Red-hot rage and regret reign in the ruins of the suave businessman, Tonye Cole’s failed gubernatorial ambition. Last Wednesday, the Court of Appeal sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, for the second time, dismissed an appeal instituted by the All Progressives Congress, APC, challenging the ruling of the Justice Chiwendu Nworgu of the Rivers State High Court, which nullified the party’s wards, local governments, and state congresses for filing out of the stipulated time in the constitution.
Prior to that, a Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt on January 7, 2019, had nullified the primaries conducted by the two factions of the party in Rivers State and also restrained the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from presenting Tonye or the factional leader, Senator Magnus Abe, and other candidates of the APC in the 2019 governorship election in the state.
Tonye is the anointed of former governor Rotimi Amaechi while Abe, hitherto one of the closest men to Amaechi, refused to accept his leader’s choice, went ahead to conduct a parallel congress that predictably produced him as governorship candidate, and instituted the court case that has now done their party in. Now, both men have, as things stand, lost out in the battle for, with the exception of Lagos State perhaps, the most coveted governorship seat in Nigeria.
Following the court verdict, the spokesman of Tonye Cole Campaign Organization (TCCO), Hon. Ogbonna Nwuke, issued a statement, saying the party would receive a briefing relating to what transpired from its lawyers, and that it has not exhausted all avenues leading to the remedy of its exclusion from the 2019 election. The statement reads, “There are still options open to the party. All the roads to a judicial settlement of the cases that are pending before the court are still open.
We have faith in God and the capacity of the judiciary to deal impartially with all the matters that are pending before it. Our leaders are working to make sure that we secure victory for the party and the Rivers people who truly yearn for change.” That was, however, the political perspective to Tonye’s angst. He is angry. And he is reportedly ruing succumbing to Amaechi’s persuasion to join the race. Had he understood the dynamics of Rivers State politics better, Tonye, perhaps, would not have fallen for the bait.
Now, he blames himself and curses the Minister of Transportation who he believes set him up for failure and humiliation. According to an online publication, PUO Reports, Tonye was quoted to have ‘bitterly lamented that had the former governor told him all the truth about the internecine crisis in the party, he would not have risked his hard-earned international reputation for the murky water of Rivers politics.’ Tonye reportedly told their correspondent, “Politics was never my thing. The minister had over ten different meetings with me when he was trying to convince me into this thing, but I believe that he kept certain information concerning the internal contradictions within the party from me. If I understood the magnitude of the internal crisis, I wouldn’t have taken this cliff.”
A very successful businessman by every standard, Tonye resigned from Sahara Energy which he co-founded with his friends (Tope Shonubi and Ade Odunsi), to dabble into politics.
In spite of his wealth, Tonye was a patently reserved man until Amaechi brought him out of his shells. Within the last year, he has experienced the horrendous part of Nigerian politics. Last November, he saw death at close range. Tonye revealed on his Twitter page; “Tragedy was averted on Friday, November 16, at Old Bakana. Gunmen opened fire on my team while we were carrying out ward-to-ward consultation in the community. We thank the Almighty for his protection now and always. I stand for politics of peace.”
As if that was not enough, few weeks after the attempt on his life, the Rivers State Government announced that it had approved the termination of the share sale contract for 70 per cent equity of the state-owned power generation assets held by First Independent Power Limited in Omoku, Afam, Trans-Amadi and Eleme Gas Turbines to NG Power-HPS Limited and the concession of the Rivers and Bayelsa State-owned Olympia Hotel to Cenpropsaroten Hotel Management Limited. The government admitted that the companies whose contracts were cancelled are subsidiaries of Sahara Energy Limited, whose co-owner is the opposition governorship candidate in the state. Not even the knowledge that Tonye already resigned from the company before venturing into politics could sway Governor Nyesom Wike. For now, Tonye remains in the lurch. And he has Amaechi to blame eternally for his condition.