- Popular RIVERS Politician, Chief ALLWELL ONYESOH
The race to occupy Rivers Government House, come 2019 has just begun and serious politicians are working day and night positioning their chosen candidates for their political party for the governorship primaries and subsequently for the eventual General elections, come February 2019. In this light, seasoned Rivers politicians like Chief ALLWELL HEANACHO ONYESOH of the All Progressive Congress-APC is a man many Rivers state citizens and residents often watch out for because of his ability to predict accurately who wins what political positions and who gets what electoral votes in a Free and Fair electoral contest, hence his nick name “OCTOPUS”.
Since he participated in the 1993 National Republican Convention-NRC Etche Local Government Area Chairmanship position and won and his ability to have won Etche State constituency 2 Rivers state House of Assembly election and won under United Nigerian Congress Party-UNCP since 1998, prior to the death of late General Sani Abacha, Chief Allwell Heanacho Onyesoh had been a household name in Rivers State politics.
His participation in the 1999 Civilian political activity led to his pitching tent with former governor Peter Odili’s RESTORATION TEAM, a political pressure group which metamorphosed into Peoples Democratic Party-PDP and this 1982 UNIJOS graduate of Communications Studies had served as Rivers Commissioner for Education from 1999 to 2003 and Rivers Commissioner For Sports from 2003 to 2007 with proven laurels and legacy projects executed under his watch in the various Ministries he had headed.
On Tuesday, 14th November 2017 he played host to City People magazine team members in Port Harcourt, EMEKA AMAEFULA, and IBRAHIM BAKARE. He spoke extensively about the real reasons he wants Senator, Magnus Ngei Abe to be the next Governor of Rivers. EXCERPTS
How do you see the chances of the APC in Rivers state in 2019?
Talking very dispassionately, PDP is strong in the state and APC is equally very strong in the state. And in 2019 victory could go either way. The party that, realizes the importance of victory will win. And what do I mean by that, you will allow internal democracy and you must allow people to come out and express their views as too much of manipulative tendencies will spell doom for either of these parties and that is what will determine who wins. So, for me without being a party member now being me and being a Nigerian and being a political Analyst, Rivers State can go to either APC or PDP depending on how things play out and depending on how people manipulate or otherwise.
Let us talk about the place of internal democracy in selecting who will be flag bearer for the political parties. What is your take on this?
PDP I guess would not have any problem because there is an incumbent who I believe for them and for most people believe has done well so he stays, You want to know who will be Governor, I am coming to tell you how the Governor will emerge.
So there is one already standing for PDP and waiting and if you come to APC, this is a personal view. We do not have a good standing party executive because we were a party that was to absolve people leaving another party. It was like to serve as the platform for people who were about leaving a formidable platform like PDP, it has to house us, so very little consideration was given to picking up appropriate individuals to run the party and so somehow we got individuals who did not know how to run party.
In fact, not individuals we got the leadership especially the top echelon who were running political party for the first time and if you ask me it could have been better. And how that had faired, I could have preferred I leave that for the party and the public to look at between the periods they assumed office and now. I leave that to the public to look at. I believe that a lot more will need to be done and I also believe that good spirited people in the party are working dispassionately to ensure that the party wins while others are playing politics with a victory.
Some persons have positioned themselves for offices without working hard. And somehow some individuals or individual who claims to be Leaders of the party is busy weakening the party by removing strong Leaders and putting Kindergartens as Leader a few months away from the election. How that will also play out we will find out.
You said for the governorship election in 2015 APC put up a weak candidate, due to lack of internal party democracy, as somebody was picked based on consensus. You have never supported any candidate that has lost election. What is your take on this?
That is where I am coming to. Now having all of that now we have lost. The few things that came to us they have shared it among themselves, as one is Minister, the other one is Director General and another is Executive Director and all of that and they have all retired to Abuja and Lagos respectively and they are playing Big Boys and they are using it to do some manipulative activities and tendencies in the party and we felt that that will never grow the party and it will not grow the party.
The next thing is the public spirited ones from the party, those of us who would want the party to win we have decided and looked at the whole thing dispassionately and work for the true success of the party without anybody coming to tell us that this man is going to be this or that man is going to be that …the days for that are gone and forever it will never come back.
