Political parties in Rivers State has concluded their primary elections. Also, the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC, has issued certificate of return to gubernatorial candidates who emerged as flagbearers of their various parties for the 2023 governorship election.
Battle for the occupancy of the Rivers State Brick House has intensified even as the Nyesom Ezenwo Wike’s led administration begins to count days in office as the governor of the state.
Unlike the 2015 and 2019 elections, this 2023 governorship and house of assembly elections in Rivers State might not be a ‘grab it all funfair’ for the ruling party Peoples Democratic Party PDP. Other parties aside presenting strong contenders, appears very prepared to engage the PDP in a fierce battle.
According to an elder statesman, Chief Manuye Ogiri, “the election this time will not be a PDP and APC affair, no, the saying has been that we have three political parties; PDP, APC and others but that has changed.
“2023 election will not be a PDP and APC affair, Rivers State should be prepared for the shock because other political parties will put up a strong fight and hopefully disgrace PDP and APC in this state.
“PDP has failed the good people of Rivers State, APC has failed, the state needs to breath fresh air and Rivers people are very much ready to make that happen come next year, we are very much ready.”
Ogiri believes that history will be made in 2023, that PDP who has occupied the government house since Dr. Peter Odili’s swearing in of May 29, 1999 till date, will be floored at the polls.
In preparation for the shockers that 2023 elections holds, TNN samples some of the party flagbearers. This is done in no particular order.
Dr. Amaopthe Usenibo Siminayi Fubara, popularly known as Siminialayi Fubara (SIM), is the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party PDP, for the forthcoming March 11, 2023 governorship election.
He is believed to be governor Nyesom Wike’s compensation to the Riverine areas of the state. Notable chiefs, elders, youth leaders from the riverine has continued to laud Wike for supporting Fubara’s emergence as the party candidate.
Several groups, including the National Youth Council of Nigeria NYCN, Rivers State Chapter, led by Amb. Chijioke Ihunwo have continued to proclaim their unflinching support for him.
Ihunwo and hundreds of Rivers youth took to the street of Port Youth, on Monday, June 13, on a walk they tagged, “Rivers Youth Walk For Sim.” They paid the governorship hopeful a visit the following day.
They believe that the emergence of Fubara is an answer to the glamour by the Ijaws for a riverine governor.
Fubara has become a household name in the politics of Rivers State. Though it is still undecided if his popularity is tied to his grabbing the PDP ticket or his saga with the Economic and Financial Crime Commission EFCC, for alleged fraud of over N117 billion.
It is still unclear what cockroaches the Riverine born chartered accountant from Rivers South-east senatorial district has in his cupboard to warrant EFCC declare him, among others wanted, but one thing is clear, governor Wike is out to ensure that the commission does not lay hold on his ‘desired successor’.
Fubara is the immediate past accountant general of the state. This many believe is connected to why EFCC appears to be harassing him. one of such drama took place at the Port Harcourt International Airport, Tuesday, last week.
It was learnt that immediately he arrived the airport alongside other PDP chieftains and youth leaders, who accompanied him to Abuja to receive his certificate of return, operatives of the EFCC tried to arrest him but were vehemently resisted by some youths believed to be his supporters.
This act by the EFCC angered Wike. In his reaction, he said the state will be forced to file for contempt if the EFCC continues the harassment, saying the Commission has been retained by courts of competent jurisdiction from investigating the accounts of the Rivers State Government.
Meanwhile, a human rights group slammed Fubara for escaping an attempt by officials of the anti-graft agency to arrest him, describing his action as disgusting and shameful.
According to report, the group also charged the Rivers State governor to “ask his aides to surrender and defend themselves if they were not guilty of the allegations.” The group also questioned why he was evading the invitation of the EFCC if actually he had no skeleton in his cupboard, even as they encouraged the Rivers politician not to be afraid if he was not guilty since only the guilty are afraid.
The governorship hopeful who is in his early 40s was born in the year 1979. He hails from the Opobo-Nkoro Local Government Area of the state and had both his primary and secondary school in Port Harcourt.
Fubara, an Ijaw born from the Riverine area earned his bachelor’s degree at Rivers State University of Science and Technology. His shine in politics is believed to have begun after his appointment as the state’s accountant general by Governor Nyesom Wike.
He resigned that position to run for the governorship seat under the platform of the PDP. While some believes that he was handpicked by the sitting governor, others consider him very fit to succeed Wike, one-because he is from the Riverine, two-he is a youth.
Fubara was declared winner of the PDP primary by Prof. Water Mbutu, the returning officer, for pulling 721 votes out of 898 total votes cast. With support from the incumbent, it is believed that Fubara will be the next governor come 2023.
Tonye Patrick Cole:
Tonye Patrick Cole is the son of former managing director of the Daily Times Newspaper and former Ambassador of Nigeria to Brazil, Patrick Dele Cole. His emergence on Friday, April 22, 2022, as consensus candidate has generated more storm than calm in the All Progressives Congress APC, in Rivers State.
