Rivers Governorship: Accord Party, APC mull over alliance to unseat Wike
Barely 13 days to the governorship and legislative elections, there is a likelihood of an alliance between the Accord Party and beleaguered All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State, to wrest power from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The prospect of an alliance between Accord Party governorship candidate, Dumo Lulu-Briggs and APC re-emerged after the Supreme Court dismissed an appeal filed by the Chibuike Amaechi faction of the APC challenging the judgment of Justice Chiwendu Nworgu of Rivers State High Court in Rivers State, which nullified the congresses and primaries of the APC in the State for sheer disobedience of court order.
The possibility of such alliance between the APC and Accord Party, which is now seen as the beautiful bride, was initially seen to be unlikely, in the immediate aftermath of the stay of execution order by the Court of Appeal against the ruling by Justice Kolawole Omotosho, restraining the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from including the APC in the ballot for the 2019 general election. But with the Supreme Court and INEC placing a lid on APC’s participation in the election, efforts have been intensified for a formal alliance.
The spokesman of the Accord Party governorship candidate, Dason Nemieboka, told The Guardian that aggrieved APC members on both sides of the divide who are eager to work against the PDP are already talking with the Accord Party.“Yes, there are talks ongoing but not on the basis of the factions. I know that individuals in both factions are talking with us. I will not tell you that they are speaking as factions. But I will tell you that some members of Amaechi’s camp and some from Magnus’ camp have spoken with us. In fact, in some Local Government Areas, they have gone ahead to adopt us despite what their leaders may say to them. I think it is more of individual thing. Talks are on and we are open,” he said.
Nemieboka declared that even without the consolidation of any alliance, the Accord Party is well position to wrest power from the ruling party if the elections were free and fair, especially when it comes to the governorship. According to him, despite the denial of Lulu-Briggs the governorship ticket of the APC, which led to his resignation from the party, majority of members in the Amaechi faction are still disposed to his gubernatorial aspiration and are ready to work with him.
“For 80 percent of the APC stalwarts in the Amaechi camp it was for them either a Dumo Lulu-Briggs or a Dakuku candidature. And the supposed disappointment was not by the entire faction of the party. It was a decision of one man. Quite a number of very senior and serious APC leaders still express until till yesterday their desire to work with him. It is just a matter of one or two persons because of ego, whom we think still need to be persuaded. Otherwise, we are working as one family and it won’t be difficult for the APC to work with us”
To bolster its acceptability in Rivers State where it is relatively unknown, the Accord Party has embarked on voter education. Scores of vote canvassers who are paid daily have been deployed to the over 300 wards to show and explain the logo of the Accord Party to the people in the grassroots, using local languages.
“We are far more interested in door to door campaign, one on one thing and we think that it is working in our favour. That challenge of recognising the logo may be there because we do not have a completely literate society, however, we are doing much as we can and in the coming days more people will know the Accord Party especially in the communities.”
The Guardian gathered that a certain cabal in the Presidency was initially dismayed that Lulu-Briggs resigned from APC. But with the lid placed tightly on APC by the apex court and INEC, the cabal now respects his decision and is willing to collaborate with him to battle Governor Nyesom Wike. To this end, there has been series of horse-trading going on with the intent that all parties will find a common ground.
A political analyst, Roosevelt Dipreye is of the belief that forming an alliance between the Accord Party and APC will be no easy task, but eventually, everyone is going to have to make concessions. He stressed that though the APC is fractured and fragmented, it still has an advantage in terms of having security apparatus on its side.
Dipreye said Lulu-Briggs may easily garner the support of a section of APC members who are not protesting openly over the choice of Mr. Cole, but may not count on support of leader of the APC in the State, Amaechi. The latter may not trust Lulu-Briggs, even though both men desperately need each other now.
