The long-running crisis in the Rivers State chapter of the All Progressives Congress, APC, over divergent arguments on whether or not the party will conduct a governorship primary in selecting its candidate for the 2019 gubernatorial election has taken a new dimension.
Four groups within the party in the state held separate meetings at the weekend, in Port Harcourt, the state capital, and took a swipe at the leadership of the party, insisting that former Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi’s resolve to anoint a governorship candidate and the willingness of Senator Magnus Ngei Abe to offer himself for nomination in the governorship primary, should there be one in 2018, prior the governorship election on Saturday, March 2, 2019, has further exposed members of the party to lingering hardship and dejection.
All four groups were unanimous in their condemnation of the crisis provoked by the topical debate on whether or not the Rivers APC will hold a primary as stipulated by the party’s constitution or ignore that provision in the APC constitution, as it happened in 2015, when Amaechi anointed Dr. Dakuku Peterside, then, a member of the House of Representatives as the party’s candidate, to sidetrack Senator Abe who was also widely acknowledged to be desirous of vying for the governorship position.
The groups at the close of their meetings complained that members of the party who worked assiduously for the party in the 2015 general elections have been left in the lurch. They insist that the failure of the APC to clinch the gubernatorial election, a contest that later terminated at the Supreme Court, on January 27, 2016, has left on its trail hunger and pervasive unemployment.
According to the President-General of M30, Ambassador Anosike Orduwa, a socio-political pressure group within the Rivers State chapter of the APC, rather than address the welfare of members of the party, the most prominent topic since the party lost the governorship election to the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, is whether or not the party will conduct a primary for interested governorship aspirants or not.
He said, “We in M30 are thoroughly displeased by what is happening in our party in Rivers State. For the past two years, our members have been suffering. There is no empowerment from any quarter. Rather than find ways to accommodate us in the scheme of things, our leaders are busy flexing their political muscles over who has the power to anoint a candidate or not.”
“All we are hearing is primary no primary. In the midst of this cacophony, members of the APC in Rivers State are suffering. Our members are hungry. Does it mean our leaders don’t know what is happening? Those who worked for the party at the 2015 general elections appear to have been forgotten.”
President of Ogoni Democratic Movement, Hon. Goddy Bazaari, called on the leaders of the party in Rivers State to concentrate more on how to create jobs for members of the party. He cautioned that the party will find it extremely difficult to call on members of the party who have been largely ignored to come and work for the victory of the party in 2019.
“Our leaders must realise that we have families, too. Our members need to be empowered across board. And what do I mean? Political patronage should not be limited to only those who contested elections and failed. Any attempt to ignore party members who drive the electioneering campaign of the party will not augur well for the party in 2019. APC members in Rivers State need jobs, too.”
President of the Movement for Progressive Change, Hon. Prince Akwekwe, noted that the most worrisome aspect of the crisis currently rocking the party “is not whether there should be primary or not, but the unmitigated wave of intimidation that has permeated all levels of the party in the state.”
He lamented; “Members of the APC in Rivers State are no longer comfortable attending sectional meetings in the state. Apart from the state executive council of the APC in Rivers State there are many other groups that coalesced into what is now known as the APC in Rivers State.”
“It took us about two week to impress it on members of the Movement for Progressive Change to attend this auspicious meeting. Why? We are reliably informed that there is an order from above that any member of the party that attends any sectional meeting other than those called by the state exco, or leaders of the party caucuses in the local governments will be severely penalised.
“We leant that anyone who holds a meeting other than those approved by the state exco will be ostracized. Our position is unambiguous in that regard. Any attempt to bully us from holding a meeting of our members will be tantamount to sheer intimidation and intimidation will not work. Our decision to join the APC was voluntary. If we held meetings with our members before we joined the APC, why can’t we hold meetings, now?”
“Sadly, most of those who took risks for the party, during and after the 2015 general elections have been abandoned. As it is, party loyalty has been reduced to loyalty to an aspirant that has been programmed to be anointed by those who believe they own the party. Political patronage is premised on loyalty to persons rather than working for the growth and development of the party. It has become suicidal for members of the party to attend political meetings other than the ones convened by supposedly preferred governorship aspirants,” Akwekwe regretted.
He asked: “If the Movement for Progressive Change held series of meetings before, during and after the 2015 general elections, why can’t we hold our meetings, again? Why has it become a crime to hold a meeting of like minds? Why can’t we hold meetings designed to reposition the party for the 2019 general elections? Such meetings were commonplace in 2014 and 2015. Let any leader in the APC who says otherwise challenge us to that effect. Meetings are an integral part of politicking.”
He recalled: “One of such groups is the Association of Non-Indigenes in Rivers State. Former Governor Amaechi and our candidate for the 2105 governorship election, Dr. Peterside, addressed that group at different occasions. So, why are our leaders jittery over the holding of meetings by political pressure groups within the APC in Rivers State?”
Publicity Secretary of Rivers Network for Positive Change, Mr. Bethel Ernest Chigozie, declared that the biggest problem confronting the Rivers APC is “disunity brought about by the open display of undue bias within the top echelon of the party. He stated that it was unproductive for the leaders of the APC at the state and local government levels to insist that no group within the party can proffer an innocuous opinion on how they think the party can be repositioned.”