When the history of the crisis that engulfed the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) during the Goodluck Jonathan administration is written, ample space would be dedicated to the role played by the then governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi.
Amaechi believed that Jonathan and his wife, Patience, were interfering too much in the affairs of the PDP in the state. He said he believed he had earned the right to have a say on who succeeds him. His inability to keep hold of the party’s machinery in the state led to his decamping to the All Progressives Congress (APC). In his new party, he played a key role in ensuring victory for President Muhammadu Buhari at the centre but his party lost the governorship.
A similar kind of crisis is now engulfing the Rivers APC, and once again Amaechi, as the leader of the party in the state, is at the centre of it.
The ex-governor and current minister is upset with some leaders of the party in the state who have thrown their weight behind the governorship ambition of Senator Magnus Abe, who represents Rivers South East in the national assembly. Amaechi is insisting that Abe would not be the APC’s candidate in the 2019 elections. Consequently, he has removed some APC leaders in their various local government areas who are believed to be Abe’s allies.
“I have foreclosed Abe’s governorship ambition as far as the Rivers APC is concerned. If he likes, let him run to President Buhari. That will not change anything. If he likes, let him go to the First Lady, Aisha Buhari; nothing will change,” Amaechi allegedly said during the meeting at Etche.
“In my capacity as the leader of the APC in Rivers State, Abe cannot be the governorship candidate of the party in Rivers State in 2019. Abe has no character. I hear the executives of about 15 local government areas are already working for him. I will see how far they can go.
“I am the only one that can determine who gets the party’s ticket in 2019. Suddenly, Abe has become something else in the party because he won his Senatorial election. Was I not governor for eight years? Was I not Speaker for eight years?”
Worgu Boms, the former Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, was replaced by Amaechi with Nnamdi Wokekoro as the leader of the APC caucus in Port Harcourt Local Government Area, PHALGA.
Tony Okocha, Amaechi’s former chief of staff was suspended as leader of the APC caucus in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area; and Allwell Onyesoh was suspended as leader of the caucus in Etche Local Government Area.
Amaechi also allegedly removed Chidi Wihioka, a member of the House of Representatives, representing Ikwerre/Emohua Federal Constituency, as the leader of the APC caucus in Emohua, and replaced him with Chibike Ikenga.
In his reaction, Senator Abe urged APC leaders in the state to adhere to democratic principles.
Speaking through his media aide, Mr. Parry Benson, the senator urged APC leaders in the state to adhere to the dictates of the constitution of the party before taking decisions.
“APC is a vehicle for the realisation of the Nigerian dream and not a weapon to mete out injustice to its members,” Abe said.
In his own reaction, Amaechi’s former Chief of Staff, Chief Tony Okocha, said: “They just removed me (as Leader of Obio/Akpor Caucus). I was removed because I support Abe. The removal is just to confirm that APC belongs to one man. The man is turning it to his private estate. But I am not worried because he also appointed me. The man who appoints has a right to remove. But my worry is the reason for which he was doing this; that we support Abe.
“I am supporting Abe because I believe he has the mien, the clout and all that it takes to win election for APC.”