I once wrote a story ‘Abe is Wike’s Antidote.’ When Abe was not selected as the Rivers APC gubernatorial candidate in the 2015 governorship election, I worked for Dakuku just like other media players sympathetic to Rotimi Amaechi’s cause. Senator Magnus Abe and Hon. Dakuku Peterside have remained friends of mine. As 2019 draws closer, people have started gearing up for another election season and with increasing frequency, I have heard people, mostly Ogonis declaring that Senator Abe is the man to beat Wike in 2019. Though Abe is a growing force, this confidence can not be sustained by any clear and present fact. On a personal note, I would wish that whether Magnus or Dakuku or perhaps a dark horse; that APC could muster a candidate to unseat Wike in 2019 but I am yet to see how that will happen. Abe is just settling into a second term at the senate while Peterside is busy with the task of restoring Nimasa.
While Amaechi’s influence as PMB’s South-South leader is getting clearer, his potency on the Rivers political scene has faded significantly. Like his estranged predecessor, Wike has taken a firm grip on Rivers politics and he has polished off his predecessor three times now, as if to rub it in. Every Rivers governor since Odili had taken over the Rivers political landscape enroute to a second term and Wike has no intention of breaking that tradition. Wike’s goal is clear. He is going for a second term while Amaechi’s goal is unclear. He can not run for governorship and he needs a candidate who can beat Wike.
Though no one has expressed an intention to vie for the APC guber ticket, it is clear to quite a few people that both gladiators from 2015 are still interested. What is not clear is how the state party would choose a flagbearer. Would it be by selection or election? Either way, it will test party unity for it is getting clear that the minister for transport, as party leader can no longer wield the big stick, the way he did as governor. One well known party leader from Rivers East even told me that a selection of the guber candidate in 2018 will be resisted. ‘Nobody dey feed anybody now,’ he said.
Whether selection or election, the influence of Rotimi Amaechi would be most important. He is still the only godfather of the Rivers APC and the one who has the ears of the president. Will he throw his weight behind Dakuku Peterside again or will he want to give Abe a shot this time? Realistically, there is no need touting a dark horse. It is a luxury that Rivers APC can not afford. The governorship is not the theirs for the asking.
It took the lure of the governorship to cause Amaechi to break away from Odili. Rivers State politics has a way or repeating itself. The next governorship contest presents Amaechi with decisions that could shatter the build up of the Rivers APC and present Wike with a walk over. It is not impossible that he could face a rebellion if he decides to enforce anything but the most popular choice. This question is already posting fault lines in the Port Harcourt social media. The Rivers APC can not threaten Wike’s second term hopes without first surviving the emotions of its 2018 guber primaries. A young APC chieftain recently told me that if the primaries should result in a rebellion against Amaechi, the Ikwerre group in the Rivers APC would switch support to Wike. A great future awaits Amaechi’s Rivers APC if it can unseat Wike but before it lies some tricky minefields. No APC guber aspirant can beat Wike until Amaechi can lead the party past those minefields.


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