Rivers APC: Magnus Abe battles Amaechi over inauguration of caretaker committees

Magnus Abe and Rotimi Amaechi

Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt

Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, and Magnus Abe, the former Senator representing Rivers South-East have renewed their battle for the control of Rivers chapter of All Progressives Congress, APC.

The latest battle between the two chieftains of the party is over the recent   inauguration of caretaker committees for the various levels of the Rivers chapter of the party.

Rivers APC had on 13th December inaugurated new caretaker executives for the party the state, LGAs and wards chapters.

Barrister Isaac Abbot Ogbobula, a loyalist of the Minister of Transportation who was also appointed the State Caretaker Committee Chairman of APC performed inauguration.

He said  the action was in obedience to the instruction of the APC’s National Executive Committee, NEC that all the existing party structures across the country should be dissolved while caretaker executives should be inaugurated to take care of the affairs of the party.

Ogbobula, who insisted that there is no more crisis in party with the inauguration of the caretaker Committees urged those appointed to work assiduously to reposition the party.

But contrary to this claim, Abe said the inauguration of the caretaker executives by Ogbobula who he described as a loyalist of Amaechi will worsen the crisis afflicting the Rivers chapter of APC.

For one, the former Senator noted that other stakeholders were not carried along in the process of selection of members of the caretaker committees.

Thus, Abe, in a statement by his spokesperson, Parry Saroh Benson, described the inauguration of the caretaker committees as the type act of impunity and insensitivity that have kept the party comatose in Rivers State.

The senator posited that any inauguration of caretaker committees without consultation of other stakeholders will only put the party in a more chaotic situation.

He said: “It is this imperial approach to the challenges facing the party without the input and consultation of other stakeholders, that is responsible for the crisis in the party. It is clear that those who believe in the power of man are once again on the move.

“It is indeed unfortunate at this critical time in the political game, that the APC in Rivers State has learnt nothing and forgotten nothing, it appears that the minister and his supporters are still hell-bent on “their way or the highway”.

“The end result of this kind of behaviour is not difficult to predict. As usual, it will end in failure. When it fails, Nigerians should note that the choice of impunity, disrespect for party members, exclusion of critical stakeholders, contempt for judicial pronouncements and petty arrogance, over humility and inclusiveness is the foundation of our serial failure as a party.

Abe said he had in an earlier letter to the APC National Caretaker Committee Chairman, Alhaji Mai Mala Buni on the 5th December, 2020, advised the party on the need to review it modus operandi in Rivers state.

He said the letter titled: ‘The National Membership Revalidation Exercise: The Rivers State Situation’, reads in part: “I write as a concerned stakeholder to draw your attention in particular to the state of the APC in Rivers State where the party has largely been comatose, with no legal local government or ward structures, due to the inability/refusal of the party to obey the existing judgment of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.

“This position of the party taken and sustained at the behest of certain individuals, has made it impossible for the party to make progress in Rivers State, all sorts of frivolous lawsuits which cannot in any way overturn the pronouncement of the Supreme Court are sustained to massage political egos, and create the illusion that there is a possible legal solution to the challenges of the APC in Rivers State that can sidestep the Supreme Court judgment. This is not true. The judgment of the Supreme Court remains final.

“As the party embarks on the forth coming Registration of members across country that Rivers State, any exercise that is carried out in Rivers in continued defiance of the judgment of the Supreme Court without resolving this issue will result in another round of motion without movement.

“The pressure being mounted on the caretaker committee to establish local government and ward caretaker committees for the party in Rivers without consultation with other stakeholders is nothing, but a move to get the party to continue on the path of impunity in defiance of both law and reality.

“The party must either find a political solution to its challenges in Rivers State or obey the judgement of the Supreme Court of Nigeria which the APC had refused to do under previous administrations.”

Recall that the Igo Aguma led faction of Rivers APC loyal to Senator Abe had earlier described the caretaker committees as Local government chapters of Amaechi Political Group (APG).

The APC faction said the caretaker committees inaugurated by Ogbobula have no relation with the APC in Rivers State.

In a statement by Livingstone Wechie, the faction’s media adviser to the Acting/Caretaker Committee Chairman of APC in Rivers  said “the inauguration is that of an aggrieved set of people within the APC in Rivers state consisting followers of His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, the Minister of Transportation.

”The National Executive Committee of the APC during the last NEC meeting announced the dissolution of all existing structures of the Party from Wards, Local Government, State, Zonal and National levels and directed that all existing structures should now function as Caretaker Committees. It is on record that the APC has no existing structures in Rivers state at all levels apart from the State Caretaker Committee led by Igo Aguma made up of statutory members whose Chairmanship as declared by the Court is still subsisting.

”For the avoidance of doubt, there are pending Appeals up to the Supreme Court touching on the leadership of the Party in Rivers state and none of these Appeals have upturned the subsisting Judgement of Court that declared Igo Aguma as the Acting/Caretaker Committee Chairman of APC in Rivers state.

“It is important to note that the desperate actions of Isaac Ogbobula and the Amaechi Political Group is only aimed at misleading the unsuspecting Public and a section of the APC who are not well informed on the true position of things.

”Isaac Ogbobula knows that he lacks the political pedigree and legitimacy to be the Chairman of APC in Rivers state. His actions best qualify him as a stooge and appendage of the godfather of APC Rivers, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi whose glory is done away with, now living in that same past glory that can only out to destroy our Party. At best, today’s charade was a gathering of renegades left in the expired Amaechi Political Group.

“For the records, the purported resolution by NEC has no binding effect on Rivers State because APC already had a legitimate Caretaker Committee chaired by Rt. Hon. Igo Aguma as declared by the Court and so there was nothing to convert since there was no elected structure in place.

“The purported resolution by NEC was that the existing elected structures of the Party be converted to Caretaker Committees and this was already in place in Rivers State APC.

“It is also pertinent to remind everyone that this was the same route that that party took at the dictates of the godfather of the State Chapter, His Excellency Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, making it impossible for our dear party to field candidates in past elections.