- Wike lacks moral right to seek second tenure, says Cole
Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt and Segun James in Lagos
The senator representing Rivers East senatorial district, Magnus Abe, has accused the Minister of Transport, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, of trying to play God in the way he imposed Mr. Tonye Cole as the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers state.
This is coming as the spokesman for the campaign organisation of the governorship candidate of APC in the state, Tonye Cole Campaign Organisation, Mr. Ogbonna Nwuke, has said Governor Nyesom Wike has no moral right to seek a second tenure.
Speaking yesterday on Arise News, a sister broadcast arm of THISDAY Newspaper, Abe said it was the way Amaechi imposed the Cole candidacy on the people that was primarily responsible for the crisis that led to the party not having a recognised governorship candidate for the February election in the state.
He insisted that Cole was a total stranger to the party when he was imposed on the party faithful, adding that there was no decency or respect for the people the way it was done.
“If we overcome this struggle internally, I believe the party will be stronger for it. At the core of the challenges in the APC Rivers state is that people actually want alternative they know will work. So, we must be able to convince them that the alternative we are offering is one that will bring something different from what they have had in the past.
“I believe that at the end of the day, the party will emerge stronger. The legal and moral foundation on which the Cole candidate is based is faulty. And if leaders of the party like us keep quiet, and allow the party to proceed in a manner that at the end of the day will leave the party totally shortchanged in every aspect, then we are not working for the party.
“So, people must be able to speak up and must be able to stand for what will help the APC in Rivers State. People have suffered so much in the state for us to leave them with no option.”
Abe said what led to the crisis in the party was the refusal of some party leaders to allow due process and internal democracy, saying that was the reason over 16,000 members who were denied their rights headed for the court to fight the process.
“Over 16,000 members of the party who were denied opportunity to participate in the party’s primary process headed to the courts to enforce their rights. That was the beginning of the crisis. This was still lingering when the primary took place.
“Following this, the national chairman decided that Rivers State was one of the states where direct primaries must take place because of issues arising out of the exclusion of these people.
“Those of us who are lawyers know that you cannot put nothing on something and expect it to stand. But just as they feared, the High Court dismissed the entire exercise that produced Mr. Cole. The Court of Appeal has also affirmed the decision of the lower court.”
Abe said there was no truth in the assertion that he had insisted that the party should field him or nobody else.
“I have never said that. I’m a loyal party man, but at the same time, the party belongs to all of us and we cannot stand by and allow the party to crash.”
Reacting to the claim that Amaechi was in his house to plead with him to drop his gubernatorial ambition and accept a senatorial ticket, Abe said this was not the true position. “As at the time the minister came to my house, nobody was running for governorship. So, the issue of him offering me a senatorial seat did not even arise and it was never discussed.
“The minister did come to my house, but what he did was to order me not to even think about it, saying that if I try it, this and that will be the consequence. So it is not true that the minister came to my house to plead with me.
“The day he came to house, we were together all day. But he said he came to my house because he wanted to warn me and to let my wife be aware that I should not try to run for governor. I thought that was not right or necessary.”
Meanwhile, the spokesman of Tonye Cole Campaign Organisation, Ogbonna Nwuke, has said Governor Wike has no moral right to ask the people of the state for a second tenure.
In a statement issued in Port Harcourt yesterday, Nwuke said, “Governor Wike has no moral right to approach the Rivers State people for a second tenure in office. What is he really coming back to do?
“Rivers people gave him a chance to serve them in 2015 after the abracadabra that took place. Rather than work for them, Wike turned against them and chastised them from day one.
“Rather than keep the people safe, heads of innocent and defenceless persons were gruesomely cut off – whole families were wasted by hit squads, while property worth millions of naira were destroyed in several parts of the state.
“Three years down the line, the governor who has squandered the opportunity to write his name in the history books, wants a second chance,” Nwuke added.