The festering feud between former governor, and Transportation Minister, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and Senator Magnus Abe, over who controls the mainstream machinery of Rivers State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC), deepened, last Friday, as the former announced removal of his former Chief of Staff, Chief Tony Okocha, and three others as leaders of the party’s caucus in their various local government areas.
Others affected by the leadership crisis in the state are Amaechi’s former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Worgu Boms, who lost his seat as leader of the party’s caucus in Port Harcourt City Local Government Area, and member representing Ikwerre/Emohua Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Hon Chidi Wihioka, who was replaced as leader of the party’s caucus in Ikwerre Local Government Area.
Also removed by Amaechi as leader of the party’s caucus in Etche Local Government Area is Hon Allwell Onyesoh.
Speaking at the various stakeholders’ meetings, the Minister of Transportation and the Leader of the All Progressives Congress in Rivers State, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, vowed that nobody, not even President Muhammadu Buhari, could make him shift his ground on Senator Magnus Abe and endorse his gubernatorial ambition in the state.
At a stakeholders meeting at the residence of former chairman, Local Government Service Commission, Chief Nnamdi Wokekoro, at the Rumukalagbo axis of Port Harcourt, Amaechi said that the gubernatorial ticket of the APC in the state was his prerogative.
During the meeting, which began around 11.35.am, Amaechi suspended Worgu Boms, as the leader of the APC caucus in Port Harcourt Local Government Area (PHALGA), and replaced him with Wokekoro.
The minister later met with stakeholders of the party from Obio/Akpor Local Government Area, at 2.pm, during which he suspended Okocha as the leader of the APC caucus.
The minister also held another meeting at the residence of the APC Chairman of Etche Local Government Area, Barr. Reginald Ukwuoma, during which he met with top brass of the party from Etche Local Government Area.
At the meeting, Amaechi ratified the suspension of Chief Allwell Onyesoh, as the leader of the APC caucus in Etche.
Onyesoh’s suspension, early last week, by a former member of the House of Representatives, Ogbonna Nwuke, had sparked a whirlpool of discontent among top players of the party in Etche.
Amaechi allegedly said at the meeting, “I have foreclosed Abe’s governorship ambition as far as the Rivers APC is concerned. If he likes, let him run to President Buhari; that will not change anything. If he likes, let him go to the First Lady, Aisha Buhari, nothing will change.”
He stressed: “In my capacity as the leader of the APC in Rivers State, Abe cannot be the governorship candidate of the party in Rivers State in 2019. Abe has no character. I hear the executives of about 15 local government areas are already working for him. I will see how far they can go.
“I am the only one that can determine who gets the party’s ticket in 2019. Suddenly, Abe has become something else in the party because he won his senatorial election. Was I not governor for eight years? Was I not speaker for eight years?” he asked.
Amaechi warned that he would suspend any party leader that was supporting Abe’s candidature for 2019.
“I remain the leader of the APC in Rivers State. Even if the 23 LGA chairmen of the party support him, that will not change anything,” he boasted.
He recalled: “As the speaker of the House of Assembly, I submitted his name to former Governor Peter Odili for appointment as Secretary to the State Government (SSG). But Odili turned down my request. Odili rather made him commissioner for information.
“I appointed him as SSG in my first term as governor because I wanted to fulfill my promise to him. I recommended that he should move to the Senate in my second tenure. Because I now operate from Abuja, Abe has expanded his tentacles all over the place. Just imagine people who are not even politicians are now telling me that it is only Abe that can win the governorship seat for the APC in 2019.
“I am waiting to see how they will make him the governorship candidate of Rivers APC in 2019. We have the National Working Committee (NWC). We also have the National Executive Committee (NEC), of the party. But no one will deny that I have made enormous sacrifices for the party to get to where it is today,” he said.
He branded Abe as a “treacherous politician who is now fraternising fulltime with my political enemies in Rivers and Lagos States, including Abuja politicians who are always willing to flaunt their new found political titles and connections.”
The minister of transportation fumed: “I know Abe is a senator. But I also know that he is fraternising with my political enemies like the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki. If Abe likes, let him come to Rivers State with the leadership of the National Assembly or that of the APC. I, Amaechi, will not support him for governor in 2019.”
Some leaders of the APC in the state opine that the Minister has resorted to the suspension of party leaders in their respective local governments as a last ditch move to wrestle the APC from the clutches of Senator Abe, solely, to forestall him from earning the APC governorship ticket in 2019.
Reacting, one of those removed as leader of the party’s caucus in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area, Chief Tony Okocha, rebuffed Amaechi’s ranting, and affirmed his commitment to the gubernatorial bid of Abe for 2019, insisting that he was convinced in the qualities of Abe to provide good governance in the state, if he wins,
He said it was unfortunate that he was removed as leader of his party’s caucus at a meeting he was not in attendance, stressing that the action showed the alleged desperation of one man to muscle up the party.
According to him, “They just removed me now for supporting Senator Magnus Abe, the removal is to confirm that APC belongs to one man. I have nothing to worry about because he also appointed me. The one who appoints has powers to remove. Later in the day, he would remove Senator Wilson Ake.
“He has removed his former attorney general and commissioner of justice, Worgu Boms. I support Abe because I believe he has the qualities, the following. He has what it takes to win elections. I was not given opportunity to defend myself. I was in Abuja when they removed me”, he claimed.
