From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja

As activities for the 2019 Rivers State governorship election gather momentum, Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, yesterday, hosted chieftains of Ogoni, Rivers State extraction of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Abuja.

Describing the meeting as a family gathering, Senatorial Secretary, Rivers South-East Senatorial Zone of APC, Dr Batom Ndegwe, said the visit was to show solidarity to the minister and confirm him as the father and leader of the party in the state.

Reacting to the purpose of the meeting, former Rivers State Commissioner for Works and APC National Deputy Publicity Secretary, Victor Giadom, dismissed insinuation that the state chapter of the party was in crisis, insisting that there was no controversy over who is the leader of the party between Senator Magnus Abe and Amaechi. He said party faithful of Ogoni extraction and the generality of party members in the state recognised the transportation minister as their leader.

“You can see that every member of our party from Ogoni extraction is here today except very few who are unavoidably absent, but, I am sure what we are doing here has their blessing also.

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“So, we do not have any division in our party; our party is stronger and we will remain strong to face the PDP in 2019. It is not disputable who our leader is in Rivers State..the leader of our party is Chibuike Amaechi. Senator Abe is also a leader of the party, we are all leaders in the party standing before you, but the leader of the party in the state is not in dispute,” he said. The party chieftain also ruled out any automatic ticket for the 2019 governorship election, revealing that the position of the Ogoni people ahead of 2019 was to entrench internal democracy.

“Well, you know politics is a democratic process, whoever will emerge as the gubernatorial candidate of our party will come out of a clear democratic process. So, we, as Ogoni people are interested, just like any other tribe in the state, but the person must come out of a more organised and more transparent democratic process. Though 2019 is far, what we need to do is to reposition the party in Ogoni even in the state and that is what we are doing,” he said.

Giadom accused Governor Nyesom Wike of making unguarded utterances especially his allegation that the transportation minister owned the money found by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) at the Osborne Towers.

“It is common knowledge that the governor of Rivers State has not done well and that is evident in the state. You can also imagine his response to the Osborne discovery. Without looking at what the evidence should be, without even taking his time, he was quick to mislead Nigerians and that is what he has done on every issue that borders on leadership in our state. Wike is misleading the state than leading the state,” he noted.