecostal denomination, Tonye Cole will do good to all manners of men thereby guaranteeing the full essence of government which is to secure the security and welfare of all citizens.
“Tonye Cole is a neutral/non-controversial person without previous political opponents. This makes him a marketable brand that will appeal to all political tendencies in the State.
“Tonye Cole has never been associated with desperation or acquisition that undermines the interest of others or fellow competitors. Finally, being an entrepreneur, he will apply effective business model to drive the administration of the state.”
But, a pressure group within the PDP in the state, the Forward Rivers Movement (FRM) is insisting that despite the calibre of politicians being paraded by the APC ahead of the 2019 governorships election, it will be a walk-over for Wike.
Leader of FRM, Kennedy West, in a statement issued in Port Harcourt, lauded the governor for accepting the clarion call on him by youths and entire people of the state to seek for a second term in office come 2019.
West stated that the people of the state have absolute on the governor for transforming the state and positioning it on the path of industrialisation.
The statement reads in part: “We commend Governor Nyesom Wike for accepting the clarion call of the youths and entire good people of Rivers State to pilot the affairs of the State for another four years from 2019.
“Rivers people are excited about the cheering news. We are thanking the governor for giving the youths the honour and privilege to have a first hand information.
“The good people of Rivers State has absolute confidence on the Governor who is transforming the State and reposition her on the path of industrialisation.
“As Forward Rivers Movement, we are partnering with other group to land slide victory for the re election of Governor Wike and other PDP aspirants come 2019.
“The governor has a better people oriented projects and programmes to catapult the state. We don’t see any party or aspirants giving Governor Wike nor the ruling PDP any stress at the pools.
“The governor enjoys the support of the masses, he knows the socio-economic challenges of the citizens and understands how to address them.
“Presently, serious infrastructural advancement has been recorded in most of the sectors, health, education, road, tourism, sports, judiciary, security etc. All we can say is Rivers State, no vacancy. We have a lot to achieve from the Wike-led government, hence, no looking bad.”
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