The choice of Cole, one of the riverine aspirants from the Riverine Ijaw extraction has continued to generate ripples. While some party faithful have expressed disappointment in the Amaechi’s led faction of the APC, some aspirants have continued to show signs of disapproval of him as the party’s candidate, even after the primary. Senator Magnus Abeis one of them. The fear is that APC might not be on the ballot, like it happened in the 2019 election.
Cole, born 1967, 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.
He is believed to be inspiring the youth of Africa through charities such as his NGO, Nehemiah Youth Empowerment initiative, he works closely with a number of foundations in Nigeria including the Down Syndrome Foundation, Slum-2-School Foundation, The Compassionate Center and various orphanages. He served as a board member for Atlas Mara, Bloomberg TV Africa, Enactus Nigeria, Nigerian Chamber of Shipping and Digital Jewels. He is also a member of the Private Sector Advisory Group of the United Nations Sustainable Development Fund (UN SDG-F).
Cole attended Corona School, Victoria Island and later King’s college, Lagos before proceeding to King’s School, Ely, Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom.
He is also an alumnus of University of Lagos where he bagged a bachelor’s degree in Architecture and Engineering, then a Portuguese Certificate from Universidade de Brasilia, Brazil.
He returned to Nigeria in 1993 and was quickly employed as the Director of Operations with the Nigerian office of Empressa Sul Americana de Montagens S.A.(EMSA) a Brazilian Civil Engineering Company from 1993 – 1996.
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 the 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. He is the author of “Morning Reflections” a daily devotional published in 2013.
According to report, his decision to pursue a career in politics was made in 2018. And he formally resigned from all board and executive roles held in Sahara Group as well as all his board positions elsewhere to contest for the gubernatorial seat in his home state of Rivers. This is an elective political position in Nigeria.
He won the APC primaries and was declared the flag bearer but due to internal party issue, the party was removed from the ballot and prevented from contesting in the elections by the courts.
The announcement of Beatrice Itubo’s emergence as the 2023 flagbearer of the Labour Party was one of the shockers in this forthcoming election. Though it was rumoured, but it was almost impossible to believe, as there was no body language to indicate that she was nursing such ambition.
The former chairman of the Rivers State council of the Nigerian Labour Congress NLC, is one of the women vying for the governorship seat of the state.
Itubo, a retired civil servant and chairperson of the NLC had always criticized Wike’s led state government. Infact, in an interview with TNN, she had reiterated her stand not to support Wike’s presidential ambition.
According to her, “I am not supporting Wike because he is owing pensioners their gratuity, civil servants and pensioners in the state have been subjected to untold hardship by the governor, I will not support Wike until he does the needful”
Some persons have continued to question her reason for throwing her hat in the ring, if it is to salvage the pensioners she was supposedly fighting the governor for or there is more to it.
She answered the question in a post she made on her wall on facebook, on June 9, shortly after she emerged as the Rivers State Gubernatorial candidate of her Party, after winning the primary election with a total of 201 votes against 272 delegate votes.
According to her, “in my acceptance speech, I encouraged all sons and daughters of Rivers State especially the workers, youths, People living with disabilities (PWD) and all Non-indigenes to ensure they get their permanent voters cards PVC, because it’s time to change the narratives.
“We will ensure the future of our kids are determined by our collective efforts to restore the glory of Rivers State. What happened to the bursary system and scholarships for our students, why has there been no promotion of workers, no payment of gratuity and pension, why is Rivers State now the garbage city of the world, no employment and poor health care system?
“As you can see, our dear Rivers State and Nigeria is being held hostage. However, with this mandate you have giving me, be rest assured that the narratives will change for the better. In the words of Martin Luther King: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Our dear state must return to its original owners
“If they want to intimidate you with looted funds, collect it but vote your conscience. To my fellow women, this is the time to make an impact. Remember, If you educate or build a woman, you’ve made a Nation. Support Comr. Chief Mrs. Beatrice Itubo and Labour Party to make this difference.” She said.
Itubo is one person who always encourage women to participate in politics by not only voting but also picking party forms to contest elections.
Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs:
This is a household name in Rivers State politics. Dumo Lulu-Briggs is the governorship candidate of the Accord political party in the state.
He emerged the consensus candidate through voice confirmation by the delegates from the 23 local government areas of the state, having stood as the sole aspirant on the platform.
Report reveals that Dumo known as the DLB Brand is a seasoned legal practitioner of over 27 years post call, an accomplished businessman, technocrat, politician and grassroots mobilizer. He is the chairman and chief executive officer of DLB group, a conglomerate of companies with interest in oil & gas, and marine.
Born was 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. He attended Port Harcourt Township primary school from 1970 to 1975, Government Comprehensive Secondary School Port Harcourt, between 1975 and 1980.
Dumo active political career started in 1992 when he contested for the House of Representative seat for Akuku-Toru Federal Constituency seat on the platform of the Social Democratic Party SDP. Thereafter he became the National Assistant Legal Adviser for the Grassroot Democratic Party from 1996 to 1998. He was the Governorship candidate, National Democratic Party, for Rivers State, in 2003, and also in 2015 contested for People’s Democratic Party PDP nomination as Governorship candidate at the Party’s primary election.
