Who will emerge the flag bearer of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Rivers State and possibly win the general election to be able to succeed the incumbent governor, Chief Nyesom Ezenwo Wike?
Less than 15 months to the gubernatorial election across the country, there appears to be no signal as to who Wike has anointed to take over the mantle of leadership from him, even as hopeful candidates are yet to gather enough momentum to declare their interest.
Recently, at the commissioning of the Rumuola bridge in Port Harcourt, Wike had said, “I pray the state gets a governor like me.” This statement has continued to generate ripples.
Die-hard supporters and party faithful have interpreted his comment to mean that the governor is seeking a successor who will make paramount, the interest of the people of Rivers State, even as they score him extremely high in his style of governance.
This is contrary to the opinion of his critics who described his statement as, “an unpopular prayer from a low self-esteem.” A youth group in the state even said “affliction shall never rise again a second time.”
Around April 2021, chiefs, elders and natives of Kalabari kingdom declared their support for High Chief Sobomabo Jackrich, popularly known as Egberipapa. The natives during a rally declared him Wike’s successor, but, he is yet to name the party on whose platform he will be contesting.
In this first part of the analysis on the credentials of some of those who are likely to take over from Wike, EDITH CHUKU attempts to identify those considered to be possible contenders. This list is not in any particular order.
Felix Amaechi Obuah (Go Round)
This is a very familiar name in the politics of Rivers State. Obuah who is currently the sole administrator of the Rivers State Waste Management Agency, is one of those believed to be nursing the ambition to run for the office of the governor of the state.
It is alleged that he is likely to quit his political platform, as some claim that the governor is not on his side.
Obuah is known for his courage and fearlessness, often described as a detribalized personality of irresistible admiration, a business mogul, economic master strategist, a social pivot, philanthropist par excellence and indefatigable oracle of Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni politics and, above all, a traditionalist.
Obuah was born December 16, into the family of late Elder Bethel Chukujindu Obuah of Akelechi Royal Dynasty of Umuohali in Omoku, and the late Deaconess Comfort Obuah (nee Otomah) in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area of Rivers State. He may be a young man, but a study of his historical rise and achievements in a life’s journey on a path dotted with thorns and thistles is worth the pains.
In 1985, he established the first private school in Omoku, Agwubata College of Commerce, with annex in Erema Town. Agwubata College of Commerce later metamorphosed into the present day Ogba Comprehensive High School, Omoku. He has incubated and successfully nurtured several businesses ever since.
As chairman and founder of Go Round Football Club, he has provided employment and empowerment opportunities for Rivers youths, orphans and the handicapped. He gives medical assistance to the less privileged.
The RIWAMA boss led executive of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Rivers State came on board on April 15, through the judgment by Justice Ishaq Bello of an Abuja High Court, which sacked the Chief Godspower Ake-led executive of the party that was loyal to the then governor, Rotimi Amaechi.
A political analyst from the Igburu extraction in ONELGA, Lucky Nwaoburu had described Obuah as the highest employer of labour in the Orashi region. This he said was born out of the Philanthropic and contributive nature of Obuah to his environment and the local government area retrospecting to his achievements prior to this time as local government area chairman and other Positions occupied in Past and Present times. For many, especially the youths, Obuah is a most preferred choice for the position.
Tamunobaabo Wenike Danagogo
He is popularly referred to as Tammy Danagogo, born September 22,1970. He is a Nigerian Politician, Lawyer, and the current Secretary to the State Government of Rivers State since May 2019.
Before that, he was the Minister of Sports in the Federal Republic of Nigeria, a graduate of Rivers State University of Science and Technology and the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
Danagogo received his primary education in 1981 from St. Joseph State School in Abonnema, Rivers State. He proceeded to gain his secondary education in 1986 from Nyemoni Grammar School, Abonnema.
In 1990, Danagogo graduated with an LL.B in Law from the Rivers State University of Science and Technology. He went on to attend the Nigerian Law School in 1991, and subsequently obtained his LL.M in Law from the same Nigerian Law School in 1997.
