Political bigwigs in the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Rivers State, have started flexing muscles, testing their popularity in preparation for the 2023 governorship elections in the state.
Recently, a former representative of the Rivers South-East Senatorial District at the National Assembly, Senator Magnus Ngei Abe, pulled a mammoth crowd in Gokana Local Government Area, when he visited on a consultation mission.
Most shocking was how he was besieged by innumerable residents and natives of Ikwerre Local Government Area, the LGA of his former boss, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, who is a factional leader of the party.
Abe claimed he came to consult critical stakeholders before making up his mind to contest for the governorship seat of Rivers State in the forthcoming general elections.
It is alleged that the 2023 governorship elections in Rivers State will be a battle between Abe’s APC and Amaechi’s faction. This, many say, will be a repeat of what happened in 2019, APC might be disqualified while PDP will clear all the political positions.
While Abe claimed that the likes of Bera community and members of the Council of Chiefs in Gokana LGA have encouraged him to go forward without fear and contest for the governorship seat of Rivers State in the forthcoming general elections, it is still very uncertain, who Amaechi will be presenting from his own faction. Amaechi’s faction of the APC has, however, been recognised and inaugurated by the national secretariat of the party.
After over eight years of turbulent waters, Chief Emeka Beke has surfaced as the substantive chairman of the APC, in the state, appearing very ready to knock the PDP out of the Brick House.
With Beke’s emergence, it is not incorrect to posit that the forthcoming elections in the state will be between the incumbent governor, Chief Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, and Amaechi/ Abe.
Aside Abe, many others have started vying for the position, indicating interest in the race. What is still uncertain is, who among them has Ameachi’s support, as he is believed to have a very big role to play if APC must win in the state.
In this analysis on the credentials of some of those who are likely to throw their hat in the ring, EDITH CHUKU attempts to identify those considered to be possible contenders. This list is not in any particular order.
DR. DAKUKU ADOL PETERSIDE
News maker, Dr. Dakuku Adol Peterside is both a familiar name and face in the politics of Rivers State and Nigeria at large. His claim of being among the very few Nigerians that is not corrupt at all, generated ripples. While his supporters claim he is the messiah coming to liberate Rivers youth from poverty and unemployment, others have quarrelled, asking what he did for his state and the people during his time as the Director General / CEO of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
When he was DG of NIMASA, he was always at loggerheads with Wike. Ttill date, he has kept himself politically relevant by criticizing the governor on policies he feels inappropriate for the state and its people. He always callout Wike out on matters ranging from bad governance, infrastructural decay, bad policies, pensioner’s ordeal, education, health, economy, among others, most recent is his reaction to the ejection of residents of waterfront by the Wike led state government.
Dakuku was born December 31, 1970. He is a columnist, leadership coach, organisational development expert, author of Strategic turnaround: Story of a government agency, but popularly known as a Nigerian Politician.
Apart from a former NIMASA boss, he is also a former member of the National Assembly of Nigeria (2011–2015); leadership and turnaround expert; oil and gas maritime resource person and founder of the Development and Leadership Institute of Nigeria, a non-governmental organisation and development think tank.
Currently, Dakuku is a consultant to several corporate and international bodies in the areas of leadership; regulatory work and compliance and maritime industry, especially in maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea, oil and gas industry and also consults for a number of private think tanks across the globe.
He is one person that passionately believes that Rivers APC is relatively united, not minding the glaring realities on ground. He was the flag bearer of his party, APC, in the 2015 governorship election in the state, and lost to the incumbent governor, Wike, in that election.
In an exclusive interview with TNN and GoshenTV in October, 2021, Dakuku promised that by January 2022, he will make his intention of whether or not he will be contesting the governorship seat known. Less than 10 before end of February, he is yet to make that pronouncement.
The Opobo born Dakuku was elected to serve in the House of Representatives from 2011 to May 2015 representing Andoni-Opobo-Nkoro Federal Constituency of Nigeria. As member of the house, he was appointed chairman, House Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream) where he had the privilege to oversight strategic National Oil and Gas establishments such as Petroleum Equalisation Fund, Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, Pipelines and Products Marketing Company.
Under his management, he accomplished several landmark achievements which includes, Nigeria becoming the first country in West/Central Africa to have a distinct anti-piracy law.
PRINCE TONYE PRINCEWILL
Prince Tonye Princewill is one of the political juggernauts in the state. He is a Nigerian investor, politician, film producer and philanthropist who was the 2015 Labour Party and 2007 Action Congress candidate for governor of Rivers State.
His advocate for open government and effective public service delivery using modern technology earned him the nickname, ‘Digital Politician.’
Princewill is currently a member of the All Progressives Congress. He was born in the UK to the family of the present King (Prof) T.J.T. Princewill, the Amanyanabo of Kalabari Kingdom of the Amachree Dynasty of Rivers State. His father was a Professor of Medical Microbiology before he became a monarch. His mother, Ibiere Princewill, an entrepreneur and notably successful in Distribution and Farming, passed away in 2000.
His interest in the oil and gas industry saw him working at the prestigious Royal Dutch Shell, Shell, as a Reservoir and Well-site Petroleum Engineer. He also worked briefly with the UK’s Oil and Gas Regulatory Agency, the Department of Trade and Industry. He has since then established his own private company called Riverdrill Group of Companies (Nigeria) where he currently serves as the Chairman.
Princewill is an avid investor in the Oil and Gas industry, ICT, Environmental Waste Management, Aviation Services, Property Development and Film production.
