Billionaire businessman and oil magnate, Tonye Dele Cole has emerged as the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi’s preferred candidate for the Rivers State Governorship election in 2019 on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC.
Amaechi broke the news to leaders of the party at a brief meeting held in Lagos before travelling to China, ahead of President Muhammadu Buhari’s trip this weekend.
Amaechi picked Tonye Cole, ahead of other aspirants including: Senator Magnus Abe, Chief Dumo-Lulu Briggs, Director-General of NIMASA, Dakuku Peterside and former Senior Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan, Bekingbo Dagogo-Jack.
Those 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.
An impeccable source at the meeting said the Rivers APC leaders were shocked as Amaechi named Cole.
He quoted the Minister as saying the businessman was picked for a “neutral purpose.”
A transcribed script of Amaechi’s speech obtained 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.
But the source, who pleaded anonymity, said there was silence after 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?”.
Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress and its leaders in Rivers state are yet to react to the development in Lagos.
Tonye Dele Cole is the CEO/Executive Director, Sahara Group and was once a ministerial nominee alongside Nyesom Wike by Amaechi in 2012 where former President Goodluck Jonathan picked Wike who was then appointed Minister of State for Education.
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