Rivers: Wike, Amaechi, Abe’s Proxy War Lingers

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Rivers: Wike, Amaechi, Abe’s Proxy War Lingers

Rivers: Wike, Amaechi, Abe’s Proxy War Lingers
October 05
17:39 2019

The African Action Congress has no doubt gained prominence in the media space over the development in Rivers State, having surprisingly emerged as the main opposition party to the ruling Peoples Democratic Party in the state.

It is on record that few months to the governorship election in the Treasure Base of the Nation, the AAC never had a mention in any part of the state.

Facts began to emerge three weeks to the polls that the leader of the All Progressives Congress and Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, had found an alternative party in the AAC.

It was the only option available to the former governor after the court held that the APC in the state did not conduct credible primaries and, therefore, would not present any candidate for the election.

Members of the APC in Rivers had continued to hope that a higher court would quash the ruling of the lower court, which stopped them from contesting the 2019 election.

However, that hope was dashed a few weeks to the polls when the Supreme Court upheld the judgement of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, which nullified the Rivers APC primaries.

The trial court held that the primaries were held in disobedience to a court judgement barring the party from conducting congresses pending the determination of a suit filed by 22 aggrieved members of the party.

In a lead judgement delivered by Justice Sidi Barge, the apex court held that by virtue of Section 11, Rule 5 of the Supreme Court rules, the appeal against the High Court ruling,  having been withdrawn by the APC,  was bound to be dismissed.

Justice Barge said that since the Court of Appeal failed to make dismissal pronouncement for the said appeal, the apex court had no choice but to invoke Section 22 of the Supreme Court Act to assume jurisdiction over the case and decide on it.

“It is my considered opinion that this appeal must be given a decent burial,” the apex court held.

When it became glaring that all hopes were dashed, the idea of temporarily funding and supporting the AAC governorship candidate, Biokpomabo Awara, became irresistible for the leader of the APC in the state (Amaechi).

While addressing supporters of the main opposition party in the first week of March, few days to the governorship election,” Amaechi said, “On Saturday, we will vote for the AAC. You must go home and vote for the AAC. There should be no excuse not to vote because there will be security for everybody. You must prepare and make sure you win the governorship election.”

But the link of the former governor to the AAC became evident when Awara, himself, without any place to call an AAC state secretariat, used a property belonging to an APC stalwart in the state for his first major briefing of the journalists after the governorship and House of Assembly polls were suspended in the state.

Awara condemned the Independent National Electoral Commission for suspending an election, he insisted had been concluded. Many observers believe the AAC candidate never campaigned ostensibly because he never knew he would be a major contender for the position of the governor.

He (Awara) urged INEC to declare him winner, claiming that based on the figures from seven (out of the 23 local government areas of the state), made available to him by his agents, he (Awara) was ahead of his PDP counterpart.

He said, “The results already declared at the aforesaid local government collation centres should be accepted. INEC should declare me Awara Biokpomabo of the African Action Congress the winner of the 09-03-2019 governorship election in the state. Results had already been collated and declared before INEC suspended the remaining stages of the election, which I was in clear lead and was coasting to victory.”

After the result of the governorship election was eventually declared, Awara petitioned the Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal, seeking the nullification of Wike’s victory. However, this process is still ongoing in court.

Within the same month (March), Akpo Bomba Yeeh, who was Awara’s running mate, released a bombshell when he announced his defection from the AAC to the PDP, an action seen by many as the final blow to the governorship aspiration of the opposition party.

Yeeh maintained that the decision to leave the AAC was entirely his own.

He announced his withdrawal and immediate defection to the PDP on Monday in Port Harcourt.

The scenario in the state before and after the 2019 election exposed the fact that the major political gladiators played one role or the other in shaping the outcome of the election.

Political observers believe that from the former lawmaker representing Rivers South-East in the Senate, Senator Magnus Abe to Wike, Amaechi, Awara and Yeeh, their game plans affected each other’s interests.

Earlier, Wike had made a sudden appearance at an event organised at the Polo Club in Port Harcourt by Abe, a development that made some APC members conclude that the former lawmaker and Wike had a mutual understanding as far as the protection of their interests was concerned.

