Rivers APC factions bicker ahead of presidential rally
Twenty-one days to the presidential political crisis in the Rivers State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has continued to fester as a sharp disagreement has erupted between the group loyal to the governorship candidate of the party, Tonye Cole, and the group supporting the presidential candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, over plans for the mega rally scheduled to hold on February 15.
A meeting in Port Harcourt yesterday convened by the APC Presidential Campaign Council (APC PCC) and the Independent Campaign Council (ICC) ended in deadlock over issues of interest within the party, which forced the pro-Tinubu group led by a former Chief of Staff, Tony Okocha, to stage a walkout.
It was gathered that Cole who called for the meeting failed to show up on grounds of alleged ill-health and delegated Sekonte Davies, former member of the House of Representatives and former Executive Director, Marine and Operations, Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), to preside over the meeting.
Commenting on what transpired at the meeting, Sekonte, who claimed to be the Chairman of the Committee planning for the APC mega rally said: “I am very experienced in running campaign organisation. The meeting Tony Okocha and his group walked out from is not a PCC meeting. It is a meeting organised by Rivers State APC preparatory to the hosting of the national campaign rally that is fixed for February 15. So it is by no means a PCC meeting.
“I am not a PCC member but the Chairman of committee to hold the presidential rally in which the party candidates, including our presidential candidate, governorship candidate, three senatorial candidates, 13 House of Representatives candidates and 32 House of Assembly candidates will gather together for campaign. We are campaigning and we are working to ensure victory for all our candidates.”
However, Okocha, whose group staged the walkout, alleged that as the governorship candidate of the party in the state, Cole has never called for a meeting of the PCC and ICC where he would have acquainted himself with the authentic members of the two groups.
“The meeting on Friday was for the PCC and the ICC members. Unfortunately, when we got there the people we saw were not PCC or ICC members. We discovered also that the seven committees that he (Cole) set up, I am the only person that he made chairman of the civil society organisations from this other side.
“He called for the meeting and could not attend on grounds that he was not feeling too fine. Sekonte cannot preside over a meeting that he is not a member. That is what explained our walkout. We have moved on and we are planning seriously for the Tinubu/Shettima campaign rally on February 15.”
Okocha noted that Cole has a baggage of issues that he needed to sort out as quickly as possible, adding that the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, had accused his own party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of hobnobbing with APC in the state.
“Go round the state; you will notice that there is no billboard, posters or banner that carries Tonye Cole and that of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s pictures together.
“The moral question to ask is who is Tonye Cole supporting as the presidential candidate? These are some of the issues we were supposed to discuss at the meeting if he had come in person.”
The former Chief of Staff disclosed that arrangements had gone far for the Tinubu campaign rally in the state with the application for the use of Yakubu Gowon Stadium in Port Harcourt for the event on February 15 already made.
He noted that for a hitch-free campaign, Chief Gift Wokocha has been appointed to oversee the PCC while himself is the chairman of local organising committee.