A speech by Distinguished Senator Magnus Ngei Abe, Representing Rivers South-East in the National Assembly at a Senatorial Stakeholders Meeting held at Eleme on Sunday, 30th November, 2014.
With due respect and
humility, I acknowledge the presence of my friends, brothers and political associates.
Let me particularly acknowledge the presence of my friend and brother, Opu Senibo Sam-Sam Jaja, Member, Board of Trustees, All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief (Hon.) Victor Tombari Giadom, Commissioner for Works, Rivers State, the Chairman of this occasion, Chief Bebe Ukpabi.
I also acknowledge the presence of the Deputy National Secretary of my Party and political associate, Hon. Oji Ngofa, my colleague in the National Assembly, Chief (Hon.) Barinadaa Mpigi, Chief S.B Nuate, Chief (Hon.) Felix Nweke and Hon. Fred Igwe, the Commissioner for Sports.
Permit me to recognize members of the Rivers State House of Assembly representing Tai, Eleme, Oyigbo, Khana, Opobo/Nkoro and Gokana, the Administrator, Greater Port Harcourt City Development Authority, Dame Aleruchi Cookey-Gam, our host Chief (Hon.) Marcus Nle-Eji, the Chairmen of Gokana, Eleme and Khana as well as Madam Caroline Nagbo, the State Women leader of our great party.
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 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.
Secondly, there are several things that we will learn to do better as we go on. As a person, I did not build any structure; I did not call any meeting. If I call a meeting in this senatorial district to ask for anything, some of those who are here may not be here, but a lot of people who are here would be here; I did not and so nobody should identify anybody as supporter of Magnus and make them a target in our politics. If there is anything like that, 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.
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 All Progressives Congress (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 All Progressives Congress to please remain a member of the All Progressives Congress.
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 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. I went to my village to pick my permanent voter’s card (PVC), and was told that some people were dancing, “Amaechi don do am 419”. That is the normal thing in this game. I am not in any way troubled by anything. Anybody who knows me in politics knows that I have been through these severally. And each time, God in his mercy has always protected and elevated me. Anything that is my own on the surface of this earth; nobody can take it from me.
So anybody who thinks that anything has happened to me should please go home and thank God for all the blessings that God Almighty has showered on me and my family.
Let me also say here that, we will build a stronger party. There are still processes that we need to undergo to heal the deep wounds inflicted as a result of this decision. Nobody can say and nobody should say that it is something that anybody can crossover, it is not. We are politicians and we drive our own processes. 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. In this game, anything can happen. You have to learn to trust your own God, learn from your experiences, and make adjustment as you move on.
From this experience, I have also learnt some lessons. I will also make more adjustment, but, the important thing is that I will move on. So, for those who were thinking that we were going to do anything to undermine the party, we will not. For those within the party who are doing things that will undermine the party, they also should not. We will try and work together and build a greater party and by the grace of God, APC, with the strength we have gathered in this State, we shall win.
This is the strongest district in the State. Is it a lie? NO. And this will be, by the grace of God, the district that will be the happiest in this party; but, there is work to be done. Nobody should undermine the work that needs to be done.
Even the request that you have made (motion that I should pick the senatorial form), I cannot respond to it here because there is need for further consultation, the feelings within, particularly my own group, the Ogoni people is such that if I open my mouth and say anything carelessly, I may not be Magnus Abe again after I say it, so there is need for more consultation and reflection.
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. When it becomes as if the only place for campaign is Ogoni, everyday you open the paper or tune to the radio, what you hear is how happy the Ogoni people are. 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. If people continue to go to the radio, even when some of them cannot deliver a unit, it will not be in the interest of our party. If you allow them to go and prove how happy the Ogoni people are, we will fail, the party will fail. So, people should respect others, we have played politics in this state for long. We are politicians and we know how to play politics, but we should be assisted in certain ways.
In conclusion, I thank everybody here and wish to say that for a lot of people, this is a very happy meeting but for some, it is very sad. But the important thing is that both the happy and sad are still working together. So, it is the work of the happy people to make the sad people happy and the work of the sad people to allow themselves to be worked upon, so that they can be happy; because the purpose of politics is for the happiness of everybody, so I want to thank everybody that has come and assure you that I have heard your message. I will continue my consultations.
I thank you for the love you have all shown today. I thank you for everything you have been doing and may God bless you all.
Honour Sirawoo, Spokesperson to Sen. Magnus Abe