By Akanimo Sampson
Except something very unusual happens before the middle of 2021, the Rivers State wing of the All Progressives Congress (APC) might not enter the 2023 elections in the big oil and gas state as a cohesive party.
The party is still suffering from a severe internal bleeding and its leaders are not helping matters with their seeming unguarded utterances.
From the look of things, the party is driven more by individual interest than the collective interest of all. It is high time the principal leaders of the crisis in the party began to contain their over-bloated ego, and mend fences.
Ongoing ranting over the imposition of Igo Aguma as Sole Administrator of the party by a Port Harcourt, High Court is not likely to assist APC to build cohesion and move forward as a formidable force. Instead of greeting the development with condemnation, can’t APC leaders make use of the situation to resolve its self-inflicted crisis?
The unexpected emergence of Felix Obuah as the State Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) provided a rallying point for some excluded members to return, and joined in moving the party forward even when Chibuike Amaechi as a sitting governor later defected to the APC.
Amaechi too must not always insist on having his way all the time. Truth is, he may have been a political godfather to the arrowheads of the rebellion in the party. Expectedly, he should know that Obi cannot remain a boy for ever. The Obis of the Rivers APC must be seen as political associates of the godfather if the party is desirous of cementing the worsening chasm among its ranks.
And, Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, the attack dog of the party should imbibe decorum when unleashing venoms on the ‘opposing’ chieftains of the party. No condition is permanent in life. The dominant forces of the Rivers APC will not remain on top for ever. Epochs come and go, and how one survives in an uncertain future scenario depends on how he/she was not overtly attached to the conflicting forces.
This type of outburst by Eze, ‘’barely a week into his forceful affixation on the party, Aguma has swiftly swung into action, playing the spoilers script for which he was hired and aggravating the agonies of party members whose fortunes have been stocked in limbo’’ cannot help the party to find a middle road in healing its protracted internal ailment.
The APC attack dog is expressing displeasure over the first public speech of Aguma after his court victory, where he alleged that the emergence of Dakuku Peterside as the governorship candidate of the party in the 2015 general elections is a fundamental divisive factor in the party.
That claim, arguably, is instrumental to the Rivers APC crisis. It is therefore, unkind and antagonistic for Eze in a statement to label it as ‘’laughable’’. ‘’The former Reps member is merely playing a script penned and handed him by satanic collaborators and conflict entrepreneurs who are hell-bent on wrecking the party and dimming the light of a rising national figure and former Rivers Governor, RAmaechi and other emerging personalities within the state.
‘’Dakuku's candidature was totally in order and his election as the party's flagbearer was unanimous and welcomed by members, delegates and stakeholders and therefore cannot be considered a basis for the the party's problems’’, Eze said.
Turning to Magnus Abe, he accused him of allegedly instigating the unending rivalry owing to his ‘’tumultuous and inordinate ambition which did not enjoy popular consent’’.
Abe may not be a political saint. But, he comes from an axis of the state Abuja has not been transparently sincere in handling their oil pollution clean-up. By now, APC strategists should know that any bridge-building an initiative that excludes the Ogoni people in the political calculus of 2023 could be fatal. That is why continued demonisation of Abe is no longer a cheering politics.
Disputably, Eze says Peterside emerged as a ‘’consensus candidate’’ to fly the flag of APC during the 2015 elections. Consensus must certainly mean something different in the APC lexicon because the mere fact that his candidature ignited a crisis simply shows that there was no consensus!
‘’Rivers APC by 2015 was divinely set up to address three principal injustices visited on some sections of the state. One of them was addressing the unjust situation of the Riverine areas of the state not occupying the seat of power since 1999, after the eight years of Peter Odili and the eight years of Amaechi – all from the upland section of the state.
‘’The second injustice is that meted on the Ogoni: having not produced a governor, deputy governor or speaker of the state House of Assembly since the creation of the state as far back as 1970. The last injustice is that sighted in the South-East Senatorial Zone. The zone has not produced a governor since the creation of the state. Rivers East produced Odili while Rivers West produced Amaechi, leaving the South-East in the cooler all these years’’, Eze said.
Continuing, he said,
‘’the party leadership in its wisdom, achieved two of the three goals by conceding power to the South-East Senatorial Zone and also resolved to shift power from the upland to the riverine area of the state. This zone presented four great leaders in the persons of Abe, who was representing the zone in the upper chamber of the National Assembly, Tele Ikuru, the then deputy governor of Rivers, Dakuku Peterside and George Feyi, the then Secretary to the State Government, among others.
