crisis in the Rivers State chapter of the APC?
Nigerians are aware that the crisis in the APC in Rivers State has its origin in the unconstitutional decision of the leader of the party, Rotimi Amaechi, to summarily expel me and other leaders of the party seen as sympathetic to my governorship ambition, for no discernible reason.
Amaechi announced this publicly at the meeting of APC stakeholders held at the Dome Event Centre, Peter Odili Road, Port Harcourt, stating that Senator Abe and all those sympathetic to him must leave the party and he went further to state that he was ready to destroy the party in Rivers state to achieve the objective, despite the pleas of many leaders present at the meeting.
In fact, Mr. Loolo Ibieneye told Amaechi that the path he chose was not only unconstitutional, but would lead the party to disaster.
Incidentally, that was the last day that Rivers APC members sat together in unity, with Amaechi present.
The directive to unilaterally exclude party members from all party activities, without due process, is the origin and the root of the crisis in the Rivers state chapter of APC.
Indeed, prior to the troubled congresses, the then Rivers Chairman of APC, Chief Ibiamu Ikanya, called an all-inclusive stakeholders/State Executive Committee (SEC) meeting of the party, where all the issues were amicably resolved, including the distribution of forms to all aspiring party members.
An all-inclusive committee was set up to implement the resolutions of the meeting. As soon as Amaechi was informed of the move, he not only dissolved the committee, but he voided the efforts and consensus decisions reached by the entire leadership.
Amaechi directed that in keeping with his earlier directives at the Dome, members of the party perceived as sympathetic to Senator Abe be excluded from the congresses and denied the forms they paid for.
The disenfranchised members: Ibrahim Umar and 22 others, went to court, they rightfully secured an injunction on the facts, which Amaechi again directed the party to disobey. The rest as they say is history.
In an unprecedented sponsored media campaign, the facts were buried and recrafted, one Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, a hired publicist for Amaechi, became the face of the attempt to rewrite history.
Those who went to court were accused of working for Governor Nyesom Wike and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The courts were promoted as Wike’s supermarkets. Some of Amaechi’s publicists such as Oby Ndukwe and Lucky Worluh went as far as accusing me of plotting with the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, to kill President Muhammadu Buhari and collecting billions of naira from Governor Wike and the PDP to destabilise the APC in Rivers state.
I was painted to the Nigerian public as a desperate politician, who destroyed his party, because of his personal ambition.
My integrity and my reputation remain my most valuable assets. If I lose them to the politics of hate and deceit, then I would have lost everything. I appeal to all men of goodwill to remember that all the gold on earth is worth nothing, if we lose our name.
What is actually your relationship with Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike?
Everybody in Nigeria knows that I know Governor Wike very well. We worked together in the politics of Rivers State. When he was Chairman of Obio/Akpor Local Government Council of Rivers State, I was the Minority Leader of Rivers House of Assembly (1999 to 2003, as a member of All Peoples Party and later All Nigeria Peoples Party). It is not a secret that in Nigeria, it is the Houses of Assembly that exercises core supervisory jurisdiction, by law, over the local governments. So, we had a relationship.
He (Wike) later became Chief of Staff and I was Secretary to the State Government (when Amaechi was Rivers governor). We have a very close personal and family relationship, but in the course of our politics, we were in different political parties and we had our disagreements. In fact, we had a public fight, to the point where we took each other on publicly. It was not a hidden thing. Given the nature of Nigerian politics, personal relationships were ruptured, as we went our different ways politically and it remains that way.
When I had my thanksgiving service in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, the Archbishop (of Anglican Communion) who presided over the service, asked me if I had invited all the persons with whom I had issues and I said no, but he said I must invite all of them, including Governor Wike and Amaechi, stressing that one should not come to the house of God with a divided mind. So, I invited everybody across the country and people honoured the invitation, including Governor Wike, but transportation minister (Amaechi) did not honour the invitation, instead he chose the day to plan a parallel event in Bori-Ogoni, the headquarters of my senatorial district (Rivers Southeast). From then to now, I have had no personal contact or relationship with Governor Wike.
I am ready to meet with the Rivers governor, because he made a broadcast the other day about the Ogoni oilfields in Oil Mining Lease (OML) 11. It is not right for any Ogoni son to have responded publicly to what Governor Wike said in his broadcast. If the governor said that Rivers State government had acquired the oilfields and ready to give Ogoni communities a percentage in the oilfields, I do not think that Ogoni person should be the first person to condemn it.
I am interested in meeting with the Rivers governor to hear exactly what is happening, as far as the situation of Ogoni oilfields is concerned. So, I have no political relationship with Governor Wike. Outside of meeting him at social occasions, I have not met him anywhere. I have not discussed politics with him. If he extends invitation to me, I will honour it, but politically, I am a member of the APC, while Governor Wike is a member of the PDP. That is where it stands. Anybody who has any alternate or contrary fact should take it before the courts.
What is the current state of the APC in Rivers State?
The party is still where it is. After we had all the issues in the courts that led to Rivers APC being excluded from the ballots, one expects that reasonable politicians will look for ways to put the party together. Whatever our anger or differences may be, we ought to try and look for a middle ground, so that our party can move forward, but rather than doing that, the transportation minister went ahead and set up a caretaker committee of his boys, which I will not recognise. I was not consulted; neither do I know of anybody who was consulted, before the caretaker committee was set up.
He (Amaechi) wanted to use his boys to organise fresh congresses, without considering the fate of APC members who bought forms for the previous congresses, but were disenfranchised. The issue is back in the courts.
How can unity be ensured in Rivers APC, ahead of 2023 elections?
APC set up a committee, headed by former Osun State Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, to look into the issues. We appeared before the members of the committee. The day the committee members were to come to Port Harcourt, we were all there.
The South- South Zonal Vice Chairman of APC also came to Port Harcourt for reconciliation, we were all there, but some people are determined to rewrite history. If you are going about saying some leaders of PDP sponsored some chieftains of APC in Rivers state, that is not peace.
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