In 2005, Danagogo furthered his education by attaining his Doctor of Philosophy, Ph.D. in Private and Public Law with specialization in Human Rights and Disputes Settlement from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
After he graduated from the Nigerian Law School, Danagogo served as a Solicitor in Austin Mamedu Co. between 1991 and 1992 for his National Youth Service Corps Programme. He later served as a Litigation’s Solicitor with C.V George Will & Co. from 1992 to 1995, and later served as a Principal Partner in Alaba Chambers between 1995 and 2004.
He is purported to be the choice of the Riverine, as a very close ally of Wike. Danagogo kicked off his political career in 2004 when he was elected executive chairman of Akuku Toru Local Government Area, Rivers State, Nigeria.
In November 2008, he served as Commissioner of Chieftaincy and Community Affairs under former Governor Rotimi Amaechi. He further served as a Commissioner for Urban Development in Rivers State but later resigned in December 2013. He served as a Minister of Sports and the Chairman of the National Sports Commission in 2014 during Goodluck Jonathan’s Administration. His leadership caused a revolutionary growth in the Sports Industry in Nigeria.
Danagogo is the current Secretary to the State Government of Rivers State ever since he was appointed by Governor Nyesom Wike in May 2019. Many believes that he is in the good book of the governor, hence could be given the governorship slot in the forth coming election.
Lee Ledogo Maeba
He is a Nigerian politician who was elected senator for the Rivers State South East constituency on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, in April 2003, at age 37, and was reelected in April 2007.
March 15, 2004, Maeba was a member of the Pan-African Parliament, and also a member of the Committee on Trade, Customs and Immigration Matters, one of the Ten Permanent Committees of the Pan-African Parliament.
Senator Lee Maeba was ranking senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He was for seven years the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources Upstream and was also Chairman, Senate Joint Committee on the Petroleum Industry Bill.
During his tenure in the Senate, he was a member of the African Union Pan African Parliament based in Midrand, South Africa and Member, Parliamentary Network on World Bank based in Paris, France.
Lee Maeba is a graduate of Petro-Chemical Engineering from the Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Port-Harcourt and holds a Certificate in World Petroleum Fiscal Arrangements. He has extensive drilling experience beginning from his career as a driller in Santa Fe Drilling Corporation. He left Santa Fe to set up P.E. BEMA Limited in 1996 and New Tigerhead Limited. He is a Fellow of the Nigerian Society of Engineers and the Nigerian Society of Chemical Engineers. He is also a fellow of the Nigerian Society of Cost and Appraisal Engineers and active member of Society of Petroleum Engineer (SPE)
Senator Maeba is acknowledged throughout Nigeria as a champion of Nigerian content in the Petroleum industry; a defender of the interest of oil producing communities, and a nationalist and promoter of the Nigerian enterprise. He is the sole sponsor of the landmark Nigeria Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act, a legislation that has changed the face of the Nigerian Oil and Gas industry.
His book “Benefits of the Nigerian Oil and Gas and Industry Gas Industry Content Development Act” is a resource material on local content in the Nigerian oil and gas industry.
He is a multiple award winner including Nigeria Content Development Award (2010); PETAN Local Content Recognition Award (2010); Champion of Local Content by the Nigerian Association of Engineering Craftsmen (2010) and Nigerian International Youth Award (2009), he was widely described by international media as the ‘most influential energy lawmaker in Nigeria. Senator Lee Maeba is renowned philanthropist and President of the Senator Lee Maeba Foundation. His life philosophy and the root of his humanitarian orientation is chronicled in his autobiography – Against All Odds.
Engr. Telenyem Renner Ikuru
He is commonly known as Tele Ikuru, he is a Nigerian engineer and politician, born February 24, 1966.
He was first elected deputy governor of Rivers State in 2007 on a PDP ticket with governor Celestine Omehia. After the court annulled Omehia’s election that year, he was picked to serve under Chibuike Amaechi and was reelected to the office in 2011.