‘’The party decided to address the riverine issue by picking Peterside from the riverine area of Opobo/Nkoro Local Government Area and a member of the House of Representatives and Chairman of the Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream) then who was a symbol of unity among the Ogoni, riverine and upland sections of the state.
‘’This did not go down well with Abe and his cohorts who vowed to scuttle the chances of victory at the polls, and surely they did. Everyone who followed through events within the APC during the 2015 elections can attest to this.
‘’In an attempt to appease Abe, he was encouraged to go back to the Senate and the party did all within her powers to ensure that he gets victory, but unknown to the party, Abe still harboured evil agenda which was displayed to the climax during the build-up to the 2019 general elections and consequently, Rivers APC could not boost of any elective position at the national or state level.
‘’To further address the Ogoni issue, Peterside, in his acceptance speech said, I heard that some 150 young men and women were at the Government House, Port Harcourt, three days ago, Ogoni people love me and are very hospitable. I grew up in Ogoni, where I spent over ten years. I still have many childhood friends from Ogoni. The protesters are not Ogoni, but people from other political parties, who want to cause confusion. The opposition parties sponsored the 150 youths to protest. It is nothing to worry about. I was at the forefront of the Ogoni struggle in 1990 when the Ogoni Bill of Rights (OBR) was put in place.
Ogoni people are peace-loving and not violent. It was when I was Rivers Commissioner for Works that most of the roads in Bori (traditional headquarters of Ogoniland) were tarred. I will continue to protect Ogoni interests. APC in Rivers cannot be in reverse gear. We will place emphasis on equity, justice and fairness. We will ensure an inclusive government. Everybody will be carried along. I am an Ijaw, but I will be the governor of Rivers. We can together build greater Rivers.
‘’The impressive and heart-warming speech of Dakuku Peterside made no sense and impact to Abe and his team as they were already determined to ensure that the Dakuku and the APC never merit the Brick House. We entered the battlefield to wrestle power with a seasoned political warlord like Wike with a divided house but PRETENDING to be working together. The consequences of the internal division are what most of us are still suffering today.’’
Not yet done, he adds,
‘’Dakuku is one of the most detribalised Rivers man around, the most effective and organised public official and with what he demonstrated as the DG of NIMASA even the blind can attest that this man would have turned Rivers into the best state in Africa if not for the devious plot of Abe's group that have kept Rivers in its present sorry state.
‘’It is still on record that this young man ran the best and most inclusive governorship campaign ever in the country which is being talked about to date. Aguma, having benefitted so much from Dakuku could have the gut to utter such a trash knowing that after the 2015 elections, Dakuku kept the home front intact; holding all inclusive leadership meeting every forth night and inclusive general stakeholders meeting every month .
‘’Even after the Supreme Court concluded the governorship case, Dakuku went from LGA to LGA campaigning for party candidates who were on the ballot for repeat election of March 2016 including that of Abe so what exactly do Aguma and his misguided group want from Amaechi and Dakuku to continue to sustain division in the party.
‘’It is very sad and unfortunate for anybody who knew the history of APC in Rivers to describe Dakuku as the brain behind the division currently facing the party. I wish to urge Aguma to apologise to Dakuku and withdraw and desist from petty and unfounded allegations if truly he is in for peace, unless he is resolved to implementing the satanic agenda of keeping the party in perpetual turmoil and frustrating the fortunes of young people.
‘’Dakuku's candidature represented the yearning of Rivers people, they wanted a bright, humble, God fearing, energetic, focused leader who will unite every Rivers man as governor. His candidature was also to solve the agitation of the people of Rivers South East Senatorial district and Riverine Ijaw rolled into one.’’
With this kind of seeming myopic partisanship and a festering cancer in Rivers APC, it is doubtful if the party is really yearning for peace. Neither APC leaders nor their perceived fifth columnists are exhibiting any sign of pacifist politics. It is indeed saddening and unfortunate that internal democracy appears to have taken a flight in APC.
Like the mercurial Eze rightly said, despite the physical appearances of the party, all of APC in Rivers is ‘’a graveyard peace stewed in falsehood and hidden agenda and championed by a cosmetic party member and a proponent of internal hostility.’’
Truly, such a party ‘’can not proffer a workable template that can usher in the needed peace but can only serve to achieve its clandestine ends’’. By the close of the 2023 elections, Eze may have been quite prophetic.