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Rivers 2011: Race for N/Assembly seats hot up

By Jimitota Oyonume
PREPARATION for elections  into the National Assembly has started gathering momentum in Rivers State and beyond. At the moment just a handful of commissioners and political appointees are still left in the service of the state government because most of them have tendered their resignation letters to enable them prepare for the contest.

Former Secretary to the state government, Mr Magnus Abe was the first to resign in the Amaechi’s cabinet.   He is gunning for  the Rivers South East Senatorial district seat  in the upper legislative chamber.  Magnus who is noted for his  oratory prowess  in political circles in the state was a former member of the state House of Assembly but not on the platform of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party.

He was later to cross over  to the ruling party in the state under the administration of former governor Peter Odili.

The former SSG could be safely described as a former frontline member of the Odili political dynasty. At a time he served Dr Odili as his Commissioner for Information, a position he managed effectively when the state went through its most challenging period.  It is not clear  why he parted ways with his former political boss, Dr Odili but he went underground during the reign of former governor Celestine Omehia and resurfaced when Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi came on board as governor of the state.

This time he was appointed Secretary  of the government, a position he held until he resigned to run for the senatorial seat of his Rivers South east Senatorial district.  In the judgement of some, Magnus is reserved, knowing when  to comment on issues and when not to speak. He is an amiable person and one who can hold his ground on any issue he is deeply convinced about.

The former SSG is likely going to clash with Senator Lee Maeba in the coming election.  Like Magnus, Lee is not a green horn  in politics. He is currently representing the area in the Senate and has been there since 2003.

There were initial rumours that the Senator was preparing to slug it out with Governor Amaechi in the coming election but this speculation ended last week when the Senator went for his nomination form at the state PDP secretariat on Aba road.  Lee is also noted for his prowess in oratory  and over the years like Magnus, has built political structures in his senatorial district.  He would be  remembered for his effort at evolving  the local content law which guarantees some level of security for oil bearing communities if enforced.

With Magnus and Lee in the race, there are fears that one of them may seek his aspiration on another party platform  at the end of the day. The foregoing however is still at the realms of speculations.  Ephraim Etete Owoh is another  aspirant for the same seat in the senatorial district. He is the Chairman, Local  Government Service  Commission.

It  is also going to be a thick contest in Rivers East Senatorial district because of the calibre of persons that have reportedly picked the PDP’s nomination form from the area.

Chief of Staff, Government House, Nyesom Wike is one of those contesting the seat. Wike was two time former Chairman, Obio Akpo Local Government Area. In the politics of Rivers State, particularly within the Amaechi’s camp he is one that cannot be ignored.  He is said to be very influential in the government even if he  rarely made public comments for the administration.

It would be recalled that Wike survived what could pass as assassination attempt on him in the early months of the administration, His car was attacked at Garrison Point of  Aba road and riddled with several bullets.  Though he survived but no doubt he must have been rattled by the incident.

Senator George Sekibo is among those set to give Nyesom a fight for the senatorial seat. He is currently the senator representing the area in the Senate. He was among those that organised a rally recently in Port Harcourt to demonstrate the support of the state for Jonathan.

In Rivers West there are already some top contenders on the platform of the PDP.  Former Deputy Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives, Hon Chibudum Nwuche is one of them.  Chibudum is another politician with clout in the state.  He was two time member of the House of Representatives ie between 1999 to 2007.

It was rumoured in 2007 that he was to contest the governorship election in the state against former Dr Peter Odili.  Chibudum was among prominent members of the party that organised the recent rally for President Jonathan in the state.

Senator Wilson Ake is the Senator representing Rivers West in the Senate. He is also seeking re-election.   A source also told Vanguard that son of former Minister in the Second Republic Victor Mazi, may be gunning for the seat. The son, Innocent Mazi, reportedly picked the party’s nomination form. He could not be reached for comment.

Sale of nomination forms at the PDP state secretariat in the state was still ongoing at the time of this report. So , very likely more names would have gone for the form.

Contrary to thoughts in some quarters  that the party in the state would be divided over where to go for the nomination forms, all members irrespective of the reported factional problem in the party headed to the known state secretariat of the PDP on Aba road under the Chairmanship of Chief G.U. Ake. Before the development some members of the party had created the picture that the party was factionalised.

But surprisingly all that went for nomination forms got from the main stream state secretariat of the party.
So far there are about thirty five persons that have picked nomination forms for the thirteen House of Representative seats in the state on the platform of the PDP.  Out of this number, thirteen are currently representing their areas in the House of Representative.

Top  on the list of those seeking fresh election into the House is Doris Mcdaniels, from Okrika Local Government Area.  She is seeking election into the Okrika/Ogu/Bolo seat in the House. Doris is an influential member of the Jonathan Presidential project in the country. She is a frontline Niger Delta activist.

As Chairperson, Ijaw Mothers Union she has attracted global attention to the plight and challenges of women and people of the Niger Delta region.

Among members of the Amaechi’s  state cabinet also seeking election into the federal House of Representative seat in their areas are Dr Sampson Parker, Commissioner of Health,  Dr Dawari George, Commissioner for Energy, Marshal Uwom, Ken Chikere, Kingsley Chinda. Also the Chairman, Port Harcourt Local Government Area, Hon Azubuike Nmerukini is among those wanting to move up to the House of Representatives.

It is certainly going to be an interesting election in the state as all the aspirants are busy strategising on how to secure victory first at the party’s primaries and then at the general poll.

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