“But you see Amaechi does not trust Dumo. There is a reason why Ahmed Tinubu will not give the governorship ticket to certain big names in Lagos. If you give them ticket, they will uproot you. So, every kingmaker looks for who can be easily controlled. Dumo needs Amaechi who has federal support, which comes with security personnel and materials. Those two things are the most important in election. If you have the materials, you need to protect the materials.
“We will have to wait and see how Amaechi who has always been in the driver’s seat as far as APC is concerned, will now have to play a second fiddle in the event that the alliance is ever formed.”
An APC stalwart, Friday Kennedy, said he reckons that there is absolutely nothing wrong for opposition political parties to form electoral alliance to wrest power when there is consensus that the party in power has failed the people. He however, ruled out the possibility of Abe group forming an alliance with the Accord Party.
Kennedy said though Lulu-Briggs is known by many for his generosity that alone cannot translate to electoral victory in a complex and diverse state like Rivers. He also observed that the Accord Party’s gubernatorial campaign has not be robust to create the kind of visibility required to confront an entrenched political party like the PDP and Wike.“Dumo’s popularity is not politics related. When you talk about Dumo, you don’t think about politics, you think about philanthropy. So, he has to convert that popularity into political advantage to give him votes.
Meanwhile, a political observer, Ms Chisom Green, said any alliance between the APC and Accord must be hinged on the fundamental principle of creating a credible alternative to the existing government. She noted that Rivers State has been in a state of flux since 2013, hence, any serious minded political actor that wants to be governor must not seek power for power, but be prepared to place the state on a new trajectory.
Green said: “Wike and PDP may not have shown good leadership and character in governance, but bear in mind that all the key players in APC and Accord today were members of the PDP until recently. I don’t see Dumo defeating Wike. The APC faction will be banking on the cabal within the Presidency to use the military and police to pervert the electoral process, but there is going to be resistance. The elections can get bloody.”
An associate of Lulu-Briggs who pleaded anonymity told The Guardian that the Accord Party candidate remains the underdog to watch out for in days ahead. According to him, just penultimate Friday, he mobilised agents for the 4442 units in Rivers state.
Lulu-Briggs is the son of late oil tycoon, Benson Lulu-Briggs. He is an accomplished businessman, technocrat and philanthropist. He has declared that once Rivers State gets her politics right, it shall get governance and economy right, thus, usher in an era of prosperity and progress.
On insecurity in Rivers, he said: “One key way of reducing insecurity is by making certain you create jobs. It’s unfortunate that investors daily leave the shores of the state because of insecurity, which has disastrously affected the economy of the state. This situation is the result of absence of jobs, presence of hunger, poverty and lack of basic infrastructure. But we are coming to change all that, as our priority will basically be hinged on creating jobs, by expanding the economy in a manner that it will accommodate diverse interests. When this is achieved, then insecurity will naturally fizzle out, and there will be peace and abundance for all. All these are centered on ideas, ideas that will benefit the people. And that is why, our administration will be known as “Mr. Jobs”
He stressed that Rivers’ decline started about twenty years ago with the return to democracy and serves as a sad testimonial to the vision and enterprise of the founding fathers of the state.Lulu-Briggs said if the state could get its politics right in 2019 by voting a visionary leadership, then the state will be better placed to get governance and her economy right.
But Rivers State PDP chairman, Felix Obuah has taken a swipe at Lulu-Briggs for attacking Wike’s government. He said: “We have far gone beyond this kind of infantile statements to impress political benefactors, otherwise how could a supposed seeker to the office of Governor of Rivers State claim he has not seen anything done by the person he wants to replace?”Obuah said it was curious that Lulu-Briggs was yet to hold any major rally in any of the 23 Local Government Areas of the State.
“Unlike Governor Nyesom Wike who has embarked on state-wide rallies to showcase the tremendous achievements of his administration as justification for his re-election, the Accord Party’s controversial guber candidate has withdrawn to his shell as he has nothing to tell the electorate. The popular saying that you cannot give what you don’t have explains the reason Dumo Lulu-Briggs is not campaigning.”