IN­SID­E­POL­I­TICS Amaechi-Abe feud lingers as APC plans fresh con­gresses in Rivers

Sunday Trust - - ANALYSIS - By Muideen Olaniyi (Abuja) & Vic­tor Edozie (Port Har­court)

The rul­ing All Pro­gres­sives Con­gress (APC) has been forced to take two dif­fer­ing po­si­tions on the Rivers State chap­ter of the party, es­pe­cially on the Supreme Court judge­ment in less than 24 hours. No thanks to the po­lit­i­cal tus­sle be­tween the Min­is­ter of Trans­porta­tion, Chibuike Amaechi, and Sen. Mag­nus Abe over the soul of the APC in the State.

On Thurs­day, the APC Na­tional Public­ity Sec­re­tary, Malam Lanre Issa-Onilu, in a state­ment is­sued to clar­ify the con­flict­ing in­ter­pre­ta­tions that greeted the re­cent ver­dict of the Supreme Court on the con­tentions among party mem­bers in Rivers State chap­ter said that the Apex Court’s ver­dict had noth­ing to do with the pri­maries con­ducted for the gov­er­nor­ship and leg­isla­tive po­si­tions in the state.

Issa-Onilu, there­fore, in­sisted the can­di­da­ture of Arch. Tonye Cole along with his run­ning mate, Hon. Vic­tor Gi­adom re­mained in­vi­o­late.

The state­ment tiled ‘Re: Supreme Court Rul­ing on Rivers APC’ read, “In view of con­flict­ing in­ter­pre­ta­tions that have greeted the re­cent ver­dict of the Supreme Court on the con­tentions among our mem­bers in Rivers State chap­ter of the APC, it has be­come nec­es­sary to clar­ify that the Supreme Court’s ver­dict has noth­ing to do with the pri­maries con­ducted for the gov­er­nor­ship and leg­isla­tive po­si­tions in the state.

“There­fore, the can­di­da­ture of Arch. Tonye Cole along with his run­ning mate, Hon. Vic­tor Gi­adom re­mains in­vi­o­late. The list of our can­di­dates for the gov­er­nor­ship, Na­tional Assem­bly, and House of Assem­bly has been pro­cessed by the Na­tional Work­ing Com­mit­tee (NWC) ac­cord­ing to the INEC guide­lines.

“Our party ap­pre­ci­ates the sup­port of the good peo­ple of Rivers State and their com­mit­ment to­wards the vic­tory of our gov­er­nor­ship can­di­date, Arch. Tonye Cole and other APC can­di­dates at all lev­els in the 2019 elec­tions.”

But the fol­low­ing day, the APC Na­tional Chair­man, Com­rade Adams Osh­iom­hole, flanked by the na­tional public­ity sec­re­tary, said since the Supreme Court had nul­li­fied the con­gresses in the state, a meet­ing of stake­hold­ers would be con­vened where a de­ci­sion would be taken on new ward, lo­cal gov­ern­ment and State con­gresses to pro­duce fresh party of­fi­cials.

He said the party had ac­cepted the apex court judg­ment, adding that those who pur­port­edly at­tacked the court were not APC mem­bers but ‘busy­bod­ies’.

Osh­iom­hole said, “Over the last cou­ple of days, there have been some is­sues that I think I want to com­ment on. First is the judg­ment which was de­liv­ered re­cently by the Supreme Court.

“As a po­lit­i­cal party, we re­spect the ju­di­ciary, we also ap­pre­ci­ate that the truth the facts. Democ­racy is ba­si­cally about the cel­e­bra­tion of the rule of law not the rule of might. If it is rule of might, peo­ple like me, who are both ver­ti­cally and hor­i­zon­tally chal­lenged, can­not sur­vive.

“So, as a party, we be­lieve in the rule of law. And based on this com­mit­ment, which is not re­ally a choice, we are obliged to re­spect the rule of law. And at the heart of that is to­tal obe­di­ence to the let­ter and the spirit of ju­di­cial find­ings. And ju­di­cial find­ings are not meant to be con­ve­nient. In a democ­racy, they are or­ders which are meant to be obeyed.

“There­fore, the judge­ment by the Supreme Court in which from the first to the last page of the judg­ment it is very clear that the Supreme Court has nul­li­fied the ward, lo­cal and state con­gresses that were done by my pre­de­ces­sor in Rivers state.

“It also nul­li­fied the state and the lo­cal gov­ern­ment con­gresses that were done be­cause ac­cord­ing to the find­ings by the Supreme Court, those con­gresses were done in spite of a sub­sist­ing Court Or­der.

“What is im­por­tant is that, as things stand, the high­est Court of the land has pro­nounced that those con­gresses did not meet the re­quire­ments of the law. There­fore they are not valid.

“As a law abid­ing party, we have ac­cepted the de­ci­sion of the Supreme Court and we will call a meet­ing in no dis­tant fu­ture of all the stake­hold­ers in Rivers State to pre­pare them and to put the nec­es­sary ma­chin­ery in place to con­duct fresh ward con­gresses across all the wards in Rivers State, to con­duct lo­cal gov­ern­ment con­gresses in all the lo­cal gov­ern­ments in Rivers State and there­after con­duct the State Ex­ec­u­tive Con­gress in line with the pro­vi­sions of the con­sti­tu­tion of the APC. This, we have to do in full obe­di­ence of the judg­ment of the Supreme Court.”

