(By Silas ‘Ningi-ofori)-Until Friday, December 28, 2019, there were speculations and doubts that the All Progressives Congress, APC, do not have governorship and other candidates in Rivers State. That rumour was a source of great disappointment to a lot of Rivers people, who felt strongly that they should have options to choose from in the next general election.
And so, it happened that, on Friday, the cacophony of voices were silenced as Tonye Cole was publicly handed the flag – announcing him as the candidate of the APC in Rivers State for the 2019 governorship election. And until there is any unforeseen development, that remains the decision of the party at the centre, and the true position.
Meanwhile, observers have commended the Minister of Transportation and leader of APC in Rivers State, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi, for changing his communications strategy –talking less and doing more to ensure that the dream of APC in the state remains alive. Analysts believe that, if the former governor can build on the gains recorded so far, that the trophy is his for the getting.
This school of thought maintain that, though Tonye Cole was not a regular face in the state prior to this time, that the Abonnema – born businessman turned politician, is level headed, has the pedigree, private sector experience and exposure to create the right environment for business to thrive in the state, thereby providing the much needed employment opportunities to meaningfully engage the youths.
There is also the argument that many Rivers people are yearning for change, especially civil servants who have been denied promotions, some upwards of ten years, and pensioners whose benefits, after serving for 35 years , are yet to be given to them-some, four years after retirement. These developments are compounded by increasing level of youth unemployment, resulting in increasing cases of dissatisfaction, violence and insecurity in the state.
To some political watchers, those who have been waiting anxiously for an alternative voice to speak and work for their welfare in Rivers State can now heap a sigh of relief. This is because, according to them, Tonye Cole represents the new hope of Rivers State, and his governorship will go a long way to appeasing the reverine section of the state, who have been agitating for an opportunity to also occupy the exalted office of Governor of Rivers State.
It would be recalled that, a day before the All progressives Congress handed over flags to President Muhammadu Buhari and their candidates in the south south geo-political zone in Uyo, Akwa-Ibom State capital, the Peoples Democratic Party had inaugurated its Campaign Council in Port Harcourt with Chief Ferdinand Alabraba as chairman and Amb. Desmond Akawo as Director- General.
With the two major political parties in the state now set for campaigns before the general election in February, 2019 analysts are of the view that the pendulum of victory, will ultimately swing in favour of the candidates and party that are seen by Rivers people to be genuinely committed to their welfare.
Tonye Cole is coming! In the next few weeks, Rivers people will know how far he will go. The 2019 election will be tough, and it is only the toughest of the parties that will win , no stories. Rivers people will turn aside in 2019 to let any man pass who knows where he is going – because the winds and waves will be on the side of the ablest navigator.