Politics

Senator Magnus Abe and his political Kamikaze in Rivers State.

Politicians are an interesting class of people. Let me illustrate. Back in late 2014 the race for the Rivers APC gubernatorial ticket was hotting up. Two candidates, Hon. Peterside Dakuko and Senator Magnus Abe were the obvious front runners, though there was a third aspirant (a commissioner) who claimed that he had been anointed by God to take over from Amaechi.

Some of the officials in Amaechi’s administration projected that the Governor would endiren Dakuku to carry the APC flag even though they thought that Abe would be a better candidate. According to one of Amaechi’s aides, “there is a difference between a man you call your boy and the one you call your friend.” Dakuku is Amaechi’s boy. Abe is a friend.

As it turned out, and correctly projected, the mantle fell on Dakuku to carry the APC flag. Abe was very unhappy. Though he participated in Dakuku’s campaign, his heart nursed an injury.

As soon as Dakuku picked the ticket, his camp began alienating Abe’s people. At one of the stakeholders meetings in Government House after Dakuku became the APC candidate, Amaechi was livid about the way things were going between the two camps and lambasted Dakuku and his men. Apparently, Abe was not assuaged. His heart had began to drift away from the political empire he helped to build and benefited from for years. A brilliant man was about to make a decision that some of his close friends are still trying to unravel till datdat

Across the political fence back 2015, Minister of State for Education and former ally of Amaechi, Hon Nyseom Wike had bulldozed his way into picking up the PDP gubernatorial ticket for Rivers. The sentiment in Rivers was strongly in favour of the PDP winning the governorship election due to Amaechi’s fight with then President Jonathan and his decampment to the APC. A scientific poll commissioned by Amaechi himself and a non scientific poll conducted by a radio state in the State a few months to the election proved that PDP would win the gubernatorial election.

Though the Rivers gubernatorial election was marred by violence and rigged according to court records yet it was upheld mainly due to what the Apex Court justices considered a conflict between the requirement of the Electoral Act with respect to the use of voters’ register and the card reader which was grafted into the Act via INEC guidelines.

Abe went on to re-contest his senatorial seat but lost or was rigged out. After a long battle in the courts and a rerun, he got his seat back. However, his eyes remained firmly on how to get to the Brick House as governor. But Amaechi would not buy into that project. Soon the smoldering quarrel became a repressed open confrontation until the primary when the battle lines were publicly drawn. Abe and his men had a parallel office and conducted a parallel primary.

Many expected that Abe would defect to another party. But to where? He can not reasonably go into the PDP to pursue his governorship dream. Wike is gunning for a second term. If Abe goes to a third party, he will disappear into a political black hole. He does not have the grass root popularity across the state to pull a third party upset. So he is, as it where, stuck in the APC to fight from within. That much he said in his response to Premium Times enquiry on October 19 when rumours had it that he had left the APC.

How much will this fight cost Abe? At the moment, the Supreme Court has stepped into the fight between the opposing camps, cancelling the congress held in Rivers. Without prejudice, Abe may be holding a shorter end of the stick in this epic but unnecessary war. Head or tail, Abe has more to lose than gain. Why then is he in this war. What can he possible achieve from it? Assuming he eventually picks the APC ticket, will he have the party behind him or will he get “we don’t have a candidate” declaration from the party as the PDP did in one of the South Eastern States some years back.

On the other hand, if he fails to get the gubernatorial ticket and also fails to go back to the Senate which may just be the case, when the dust settles, what happens thereafter? Some in the APC believe that Abe has some understanding with Wike. That would be strange. What would be in it for Abe? He can not look forward to participating in a Wike government in any meaningful capacity (assuming Wike is returned as governor in 2019). Abe was once a Commissioner and Secretary to Government in Rivers.
If the PDP wins at the centre, will Wike nominate Abe as a minister or head of a parastatal? Even if that happens, is that what Abe wants? Is Abe making a mistake that will dislodge him from relevance. I asked three people who know Abe very well about their opinion on these developments. One said, “Abe is on his own” the second said, “Abe don craze” while the third said all aggrieved parties will reconcile at the end of the day.

Has Abe, a brilliant man really lost his mind? Has he lost a wheel in high motion? Cam there ever be a settlement after these acrimonious battle? Only time can tell. But in politics, you can never rule anything out.

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