Oil magnate, Tonye Dele-Cole, picked to represent the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the Rivers State governorship election next year, following the adoption of his candidacy by stakeholders at their apex leadership caucus meeting in Lagos, convened by the Honorable Minister of Transportation and leader of the party in Rivers state, Rt Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, on Thursday.
However, the adoption of Tonye Dele-Cole has divided the party among various interests in the state. Leading guber hopeful, Dumo Lulu-Briggs is said to be considering moving to the Labour Party to continue his bid, while the DG of Nimasa, Dakuku Peterside, has accepted his candidacy of Tonye Dele-Cole and promised to support him.
Senator Magnus Abe, one of the guber aspiramts and leader of another faction of the party in Rivers state said he was not aware that Cole was an APC member.
Abe, a former Secretary to the Rivers State Government (SSG), who hails from Bera-Ogoni in the upland part, said on the phone yesterday that he was “not aware of any meeting of APC stakeholders in Rivers State that has been held and endorsed anybody.”
He added: “I have said it on several occasions that anyone who is interested in serving Rivers people should come forward and offer themselves and make their plans known.
“If a Tonye Cole has been so endorsed, it is a very welcome development. He should come forward and offer himself and make himself known to Rivers people.
“I, Senator Magnus Ngei Abe, have said I am going to vie for the governorship ticket of our party, the APC, and I want to repeat that I will vie for the governorship ticket of APC.
“Every other Rivers son or daughter who believes that he or she has the capacity and the experience to offer the needed services that our state needs at this time is welcome.
“As far as I know, I have not known Tonye Cole to be a member of the party (APC). But if he has decided to join the party as to contest for the governorship, it is a welcome development.”
Informed sources said that Amaechi wanted a ‘neutral’ candidate that would be largely acceptable to the mainstream APC in the state as well as the Abe faction of the party.
Amaechi has been pushing for a candidate from the riverine part of the state to take over from the incumbent governor, Nyesom Wike. The riverine area has not produced governor since 1999.
Cole, an architect and Chief Executive of Sahara Energy, is a son of Dr. Partick Dele Cole, a former managing director of Daily Times and a former ambassador of Nigeria to Brazil.
He is from Abonnema-Kalabari, headquarters of Akuku-Toru (rivernine) Local Government Area.
He attended the Lagos meeting along with Peterside who was the party’s candidate in the 2015 election.
Members of the APC in Rivers state are weary that Dele-Cole’s adoption may further split interests in party among aggrieved members.