And we no longer want any man to come and appropriate my Party membership Card, where I own the Card, but you will decide what my card should represent, it won’t work we want a situation where if you think that you are strong go and back somebody upand at the end of the day if he gets the nod of the party we will back him up.
But if you think that you can sit somewhere and meanwhile the one you have made us fail the last time and you are busy enjoying the profit of what the other members of the party from other parts of the country brought on board and you have lost your state that you are busy enjoying that and you are still thinking that you are a good politician… some even think that they are Lions. Time for that is gone, we want to be authentic; we want people to come out and show themselves. And for me I will think that we have a candidate but for and I will go for Senator Magnus Abe.
What are the qualities that you see in Senator Magnus Abe? Why are you insisting on him?
No, I am not insisting, I said that I will vote. So, that is not dictatorship and I am entitled to have an opinion and if other people come and join me to have the same opinion of course we will win. The question in Politics is that it is not like Football where you say there is a draw Algeria scored 1 and Nigeria scored 1. No drawn Game here somebody must win. So, if I say that Magnus Abe is good and in a properly organized free and fair Governorship primary election and he comes up and wins, so he goes.
So I think that here in Rivers State Magnus Abe is so exorbitantly experienced as I met him first in Politics when we were elected during late General Sani Abacha’s UNCP he was elected to Represent Gokana into Rivers State House of Assembly. We became friends and I noticed that he was intelligent and he is still intelligent. During the one that General Abdulsalami Abubakar dissolved he was so sparkling in his contributions as he later on went and contested election in 1999 I went for PDP and he went under All Peoples Party-APP and he became Minority Leader in Rivers state House of Assembly.
He was so nice and outstanding so much that Governor Peter Odili went and hunted for him and we got him to PDP and Odili went on to make him Commissioner for Information. And he also performed WELL a journalist in this state, you can judge him as he performed creditably well. He went on to become Secretary –To- State Government-SSG during Governor Amaechi’s first administration and before you know it they retained him and some of us the brain Boxes of that administration.
And he went on to the Senate at a time the Petroleum industry was having a problem and he sat over the sanitization of that Industry and today he is back there and they have given him The Road Maintenance . He is square peg in a Square hole if you give him any role he plays it well. He is very humble. His level of humility is very infectious. That shows you how diverse the man is. He is extra ordinarily popular and his area remains the only area where APC won all the seats except one seat.
Your Etche District has not produced a governor, Deputy Governor or Senator, why are you not going for electoral position in 2019?
Do you know about what we call rotation? Do you know about what is called zoning? Do you agree with zoning? If you agree with zoning, and has it been used before and did it work out? If it has been used, are you fair minded? I come from Rivers East Senatorial District as we have three senatorial Districts in Rivers state.
And I want to tell you I don’t believe that I am the only intelligent person or the only good person in Rivers State. And I will tell you there are people everywhere and we should know that one of the most problems we have today is instability arising from the fact that people feel marginalized therefore since we cannot all be Governors at the same time it will be proper for some us to sacrifice our personal ambitions for the good of the general. That is what most of us have done. People must always fight for people.
Are you not contesting any position in 2019 elections?
For me it is too early. What I do in Politics is achieving results. It doesn’t have to be me and it mustn’t have to be me but I know that I pick the Bill but if we all pick the bill and insist in picking a ticket, the whole place will go up in flames .
Somebody must look at it dispassionately and allow somebody to go. That is the democracy we are talking about as we sit back together and agree on something. I have looked at the gubernatorial thing and I have told them that…My brother some guys who became governors in this state are not better than me in any way.
We all have gone to School and we have all served in different capacities, they are not better than me. And some even have ordinary pass in the University and some have never worked anywhere at all and they can never produce any Pay Slip but I have. So you see the greatest man is not that man who says “I am the greatest” but that man who is really great. How ‘greatest’ you are is when you can sacrifice your own interest for the betterment of the whole. I don’t want to dabble into that. If anybody is better than… if you don’t want me to be Governor you can as well say that. But if you ask me what I want to be…
I want to be a senator. I could have been in the senate in 2003 but incidentally I couldn’t. I am now an Elder statesman and I am not afraid of anybody but I only fear God. I will like to go to the Senate, even as a growing child I used to address myself as a senator. I read Mass Communications. I know People give slant to stories. But it is not compulsory for me to go to the Senate…If that will affect the larger interest…you concede it. I don’t want to be a candidate I want to be a Senator. They are not the same thing.
