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