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Rivers APC: Six days to primaries

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Rotimi Amaechi


• Confusion Reigns On Mode To Adopt
• Direct Primaries Give Power To The People – Lulu-Briggs
• If Anybody Wants APC To Lose Let Them Try Direct Primaries – Amaechi
• God, Not Amaechi Will Decide Next Rivers’ Governor – Abe

Barely six days to All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship primaries, the party in Rivers State remains plagued by schisms over selection of its torchbearer.While political parties ought to seek to make the best of their primaries in order to maximize their chances in the real election, Rivers APC members are confused over what mode of primary the party will adopt, direct or indirect.

Amid this prevailing cloud of uncertainty, political pundits fear that after what is bound to be a raucous nomination battle this week, it might be difficult for the party to come together for the general-election – fight against the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) next year.A governorship aspirant, Dumo Lulu-Briggs, who some had assumed will be endorsed by the leader of the party cum Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, has joined another aspirant, Senator Magnus Abe, to clamour for direct primaries in order to truly return power to the people.

Lulu-Briggs, who hails from Abonnema, same as Amaechi’s preferred aspirant, Tonye Cole, says direct primaries is the position of the National leadership of the party, and should be adopted by any well meaning APC member. According to him, even President Muhammadu Buhari wants to ensure that it is the people’s choice that gets to represent them in their political parties, state governments and local governments.

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“Everybody who is in the APC who believes in the ‘Change Mantra’ of Mr. President must align with his desire to give power back to the people. So, it is not just about me wanting direct primaries, it is about the president wanting it and it is about me understanding why direct primary is good for us. And there’s no way that if I want us to discontinue this treacherous experience that the people have always had with leaders that I will not stand for direct primaries. Direct primaries gives the power back to the people” said Lulu-Briggs.

Lulu-Briggs, who was thought to be Amaechi’s man before the endorsement of Mr. Cole, has declared that he remains unwavering in his commitment and resolve to contest the governorship primary election of the party.  He has urged all APC members who have toiled and made enormous sacrifices to go all out to vote the candidate who can ensure the greatest participation of party members in the affairs of the party and in government.

That Amaechi will ever back Abe for APC ticket is a foregone conclusion the very day the Senator openly declared his intention to run for office of governor. Speaking during a rally at Eleme last week, Amaechi declared that if APC adopts direct primaries, the party would lose the State.“We are the party. We have chosen indirect (primaries). When they continue to make noise about direct (primaries) do they have the numbers? That is the problem. If anybody wants APC to lose, let them make that mistake. There is nothing to worry about. Don’t bother about them, bother about Government House,” he said.

Senator Abe who represents Rivers South East senatorial district in the National Assembly has also declared that God and not Amaechi will decide who will be the next governor of Rivers State.He is optimistic that direct primaries will give the APC an opportunity to transcend petty politics and avail members the opportunity to decide.

Amaechi took a swipe at Wike by accusing him of massive corruption and attempting to destroy the APC by sponsoring some persons responsible for the crack in the party. He declared that with a membership base of 796,000, the APC has already won the 2019 elections.“Wike is sponsoring people in our party (APC) to disintegrate the party. Now, I have come out. The way to go about it is to let the party at the national know that we are ready for elections. All these people distracting us inside the party, under the sponsorship of Wike, we will ignore them, because Wike must go in 2019” he said.

Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Emma Okah has meanwhile admonished Amaechi to search his conscience and drop his penchant for dictatorship, in order to realise that he was actually behind the crisis in APC and not Governor Wike.

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“Amaechi is the problem of APC in Rivers State. He is the one who dictates when members can aspire to hold any office; He is the one who has treated party members like they are his slaves and the consequence is that the party is factionalised into three camps,” said Okah.He said the present crisis rocking the APC originated from the Minister’s insistence that Senator Abe has no right to aspire to be governor and the unilateral endorsement of Mr. Cole as the preferred governorship candidate without regard to the rights of other APC members to contest party primaries.

A senior APC leader from Rivers East senatorial district who pleaded anonymity told The Guardian that if proponents of indirect primaries have their way, then, those who are agitating for direct primaries will be forced to align with rival candidates of undisclosed party to thwart APC’s ambition.“It will be ingenuous for anyone to assume that the prevailing division within the party  may not have any bearing on the  general election The prevailing feud will only end if they allow actual party members to vote. They claim there are 796,000 registered APC members in Rivers State, I wonder why they are afraid of direct primaries,” he said.

Chief Ogodo and his people had earlier adopted the direct primaries model in the conduct of all party primaries, but caused a stir when they later opted for indirect primaries.Prof. Utomi, who was at the secretariat also walked out, following the adoption of indirect primaries by the Elue group, which his supporters argued will present undue advantage to some aspirants.


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