Stakeholders of the Rivers State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has adopted a candidate to wrest power from Governor Nyesom Wike of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2019.
They settled for an oil magnate, Tonye Dele-Cole as their preferred choice for the election.
The choice of Dele-Cole, which was made at the former Governor Rotimi Amaechi-led apex leadership caucus meeting of the state APC stakeholders in Lagos, came as a shock as many had expected that either the Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside, or Senator Magnus Abe, who had been in the battle for the party’s ticket will get the nod.
Also at the meeting with Amaechi where both Dakuku and Abe were dumped for Dele-Cole were oil magnate, Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs; the NIMASA DG, Dr. Dakuku Peterside; a member of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the party, Chief Sam Jaja and Senator Andrew Uchendu (Rivers East).
While Amaechi had earlier before now been fighting Abe’s ambition to become Rivers State governor, there have been speculations that he would again support Abe, who was an aspirant of the party in the 2015 governorship election in the state for the second time.
But speculations are that the Transport Minister and former governor of Rivers decided this time to go for a ‘neutral’ candidate who loyal to him and who Abe’s supporters in the state would largely accept.
The fact that the riverine area of the state has never produced the governor of the state since the return of democracy in 1999, is believed to have warranted Amaechi rooting from somebody from the riverine to become the next governor of the state.
After he was unable to achieve that with Dakuku in the last election, he had this time chosen to go for Dele-Cole, from Abonnema-Kalabari, headquarters of Akuku-Toru (rivernine) Local Government Area.
Meanwhile, reacting to the position of the stakeholders after the meeting, Dakuku had said:
“Our leader, Rt. Hon. Amaechi,” whose leadership they all subscribed to, made a decision on who members of the party in Rivers State should back for the office of governor of Rivers State in 2019, with the lot falling on his friend and brother in Christ (Cole).
“I made a commitment to the group earlier to stand by whatever decision the leader makes in the overall interest of the party and Rivers State. I reiterated my position yesterday (on Thursday) in the leadership meeting. I thus stand by the decision on Tonye Cole.
“We have toiled from 2013 to date (a period of five years) and have made sacrifices and lost lives in the course of enthroning the kind of government we want in Rivers State; a government that will guarantee peace, unity and prosperity. In the course of the struggle, we bonded as one indivisible family under God.
“The decision by the leader has been met with mixed reactions, which is expected. My appeal is that we allow the greater interest of APC and Rivers State to prevail.”
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