Cole, Abe emerge as Rivers APC governorship candidates

*Abe, Cole

The All Progressives Congress (APC) has produced two candidates, Mr. Tonye Cole and Senator Magnus Abe from the parallel governorship primaries conducted by both factions of in Rivers State.

Punch reports that Cole won in the indirect governorship primary held in Port Harcourt on Sunday when he polled 3,329 votes, while his closest rival, Dr. Dawari George, got 491 votes.

Eighteen votes were declared void by the Jafar Isah-led Rivers governorship primary committee.

It was, however, a different story at the primary held by the APC faction loyal to Abe as the senator was declared the winner of Sunday’s direct governorship primary conducted in the three senatorial districts of Rivers State by the APC.

The returning officer, Dr. Chigbo Sam Eligwe, made the announcement in a press conference at the APC parallel secretariat in Port Harcourt.

Abe who won with 144,929 votes was followed by Dumo Lulu-Briggs who got 3,344, Dawari George, 1,606 and Tonye Dele Cole 882 votes.

It was also reported that there was tension in the state as the party held two parallel governorship primaries in different parts of the state.

While the Rotimi Amaechi-led APC conducted an indirect primary on the Igboukwu field in D-Line, Port Harcourt, the Magnus Abe faction adopted the direct governorship primary across different local government areas of the state.

Earlier before the exercise in Port Harcourt by the Amaechi-led faction, there were explosions near the secretariat of the party around 12.30pm.

The last explosion scared supporters of the Amaechi-led group as most of them rushed out to have a glimpse of what happened less than 50 metres away from the party secretariat.

Before the exercise, Lulu-Briggs had accused the Amaechi of trying to impose his preferred aspirant, Cole, on the party.

Lulu-Briggs also claimed that certain persons had been handpicked from various wards as delegates to the primary in breach of the party’s constitution and guidelines.

He had therefore called for the postponement of the primary saying it was necessary in order to enhance transparency.

“When the NWC reached the decision that indirect primaries be adopted for the governorship primary in Rivers, as a loyal party man, I accepted the decision in good faith despite the fact that there are pending litigations in various courts, which might vitiate and truncate the process.

“I thus ramped up my campaign, but soon discovered that our party structures from the state executive committee, local government and ward executives across the state have been directed by Rotimi Amaechi, leader of our party in the state, not to allow me access to our party faithful and delegates, but to only support the aspiration of his preferred aspirant, Tonye Cole.

“It is clear from the foregoing that the minimum standards to guarantee a free and fair primary today (Sunday) are nonexistent and any primary held today will be a mere sham and a perfidious travesty.

“To this end, I, Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs, most graciously appeal to the National Chairman of our great party and  the NWC to, as a matter of utmost urgency, postpone the governorship primary for Rivers State so as to correct the anomalies herein complained of because the current arrangement falls short of the minimum standards stipulated by the Electoral Act and our party constitution,” he said.

Cole, a billionaire oil merchant and chairman of Sahara Oil was adopted by the Amaechi faction at its leadership caucus meeting held in Lagos in Lagos on August 30.

Observers had expected the ticket to be a straight fight between the director-general of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside and Abe.

That, however, was not to be as Amaechi, who doubles as APC leader in Rivers State, gave Cole the nod.

Amaechi has been pushing for a candidate from the riverine part of the state to take over from the incumbent governor, Mr. Nyesom Wike arguing that the riverine area has not produced a governor since 1999.

Cole, an architect, is the son of the former managing director of Daily Times and former Nigerian ambassador to Brazil, Dr. Patrick Dele Cole.

He is from Abonnema-Kalabari, headquarters of Akuku-Toru (rivernine) local government area.

Abe, who was Amaechi’s man Friday at one time, represents Rivers South-East Senatorial District and is the APC leader in the zone.

He fell out with Amaechi when the he (Amaechi) did not support his (Abe’s) governorship bid.

He also disagreed with Amaechi on the mode of primary to choose the governorship candidate of the party.

While Amaechi chose indirect, Abe said he would neither participate in the governorship primary nor accept the result if eventually the indirect primary was upheld in the state.

Abe who has an LL.B degree in Law, was called to Nigerian Bar in 1987.

He started work as a pupil state counsel for the federal ministry of justice, Lagos. He went into private practice as a junior partner with Okocha & Okocha, Manuchim Chambers, later becoming a managing partner with Etim-Inyang, Abe in Port Harcourt.

He joined politics in 1999 when he was elected into the Rivers State House of Assembly, serving as a minority leader.

In 2003 he defected to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and from 2003 to 2007 he was commissioner of information in the administration of Dr. Peter Odili.

When Amaechi became governor in May 2007, Abe was made the secretary to the state government.

He resigned to compete for the position of senator for Rivers South East, but was then re-appointed as the Secretary to state government.

In the April 2011 elections, Abe won the Rivers East senatorial election with 154,218 votes, while his rival from the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Dr. Nomate Toate Kpea got 34,978 votes.


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