What if your party APC says that you should go to the Senate?
In my Senatorial District, Rivers East, APC is weak. I am a strong party man. Are you going to get the vote from Ubima, or you go and beat Wike at Obio/Akpor or from Port Harcourt that has some parts of it as Okrika, Okrika people that are not happy that their brother In-law lost an election? Let us be honest to ourselves, I am a staunch Politician and can be analytical …it is not enough to put the hand in the Fire but to bring it out that is the issue.
I don’t want to be a candidate, I want to be a Senator. They are two different things. After all somebody was Governorship candidate but today he is a Director General-DG, it is not the same thing. For me, I think, that first we have to look at candidates, those candidates that can balance issues or things.
If you want to make an impact in Rivers state in 2019 we need a candidate first that will believe in moral uprightness. We have 3 senatorial Districts, Rivers West has done 8 years under Governor Dr, Peter Odili, right now they have a Deputy Governor Dr (Mrs) Ipalibo Harry Banigo, before now they had Speaker under Late Tonye Harry, Dan Otelemeba Amachree as Speakers that is for 16 years and if you come from Rivers East we had Amaechi, Speaker, Omehia Governor, Amaechi Governor, Wike Governor and they have all the Chief Judges in the state apart from the current Chief Judge now who is not a Rivers person. So the others have been coming from Rivers East senatorial district. If we don’t follow rotation Amaechi wouldn’t have become a Governor.
If you go to Rivers South East Senatorial District we tried to produce a Governor there, Rivers South East senatorial district and we “Monkeyed” with it and we lost. Politics is continual, every 4 years it is back there and now we are back there and it is only proper now that we are back there. This time let us look at those things that have made us to fail and correct them. And for me I will go for an Ogoni candidate. While Ogoni has 4 LGAs as Ikwerre has 4 LGAs but Ogoni has advantage that they have indigenous population unlike Ikwerre that is for all of us with amorphous nature, they can decide to move away from where they are on Election Day. They can move away to their various communities, but when the Ogonis are looking for Governor they are self mobilized …why don’t you want to buy into it if you are a good politician and if your mind is clear and if you want to win?
Why don’t you buy into it as they are mobilizing themselves. I was at Bori two weeks ago and we didn’t pay a dime. We saw the place ready but the whole place was filled with people.
So, you could see a people self-mobilized and you want to throw it away. When you try to be manipulative and it is not working, you now want to move it to Rivers West Senatorial District again and you think that it will work? I see a situation where if it is not properly managed we will lose because the Ogonis will be provoked to vote against any person that punctured their interest…. they are not looking for PDP which is already gone they are looking for APC.
So as soon as anybody or Mercenary punctured their interest or stops them especially unfairly you can be sure that they will fight back and how do you fight back in politics they will vote against your candidate and who gets their votes. Wike will get it.
Now if you ask me, the Ogonis are blessed with materials, they have Barrister Ledum Mite and they have Senator Magnus Abe. And looking at their political growth you will see that one person is in politics and he has been moving from one level to the next. That is why I am rooting for him now. I am now telling you why I came down rooting for Magnus. He is a force, as we all lost in our respective areas and he won in his own area. If you have support why don’t you win in your own area? What moral right do I now have to stop him? You, yourself do you have support if you have support why don’t you win in your own area? The whole of Ogonis like APC. Where else is like that? So, that is the reason why I root for Senator Magnus Abe.
From your statement, this is your disagreement with APC leadership in Rivers state?
Yes, that is that and that is it. The top most hierarchy, I told him and I said ‘look I am supporting this man”.
And what did APC leadership in Rivers state tell you?
That is where the problem started and he said “Ok, if you are supporting this man that is, you are partisan. Then I can no longer see you as a leader in your own area (Etche,)” And I told him that “you too, you are partisan”. That is where the problem started.
Recently in Ogoni you said , that your leader has no alternative but Magnus Abe?
If he says that he is not supporting Magnus. let him say “I am supporting this man or that man” …who is he is supporting? He says that he doesn’t like Magnus, it doesn’t matter…if you are supporting him, and sometimes you vote for a man that you don’t like. There is no alternative. That is what I meant.