Princewill’s political career started when he was nominated as the gubernatorial candidate of the Action Congress for the governorship of the state in 2007. He was supported by the then former Vice-President of Nigeria and the AC Presidential candidate in 2007 elections, Atiku Abubakar and former governor of Lagos and National Leader of ACN, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. He lost the election to the PDP’s candidate, Celestine Omehia.
In 2013, he joined the management committee of People’s Democratic Movement (PDM), the founding movement behind the People’s Democratic Party. Princewill has since removed his support of the PDP but PDM remains a movement. He currently serves as its Director of Organisation.
At the beginning of 2014, after several months of speculation on his political future, Tonye Princewill indicated his interest to succeed Amaechi, the then governor of. Then in April 2014, he announced the formation of an Exploratory Committee to explore the viability of his candidacy of running for governor of Rivers State. Tonye Princewill was a governorship aspirant candidate for the PDP, but in November 2014 announced that he had been disqualified on the instruction of Nyesom Wike, former minister of State for Education and fellow Governorship aspirant on the grounds of “not being a PDP member”.
Left with no choice, Princewill parted ways with PDP and in January 2015, he was chosen as the governorship candidate of the Labour Party in Rivers State. Again, he lost that election in what was described as the most violent election ever as PDP and APC exchanged gunfire.
Princewill, now an avid APC member and frontline chieftain, was appointed the Director of Strategic Communication for APC’s Tonye Cole during his 2018 Gubernatorial campaign in Rivers state. Unfortunately, the APC was expelled from contesting in the 2019 elections.
He is often described as youth friendly. As a leading advocate of youth empowerment in Nigeria, he has expressed concern about the use of youth in Nigeria, particularly during elections, for violence and thuggery.
DR. SOKONTE HUTTON DAVIES
60-year-old Dr. Sokonte Huttin Davies is another likely contender for the governorship seat of Rivers State under Amaechi’s faction of the APC.
He went to Rivers State University of Science & Technology Nkpolu, Port Harcourt, Nigeria from September 1981 to September 1984, and attended Belorussia Agricultural Academy, Belarus from September 1984 to March 1987. He later proceeded to Crimea M.I Kalinin Agricultural Institute, The Ukraine, for his Masters degree in Economics (MSc) in 1989. He Further attended the South China, Agricultural University, China for his Doctor of Philosophy Economics/Management (Ph.D) June 2000.
Sokonte was member, House of Representatives from June 2007 to June 2015 where he was Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Land Transport from June 2011 to June 2015. Before then, he was Strategic Planner/Business Analyst for SUNGRACE INVESTMENT COMPANY in Guangzhou, China in 2000, he became the CEO of SEIVAD GLOBAL RESOURCES Port Harcourt in 2002, Executive Director Public Policy and Leadership Centre, Port Harcourt also in 2002, He was Director Grassroots Political Development Centre, Port Harcourt from January 2001 to June 2007.
He was appointed as Executive Director, Marine Operations of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, by President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR. His appointment was described as best example of putting a square peg in a square hole because of the wide experience Dr. Davies has to his credit spanning many years of service especially within the public sector in Nigeria.
He represented the Degema/Bonny Federal Constituency for eight years from June 2007 to June, 2015, and belonged to the House Committees on Foreign Affairs, Information & National Orientation, Culture & Tourism, Environment, National Population, Army, Diaspora and Land Transport where I also served as the Deputy Chairman. That committee also exercised oversight function over the then entire Ministry of Transport (except issues appertaining to Marine Transport).
TONYE PATRICK COLE
Tonye Patrick Cole was born in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on January 11, 1967, like vice president Yemi Osinbajo, he is an ordained minister of the Redeemed Christian Church of God and leader of Team Nehemiah. A body within the church that is responsible for delivering the vision of the church in transforming the Redemption Camp in Nigeria to a modern city.
He is a motivational speaker, writer, teacher and mentor. author of “Morning Reflections” a daily devotional published in 2013, and “My God Thinks” 2016. He is the son of a former Ambassador of Nigeria to Brazil, Patrick Dele Cole.
He is the co-founder and former Group Executive Director of Sahara Group, an energy conglomerate with operations spanning the entire energy chain in Nigeria and neighbouring West Africa countries to East Africa and beyond, operating in over 38 countries around the world with over 4,000 employees and annual turnover of $11 billion.
He was directly responsible for building the Group’s global expansion and upholding her corporate governance principles, maintaining her status with global institutions like the World Economic Forum, where he was a key member of Partnering Against Corruption Initiative (PACI), The United Nations), where he was a pioneer member of the advisory board of the Private Sector Advisory Group for the UNDP Sustainable Development Group Fund (SDG-F), The African Philanthropy Forum amongst others.
In September 2018, Mr. Cole made a decision to pursue a career in politics.
DR. DAWARI IBIETELA GEORGE:
Born July 1, 1970, into a family of five children with a Baptist clergy, late Rev. George as a father. He is described as a born-again humanistic Christian.
Dr. Dawari holds a Ph.D in Political Economics and Development Studies with special interest in the things of God, where he is providing spiritual and financial seed in his capacity as the President, Men Missionary Union Africa, Baptist Church.
He is the immediate past Commissioner for Energy & Natural Resources, Rivers State. He was overwhelmingly supported in the primaries at ASALGA Secretariat on Thursday, January 6, 2011, to represent Akuku-Toru and Asari-Toru Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, from 2011 to 2015, after the main elections.
In the primaries, which he contested under the platform of the PDP, he reportedly polled 429 votes, beating his co-contestants who polled 120 votes,18 votes respectively. In the general elections, he polled 36,400 against Opunabo Inko Tariah of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN), who scored 7,966.