The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream) and frontline aspirant for the All Progressives Congress (APC) gubernatorial ticket for the 2015 elections in Rivers State, Senator Magnus Abe, has demanded an apology from his party over comments on why he was dropped as the consensus candidate of the party.
In a speech at a senatorial stakeholders’ meeting held at Eleme at the weekend and made available to journalists in Port Harcourt on Tuesday, Abe said he was appalled by comments credited to the publicity secretary of the party on why the Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream), Hon. Dakuku Peterside, was chosen as the consensus gubernatorial candidate of the party.
Those present at the meeting included, a member of the Board of Trustees of APC, Dr. Sam Sam-Jaja; Rivers State Commissioner for Works, Victor Giadom, and the Chairman of the occasion, Chief Bebe Ukpabi.
Others were the Deputy National Secretary of APC, Hon. Oji Ngofa; member of the House of Representatives Chief Barinadaa Mpigi; Chief S.B Nuate; Chief Felix Nweke and the state Commissioner for Sports, Hon. Fred Igwe.
Members of the state House of Assembly representing Tai, Eleme, Oyigbo, Khana, Opobo/Nkoro and Gokana constituencies; the Administrator, Greater Port Harcourt City Development Authority, Aleruchi Cookey-Gam; the host Chief Marcus Nle-Eji, and the Chairmen of Gokana, Eleme and Khana local government areas, as well as the state Women Leader of the APC, Madam Caroline Nagbo, were also in attendance.
Addressing the meeting, Abe said “Today is very special and solemn for a lot of us. Like Opu Senibo Sam Sam-Jaja rightly pointed out, ‘The party took a decision’. That decision was painful to a lot of us, not necessarily for me but for my people. Regrettably, a lot of people did not understand or respect the sensibilities of the issue.
“In a situation where there was no contest, the natural status should be no victor and no vanquished.
“My people, the Ogoni people have a dream; they too, like other people in the country would like to one day produce a governor for Rivers State. That dream is real, that dream is alive and that dream will not die. It is not a dream about Magnus Abe; it is not a dream about any individual.
“It was the hope, aspiration and expectation of a people. And I felt that if it was not meant for political exigency, it was not just a feeling of the Ogoni people, there were people all across Rivers State who felt sympathetic with that aspiration. And in a political setting where there are always much pains, some of those feelings would have been better respected and that is one of the things I did not like.”
“The Publicity Secretary of the party issued a statement to outline the qualities by which someone was chosen; nobody was chosen for any quality. The governor spoke and we agreed that we will consent to a consensus candidate. We did not need to give reason by which that consensus was arrived at and nobody gave any reason.
“So to begin to say that qualities like character and integrity were looked at is indirectly saying that one person was lacking in those qualities. And I think that in a situation like this, those were some comments that were totally unnecessary. And I will ask the publicity secretary to publicly apologize not just to me but also to Rivers people.”
Abe also expressed fears of his supporters being victimised in the party, adding that he had no structure and that nobody should be made a target in the emerging political scenario.
He warned that there would be reactions if anybody was victimised on account of relationship to him, adding that all that were agreed before the issue of consensus was reached should be respected or there would not be unity in the APC.
“If there is anything like that (victimisation), there will be a reaction, because we are politicians and should always come together; if we must succeed everything we have agreed before the consensus issue should be respected for unity to thrive; if those things are not respected, there will be no unity,” he warned.
On his next political move, Abe said, “From the onset, I said, I will consult my people and associates and I have been consulting and I will continue to consult. This meeting and what the people of my senatorial district have said (that I should pick the senatorial form) is also an important part of that consultation.
“I have digested it and will add it to others I have heard. But the most important thing I want to say here is that, I, Magnus Ngei Abe, Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, representing the Rivers South-east senatorial district, is a member of the APC, and I remain a member of the party and call on everybody in this state, in this country who is my friend, associate, admirer, or who had sympathy for the APC to please remain a member of the party.
“What we are doing is politics, politics is a game, and it has its values; sometimes, the rules and the way it happened will not be clear to you. But anybody who knows me, know that at the foundation of everything I do is the fear of God. I said from the beginning that whoever God has said will be the governor of Rivers State will be the governor of Rivers State and there is nothing any of us can do about it.
“I do not want anybody to on account of anything that has happened within the party, leave the party or encourage people who had sympathy for our party to look elsewhere.”
He expressed confidence that the APC would win Rivers State in the 2015 elections, adding that he had always had a good relationship with Peterside.
“One thing I would want to assure everybody is that APC will win Rivers State. Hon. Dakuku Peterside is my friend. He has been my friend and he has always been my supporter. When I ran for the Senate in 2003 and this same thing happened, I called some people together; Dakuku was one of those I called and he stood by me,” he said.
He, however, warned that the feelings of Ogoni people should be respected, warning that the people should not be made the object of campaigns.
“I will also want to point out that, there is need for the party to respect the feelings of the people in this area so that we can produce result… I can decide to prove that the Ogoni people are not happy and, I can prove it; people’s sensibility should be respected. We are from this senatorial district and we will deliver it; but we should be given time to work on certain things,” he said