Ikuru was among state officials who joined the All Progressive Congress with Amaechi in 2013. He later defected back to the People’s Democratic Party on 22 March 2015.
Dr. Abiye Samuel Sekibo
Abiye Sekibo was born in 1958 in Okrika, Rivers State. He attended the famous Okrika Grammar School, Okrika and read Medicine at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital. He was a House Officer at the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital and underwent the compulsory one National Youth Service Corp at Ede.
He was Doctor-In-Charge of St. Michael’s Clinic in Port-Harcourt (1986–1999). He was a director representing the Rivers State Government on the board of the West African Glass Industry Plc. He established the PreciousLife Medical Centre in Port Harcourt and Abuja. He was appointed a Special Assistant to the Governor of Rivers State, and served as Secretary to the Rivers State Government (1999–2003).
He was nominated and screened by the Senate of Federal Republic of Nigeria, and appointed Minister of Transport in July 2003.
In August 2003, Sekibo said the Federal Government was considering a scheme to support local shipping in the oil and gas industry. In September that year he spoke out against corruption in the ports, saying the Federal government was committed to stamping out the problem. He also said the planned port reform would increase private sector involvement in port operation, and that government had no business being in business. He claimed that the government was not going to privatise the ports. However, the government would make private operators responsible for terminal operations, and for terminal buildings and equipment.
Chief Dumo Lulu Briggs
Born in 1964 to the family of High Chief O.B. Lulu-Briggs, OON, DCF who was National Vice Chairman, South-South of the defunct National Party of Nigeria (NPN) in the Second Republic, and late madam Irene Danagogo, both from Abonnema, in Akuku-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State.
The billionaire’s heir apparent Dumo Lulu-Briggs or DLB as he is popularly known and which is now known as the DLB Brand is a seasoned legal practitioner of over 27 years post call.
He was the Kalabari 2019 Governorship Candidate for Rivers State. He has an excellent and distinguished working career in the private and public sector in Nigeria.
Though, he was Wike’s major contender in the last election, but it is rumoured that he might be flying the PDP governorship flag, this election.
Austin Adiele Opara
Born on August 28, 1963 in Diobu, Port Harcourt. After his secondary education, he gained admission to the Rivers State University of Science and Technology, from where he graduated as the Best Student in Marketing in 1989.
He also obtained a Master’s degree from the same University in 2001. He started his working career as a Lecturer at the School of Basic Studies, Rumuola, Rivers State. He left teaching for the private sector where he excelled himself in various business ventures. His interest in politics led to a successful political career, the zenith of which was his election as the Deputy Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives in June 2003 where he has represented the country at national and international levels.
He is an Alumnus of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Austin Opara, an Officer of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a patron of the Boys’ Brigade and Boys’ Scout of Nigeria, a Knight of the Anglican Church and is happily married with children. His hobbies include reading, sports and music.
In June 2015, incumbent Governor Ezenwo Wike appointed him to serve as the Chief of Staff. Chukwuemeka Woke, an engineer and politician of the People’s Democratic Party, has also served as chairman of Emohua local government area of Rivers State,
Dumnamene Robinson Dekor
Rt. Hon. Dum Dekor is a Nigerian politician who was Deputy Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly from 2007 to 2011. He represented Khana II in the 6th Rivers State House of Assembly and is a member of the Rivers State People’s Democratic Party. On 15 September 2017, he was sworn in as a commissioner-designee by Governor Ezenwo Nyesom Wike and on 20 September, he was assigned to the Rivers State Ministry of Works.
Dekor attended the University of Port Harcourt and graduated in 1991, obtaining a bachelor’s degree in Geography, he was one time assistant speaker house of assembly, was later on 15 September, 2017 sworn in as Commissioner of works under Wike regime and later ran for the Rivers State House of Representative of which the result is still pending. He is from Beeri community in Khana Local Government Area of Rivers State in Nigeria.