Daily Archives: November 24, 2007

Days of Odili, Omehia Gone in Rivers, Says Princewill

The governorship candidate of the Action Congress (AC) in the April 14 elections in Rivers State, Prince Tonye Princewill has warned the immediate past governor of the state, Sir Celestine Omehia and his political godfather, Dr. Peter Odili against doing anything that would distract the new administration of Governor Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi.
He said their days were gone for good in the state, adding that the new governor was capable of taking the state to the next level. The AC candidate gave the warning at the weekend in Lagos while announcing the formal withdrawal of his petition at the Rivers State Elections Tribunal.

Princewill said the gesture was an  endorsement of the Amaechi administration, which he described as one of the best things to happen to Rivers State. The AC stalwart who said he had no plans to quit his party for PDP disclosed that Omehia tried to bribe him to withdraw his election petition at an earlier stage but he bluntly turned it down.
He explained: “We believe very strongly that even though we were hesitant whether to continue or not, we are happy with ourselves because before now, when Omehia was there, he was trying to give us money to discontinue the petition but we did not give them attention. We stuck to our guns on the matter.”
Princewill also assured that he would not allow Omehia and Odili to stage a comeback. “We know that people like Odili and Omehia are there to pull him (Amaechi) down, but we are going to make sure that does not happen. So, it is an endorsement but one with a caveat,” he said.
He explained that his endorsement of Amaechi was to embolden him to step forward and do his best for the  state.
Princewill pointed out that his decision to back Amaechi was not undertaken in a hurry. “We did not arrive at this decision overnight, we carried along all the stakeholders.”
I  talked with the youths, women, elders and AC chairman in the LGs and the state executives. From time to time, I brought them all together but independently they all sat and looked at the matter and reached a decision. They wrote a letter of approval.”
He expressed the belief that if the Supreme did not nullify Omehia’s election he would have been defeated by him at the tribunal because he never really won the April 14 governorship fairly and squarely. He said “ First of all we fought and we fought gallantly. And I truly believe that Omehia would not have won the election if there was a free and fair election in Rivers State. He also argued that if the Supreme Court had ordered for another election in the state, Omehia would have been defeated.
He however expressed joy that Odili and his protégé, Omehia have been uprooted saying that gives us enough reason to “bury our personal ambition.” To him now that Odili’s vestiges have been removed, “continuing my petition against Amaechi would not have made a good sense. That would have sent a wrong message,  especially in view of the fact that everybody is interested in doing something that would help move the state forward. We have somebody that we can work with. Also continuing with the petition would have been an opportunity for Omehia and his mentor (Odili) get into the stage through the back door.
Princewill reasoned that if Amaechi did not pass through the ordeal of fighting PDP, Odili and Omehia to retrieve his mandate, he (Amaechi) would have been a continuation of Odili. “But what he went through in the past nine months has given a rethink. I am inclined to believe that he is a changed person, that is why I am supporting him.”
Princewill stressed that the whole process of Omehia’s dethronement together with his godfather was a divine occurrence. “Let me just tell you that some of these things are not done by men’s power, God is behind it all, He is in control. When Amaechi started this battle, a lot of people thought that he didn’t have a chance. I will tell you that this is  a victory for all of us, all of us can  claim it.God managed to move Odili and Omehia out of Government House and it is that same God that would grant victory to Amaechi and all of us.
“You have to understand that people like me are not here for any personal gain or benefit. I am much more broke than I was before I started this  election, I am even much more broke than I was when I withdrew this case from the tribunal. So it is not for any personal benefit, we are committed and I can assure you that Omehia and Odili’s power joined together is not more than my own.
“So if they want to come back to Government House  through the back door, they will have to contend with me. I don’t even want to talk about Amaechi and other people which they will contend with. I can assure you that they will have to go to the moon and back 20 times but they will not succeed. Our commitment is total.”
The AC gubernatorial  candidate said his withdrawal from the tribunal does not affect the petition of his party’s presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar at the presidential election tribunal in Abuja . “He is very right to continue his case against Yar’Adua’s election. When you look at it you will know that PDP has not rid itself of the Obasanjo influence. Now in the case of Rivers State, with the kind of experience, Amaechi went through, he has been freed from the Odili influence. So if I had discovered for one minute that Amaechi was being guided by the shadow of the past administration, I wouldn’t have withdrawn my case. Atiku must be feeling that Yar’Adua is being guided by Obasanjo, so that would make him to continue.”
Princewill hailed some steps taken by Amaechi since he was sworn as quite encouraging. They include the stoppage of the demolition of Port Harcourt Waterfront; the putting in place of the state Economic Advisory Council which consists of many anti-Odili individuals, the  stoppage of the planned local government election and others. He said that unlike Amaechi, the first thing Omehia did when his government was  sworn in was to give a N7 billion contract to build a shopping mall which he described as ridiculous. “You see shopping mall in Lagos , people put their money down, what government does is to give land and make the environment conducive. Funds for the mall are raised by private investors. And we don’t have such in Rivers State or Niger Delta masterplan.”
He further argued that Amaechi is a lot more cerebral than Omehia. “We have sat down and discussed a lot of issues and how they should be implemented. We have talked about that we should invest more on human capital, develop the human capital. He is very cerebral. We are exchanging ideas. It is a working project, let’s see how it goes.”
Princewill said he was said he was not interested in any appointment. “I contested for governorship, I don’t want to be minister, commissioner or any of those things.I accepted to be in the Economic Advisory Council because it is an honour. Twenty nine great minds have been selected to advice the governor on how to move. I feel honoured to be part of that team but I am not interested in political appointment.”


