By Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
The crisis rocking the Rivers State Chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) took a new turn for the worse yesterday as Minister of Transportation and Leader of the party in the State, Chibuike Amaechi allegedly removed local government caucus leaders loyal to the Senator representing Rivers South-east Senatorial District, Magnus Abe.Â
There has been a budding feud between Amaechi and Abe over the latterâ€™s governorship ambition which has not received the blessings of Amaechi.
Amaechi told some stakeholders of the party, at a meeting he allegedly convened, on Thursday, at the residence of former Chairman, Local Government Commission, Chief Nnamdi Wokekoro, at the Rumukalagbo Area, of Port Harcourt, that he would not endorse the 2019 governorship ambition of Abe on the platform of the APC.
Sources said the Minister of Transportation also held another meeting at the residence of the APC Chairman of Etche Local Government Area, Reginald Ukwuoma, where he restated his opposition to Abeâ€™s ambition.
“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,â€ Amaechi allegedly remarked during the meeting at Etche.
He stressed: “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?”
Amaechi warned that he would suspend any party leader that is supporting Senator Abe’s candidature for 2019.
â€œI remain the leader of the APC in Rivers State. Even if the 23 LGA chairmen of the party support him, it will not change anything.”
In line with his threat, Amaechi, on the same day, allegedly suspended former Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Worgu Boms, as the leader of the APC caucus in Port Harcourt Local Government Area, PHALGA. He replaced Boms with Wokekoro.
Sources said the minister later met with stakeholders of the party from Obio/Akpor Local Government Area, at around 2.pm and also suspended his former Chief of Staff, Chief Tony Okocha, as the leader of the APC caucus.
Amaechi who met with top brass of the party from Etche Local Government Area, ratified the suspension of Chief Allwell Onyesoh, as the leader of the APC caucus in Etche.
Chief Onyesoh’s suspension, last week, by a former member of the House of Representatives, Ogbonna Nwuke, sparked a whirlpool of discontent among top members of the party in Etche.
The minister 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. He replaced him with Chibike Ikenga, who is regarded as the minister’s satellite.
A leader of the party in the state who expressed dismay at the gale of suspensions embarked upon by Amaechi disclosed that Senator Wilson Ake, the leader of the APC in Egba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area. was next to be suspended.
Some leaders of the APC in the state opine that Amaechi had resorted to the suspension of party leaders in their respective local governments as a last ditch move to wrestle the APC from the clutches of Abe, solely, to forestall him from earning the APC governorship ticket in 2019.
Reacting to the development, Amaechiâ€™s former Chief of Staff, Chief Tony Okocha, said: â€œThey 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. He also removed the former Attorney General, Worgu Boms; the serving member of the House of Representatives and Leader of his LGA (Ikwerre), Chidi Wihioka. We hear that by 3pm, he will be meeting with Etche/Omuma caucus to remove Allwell Onyeso.Â
â€œI am supporting Abe because I believe he has the mien, the clout and all that it takes to win election for APC.â€
As at press time, efforts to get the reaction of Amaechiâ€™s media office to the allegation proved abortive. However, sources close to Abe confirmed the development.