The minister had earlier removed Hon. Chidi Wihioka, a member of the House of Representatives, representing Ikwerre/Emohua Federal Constituency, as the leader of the APC caucus in Emohua, and replaced him with Chibike Ikenga, who is regarded as the minister’s satellite.
Ogoni Youths Give FG 14 Days To Fix East-West Road
No fewer than 400 youths under the aegis of Ogoni Youth Federation (OYF), yesterday, staged a peaceful protest at the Eleme axis of the East-West Road, giving the Federal Government 14 days ultimatum to mobilize to site and fix the road or have economic activities in the area grounded.
The protesters, who carried various placards with inscriptions to press home their demands, trekked from Akpajo Junction to Refinery Junction in Eleme LGA, chanting solidarity songs to register their discontent over the neglect of the road.
Addressing newsmen during the protest, President General of the Ogoni Youth Federation, Comrade Legborsi Yaamabana, said it was regrettable that the road, which was a major route to the economic hub of the nation, has remained in a deplorable state, only becoming a death trap that has terminated the lives of innocent Ogonis.
Yaamabana, who described the mass action of the youths as a ‘warning protest’, said if the contractors handling the road were not immediately mobilized to site, then, the youths will have no option than to shut down all economic activities in the area.
He said, “we cannot continue to watch our people being killed on daily basis by tankers because of the poor state of Eleme axis of the east west road, we are calling on the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency fix the road and save our people from untimely deaths as a result of the sorry state of the road, the only bridge on the road at Aleto has collapse but nothing is being done to avert the disasters faced by our people daily”.
Yaamabana also called on the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio to constitute a substantive board for the Niger Delta Development Commission to address the development needs of the Niger Delta region, noting that the use of interim management for NDDC was “diversionary, self serving and not in the interest of the development of the Niger Delta region”.
The OYF president general also called on the Federal Government to exonerate Ken Saro-Wiwa and his compatriots who were extra-judicially murdered by the late Gen Sani Abacha military junta, and given post-humours honour as martyrs of democracy in Nigeria, while the ideals of justice they stood for should be upheld.
Also speaking, the immediate past secretary of the Ijaw Youth Council, Eastern Zone, Comrade James Tobin, who joined the protest in solidarity, decried the neglect of the East—West Road by the Federal Government, and called the immediate fixing of the road to save the teeming road users from untold pains and death.
By: Taneh Beemene
Rising Prices Push 7m Nigerians Below Poverty Line -World Bank
The World Bank has said that rising prices pushed about seven million Nigerians below the poverty line in 2020.
This was contained in a press statement titled, ‘Critical reforms needed to reduce inflation and accelerate the recovery, says new World Bank report,’ released by the World Bank’s Senior External Affairs Officer of Nigeria, Mansir Nasir.
The press statement was released, yesterday, in line with the latest World Bank Nigeria Development Update.
It was acknowledged that the Federal Government “took measures to protect the economy against a much deeper recession” but it was recommended that certain policies should be set for a strong recovery.”
The statement read, “The NDU, titled ‘Resilience through Reforms,’ notes that in 2020, the Nigerian economy experienced a shallower contraction of -1.8 per cent than had been projected at the beginning of the pandemic (-3.2 per cent). Although the economy started to grow again, prices are increasing rapidly, severely impacting Nigerian households.
“As of April, 2021, the inflation rate was the highest in four years. Food prices accounted for over 60% of the total increase in inflation. Rising prices have pushed an estimated seven million Nigerians below the poverty line in 2020 alone.”
Quoted in the statement, the World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri, identified some of the challenges faced by the country and recommended a way forward.
“Nigeria faces interlinked challenges in relation to inflation, limited job opportunities, and insecurity.
“While the government has made efforts to reduce the effect of these by advancing long-delayed policy reforms, it is clear that these reforms will have to be sustained and deepened for Nigeria to realise its development potential,” Chaudhuri said.
Also quoted is the World Bank Lead Economist for Nigeria and co-author of the NDU, Marco Hernandez, who also gave a recommendation.
“Given the urgency to reduce inflation amidst the pandemic, a policy consensus and expedite reform implementation on exchange-rate management, monetary policy, trade policy, fiscal policy, and social protection would help save lives, protect livelihoods, and ensure a faster and sustained recovery,” Hernandez said.
Inflation Dips To 17.93% In May, NBS Confirms
Nigeria’s inflation rate dropped to 17.93 per cent in May, 2021, from 18.12 per cent recorded in April, 2021.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) revealed this in its monthly Consumer Price Index report released, yesterday.
The drop in the headline inflation in May was the second consecutive month this year.
The report indicates that the consumer price index (CPI), which measures the inflation rate increased by 17.93 per cent (year-on-year) in May, 2021, which is 0.19 per cent points lower than the rate recorded in the preceding month.
According to NBS, food inflation dropped in the same month from 22.78 per cent recorded in April, 2021 to 22.28 per cent in May, 2021.
The report reads, ‘‘All items less farm produce which excludes the prices of volatile agricultural produce stood at 13.15 per cent in May, 2021, up by 0.41 per cent when compared with 12.74 per cent recorded in April, 2021.
‘‘The highest increases were recorded in prices of pharmaceutical products, garments, shoes and other footwear, hairdressing salons and personal grooming establishments, furniture and furnishing, carpet and other floor covering.
‘‘Others include, motor cars, Hospital services, fuels and lubricants for personal transport equipment, cleaning, repair and hire of clothing.
“Other services include personal transport equipment, gas, household textile, and non-durable household goods,” the NBS added.
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