By G9ija

Transport Minister, Rotimi Amaechi, has set off a fresh controversy in Rivers chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) following his recent remarks suggesting the party’s 2023 governorship election ticket has been zoned to the riverine area.

Amaechi, in his ongoing tour of the 23 local government areas of the state to boost the morale of party members and preach the gospel of APC membership revalidation, visited the Ogu Bolo Local Government Area, where he made the controversial statement.

Amaechi’s core loyalist and founding APC member, Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, quoted the former governor as saying: “It doesn’t matter if you are from upland or riverine, the most important thing is for everyone to come together and work to have a riverine Governor come 2023”.

No sooner had Amaechi finished the statement than a former representative of Rivers South-East Senatorial District at the National Assembly, Senator Magnus Abe, countered him saying no individual could choose a governor for Rivers.

Abe, who spoke during an interactive session with members of the party in Port Harcourt, described Amaechi’s declaration as a Greek gift to the Riverine people and a poisoned chalice.

He said zoning the governorship ticket of the party was a process insisting the minister’s remarks did not represent the views of the majority of party members in the state.

Abe said: “The people that are being zoned in must understand why it is zoned to them and the people that are being zoned out, must also understand why they are being zoned out.

“If you just stand and carry a microphone and begin to zone and unzone, everybody knows what you are doing. And so long as it is singularly done, I want to stand here and say that it will not work.”

He said Amaechi intended to deceive the riverine people by making an uncoordinated promise to them without first laying a proper foundation required for victory.

But Eze lambasted Abe saying he deliberately misrepresented the statement of Amaechi to mean pre-imposition of a governorship candidate on the party ahead of the 2023 elections.

He said it was sad a harmless view expressed by the former governor was grossly misconstrued by the former Rivers South-East Senator.

Also, a chieftain of APC and Prince of Kalabari Kingdom, Tonye Princewill, said Amaechi was not acting alone on the zoning controversy, adding that a state party leader could not have made such weighty pronouncement alone.

He said: “When Amaechi made comments that favoured him (Abe), he was silent. I agree that the Leader cannot act alone in making such huge pronouncements. But he isn’t acting alone.

‘’He consulted, felt the pulse of the people and took a position. Magnus has not been around Amaechi for a while so maybe he isn’t aware. You have to excuse him.

While expressing disappointment over Abe’s comments, Senator Andrew Uchendu, called on Abe to stop crying and join forces with other leaders to rebuild the party.

He said it was time Abe jettisoned his blame games explaining that zoning arrangements in political parties all over the world were not intended to preclude any individual or geopolitical group from pursuing their constitutional right to contest elections but were only designed to ensure equity, justice and fairness.

He said Amaechi only made a harmless statement which was in line with the 2015 party position to encourage rotation of power.

Uchendu urged Abe to recall it was the same Amaechi, who firmly supported him for Senate against the duo of Sen. Lee Maeba and Olaka Nwogu who were both his ethnic brothers.