• Says I can never support Cole in the coming election
• Rivers APC has lost bearing, not in position to win elections in Rivers
• Insists he will be on the guber ballot, mum on party platform to contest
•Explains why people are disappointed in Ogoni cleanup
With lingering divisions in Rivers State All Progressives Congress (APC) stimulating mass exit of key players, Sen Magnus Abe in this chat says the party, having “lost bearing” in the state, should not expect a different result than the loss it got in the 2019 Rivers governorship if it goes into next year’s election the way things stands.
Egufe Yafugborhi captures excerpts from the his thoughts.
Grievance on Rivers APC 2023 governorship primary
No reasonable person would expect me to accept such a primary. I didn’t participate in the election, but I didn’t withdraw from it. So my name was there but I didn’t go there. I wasn’t part of it because I knew what was going on and what was being planned.
I knew I didn’t have equal or free access to the process. Did I know how the delegates were picked? In the whole of APC in Rivers, I don’t even know a Ward Ex-officio, not to talk of a Ward Chairman.
APC, PDP, rotating governorship to Riverine Rivers
I don’t know what that means. I’m not a member of the PDP so I can’t speak for them how they came by their candidate. Within my party, APC, I and those who see things the way the way I see them were not given any opportunity to be included in that process. And so we have rejected the process and not bound by it.
The only way to resolve this issue is for Rivers people to be presented the opportunity to vote. We are going to present Rivers people that opportunity to make informed decision, with me on the ballot.
Being on ballot on hidden party platform
That’s left for the APC to decide. What I would say is that I will be on the ballot. That’s why we have launched Project SMA (Sen Magnus Abe) 2023. I will be on the ballot for 2023, no dispute about that.
Project SMA 2023 is a partnership with the ordinary Rivers people, that takes their interest and their own future into consideration. Not everybody is going to be a commissioner, local government chairman, a minister, not everybody is going to be a senator. But everybody wants to be safe, to have a roof over his head, be respected in whatever they are doing.
Everybody wants to prosper, be able to have their children to have opportunities as they grow up in life. So the most important things that we all need and desire are common to all of us, regardless of our stations and all these are provided by money.
So if we are serious about building a society that works, we must be able to discuss how we create an environment in which ordinary people can make money and be able to prosper within that society. That is what Project SMA is all about. How to create a government that would partner ordinary people to give them same opportunities that those who don’t like money have.
On Party Leader
There are those who don’t like money but they live in best houses, children in best schools, drive the best of cars, they fly in private jets yet they claim they don’t have or like money. The ordinary person would also like to have same opportunities and be able to overcome their own challenges in their lives. So how do we have a government where everybody can get a fair shake? That’s Project SMA 2023.
What Golden Chioma, his ally quitting APC portends
Where a political party fails to aggregate interests of her members and excludes a substantial proportion of its membership, that party may end up as a mere building and a flag. The members would go. Golden’s action shows that reality.
On Rotimi Amaechi as party leader
All I keep talking about is that there should be some measures of fairness, of inclusion, some measure of opportunity opened to all members. As a Leader of a party, you have responsibility to create an atmosphere in which all those you lead feel included and fairly treated. Fail to do that and your leadership becomes a minus and makes it impossible to attain objectives of the group.
Our goal as a party is to win elections. We have not been able to win in Rivers. Given that we are doing the same things we have been doing, I find it doubtful that we will get any result different from what we have been getting this time around.
No support for Cole, Rivers APC guber candidate
I will not support Tonye Cole. I’ve been clear on that. I’m not part of how he became a candidate. He’s not been part of our party, didn’t contribute anything to establishment of the party, has no record of service to Rivers state.
Disappointment in Ogoni Cleanup
The exercise was not going in the right direction. But because there is a new Project Coordinator just appointed, the Minister also new, I will give them some time and see if there is something new.
The project so far has been a major disappointment to the Ogoni people. None of the very high expectations has been met. I understand the resources are still there.
Some of the stories that the resources are been squandered and filtered away may not be the case. It will be a shame if at the end of this whole $1Billion, the place is still exactly the way it was before the Ogoni Clean up.
Rating Gov Nyesom Wike’s stewardship
At the time Wike took over, Nigerians have forgotten that the outgoing governor (Rotimi Amaechi) publicly said Wike would not be able to pay salaries in Rivers. It is on record. Now the man not expected to be able to pay salaries is being hailed and heralded for the infrastructural projects he has been able to put in place.
I think it will be unfair not to admit that as far as the things he set out to do in terms of infrastructures, the Governor has done very well. Anybody making an objective analysis of his tenure will be kind to him that he did his best, but there is still a lot of work to be done in Rivers.
I keep saying, the aspiration of every people is to get better. Everybody tries to improve and Rivers state should try to improve. That does not in anyway subtract from the fact that people who have had the opportunity have actually put in some things that we should commend them.
No hope on APC bringing any improvement in 2023
I don’t think the APC would be in a position to bring any improvement to Rivers state in 2023. Whoever Rivers people elect as their leader in 2023 has an obligation to improve on what we have.
A party wins elections by overcoming every opposition. No matter what people do, you should have a plan bigger and which overwhelms the plans of your opponents. So if you are incapable of producing and sustaining a system that is able to overcome your opponent, it means there is something wrong with your system, either with your plan or position, or it simply means you are not strong enough.
The party in Rivers under Amaechi’s leadership has not been able to win elections in Rivers state and the way it is going, I don’t think anything will be different from the past.
Perceived disloyalty, ingratitude to Amaechi for past support
Politics is a team sport, not personal. In a team everybody has a role. Team members play together. That’s how you win. So if you are the captain of the team, it is wrong for you to assume that if the team wins, it is because you are the captain or every member has to be loyal to you for the team to win.
That’s not how teams win. There is no ‘I’ in the word team. You work together, win together. Myself, Amaechi and a whole lot of us who came from the State House of Assembly started out as colleagues. I’m not Rotimi Amaechi’s boy. Meeting we used to hold when we were all trying to get into power were all held in my house. We were all friends, brothers, talking to each other the way friends would.
If we worked like that and he became governor, he won’t be governor and be Secretary to the State Government. Somebody has to be Secretary to Government. The support, followership I have in Rivers is being developed by people. That is being done by people.
It was same thing that was done for Amaechi. He was in Ghana. People were here. Wike was here, I was here. Chief Andrew Uchendu was here. So if he came back and became governor, will he also be Chief of Staff? Will he be SSG? Does that make us his boys? Do we now have to subsume our every other interest to his own in other to be loyal to him?
Working against Amaechi’s Presidential ambition
I did not support him because he had no base. I have a base. That’s why I’m a viable politician. I cannot disregard the interest of my base. I can’t be disloyal to my people to be loyal to Amaechi. If he had emerged Presidential candidate I would have left the party.
You can’t give what you don’t have. He came from Abuja to benefit from a process that gave him a fair chance and he is very proud of the fact that he came second (in the presidential primary) because he had a fair chance to take part in that process.
But for us who have worked with him in Rivers, he denies us the same thing he craved for self. So how do I support somebody that I knew if he were the President, that that kind of convention will not hold. .