A political analyst and human rights activist in the state, Jackson Omenazu, explained that there was nothing wrong in any politician romancing with another to protect his own interest.

Omenazu, who is the chancellor of the International Society for Social Justice and Human Rights, said Wike was smart enough to make moves that would protect his interest, adding that it was evident that the governor cashed in on the feud between Amaechi and Abe to achieve his aim of a second term in office.

“It is glaring. You can’t work against your own group if you don’t have a sinister motive and that is why romancing with opposing party is a betrayal. But what Wike did is normal in politics. There is nothing wrong in poaching into your opponent’s house and getting the meat you want; it is right in politics. On Amaechi’s decision to support the AAC, what he did was politically expedient. He was looking for a place to land and he saw that in the AAC.

Omenazu, however, described Yeeh’s decision to dump the AAC at a critical time as cowardice, adding that the ex-deputy governorship candidate should not be blamed because he (Yeeh) dabbled into space he was not used to.

He added that Yeeh had ended his political career for taking the decision to dump the AAC for the PDP.

Still, on Amaechi and Abe, Omenazu added, “Amaechi and Abe have been friends for a very long time. They should resolve their problem and move forward. But if they cannot, Rivers APC members who are not comfortable with the situation can leave the party, while those who can bear the fight can stay.

Also, a legal practitioner, Benson Oruwari, explained that what played out in Rivers State before, during and after the 2019 election was the highest level of political gambit, adding that while Wike was planning to maintain his grip on the mantle of leadership, using all logical tactics, Amaechi, who felt that the court decisions were not in the favour of his party, decided to temporarily pitch tent with the AAC.

Oruwari said, “Though the game plan did not work out for Amaechi, it was a move that showed him as a rugged politician. If these politicians come together as one force, there is nothing they want in this country that they cannot get. Again, nobody should see Magnus Abe as ignorant, he wanted to contest for the position of governor and he proved that he also has the right to vie.”

However, with the recent establishment of a caretaker committee by the National Working Committee of the APC to oversee the congresses of the party, members have been told to put their past behind and get ready for the ward, local government and state congresses.

But the Abe faction of the party in the state insisted that they would not accept the caretaker committee because they were not consulted before the decision was taken.

A former Attorney General of the state, Worgu Boms, had read out a communique shortly after a stakeholders’ meeting in Port Harcourt recently, saying that the APC was treading the same lane that forced the APC out of reckoning during the 2019 general elections.

Boms said, “The party is again threading the route of exclusion and disdain for the rights and feelings of members. This plunged Rivers APC into needless crisis resulting in the party being denied participation in Rivers in the general elections.

“As critical stakeholders, bearing in mind the circumstance of the party in the state, we were not consulted by the NWC in appointing a caretaker committee in Rivers nor does the committee reflect the diversity of the party in the state.

“The so-called caretakers are simply cronies of the Minister of Transportation (Rotimi Amaechi). Their objective and purpose is clear; they were parties and participants in the actions that brought the party on its knees in Rivers.

Speaking with our correspondent, Parry Benson, the media aide to Abe, dismissed the claim that Abe had a link with the lingering woes of the Rivers APC, adding that his principal had no relationship with Wike.

Benson pointed out that those in Amaechi’s camp were responsible for the peddling of such speculations, which he (Benson) described as unfounded.

He said, “My principal (Magnus Abe) is not involved in any political romance with Wike. Those peddling such falsehood are Amaechi’s people, who are trying to paint him (Abe) black in the eyes of his supporters. He (Abe) has said it several times and he has issued press released to tell the world that he is not in any political romance with Wike.

A strong member of the APC in the state, who is an ally of Amaechi, however, insisted that Abe’s actions denied the APC the opportunity to be part of the Rivers State general election in March.

The minister’s ally, who did not want his name mentioned, said that the former governor was trying his best to make the APC in the state stronger.

He, however, appealed to members of the party to come into one ship to achieve their political goals.

From the foregoing, with AAC’s Awara still in court without the support of his party and Abe and Amaechi’s factions of the party still poising for war, the state PDP could have another easy ride to power in Rivers, come 2023.

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