Transportation Minister Rotimi Amaechi and All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State yesterday denied appointment of Chief Executive of Sahara Energy, Tony Cole, as governorship candidate of the party.
The media office of the minister, in a statement yesterday from China where Amaechi is part of the federal government’s delegation, said there was no truth in reports to the effect that Cole has been adopted as Rivers APC governorship candidate.
Rivers Publicity Secretary of APC, Chief Chris Finebone, speaking in Port-Harcourt, also said there was no such development.
Last Thursday stakeholders of APC in Rivers State during the apex leadership caucus meeting in Lagos attended by most of the governorship aspirants endorsed Cole ahead of the primary election later this month.
The meeting was presided over by Amaechi.
A prominent governorship aspirant on APC platform, Senator Magnus Abe (Rivers Southeast), however said he was not aware of the endorsement.
According to him: “I am not aware of any meeting of APC stakeholders in Rivers State that has been held and endorsed anybody.
“I have not known Tonye Cole to be a member of the party (APC). I will vie for the governorship ticket of APC.”
But Amaechi’s media office said: “On official national assignment in China, the attention of the Hon. Minister for Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, has been drawn to several wild, misleading, misguided and deliberately distorted stories and claims linking the minister, who is the leader of the APC in Rivers State and the Southsouth zone, to a purported ‘appointment’ of a governorship candidate for the APC in Rivers State for the 2019 governorship election.
“As an individual, a registered voter and a card-carrying APC member from Rivers State, it is the Hon. Minister’s inalienable, constitutionally-enshrined democratic right to back/support/promote any qualified fellow party member of his choice, to aspire to be the candidate of the party in the state in the forthcoming governorship election or any other election.
“As a true and thorough democrat, Amaechi, a foundation member of the APC and a leading light of the party, recognises the party’s candidates for the 2019 general elections will be chosen/elected by party members through the prescribed democratic process in the party’s constitution, rules and regulations.
“It is therefore preposterous, mischievous, wholly and intentionally disingenuous and deceitful for anyone to claim, allege or even insinuate that the Hon. Minister has ‘appointed’ a governorship candidate for APC in Rivers State.”
Finebone also denied Amaechi “appointed” Cole as the governorship candidate for the party for the 2019 election.
He said: “This is grossly preposterous and far from the truth, as there is no provision for appointing a governorship candidate or indeed any candidate whatsoever in the constitution of the APC or in the guidelines for the conduct of primaries of the APC.
“APC in Rivers State is committed strictly to adhering to the process for conduct of primaries for the 2019 elections, in line with the Constitution of the party and guidelines as proposed, ratified and published by the national leadership of the party.
“For the avoidance of doubt, it is hereby stated for the benefit of the media, our members and the general public that a governorship candidate for our party in Rivers State will only emerge during the governorship primary to be held later this month.
“We urge all stakeholders to disregard the misconception being created and promoted in the media.
“Our party leader, Rt. Hon. Amaechi, has not and will not arrogate to himself the extra constitutional powers to appoint a candidate for the party, for any position whatsoever and howsoever, as being wrongly peddled.”
Finebone that Amaechi only had the God-given right to express his preference, just like other members of the party.