Transport Minister, Rotimi Amaechi, has set off a fresh controversy in the Rivers State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) following his recent remarks suggesting that 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 that 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.
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.
He said: “I want to stand here and say that the riverine people I know are smarter than those who are trying to use them. It is a poisoned chalice; it is a Greek gift and it will profit nothing because it is not well-intentioned.
“No tribe or group in Rivers State can produce a governor without the cooperation and consultation with other groups in the state. No one individual has such power and definitely, the former governor (Amaechi) does not have that power as far as Rivers State is concerned.”
But Eze lambasted Abe saying he deliberately misrepresented the statement of Amaechi to mean pre-imposition of a gubernatorial candidate on the party ahead of the 2023 elections.
He said it was sad that 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,” he said.
While expressing disappointment at Abe’s comments, Senator Andrew Uchendu, called on Abe to stop crying but to join forces with other leaders to rebuild the party.