As the race for the governorship seat of Rivers State peaks, the governor, Chibuike Amaechi, appears to be in dilemma over whom to back as his successor.
The governor will leave office in May next year at the end of his second term.
PREMIUM TIMES gathered that Mr. Amaechi the governor is in a fix over who between two federal lawmakers he should give his support to fly the flag of the All Progressives Congress, APC.
The lawmakers are Magnus Abe, a serving senator, representing Rivers East Senatorial District and Dakuku Peterside, representing Andoni-Opobo-Nkoro Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives.
Although, the deputy governor, Tele Ikuru, and one Minabelem Michael-West are believed to have also shown interest in succeeding Mr. Amaechi, this newspaper reliably gathered that Messrs. Abe and Peterside are the only serious contenders who in recent past intensified their campaign to pick the APC ticket.
Mr. Amaechi is said to have come under pressure from the camp of the two top contenders.
It was learnt that the lawmakers, who chair the Committees on Petroleum Resources of the Senate and the House, have been meeting political leaders and other influential people in the state who are close to the governor to persuade him to support their bid.
Mr. Amaechi, who came to office on the ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, defected to the APC in November last year, alongside four other governors, recently asked the people of the state to freely chose who should be their governor.
“Rivers people have a right to choose who will lead them in 2015, in free and fair election; they have a mandate to do so,” he said.
The governor’s dilemma over Messrs. Abe and Peterside is believed to have borne out of their impressive credentials and support for him, especially in those trying times when he fought a political battle that led to his defection to the APC.
Both top contenders, who were also elected into the National Assembly on PDP’s platform, did not only decamp with the governor to the APC, they stood by him against his opposing political forces.
Mr. Abe was in the process brutalized by the police and was rushed abroad for treatment.
Mr. Amaechi, an Ikwerre in the upland part of the oil-rich state, is also believed to come under pressure from the ethnic nationalities of the two men.
While Mr. Abe, 49, a former Secretary to the State Government is an Ogoni in the upland area, Mr. Peterside, 44, a former Works Commissioner in the state is from Opobo in the riverine area.
A few days ago, the Ogoni leaders held a meeting called on political parties to present candidates from the area as their flag-bearers. Although it is an oil producing community, the Ogoni’s with four local governments are yet to produce the governor of Rivers State since its creation in 1967.
“All political parties seeking to fill candidates for the forthcoming governorship election in Rivers State should consider the aspiration of their members from Ogoniland, “spokesman of the Ogoni Leadership Forum, Walter Ollor, said.
Mr. Ollor added that the people of Ogoniland will support only political parties that field candidates for the governorship election from Ogoniland.
On their part, ethnic nationalities in the riverine area, which also include the Kalabari, have been angling for the position on the premise that the upland has produced the state governors since the return of democracy 15 years ago.
The first governor in this dispensation, Peter Odili is from Ndoni in the upland while his successor, Celestine Omehia, who was in office six months and Mr. Amaechi are Ikwerres.
PREMIUM TIMES learnt that as a way out of the dilemma Mr. Amaechi might opt for open primaries to choose who will fly the APC ticket.
Whoever eventually emerges as the party’s flagbearer will slug it out with candidates of other parties, particularly in the PDP where there is an array of formidable contenders, in the February 2015 governorship election.
Among the aspirants on the platform of the PDP are the Minister of State for Education, Nyesom Wike; former General Secretary of the Nigeria Bar Association and member of RSIEC, Nimi Walson-Jack; Chairman of the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency, Lancelot Anyanya.
The others are the Deputy Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Leyii Kwanee, Dumo Lulu-Briggs, Bekinbo Danagogo-Jack, Tonye Princewill, Emmanuel Georgewill and Williams Obene.