Ahead of the 2019 governorship race in Rivers State, Minister of Transport Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has reportedly endorsed Mr. Tonye Dele Cole, Founder of Sahara Energy Resources Limited, as his preferred candidate for the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state.
Although Amaechi, who is the leader of the party in the state has not made his choice official, his ally and the Director-General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside and Asita O. Asita have pledged their support for Architect Dele-Cole as the APC flagbearer.
Peterside was the APC governorship candidate in 2015 while Asita was his running mate.
Peterside in a statement he personally signed on Friday called on APC faithful to rally round Mr. Cole, who he called “my friend and brother in Christ”, for the sake of APC and the ordinary people of Rivers State.
In the statement titled: “Unity to Triumph”, Peterside recalled his earlier commitment to stand by whatever decision Amaechi would make in the overall interest of the party and Rivers state.
“I reiterated my position yesterday in the leadership meeting. I thus stand by the decision on TDC (Tonye Dele Cole)”, Peterside said.
The NIMASA DG, a frontline contender until the Thursday announcement by Amaechi, said that APC and its members in Rivers State had toiled to build the party, which involved loss of lives.
“We have toiled from 2013 to date (a period of five years ) and have made sacrifices and lost lives in the course of enthroning the kind of government we want in Rivers State; a government that will guarantee peace, unity and prosperity. In the course of the struggle, we bonded as one, indivisible family under God.”
Peterside, who noted that Amaechi’s decision on Cole had met “mixed reactions” which he said was expected, however, noted that the greater good of APC and Rivers State should be paramount.
“To those who believe in the vision I shared in the past 5 years, the leadership I gave at various times and the path of loyalty to the cause I have chosen over time, I urge you all to stand by the Leader, the party and the ordinary people of rivers state in support of TDC . I personally pledge my loyalty to the Leader (who is to me the head of the family) and the decision he has made. I enjoin all my supporters to queue behind our leader CRA (Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi) and ensure total victory for our party.”
In his reaction, Chris Finebone, APC Publicity Secretary in Rivers State, said the party is unaware of such endorsement by Amaechi.
Mr. Finebone said that the party’s constitution does not give room for adoption as governorship aspirants have to contest in the forthcoming governorship primaries.
“The process for choosing candidates, whether Presidential, Governorship and State Assembly as ratified by National Working Committee, NWC, does not recognize adoption. If people are speculating who the leader (Amaechi) would support, he has always made it clear that he would support somebody but whoever he would support has not been made known”.
Amaechi had always made it clear that those who do not agree with him have right to express it during the primaries.
Asita O. Asita described the choice of Tonye Dele Cole, a Kalabari, from the riverine and a big player in oil and gas industry, as fitting the desire of APC to shift power to the riverine part of the state.
Senator Magnus Abe, who represents Rivers South East Senatorial district from Ogoniland who has declared his ambition to become governor of the state, argued that since the state was created 57 years ago, no Ogoni has been governor, deputy governor, Speaker of the State Assembly or the Chief Judge of the state.
Abe and his supporters created a parallel APC secretariat by Waterlines Junction on Port-Harcourt/Aba Expressway about a kilometre away from the official APC secretariat.
Read below Dr. Dakuku Adol Peterside’s full statement on the endorsement of Dele-Cole.
UNITY TO TRIUMPH – DAP
Yesterday our leader, Rt. Hon C R Amaechi, whom we all subscribe to his leadership made a decision of whom we should back for the office of the Governor of Rivers State in 2019. The lot fell on my friend and brother in Christ, Tonye Dele Cole.
2. I made a commitment to the group earlier to stand by whatever decision the leader makes in the overall interest of the party and rivers state. I reiterated my position yesterday in the leadership meeting. I thus stand by the decision on TDC.
3. We have toiled from 2013 to date (a period of five years) and have made sacrifices and lost lives in course of enthroning the kind of government we want in Rivers State; a government that will guarantee peace , unity and prosperity. In course of the struggle we bonded as one indivisible family under God.
4. The decision by the Leader has been meet with mixed reactions, which is expected. My appeal is that we allow the greater interest of APC and Rivers State to prevail.
5. To those who believe in the vision I shared in the past 5 years, the leadership I gave at various times and the path of loyalty to the cause I have chosen over time, I urge you all to stand by the Leader, the party and the ordinary people of Rivers state in support of TDC. I personally pledge my loyalty to the Leader (who is to me family) and the decision he has made. I enjoin all my supporters to queue behind our leader CRA and ensure total victory for our party.
6. I pray for unity among the members of APC and VICTORY in the 2019 election.
Dakuku Peterside PhD