Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi has announced billionnaire businessman, Tonye Dele Cole, as his preferred All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate for the Rivers State Governorship election in 2019.
Amaechi broke the news to leaders of the party at a brief meeting held in Lagos before leaving for China, ahead of President Muhammadu Buhari who leaves for the Asian nation later today to participate in the 7th Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) scheduled to hold September 3 – 4, 2018 in Beijing.
Cole is the CEO/Executive Director, Sahara Group.
The move officially marks his withdrawal of support for Director-General of NIMASA, Dakuku Peterside whom he supported in the 2015 election. Others also in the governorship race within the APC include Senator Magnus Abe, Chief Dumo-Lulu Briggs, and former Senior Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan, Bekingbo Dagogo-Jack.
Reports said those at the meeting could not hide their shock as Amaechi gave his anointing to Cole, who was not even at the meeting.
He was quoted as saying that the oil magnate was picked for a “neutral purpose.”
Newspeakonline learnt that River APC leaders at the meeting include; Senator Andrew Uchendu, newly-defected Senator Osi Ideozor, former Executive Director of NDDC, Henry Ogiri, NIMASA DG, Dakuku Peterside and Prince Tonye Princewill.
Others are: Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs, former Commissioner for Transport in Rivers state, George Tolofari, Sekonte Davies, Azubike Wanjoku among others.
A transcribed script of Amaechi’s speech obtained and published by Daily Post quotes the Minister as saying, “We are aware that not all would find it easy to accept the decision but I am also conscious that the decision was made for the best interests of the party and the group. We are aware that interests are divergent and numerous. And that they can only coalesce if we get someone neutral; someone who is able to get every interests to converge as one.
“What is critical is victory. Loyalty is not only when it favours you but when you are tempted and stretched to your limits. Ventilate we must, but to move ahead we also must as the battles ahead are numerous and tedious.
“You all urged me on to proceed to make a decision and swore to stand by that decision. The time has therefore come to be together. God bless all of us,” Amaechi said.
It was gathered that silence followed Amaechi’s speech until the Senator representing Rivers East Senatorial District, Senator Andrew Uchendu, expressed marvel at the announcement.
Senator Uchendu was quoted as saying, “I am not sure any of us here has Tonye Cole’s telephone number much more meeting him in person. So, Your Excellency, how would we market him?”