- As Victor Umeh Holds Crucial Talks With Him By Benjamin K. West
The embattled junior Minister for Education and the self-appointed leader of the PDP in Rivers State, Chief Nyesom Wike over the weekend played host to the National Chairman of APGA, Chief Victor Umeh.
Inside sources say the Minister who is currently battling forces against his ambition to succeed Gov. Amaechi is considering the option of moving to APGA. This move may not be unconnected with rumours that the Party hierarchy has asked him to drop his ambition.
It was gathered that Wike who mainly depends on the support of the First Lady is leaving no chances to actualize his dream of occupying the Brick House in 2015. Though he is facing a stiff opposition from the Riverine people of the state and beyond, he has already secured a Court Order restraining the PDP from dissolving the state exco led by Felix Obuah. He single-handedly has financed the Party since the exit of the governor from the party.
Recently, the Local Government Exco of the party were sponsored on a trip to Brazil to watch the World Cup while members of the State Exco left for a two-week trip to Dubai for what they termed ‘Capacity Building’.
Unfortunately, the major chieftains of the PDP in the state have been cowed by Wike who has used his position as Minister for Education to award juicy contracts to them. Most of them are scrambling for the wealth of the man who considers himself the only force able to contend with Gov. Amaechi come 2015.
The Riverine people of the state opposed to him have only found a voice in Elemchukwu Ogbowu who is partly Kalabari and partly Ogba. Ogbowu is said to be working closely with Bekinbo Dagogo-Jack, who is from Kalabari, a Riverine ethnic group who are yet to take a shot at the seat of power alongside the Ogonis, who are Upland.
Beks as he is fondly called is said to be very close to President Goodluck Jonathan as he is the Chairman of the Presidential Committee on Power and a member of the Nigeria Economic Summit. It was gathered that Beks is being supported by most of the members of the inner caucus of the President including Alhaji Aliko Dangote, who financial war chest is unparalleled.
The arch rival to Wike within the PDP is not a green horn in the politics of the state as he has been a Commissioner twice.
Though the President is not likely to publicly declare his support for his kinsman, Bekinbo, his body language within the corridors of power suggest that he would prefer to have someone not so ambitious or crazy for power as governor of Rivers state to avoid any banana peels in future as he is currently facing with his soured relationship with Gov. Amaechi.
However, the details of the meeting between Wike and Victor Umeh is still sketchy, but there are indications that the meeting was timely more so with the presence of the First Lady last week in Port Harcourt. Wike is said to be exploring other options in case he is unable to make it under the PDP. The choice of APGA may be because the party is working for the re-election of the President while fielding candidates for other elective position. This may be his Plan B to run under APGA and if he wins as he is certain to win, he would later return to PDP.
The meeting with Umeh follows the one between Wike and Bekinbo which was said to be brokered by Austin Opara, Wike’s kinsman and former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives. The two men agreed to work for the success of President Jonathan’s re-election bid. A close ally of Wike also confirmed that though he has disbursed money to the 23 LGAs for his campaign offices, but he is likely to hand over the structure to Bekinbo if he emerges as the preferred choice.
According to inside report, Wike does not want his supporters to believe that he does not have the support of the President and the Party hierarchy.
Those opposed to his ambition say that the decision to have an Ikwerre man succeed an Ikwerre man may give Amaechi’s APC a comfortable win if he decides to field a Kalabari/ Ogoni ticket or an Andoni/Ikwerre ticket.
Besides, some of those from his Senatorial zone who are also ambitious like Austin Opara, George Sekibo and Abiye Sekibo feel that Wike’s governorship ambition may mar their chances to aspire to higher positions because of the principle of zoning and rotation. On the outward they are seen to be working with him but secretly working to stop him at all cost.
If the Muazu-led PDP goes on with its plan to stop Wike, then APGA may be his next stopping point.