The political feud between the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, and Senator Magnus Abe is far from ending.
The once political soulmates are engrossed in a bitter political rivalry over who calls the shots in the administrative structure of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers.
The two political gladiators once enjoyed good political relationship having helped each other in times of need.
Senator Abe is one of the politicians in the state who stood behind Amaechi throughout his political travails in his quest to become the governor of the state on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Throughout the legal battles that eventually saw Amaechi reclaiming his mandate as the governor of the oil-rich state, Abe and so many others were there for him.
Hence, when Amaechi reclaimed his mandate, he carried Abe along by appointing him as Secretary to the State Government (SSG) and later helped him to clinch the Rivers South East Senatorial District ticket, where he served in the upper chamber for eight years.
However, trouble between the two politicians started in 2018 when they could not resolve their differences that arose from the ward and state congresses of the party.
Abe was aggrieved that many of his supporters who obtained forms were disenfranchised during the congresses to elect the party’s flagbearers for all elective positions in the state.
Their differences ended up in legal battles that denied the party’s candidates participation in the governorship, national and state assembly’s elections in 2019.
This polarised their bases and pitched their supporters against each other.
The two on several occasions set up parallel leaderships and factions of the party in the state with each group issuing directives.
While Amaechi used Isaac Ogbobula to run his own faction, Abe pitched his tent with Igo Aguma to pilot the affairs of his own faction.
Aguma was one of the strong supporters of Amaechi until he pitched his tent with Abe over what he described as “injustices in the party”, and has been calling the shots in the leadership of the party in the state based on a court verdict which handed over the party structures to him.
The latest in the personality clash between Amaechi and Abe came forth on December 8, 2020, when the national leadership of the APC dissolved all the state caretaker committees of the party.
The dissolution saw the emergence of Amaechi’s right hand man, Ogbobula, as the new caretaker committee chairman.
However, Aguma has refused to abide by the party’s decision and insists that he will continue to pilot its affairs in the state.
Aguma in a press statement signed by his spokesman, Livingstone Wechie, said the dissolution of all structures of the party by the national caretaker committee had no effect on the state chapter because of pending cases in courts.
Wechie dismissed as nullity the inauguration of Ogbobula as the caretaker committee chairman and his swearing in of caretaker committees for the local government areas and wards.
Describing Ogbobula and others involved in the ceremonies as impostors and members of Rotimi Amaechi Political Group, Wechie said Rivers APC had no structures apart from the state’s caretaker committee consisting of statutory members of the party led by Aguma as declared by the court.
He said, “The so called inauguration on December 13, of local government chapters of Amaechi Political Group (APG) by an impostor, Mr. Isaac Ogbobula, has nothing to do with the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State.
“For emphasis, 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 governments, states, zones to the 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 Rt. Hon. Igo Aguma made up of statutory members whose chairmanship as declared by the court is still subsisting.”
Wechie further said there were pending appeals up to the Supreme Court on the leadership of the party in Rivers and that none of the cases had upturned the subsisting judgement of the court that declared Aguma the acting caretaker committee chairman of the APC in the state.
He said: “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…”
Similarly, Aguma said his emergence as the caretaker committee chairman of the party was as a result of a court pronouncement and argued that the decision of the court was yet to be reversed by a higher court, insisting that the APC NEC’s pronouncement was not binding on the Rivers’ chapter.
The faceoff between Abe and Amaechi became fierce penultimate week when the reconstituted committee led by Ogbobula suspended Aguma’s faction over alleged anti-party activities.
Ogbobula who announced the suspension said the party had recommended some persons for expulsion, noting that the step was geared towards moving the party forward, but Aguma dismissed the suspension, saying Ogbobula and his group did not have the mandate to exist.
The spokesman of the Amaechi faction, Chief Ogbonna Nwuke, has warned that the party would not tolerate acts of destabilisation.
Chief Nwuke said in a statement issued recently that most Rivers people were pleased with the decision of the party to recommend the expulsion of recalcitrant members and that the state’s secretariat acted on the request of aggrieved party members across the state who had been worried by “the actions of hired agents that are determined to encourage the destabilisation of the great party.
“We laud the leaders of our party right from the grassroots to the state level for seizing the opportunity to cut off the necks of hydra-headed snakes that have been spewing poison and hurting our members.
“We had hoped that initiating a peace process through the able collaboration of Senators Andrew Uchendu and Wilson Ake would clear the path for understanding and cooperation.
“It is evident that the gesture by our members on all sides to hunt for peace was largely misconstrued.”
The spokesman noted that the party had all along obtained credible intelligence which showed that those who had been recommended for expulsion had become merchants sponsored from outside to sell ideas that were alien to the ideology and spirit enunciated by the party’s constitution.
Wike feasting on feud
The major benefactor of the Amaechi and Abe feud is the Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike.
He may not come out openly to identify himself with any of the contending parties in the crisis, but the governor would have wished that the crisis continued so that his party, PDP, would remain more united and relevant in the state.
Although unconfirmed reports have it that Gov. Wike may be sympathetic to the Abe faction given his closeness to the former senator and board member of NNPC, the failure of the two politicians to reconcile their differences and put their party in the right shape has given Wike an edge over them.
The governor has in recent times carried out huge harvests of prominent members of the Amaechi faction who have defected to the PDP and his body language shows that he is enjoying the crisis in the APC.
With the feud still raging, therefore, political analyst have predicted another failure for the APC in the state come 2023 if the two politicians continue clash.