The crisis rocking the major opposition party, the APC in Rivers State which forced it out of the governorship, National Assembly and State Assembly elections in the state has positioned Governor Nyesom Wike in an advantageous position, far ahead of other contenders.
Feelers from Rivers State’s political landscape suggest an easy sail for Governor Wike in the March 9 rescheduled governorship and House of Assembly elections in the state.
Assuming the APC and its candidate, Arch. Dele Tonye Cole, were in the race, Governor Wike would have fought the battle of his life to return to Brick House, the seat of power. However, following the series of legal battles that finally nailed the coffin of APC in the state, Wike appears to be coasting to victory on Saturday.
The irreconcilable differences between the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi and Senator Magnus Abe on who flies the party’s governorship ticket has destroyed and polarised the once united party in the state. Abe and his supporters were aggrieved that they were disenfranchised during the May 2018 ward congresses of the party.
Abe, therefore, headed to court to seek redress. He prayed the court to declare that the processes that led to the emergency of Tonye Cole as APC governorship candidate was illegal.
A State High Court presided over by Justice Nwogu granted his prayers and nullified the ward, local government and state congresses of the APC. The court also ruled that all the candidates of the party that emerged through the party primaries were products of illegality.
Daily Trust reports that Justice Nwogu’s verdict appeared to be a political virus that hunted the APC in Rivers from the state High Court, Federal High Court, Appeal Court and finally to the Supreme Court as all the courts upheld the judgement of the state High Court, a development that made APC politically impotent in the governorship race in the state.
While APC battled itself in the court, Governor Wike was busy oiling and fortifying his political machineries. Although the numerous infrastructural projects carried out by the governor across the state would have spoken volumes for him, the governor seems to be very apprehensive that having APC in the race would have given him a big fight.
The governor feared that the leaders of the party in the state might use the apparatus of the Federal Government to influence the outcome of the election in their favour. He had in the past accused INEC and security agencies of working according to the dictates of the Federal Government, an allegation those accused vehemently denied. The Accord Party’s governorship candidate, Barrister Dumo Lulu Briggs, who would have stood in the election as the only surviving challenger for Governor Wike was on Thursday sacked by a state High Court over accusation of a stolen mandate.
Briggs was accused by one Barrido of hijacking the mandate freely given to him during the Accord Party’s primaries.
Barrido won the party’s governorship primaries conducted in 2018 and the court ruled in his favour on the grounds that Briggs did not participate in the primaries.
The 58 governorship candidates of various political parties in the state, apart from that of Action Democratic Party (ADP), Hon. Victor Fingesi and Labour Party (LP), have endorsed Wike as their candidate.