He is the Grand Patron of the Dumo Lulu – Briggs Youths Foundation DYF23 with the motto, “Repositioning the youth for a better tomorrow” founded and duly registered to preach peace amongst youths. Through this youth foundation, it is believed that he has been able to reach out to youths in the 23 local government councils in Rivers State, campaigning against anti-socio vices and youth restiveness in the society, inspiring and empowering countless youths into entrepreneurship, equipping them with the tools they need to succeed in this 21st century.
He holds an LLB degree in Law from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, 1985 and also a Masters degree LLM in Law from the prestigious London school of Economics, University of London; and was called to the Nigerian Bar in October 1986. He did his National Youth Service at the Institute of Legal Administration, Katsina State Polytechnic, Katsina, from 1988 to 1989. He was in Private Legal Practice from 1989 to 1994. Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs is a Member of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and the International Bar Association IBA. He has also attended several executive leadership courses at Harvard, Cambridge and the Southern Methodist University, SMU, Dallas, Texas.
Dumo has an excellent and distinguished working career in the private and public sector in Nigeria. He was the legal adviser/company secretary and contributing editor to Associate Media Limited 1990 to 1991, Solicitor and Notional Head of Chambers, Edu & Mohammed Solicitor 1991 to 1992, Principal partner in Nwoka & Lulu-Briggs Law office from 1992 – 1998. He also worked as Company secretary/Legal adviser to Moni Pulo Limited (Petroleum Development). He later served as the Managing Director, Pioneer Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer of Moni Pulo Limited; an indigenous, independent oil and gas exploration and Production Company from 1995 to 2004.
Dumo is currently Chairman, Platform Petroleum Limited, a reputable indigenous oil exploration and prospecting company and Chairman of DLB GROUP OF COMPANIES. He is a grassroots politician, mobilizer, and an astute entrepreneur who has bagged several awards. In 2010 he was honored as Best Parastatals Board Chairman of the Year 2010 by the International Publications Limited (Publishers of The International Maritime Digest); the Distinguished Nation Builders Merit Award (DINBMA); ABR 2015 Leadership and Philanthropy Award; African Achievers Humanitarian Award 2016; Honorary Rotarian Award 2016; Garden City Advancement Award for philanthropy 2016.
He was a Member- Rivers State Economic Advisory Council for four years (2007-2011); Member – Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorers(NAPE); Member – International Bar Association (IBA); Fellow – Institute of Corporate Managers & Public Administrators of Nigeria (FCMPA); and a member of the 1ST Association of Port Harcourt, Nyemoni Asawo Ogbo of Abonnema and Kengema Mina Ogbo of Abonnema; and several other social and cultural clubs in Nigeria.
High Chief (Amb.) Sobomabo Jackrich:
High Chief Ambassador Sobomabo Jackrich, the ‘Egberipapa’ himself is the governorship candidate of the National Rescue Movement NRM, Rivers State. He is from Buguma, Asari Toru LGA, Rivers State.
The ex-Niger Delta freedom fighter obtained OND in Public Administration, Dorben Polytechnic Abuja, and HND in Business Administration, WOLEX Polytechnic Lagos. Leader of Kengema Unity Forum, a pan sociocultural organisation of the Kalabari Kingdom in Rivers State.
Jackrich is also the leader of Network for Defense of Democracy and Good Governance – NDDGG, a sociopolitical pressure group with the vision to ensuring good governance in all strata of society.
He is a former freedom fighter for the emancipation of the Niger Delta and for control of its resources, but embraced the Federal Government’s Amnesty program in 2011.
A former caretaker committee chairman, Asari Toru LGA. Has carried out various Humanitarian services across the length and breadth of Nigeria including provision of relief materials to flood victims, empowerment and skills acquisition programmes to hundreds of youths across the Niger Delta. Former Chairman, NDDC COVID-19 Palliative Chairman.
He led various Advocacy programs at various times including agitation for power rotation on the basis of upland/riverine dichotomy power sharing agreement. He is a political activist and leader of National Rescue Movement in Rivers State.
This is the governorship candidate of the Young Progressives Party YPP, in the State. He is from Abonnema in Rivers State.
Wenike-Briggs, who was the sole aspirant in the party’s primary election, was elected through a unanimous voice vote by the 130 delegates who participated in the exercise in the state capital, Port Harcourt.
He believes that the YPP has all it takes to sack the ruling Peoples Democratic Party from the brick house. He outlined the top agenda of his administration should he win the governorship seat to include, employment, education and entrepreneurship.
Wenike-Briggs is the first grandson of a former First Republic Parliamentarian, Chief Wenike Opurum Briggs, who was the General Secretary of Calabar, Ogoja and Rivers COR State Movement.
His late grandfather, was a Nigerian lawyer, journalist and politician. He was one of the many voices that influenced Yakubu Gowon in creating new 12 States, including the old Rivers State on May 27, 1967. He was also a former Minister of Education and also Minister for Trade and Commerce between 1967 to 1974 under the General Yakubu Gowon administration.
The governorship hopeful is believed to be leveraging on his family political profile to seek support ahead of the election.