Rotimi Amaechi, Nigeria’s Minister of Transportation, lost out again in the crisis bedevilling the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State, as a high court in the state on Tuesday declared Igo Aguma, of a rival faction, the acting chairman of the party in the state.
Mr Aguma belongs to a faction of the APC in Rivers that is loyal to Magnus Abe, a former governorship aspirant in the state.
Mr Amaechi is a former governor of Rivers and one of APC’s most influential leaders, but he has been having it tough getting the APC in Rivers to unite in the party’s quest to wrestle power from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the oil-rich state.
The protracted crisis in the party prompted the court to declare that the APC did not have a governorship candidate in Rivers in 2019, paving the way for Governor Nyesom Wike of the PDP to have an easy second term victory.
Mr Aguma, a former member of the House of Representatives and former political ally to Mr Amaechi, parted ways with him over his (Amaechi) insistence that Mr Abe would not be the APC governorship candidate in the 2015 and the 2019 elections.
Mr Aguma filed a lawsuit in December 2019 against the APC, including its national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, for setting up a caretaker committee to run the affairs of the party in Rivers.
The setting up of the caretaker committee contravened the APC rules, Mr Aguma had told the court.
The court presided by Justice George Omereji declared that Mr Aguma suffered injustice and his civil rights violated when the APC set up the caretaker committee.
The APC in its reaction to the development has barred its members from appealing the court judgment.
The APC National Vice Chairman, South-South, Hilliard Etah, said in a statement on Wednesday, “This is to categorically state that the National Working Committee (NWC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has not delegated any authority to anyone, group of persons, agents or whatsoever to appeal the said judgement”.
Mr Etah said the APC was yet to take a decision whether to appeal the judgment or not.
Mr Abe said of the court judgment, “The only thing wrong with the judgment is that it failed to massage the ego of any individual.”
He advised Mr Aguma not to harbour personal or hidden agenda, but to “reach out to all persons of consequence in the party who are desirous of repositioning the party”. He said he should have the courage to move on if people do not want to join him to rebuild the APC in the state. “None of us can be bigger than the party,” he said.
The recent appointment of Mr Abe into the board of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation by President Muhamadu Buhari has also unsettled the APC faction loyal to Mr Amaechi.
It is unclear, for now, if there is a hidden plan by some powerful people within the APC to push Mr Amaechi aside and rebuild the party in Rivers around Mr Abe ahead of the 2023 general elections.