Fresh Governorship War Underway in Rivers APC

The crisis rocking the Rivers State wing of All Progressives Congress (APC) since 2015 is currently bracing for a worse turn ahead of the governorship polls in 2023.

While 13 aspirants are currently backing the choice of Tonye Cole, an architect, as the party’s preferred aspirant for the 2023 gubernatorial race, former representative of Rivers South-East Senatorial District, Senator Magnus Ngei Abe has expressed gratitude to Rivers people for their kind financial contributions to enable him purchase the ‘Expression of Intent and Nomination form’ for the gubernatorial ticket  on the platform of APC in Rivers.

Abe stated this while appearing on a live program, ARISE Television Network in Abuja over the weekend. He said Rivers people are more interested in effective governance that will return power to the people, rather than politics.

The senator said: “I have already purchased my form to run for the primary election in our party, the APC, and it will interest you to know that Rivers people from all across, contributed money to support me to get that form.

His Spokesman, Parry Saroh Benson, quoted his principal as saying, “Rivers people from every divide, every ethnic group, every political affiliation, every religious affiliation that you can think of, Muslims, Christians, people across the State. Some put in twenty thousand naira, some one million naira. They brought money to help me cross that barrier.

“I think that with that kind of background, the party members across the state have realized that I’m one of their surest best to be able to cross that bridge when we actually get there.

“Secondly, let me also say that as far as I know what Rivers people are interested in at this point in time is not so much of politics, but in effective governance.

“They want a governor that will devote his time to attending to their own needs and their own challenges.

“They want a governor that understands their own problems that they face. You see like I was talking to our children the other day at the Rivers State University, when you are hungry in the school, nobody knows whether you are from Kalabari or Ogoni.

‘’When you don’t have a job, nobody knows whether you are from Ekpeye or Andoni. At that point our problems are the same. When people try to promote sentiment over reality, they are trying to use those sentiments to blind you to the reality of your situation.

“The reality of our situation today in Rivers is that we need to work together, we need to come together across political, ethnic privileges to be able to harness the vast and enormous economic potentials that Rivers has. We need leaders that can bring that message of unity, that message of inclusion.

“We need leaders that are humble enough to understand that being a governor is just a job, you are hired by the people to do the job.

“I have the tract record to enable Rivers people believe that when I say that, that is what it will be. That’s why my candidacy is vibrating across the state not just within the APC but within the larger society, within all ethnic blocks and within groups in the state.

“I think that, this is the kind of message that Rivers people want to hear, they want a governor that will concentrate on the issues of Rivers. A governor who understands that they are the reason this country was created and the reason why Rivers State exist.

“They are the reason why the office of the governor was established in the first place and they want a governor that understands that it is all about them.

“I think that my track record in politics and my interaction with the people of Rivers State gives them that confidence that I am the man who can get that job done. I think that a lot of the members of the APC, despite our differences realize that I have the best chance to actually deliver the governorship to the people of Rivers”.

“I hate to play the ethnic card because when politicians do that, they take away from what should be the substance of the conversation, which is what our citizens, the voters are supposed to get from the political experience”.

Senator Abe recalled that since Rivers State was created in 1967, no Ogoni son or daughter has ever been a governor, deputy governor, Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly nor the Chief Judge, which according to him could not have been a coincidence.

He said, there are three senatorial districts in Rivers State, the Rivers West, Rivers East and Rivers South-East Senatorial Districts. But in all, only the Rivers South-East Senatorial District was yet to produce a governor.

“Ogonis are of course the majority in that senatorial district, which is where I come from and in our party APC, the last time we met as a one united party, we zoned the governorship to Rivers South-East Senatorial District, which everybody knows that if you follow the rules of equity, justice and fairness that should be the senatorial district to produce the next governor of the state.

“So, if we all equally own Rivers State, it is injustice to treat the Ogonis unequally because they are also a major segment of the state’’, Abe stated.

However, in a statement by the Coordinator of Progressives Aspirants Forum, George Tolofari, he claimed that 10 aspirants agreed and signed a unity accord to support any one of them that will emerge either by consensus or election at the primaries.

Three other aspirants from the Riverine-Ijaw extraction later indicated interest in the race after the press briefing making them 13 aspirants in all.

The statement continued that last week 19 APC leaders from Rivers State “met in Abuja with the 13 aspirants and unanimously adopted Arch.

Tonye Cole as a consensus candidate for the Riverine-Ijaw aspirants will be facing any other aspirant that may wish to contest the party primaries on the Platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

“The 3 new entrants who later joined the aspirants forum are Tele Bertram Ikuru, Tekena Iyagba and Larry Allison (who was unavoidably absent at yesterday’s meeting due to late notice) also stand by the communique signed by the Progressives Governorship Aspirants.

“I call on all party members to put all differences aside and see ourselves as one indivisible family. We are party people and what should be paramount to us all is winning all electable positions in the forthcoming general elections, God being our helper.

‘’I also make bold to say that the leaders who made the decision were not influenced by anyone but took the decision to ensure that everyone is taken along’’, the aspirants maintained.

Following the overwhelming interest shown by a cross section of Rivers people, Nigerians and particularly the media over an otherwise internal mechanism activated last Friday to pick a consensus aspirant of riverine extraction for the 2023 governorship election in Rivers by APC, it has become expedient and highly necessary to provide clarification to all. This is expected to clear all doubts and provide a clear summary of what happened.

Earlier, a statement by the State Publicity Secretary, Chris Finebone, stated that the leadership of Rivers chapter of APC consisting of 19 leaders chose a consensus aspirant of riverine extraction to contest the governorship primaries for the 2023 elections.

Fibebone states that the exercise took place in the absence of Transportation Minister, Chibuike Amaechi, who declined to participate in the process. After a thorough scrutiny of all the aspirants, Arc Tonye Cole was chosen as he scored the highest vote among the 12 aspirants that participated.

The party also declared that “no standard bearer to fly the Party’s governorship flag in Rivers State has emerged as yet as such can only happen in accordance with Party rules, regulations and the 2022 Electoral Act.”

Finebone averred that the party is still committed to its earlier position to support the emergence of a governor of riverine extraction after 24 years of upland governorship.

The statement enjoined all party faithful, to continue to go about their activities with decorum, and peacefully as the next four weeks, is bound to be busy and packed full with political activities.

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