PDP Postpones Convention Indefinitely

The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the ruling Peoples Demo-cratic Party (PDP) yesterday met and resolved to indefinitely postpone its proposed December national convention and congresses which would have produced new national executives for the party.
The tenure of National Working Committee (NWC) led by Dr. Ahmadu Ali, billed to have expired by December 8 2007 was also extended indefinitely. Ali had been shortlisted and his name sent by President Umaru Yar’Adua to the Senate for an ambassadorial posting last month. But by extending Ali’s tenure as the national chairman of the party, his ambassadorial posting will have to be shelved
Addressing newsmen at the end of the 42nd NEC meeting in Abuja, the party’s National Secretary, Chief Bernard Eze said the executive committee of the party would meet again on January 31 2008 to fix the new dates for the national convention and congresses.
On the tenure of the Ahmadu Ali-led NWC, the National Secretary said, “the effective resignation date of the national chairman and members of the NWC was and is predicated on the date of the national convention.
Members of the NWC would have resigned by December 8 2007, if the convention were to have taken place. But now the resignation date would be based on the new date of the national convention, which will be determined after the NEC meeting on January 31, 2008.
“Members of the NWC including the national chairman were elected for four years. But for the zoning system, their terms of office would have been for four years. It was cut short to ensure a smooth zoning process in the party. The national chairman and the president of the country cannot come from the same geo-political zone.
The NEC meeting, he said also approved the re-admission of the governor of Rivers State, Chief Chibuike Amaechi, passed a vote of confidence on the Ahmadu Ali-led NWC and congratulated the new Speaker of the House of Representatives., Hon. Dimeji Bankole on his election.
Yar’Adua and Vice President Jonathan Goodluck were absent at yesterday’s NEC meeting. Only the governors of Niger, Kogi, Enugu, Oyo and Ebonyi were in attendance. Other governors and prominent members of the party stayed away.
No reasons were given for their absence, except for the president, who is away in Uganda for the Commonwealth heads of states meeting.
The national convention and congresses had earlier been terminated abruptly by the Independent National Electoral Committee (INEC) because PDP did not give it the mandatory 21 days notice.
The PDP leadership subsequently hurriedly met and announced new dates of December 4 for ward congresses; December 8 for local government congresses; December 16 for state congresses; December 19 zonal congresses; and January 5, 2008 for the national convention. The latter dates were later said to have coincided with the dates for the Eidel Kabir and Christmas celebrations.
THISDAY had on Friday exclusively reported the plot to further postpone the convention and congresses in order to pave the way for Ali stay in office till 2009 under the guise that he was elected for four years in 2005.
It was gathered that the plot is two fold. The first aims to halt the special national convention using religious considerations as an excuse. The second method entails securing a court injunction as a ploy to get members of the NWC that were elected in December 2005 to complete their four years terms of office.
“What is on ground and would be presented to the NEC of the party today is the need to extend the date of the special convention till March or April 2008.
“This is aimed at taking care of the religious festivals, especially for Moslems who will be proceeding on Hajj and as well as Christians who will be preparing for the yuletide celebrations,” a PDP source said yesterday night.
It was gathered that plans are being perfected to ensure that there is a unity of thoughts and agreement on these measures.
Some of the documents circulated to newsmen by aides of some members of the NWC before yesterday’s decision read: “Airlift of Hajj has since commenced and majority of members of the party in the northern states are Muslims. The hajj is a religious obligation of all true believers. The Hajj cannot be stopped because it is a religious injunction and its timing is universal, but the timing of the convention could be stopped to accommodate the interest of both Christians and Muslims.”


– Thisday