By Eric Elezuo
In the recent past, it used to be politics of godfatherism, but the recent imbrogblio in the Rivers State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC), has added a new lease to the lexicon, changing it slightly to the politics of anointing.
The politics of anointing is invariably a situation where one is practically singled out among the rest by a political bigwig to carry a party’s flag in a given election or in some cases become the outright incumbent, sometimes, circumventing the election process.
Today, the overriding governorship ambition of the Senator representing Rivers South East in the House of Assembly, and a chieftain of the party in the state, Senator Magnus Abe, has clashed with the superior influence of the leader of the party in the state, and former governor of the state, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi. The two are locked in the battle for supremacy of who becomes the APC’s governorship flagbearer in the state come 2019.
While Amaechi has blatantly denounced the candidacy of the former Peoples Democratic Party stalwart, Abe, on his part maintains he is the anointed candidate of the party.
This raised the question of who has the authority to ‘anoint’ a candidate, as unlawful as the practice is. A million dollar question begging for answers!
In the light of the above, Hon Amaechi, who is also the Minister of Transportation, has removed some APC leaders in their various local government areas, including his former Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Worgu Boms, for their decision to support the governorship ambition, Senator Magnus Abe.
Amaechi was also reported to have warned that he would not hesitate to suspend any leader of the APC in the state found to be supporting Abe’s interest to become the next governor of the state. He was said to have pointed out that Abe would not get the governorship ticket, even if the APC leaders in the 23 local government areas of Rivers State supported him.
Senator Abe, on his part, has said that he is someone loyal to democratic principles, adding that anybody who tried to crucify him as a result of his belief was on his own.
Speaking through his media aide, Mr. Parry Benson, he urged APC leaders in the state to adhere to the dictates of the constitution of the party before taking decisions.
In his opinion, a chieftain of the party, believed to be close to the two gladiators revealed that the major cause of the rift was Abe’s betrayal of Amaechi and his underhand tactics to make Amaechi ‘anoint’ or support him as the APC governorship candidate for 2019.
Below is his analysis of the fracas:
“All these stories of Amaechi trying to stop Abe from getting the APC governorship ticket in 2019 are not true. These are the false narratives Abe and a handful of his cronies want people to believe as the reason behind the issues they are having. But it’s simply a lie, a concocted story to make Abe look like the victim, and wickedly albeit wrongly portray Amaechi as an oppressive dictator.
“The real issue between them is that Abe wants Amaechi to ‘anoint’ him as the Rivers APC gubernatorial candidate. Abe wants to be governor. That’s fine and good. But it is his desperation and the underhand tactics he is now using to get Amaechi to support and ‘anoint’ him as the Rivers APC candidate for the 2019 governorship elections that is causing all these problems between them.”
The party chief contended that Amaechi refused to ‘anoint’ Abe or any other APC aspirant that was interested in running for governor in 2019, because “Amaechi’s position as the Leader of the party in Rivers State was that everyone with ambition to run for any elective office should hold it, keep it and work to build the party first.
“Amaechi made it clear that for the whole of 2017, rebuilding and re-strengthening the party should be the focus and goal of all APC members, and not campaigning for any elective office, whether openly or surreptitiously. That it’s a bit too early for campaigns.
“He advised that at the appropriate time, when the time is right, every aspirant could then come out and campaign openly and that all APC party candidates for all elective offices would emerge through the laid down process in the party’s constitution for the emergence of party candidates.
“Amaechi pointedly told the Director-General of NIMASA and the APC 2015 governorship candidate Dakuku Peterside and Abe not to heat up and divide the party in the state with their governorship ambitions. He advised them to keep their ambitions for now, work together in unity and harmony to build the party first. But for reasons best known to Abe, he decided to misconstrue Amaechi’s directives to build the party first, as lack of support for him (Abe) and his governorship ambition.
“Abe started telling anyone, who cares to listen, that Amaechi hates him, that Amaechi does not want to support and ‘anoint’ him as APC governorship candidate, and that Amaechi does not want him to be governor of Rivers State. A handful of Abe’s cronies started spreading the false narrative. They used the traditional media, social media and word of mouth to spread the lie that Amaechi wants to stop or block Abe’s ambition and started abusing, denigrating and calling Amaechi, the leader of APC in the State all sorts of names.
“Abe and his cronies in the party which are very few went further to try to undermine Amaechi’s leadership of the party in the state. They would always go contrary to and against the party position on any issue; they started leaking to the public, through different means, details of private party meetings with Amaechi.
“They were not just leaking but were also twisting the details from these meetings, most times, completely concocting and fabricating comments and ascribing these statements to Amaechi just to serve their ulterior agenda,” he said.
According to one source, “What Abe is currently instigating and doing against Amaechi is so wrong and immoral. Abe is deceptively playing the victim to portray Amaechi as the evil emperor villain. But that is not true, neither is it the true situation of things. Abe can’t and should not do this to Amaechi. Amaechi has done so much, far so much for Abe. Agreed, Amaechi is not God, but God used Amaechi to make Abe who he is today.
“God used Amaechi to make Abe, the Minority Leader of the Rivers State House of Assembly, when Amaechi was the Speaker; God used Amaechi to make Abe Commissioner for Information for four years when Peter Odili was governor of Rivers State; God used Amaechi to appoint Abe the Secretary to the State Government for four years, when Amaechi was Governor of the State; and who in Nigeria does not know that Amaechi was instrumental to making Abe a two-term senator today?
“Magnus Abe and his cronies should not bite the fingers that fed them and still feeding them. Abe can have any ambition and run for any office he wants. No one can or will stop him, just as he can’t force anyone to support or ‘anoint’ him as APC governorship candidate. This attempt to move against Amaechi because Amaechi has refused to ‘anoint’ him or because he perceives that Amaechi may not support him is so wrong,” he said.
But one of the affected APC leaders in Obio/Akpor LGA, Chief Tony Okocha, confirmed that the removal of some APC leaders at the LGA level by Ameachi was based on their support for Abe.
Okocha, who was Chief of Staff to Amaechi, noted that he and other APC leaders were supporting Abe to become the party’s candidate, but that Amaechi rejected him and insisted on bringing another candidate.
Okocha said: “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.”
The generality of APC followers and faithful believe that the face off could mean a death knell or the last nail on the coffin of the national ruling party in Rivers State. The last is supposedly not yet heard of the crisis as 2019 is far from here. Time will tell.
However, it must be noted that when two elephants fight, the grass is always at the receiving end; Amaechi and Abe must sheath their swords for the benefit of our not too nascent democracy, and for peace to reign.