Meet The Rivers APC Gubernatorial Aspirants: The Politicians, The Billionaires and The Philanthropists

Okenyi Kenechi

As the nation surgeons towards another general election with about 8 months to the presidential election, politicians have started positioning themselves to clinch top political positions both at the state and federal levels.

In Rivers state, it will perhaps be a battle of the Titans as top politicians in the state have started aligning and re-aligning with camps filled with prospects to take top-choice political positions.

The mass defection from the All Progressive Congress, APC, by lawmakers and governors into the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has in a way disrupted the political equilibrium nationally. It is yet to be seen how that will affect the political future of the All Progressive Congress in Rivers State.

While the political arrow-heads in the state’s APC, like the honourable minister of transportation, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi and the Senator representing Rivers South-East senatorial district in National Assembly, Magnus Abe, have all chosen to remain in the APC, a few like the member representing Tai/Oyigbo federal constituency in the National Assembly, Barry Mpigi, has since jumped ship and returned to the PDP.

However, Abe’s choice of staying put in the APC will in a way, prolong the discord in the party as he is the only heavyweight in the party who is not in the same camp with the Minister and the leader of the party in the state.

The Rivers APC is where the battle is, as several political big weights are lining up within the party to take over from the incumbent, Nyesom Wike. Although their quests have been bogged down by continuous in-fighting within the party, there might be hope if the party chieftains will resolve their differences and ensure a free and credible primary.

While the Rivers PDP is on lockdown as no one has indicated interest to contest against Governor Nyesom Wike in the primaries, we bring you potential aspirants in the Rivers State chapter of the All Progressive Congress.

1. Dakuku Peterside

Dr Dakuku Peterside, 47, enjoys the support of the minister of transportation and the leader of the APC in Rivers State. He has acquired a certain level of experience required for the post of a governor having served as a local government chairman, a commissioner for works under Amaechi and a member of the house of representatives.

Dakuku looks much as the sole candidate of the minister come 2019 for the gubernatorial election. Born in Opobo, one of the riverine local government areas in Rivers State, he fits perfectly well into the minister’s narrative that it is the turn of the riverine to produce the next governor of the state.

Dr Peterside also ran against the incumbent governor, Nyesom Wike, and lost in 2015. Currently, he is the Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA. He also belongs to the APC faction under the leadership of Ojukaye Flag-Amachree.

2. Magnus Abe.

Senator Abe, 53, is the incumbent Senator representing Rivers South-East in the National Assembly and one of the two APC senators in the state, the other being Senator Andrew Uchendu. Abe, a long-time associate of Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi has a long list of experience in his CV. Abe was elected into the Rivers State House of Assembly in 1999 and later became the commissioner for information under the Governor Peter Odili’s administration. He was later appointed Secretary to the State Government during the tenure of Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi as Governor and in 2011, he was elected Senator.

Abe who is currently at loggerheads with the minister of transportation over who becomes the gubernatorial candidate of the APC has taken the state chapter of the party to court on several occasions, culminating in the factionalization of the party where they currently have two chairmen. He belongs to the Prince Peter Odike’s faction of the party and was equally part of the senators who refused to decamp to the opposition PDP during the popular defection that took place during the week on the floor of the senate.

The minister had said he will not support the senator for the gubernatorial position because it is the turn of the riverine to produce the governor come 2019. Although analysts have said that only Abe stands a chance of giving governor Wike a run for his money, it is still left to be seen if he will beat the minister in the game and muscle himself to the position.

3. Dumo Lulu-Briggs

Chief Lulu-Briggs is not a professional politician but his emergence as the candidate of the APC will provide the much-needed paradigm shift from the ills that bedevil the political space in the state. Dumo, 51, is from the Kalabari region of the state and a riverine.
He has earned himself respects through his philanthropy and acts of charity that have endeared him to the people, especially his youths-friendly skills acquisition schemes that have lifted many youths out of poverty and put them on the path to self-sustenance.
A billionaire businessman and heir, Dumo Lulu Briggs served as General Manager, Pioneer Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer of Moni Pulo Limited from 1995 to 2002. Chief. Dumo served as Managing Director of DLB Concerns Ltd., since 2002. Chief. Dumo serves as the Chairman of the Board at Platform Petroleum Limited and also served as its Vice Chairman. He was in Private Legal Practice from 1988 to 1994. Chief. Dumo is a Member Nigeria Bar Association (NBA). Chief. Dumo received LLB (ABU) in 1985.
Dumo is the new face of Rivers politics but it is yet to be seen if political actors in the state will make such happen.

Tonye Cole

Much is not known about Tonye Dele Cole, although a group of people have ensured his name sticks to the Rivers Political space as one of the potential candidates under the APC.

Tonye Patrick Cole (born 1967) is a Nigerian billionaire entrepreneur, executive director and co-founder of Sahara Group. He is also from the same Kalabari ethnic group as Lulu-Briggs and will bring his wealth of experience in business into leadership if he gets the nod from his party.

He serves as a board member for Atlas Mara, Bloomberg TV Africa, Enactus Nigeria, Nigerian Chamber of Shipping[1] and Digital Jewels. He is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Partnering Against Corruption Initiative (PACI) and also the Private Sector Advisory Group of the United Nations Sustainable Development Fund (UN SDG-F).

Cole won a Lifetime Achievement Award from the United Kingdom Oil and Gas Council in 2017.