• Group roots for neutral candidate

Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt

Minister of Transportation and leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State, RT. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, has endorsed Mr. Tonye Cole as the party’s standard bearer in the 2019 governorship elections.

This came as an advocacy group within the state chapter of the party, Rivers Unity House, called on the party to field a “neutral person” if it hoped to wrest power from the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the state.

At a meeting of leaders of the APC in the state held Thursday night, Amaechi said considering the numerous interests in the party, it was necessary to choose a candidate who could unite the various interests and ensure victory for the party in 2019.

A statement issued by the state Publicity Secretary of the party, Chris Finebone, quoted Amaechi as having said after the endorsement, “We are aware that not all would find it easy to accept the decision but I am also conscious that the decision was made for the best interests of the party and the group.

“We are aware that interests are divergent and numerous. And that they can only coalesce if we get someone neutral; someone who is able to get every interests to converge as one. What is critical is victory.

“Loyalty is not only when it favours you but when you are tempted and stretched to your limits. Ventilate we must but to move ahead we also must as the battles ahead are numerous and tedious. You all urged me on to proceed to make a decision and swore to stand by that decision. The time has therefore come to so do.”

Reacting to the endorsement, an aspirant and Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dakuku Peterside, said he would abide by the decision of the leader of the party, Amaechi.

In a statement titled “Unity to Triumph” he issued in Port Harcourt yesterday, Peterside said, “Yesterday our leader, Rt Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, whom we all subscribe to his leadership made a decision of whom we should back for the office of the Governor of Rivers State in 2019. The lot fell on my friend and brother in Christ, Tonye Dele 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 in the leadership meeting. I thus stand by the decision on Tonye Dele Cole.”

While acknowledging that the endorsement generated mixed reactions among aspirants and party men, Peterside called on all APC faithful to abide by the decision in the overall interest of the party.

“I personally pledge my loyalty to the Leader and the decision he has made. I enjoin all my supporters to queue behind our leader Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and ensure total victory for our party,” he said.

Meanwhile, a pressure group within the APC in the State, the Rivers Unity House (RUH) has said the party needs a gubernatorial candidate who is neutral in the seeming division within the party to confront Governor Nyesom Wike in the 2019 general election.

Convener of RUH, Kingsley Wali, at a press briefing in Port Harcourt, attributed the seeming division within the APC in the state to the premature gubernatorial ambition of few members of the party.

Wali urged the party to give its gubernatorial ticket to Tonye Dele Cole, an entrepreneur, saying that his leadership would be a panacea to the life-threatening politics of hate and contention in the state.

He said: “The unique selling points of The Rivers Unity House advocacy of a Tonye Cole leadership as a panacea for resolving the life threatening politics of hate and contention in Rivers State were and still remain as follows:

“The present division within the All Progressives Congress (APC) as a political party, especially occasioned by the premature gubernatorial ambition of a few, and the clandestine push of the others for the same purpose, requires a neutral person.

“Tonye Cole will be the elixir for Rivers State electorate that have desire for real and effective governance away from the present rancorous knee jerk governance deficit of the PDP

“Tonye Cole possesses the finesse that befits the new narrative of responsible and progressive political leadership. Tonye Cole packs a formidable credenal, out of his personal endeavour that he will not be perceived as a political lap dog.

“Tonye Cole is a neutral/non-controversial person without previous political opponents. This makes him a marketable brand that will appeal to all political tendencies in the State.

“Tonye Cole has never been associated with desperation or acquisition that undermines the interest of others or fellow competitors. Finally, being an entrepreneur, he will apply effective business model to drive the administration of the State”