The Rotimi Amaechi-led caucus in the Rivers State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has endorsed billionaire oil dealer, Tonye Dele Cole as the candidate of the party for the forthcoming governorship election.
The development immediately put the immediate past governorship candidate of the party, Dr. Dakuku Peterside out of contention and set the ground for a possible grudge match between the camp and Senator Magnus Abe.
Dr. Peterside immediately welcomed the development and asked his supporters not to be disappointed as he promised to cooperate with Cole towards ensuring the party wins the battle against Chief Nyesom Wike who is the only aspirant in the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
No word has so far been heard from Senator Abe who has set up a campaign machinery and has been actively mobilizing for the contest on his decision. The decision of the Amaechi led caucus Vanguard gathered was reached on Thursday night at a strategic meeting of the camp.
Cole 51, runs Sahara Energy is the son of Dr. Patrick Dele Cole, former managing director of Daily Times, Nigerian ambassador to Brazil who also served in the first term of the Olusegun Obasanjo administration.
Confirming the development and asking his followers to give support to Amaechi and Cole in the forthcoming election, Dr. Peterside in a statement made available to Vanguard said:
“Yesterday our leader , Rt. Hon C R Amaechi, whom we all subscribe to his leadership made a decision of whom we should back for the office of the Governor of Rivers State in 2019. The lot fell on my friend and brother in Christ, Tonye Dele Cole .
“I made a commitment to the group earlier to stand by whatever decision the leader makes in the overall interest of the party and Rivers State. I reiterated my position yesterday in the leadership meeting. I thus stand by the decision on TDC .
“We have toiled from 2013 to date ( a period of five years ) and have made sacrifices & lost lives in course of enthroning the kind of government we want in Rivers State; a government that will guarantee peace , unity and prosperity. In course of the struggle we bonded as one indivisible family under God.
“The decision by the Leader has been meet with mixed reactions, which is expected. My appeal is that we allow the greater interest of APC & RVS to prevail .
“To those who believe in the vision I shared in the past five years , the leadership I gave at various times & the path of loyalty to the cause I have chosen over time , I urge you all to stand by the Leader, the party and the ordinary people of rivers state in support of TDC . I personally pledge my loyalty to the Leader (who is to me family ) and the decision he has made . I enjoin all my supporters to queue behind our leader CRA & ensure total victory for our party.
“I pray for unity among the members of APC & VICTORY in the 2019 election.”
Cole is, however, expected to still face the party primaries where Abe may contend with him in a battle that is weighted heavily in favour of Cole given Amaechi’s pre-eminence in the party.