Jonathan’s Wike, Amaechi’s Dakuku Or Atiku’s Princewill
TODAY’S governorship election in Rivers State would indisputably be the most keenly contested in the state since 1999. Though the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) cleared candidates of 19 political parties to contest, only three- Dakuku Peterside of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Nyesom Wike of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Tonye Princewill of the Labour Party (LP) are likely to succeed Governor Chibuike Amaechi as the chief occupant of the Brick House, Port Harcourt Government House.
Peterside, a native of Opobo, an Ijaw ethnic group in Rivers South East senatorial district, was born on December 31, 1970 and attended the Okrika Grammar School. Afterwards, he proceeded to the Rivers State University of Science and Technology (RSUST), Port Harcourt, where he earned degrees in Medical Laboratory Sciences (Haematology).
He also holds a Masters in Business Administration (Management) and a doctorate degree from the University of Port Harcourt.
His political career dates back to his days at RSUST, when he was elected National President of National Union of Rivers State Students (NURSS) in 1992.
Between 1996 and 1998, he served as the Rivers State Financial Secretary of the defunct Democratic Party of Nigeria (DPN). In 1999, when Dr. Peter Odili was elected governor, he appointed Peterside as his Special Assistant on Youth and Student Affairs. He later served as Chairman of Opobo-Nkoro Local Government between 2002 and 2003. Considered as Amaechi’s political protégée, Peterside was commissioner for Works between 2007 and 2011, during which he oversaw the dualisation of major roads in Port Harcourt and construction of others across the state. He was also a member of the Board of Greater Port Harcourt Development Authority (GPHCDA).
To befuddle those who had perceived him to be Amaechi’s likely successor, he was encouraged to contest for the Andoni/Opobo-Nkoro Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives in 2011 under the platform of PDP, which he won. As a member of the House of Representatives, he served as Chairman of the Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream), in addition to membership of others.
Following the contentious removal of the Godspower Ake and Adokiye Oruwari-led state executive council of the PDP by an Abuja Court that installed Felix Obuah as PDP chairman, Peterside, in pursuit of political ambition, dumped PDP with 36 other members of House of Representatives and defected to APC on December 18, 2013. He said he has identified security as an important ingredient of growth and has pledged to make security of lives and property, increase economic activity in the state, job creation, attraction of investments, boost of tourism, as well and running of an accountable and transparent government his major priorities.
He would depend largely on Amaechi’s formidable political machinery in the state to defeat the other candidates. Seen as amiable, Peterside has been endorsed by the prominent Ijaw National Congress (INC) and Rivers Elders and Leadership Council.
Immediate past minister of State for Education, Wike was born on August 24, 1967 to Rev and Mrs. Nlemanya Wike of Rumuepirikom in Obio-Akpor Council. He is of the same Ikwerre ethnic nationality as Amaechi. Wike, who is considered an astute politician, holds degrees in Political and Administrative Studies from the University of Port Harcourt and Law from RSUST.
After a brief stint in private legal practice, Wike ventured into active politics and was elected Chairman of Obio/Akpor Local Government from 1999 to 2002 and 2004 to 2007. During this period, he served as deputy president of Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) and later as it national president of ALGON. Once considered as one of Amaechi’s closest allies, he served as Chief of Staff, Government House, under Amaechi from 2007 to 2011, when he was nominated by the governor as a minister to represent Rivers State. In July 2011, President Goodluck Jonathan, who initially was purportedly rejected his nomination, appointed him as the Minister of State for Education.
As a minister, Wike was credited to have created access to education for Almajiri children in northern Nigeria and establishment of four new federal polytechnics, including the one at Bonny. By 2013, he fell out with Amaechi, when an Abuja court ousted the Ake/Oruwari-led state PDP executive. Wike, who is perceived to have being the architect of the case, in December last year, despite strong opposition in PDP, particularly those of Ijaw extraction, clinched the party’s ticket for today’s governorship and chose a former Secretary to the State Government, of Ijaw extraction, Mrs. Ipalibo Banigo, as his running mate.
He has promised to cut the cost of governance, create enabling environment for business, block loopholes and improve the internally-generated revenue of the state, improve security and ensure enforcement of rule of law. Wike, whose ambition has been contentious, because he is of the same Ikwerre ethnic nationality as Amaechi, has a well-oiled political structure that comprises former local government chairmen and Amaechi main political foes, such as Odili; former governor, Mr. Celestine Omehia; former Deputies of House of Representatives, Chibudom Nwuche and Austin Opara, respectively; and several others, to defeat the other candidates.
Though he had relied on Jonathan backing, the defeat of the President in the March 28 polls might have diminished the overwhelming support he once enjoyed. But he would be hoping to repeat the electoral feat that earned his party the three senatorial and 13 House of Representatives seats in the March 28 elections.
Princewill was born in the United Kingdom (UK) to the family of a Professor of Medical Microbiology and the Amanyanabo of Kalabari Kingdom of the Amachree Dynasty on January 4, 1969. Besides politics, Princewill, an Ijaw, is also a businessman whose interest spans through the upstream and downstream oil and gas sector, information technology, environmental waste management and aviation services. He started his early education in the UK and when he returned home with his parents, he continued at Hillcrest High School in Jos from 1976 to 1980.
He later attended Federal Government College, Port Harcourt. He obtained his first degree in Petroleum Engineering at the University of Port Harcourt and a Masters in Mineral Resources Engineering at the Imperial College, London. Once a close associate of Amaechi, Princewill worked with Shell as a Reservoir and Well-site Petroleum Engineer and with the UK’s Oil and Gas Regulatory Agency, the Department of Trade and Industry (United Kingdom), as Risk Analyst.
He was the Chief Technology Officer of Panasonic in the UK and served at the Global Asset Management Desk of Citibank. He later moved into private business and established the Riverdrill Group of Companies.
Princewill, who was a former member of the PDP, had initially left the party to realise his governorship ambition. With the support of former Vice President and AC presidential candidate in the 2007 elections, Atiku Abubakar, and former governor of Lagos State and national leader of ACN, Bola Tinubu, he was in 2007 nominated as the party’s governorship candidate. Princewill, who is the only one out of the three candidates to have contested for governor before, lost to Omehia, who was later ousted by the Supreme Court, which declared Amaechi as the duly elected governor.
Princewill, who led Forum of Organized Opposition Political Parties (FOOPP) to form a unity government with Amaechi, returned to the PDP in 2010. Three years after, he became the director of organisation of the Atiku-led Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM), once a formidable faction of the PDP. He has declared that his single political agenda is to create jobs for the teeming unemployed youths in the state and is confident of pulling a surprise at today’s polls.
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