The APC na­tional chair­man fur­ther said: “I also want to apol­o­gize pub­licly in view of the court judg­ment but to put it mildly that the shock was such that the High Court where the mat­ter orig­i­nated that some per­sons be­sieged the court in a way that ac­cord­ing to the Supreme Court would have un­der­mined the se­cu­rity of the Court or an ac­tion that could have amounted to in­tim­i­dat­ing the court.

“I want to state on be­half of the All Pro­gres­sives Con­gress that as a party, we do not be­lieve that the court should be at­tacked by any­one re­gard­less of your griev­ances. The courts are there to lis­ten to all par­ties and to de­liver judge­ment. And in the real world, you don’t al­ways get the judge­ment that will suit you. In a democ­racy, all judg­ments are to be obeyed or be va­cated by a su­pe­rior court.

“But we are not able to ac­cept re­spon­si­bil­ity that the in­va­sion of the court was done by mem­bers of the APC. We have not re­cruited thugs and we will not re­cruit any thugs for the pur­pose of can­vass­ing is­sues be­fore a law court. What we will do as re­spon­si­ble party is to brief coun­sels who in our judg­ment are com­pe­tent to can­vass is­sues be­fore any of the courts which we drag peo­ple or we are dragged. Re­sort to thug­gery is not the way out.

“But let me also re­mind ev­ery­one that this ac­tion in ques­tion took place be­fore I was elected the chair­man of the APC. I am not de­fend­ing them be­cause they oc­curred un­der my ten­ure but I do ap­pre­ci­ate that they oc­curred un­der our po­lit­i­cal party, lead­ers of the party will come and go but the party re­mains.

I in­herit the good, the bad and the ugly side of what­ever has hap­pened. It is on this ba­sis that I ac­cept this re­spon­si­bil­ity.

“So, we apol­o­gize to the court if any em­bar­rass­ment was done to Court, even as we can­not ac­cept that those peo­ple were mem­bers of the APC. Who­ever did it, whether they were party mem­bers or hood­lums, busy­body but every right think­ing Nige­rian can­not ac­cept that our courts are in­tim­i­dated or their ac­tiv­i­ties were dis­rupted?”

The lin­ger­ing feud be­tween Amaechi-Abe and Abe is al­ready threat­en­ing the chances of the APC in Rivers State. Amaechi is be­lieved to be the chief spon­sor of Arch. Cole but Abe be­lieves that he is the APC gov­er­nor­ship can­di­date pro­duced by Peter Odike-led fac­tion.

Amaechi and Abe who had in the past en­joyed good re­la­tion­ship were locked in a fierce po­lit­i­cal bat­tle when the per­mu­ta­tion on who flies the party’s ticket be­gan. Abe had in 2015 po­si­tioned him­self to clinch the party’s gov­er­nor­ship ticket but that was not to be as Amaechi suc­ceeded in in­stalling his clos­est ally, Dr Dakuku Peter­side, who emerged as the party’s gov­er­nor­ship flag bearer.

Dakuku’s emer­gency as APC gov­er­nor­ship flag bearer did not go down well with crit­i­cal stake­hold­ers of the party. The mat­ter was re­solved but the ag­grieved mem­bers of the party were said to have worked against the in­ter­est of the party, a de­vel­op­ment that led to the party’s de­feat in 2015. Dr Peter­side was de­feated by Gov­er­nor Nye­som Wike with over one mil­lion votes. Abe set­tled with Rivers south east se­na­to­rial dis­trict seat in the Na­tional Assem­bly.

The is­sue of who flies the party’s ticket dom­i­nated the po­lit­i­cal space again in May this year when the party con­ducted its pri­maries. Abe al­leged that all his sup­port­ers that bought form for the pri­maries were dis­en­fran­chised.

The sen­a­tor headed to a Port Har­court high court which nul­li­fied all the con­gresses. The court ruled that the sta­tus quo be main­tained while all the con­gresses as well as those elected re­mained nul­li­fied. The mat­ter lin­gered un­til Supreme Court re­cently up­held the de­ci­sion of the High Court that all the Con­gresses con­ducted re­main in­valid.

Amaechi raised ten­sion in the party when he told APC stake­hold­ers meet­ing in La­gos that he had in mind a Lagos­based busi­ness­man, Cole, as the party’s gov­er­nor­ship flag bearer. Amaechi’s de­ci­sion did not go down well with some of the lead­ers of the party but he even­tu­ally had his way. APC held par­al­lel con­gresses that pro­duced both Abe and Cole as the party’s gov­er­nor­ship flag bear­ers.

But with the rul­ing of the Apex court which nul­li­fied the party’s con­gresses, APC seems poised to re­solve all is­sues in Rivers at a meet­ing com­pris­ing all stake­hold­ers be­fore the con­duct of fresh con­gresses.

Since the INEC timetable and sched­ule of ac­tiv­i­ties has Novem­ber 17 as the last day for the sub­sti­tu­tion of names of Pres­i­den­tial and Na­tional Assem­bly can­di­dates while De­cem­ber 1, 2018 is the dead­line for sub­sti­tu­tion of names of gov­er­nor­ship and House of Assem­bly can­di­dates, the APC seems to have an­other op­por­tu­nity to sort out pend­ing is­sues sur­round­ing it’s can­di­dates in Rivers State.

Ro­timi Amaechi

Mag­nus Abe

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