The once warm relationship between Rotimi Amaechi, current Minister for Transportation, and Senator Magnus Abe may be headed for the rocks, if reports emerging from Rivers State are to be believed. It is also feared that the face-off may signal a protracted crisis capable of sinking the party.
Abe represents Rivers South-East Senatorial District in the National Assembly.
Both politicians are very senior members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and had joined forces in the futile attempt to wrestle power from Nyesom Wike who later emerged as governor of Rivers State in the 2015 gubernatorial poll.
Ahead 2019, analysts contend that at the heart of the speculated face-off is APC’s gubernatorial ticket in the forthcoming poll. In 2015, Amaechi had aggressively muscled Dakuku Peterside, current Director-General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) into position as APC gubernatorial candidate.
Amaechi is believed to have stoked the fire Friday when he allegedly removed Wogu Boms as APC leader in Port-Harcourt LGA and made public remarks about Senator Abe’s unlikely choice as APC flag bearer in the forthcoming election.
Tony Okocha, Amaechi’s former Chief of Staff while the latter was governor of Rivers State, provided hint of imminent crisis within the party.
“Wogu Boms has just been removed now as APC leader in Port Harcourt LGA and he has been replaced with Nnamdi Wokekoro. His (Amaechi) reason is that Wogu Boms is supporting Magnus Abe.
“He is also meeting with people in my LGA to remove me because I am supporting Magnus Abe. He is also meeting with Etche LGA to removed Allwell Onyeso, and very soon he will be meeting with people in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni LGA to remove Senator Wilson Ake,” Okocha said.
Wogu was Amaechi’s former Commissioner for Justice.
Sources familiar with the development claim that Amaechi had openly threatened stakeholders within the party to desist from promoting Abe’s candidacy or risk having their portfolios withdrawn from them. He was also alleged to have said that not even support from APC leaders in the 23 LGAs of Rivers State would help Abe’s ambition.
A rather calm response, however, came from Abe’s camp Saturday. Speaking through his media officer, Parry Benson, Abe was quoted to have said, “APC is a vehicle for the realization of the Nigerian dream and not a weapon to mete out injustice to its members.”
Admitting that there had been some shuffling within the party leadership, Rivers State APC late Saturday denied that there were any serious internal wranglings within its fold.
It viewed the purported removal of top officials as an exercise within Amaechi’s ‘personal political group.’
“We are aware that our leader, the leader of the party in the state, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi is making some changes in his personal political group, team or caucus in the State. It is his right and prerogative to make any leadership changes within his own political team, group or caucus. Amaechi created the caucus, team or group, appointed its members and leaders and so can make any changes he deems fit with this is personal group, team or caucus. But we must emphasize that these changes by the Honourable Minister of Transportation within his personal political team, group or caucus has absolutely nothing to do with the party leadership structure and does not affect the party leadership structures at all levels in the State.
“Contrary to fake wild speculations and deliberately misleading insinuations, no member of the party in the State is being stopped or prevented from having ambition or wanting to seek for any elective office. And we must reinstate here that no APC member will be stopped or prevented from seeking any elective office. We know for a fact that as a consummate democrat, our leader, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has not and will not stop, prevent or even attempt to discourage any party member from seeking any political office, elective or otherwise,” Davies Ikanya, who is the State party chairman, said.
While speculations remain rife on how unfolding developments will impact party cohesion in the state, and the contest for political power in 2019, close watchers believe that Amaechi’s current moves are essentially a conviction of his long held views that Senator Magnus Abe is too assertive to be trusted with power.
Clear indications to these line of argument is Abe’s seeming disinterestedness in all of Amaechi’s recent battles with incumbent governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike. Dakuku Peterside remains Amaechi’s arrow head and may again be poised to receive his blessings in the forthcoming poll.
If these permutations play out, the soul of the party may just be up for the slaughter as analysts query the unclear lines between Amaechi’s ‘personal political group’ and the disruptive interests of contending party members now jostling to undermine the speculated choice of Peterside.