RIVERS APC 2019 GUBERNATORIAL HOPEFULS*  *➖A SWOT ANALYSIS.➖*

RIVERS APC 2019 GUBERNATORIAL HOPEFULS*
*➖A SWOT ANALYSIS.➖*
Undoubtedly Rivers State is the centre of attention in the Nigerian political space considering its strategic position in the overall governance of the Nation. Since its Creation in May 27, 1967, Rivers State has been under the control of different Military Governors until 1999 when Nigeria eventually transited from Military rule to democracy and Sir Dr. Peter Odili, from Orashi region in Rivers West Senatorial District became the first Executive Governor after the transition.
Rivers State is chiefly divided into two major parts: the Upland and Riverine Communities. Though this school of thought is fiercely contended by some persons for political convenience. Apart from the Upland/Riverine dichotomy, the State has three distinct Districts for ease of political administration and equitable distribution and rotation of political power. The three Senatorial districts are: Rivers East, Rivers West and Rivers South-East. However, these districts are not the major distinctive feature, because each of these districts has a combination of a Riverine and an Upland part. The Upland/Riverine dichotomy is the State’s most visible and distinct feature and has consciously or subconsciously been considered in the way and manner political power is distributed and rotated in the State. The Senatorial districts is however, an accompanying yardstick for consideration when it comes to rotation and distribution of power in the State.
It is necessary to establish that since 1999, power rotation amongst top principal officers like the Governor, Deputy Governor and the Speaker of the House of Assembly has been along Senatorial Districts without recourse to the Riverine/Upland dichotomy. For instance, between 1999 – 2007 Rivers West Senatorial District produced the Governor, Rivers Southeast produced the Deputy while the Speaker was from Rivers East. Between 2007 – 2015, we saw another rotation of power along Senatorial Districts without consideration for the Riverine/Upland Dichotomy. The Rivers East Senatorial district produced the Governor, Rivers Southeast produced the Deputy Governor while Rivers West had the Speaker of the House of Assembly.
While the Governors between 1999-2007 and 2007-2015 (Sir Dr. Peter Odili and Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi) were from two separate Senatorial Districts, they however, were both from  Upland. The incumbent Governor, Nyesom Wike who succeeded Amaechi is not only from the Upland axis of the State but also from the same tribe and Senatorial District as the immediate former Governor, Amaechi, thereby, leaving the Riverine part of the State politically shortchanged and yet to produce a Governor in every sense of fairness and equity.
Having established these statistics and historical background, we shall now conduct a SWOT analysis of the Gubernatorial hopefuls ahead of 2019. The SWOT analysis basically intends to identify the key internal and external factors considered relevant in achieving an objective. Let us consider the contenders in alphabetical order starting from their first names.
*CELESTINE AKPOBARI*
STRENGTHS:
Elected Council Chairman of Khana LGA, He is from the Rivers Southeast Senatorial District yet to produce a Governor. An international environmental rights Activist, an opinion leader in Ogoni ethnic nationality, highly acceptable and popular amongst his people and fairly beyond the Ogoni axis. He is very accessible and Youth-friendly. Celestine is the people’s man, fondly called the “Total Chairman “. He is likely to command international acceptability and support due to his activism, he commands sufficient support from the home base and has the means to call for funds through international donors, hence, funding may not be a challenge.
WEAKNESSES:
As an activist, Celestine may not be able to effectively combine politics and activism, if he does,  he will be unable to show the requisite political diplomacy needed often times in politics and governance. He does not have the required political clout needed to muscle his way through in a political terrain like Rivers State. Does not parade a Pan- Rivers outlook, has a noticeable degree of ethnic sentiments. Not experienced enough to Govern a complex State like Rivers.
OPPORTUNITIES:
Celestine’s biggest opportunity is the fact the he comes from Rivers Southeast, the only Senatorial District yet to produce a Governor. Again, the agitation of the Ogonis, his ethnic nationality to produce the next Governor is gaining more grounds.
THREATS:
Celestine’s threat is that he is from the Upland part of Rivers Southeast. The Riverine community is the most favoured to produce the next Governor going by the Party’s avowed principle of power rotation. Also, his active involvement in activism may likely pose a hitch for him in relation to the Governorship.
*CHIDI JULIUS LLOYD*
STRENGTHS:
Hails from Ikwerre ethnic nationality adjudged to be the largest in the State. An ace politician, legislator and a Ph.D holder in Law with oratorial skills, a former member and Majority Leader of the Rivers State House of Assembly, a strong confidant of CRA, the leader of the Party. Highly experienced and accessible. Youthful ( About the youngest of all contenders) and popular for his heroic role in the July 9, 2014 Rivers State House of Assembly fracas. Enjoys widespread support and sympathy for saving the Amaechi-led government from impeachment. Understands the political terrains and dynamics of Rivers State and parades a commendable Pan-Rivers outlook.
WEAKNESSES:
Chidi Lloyd has not been known beyond his legislative roles. His popularity is only to the extent that he stood in defense of democracy at the RSHA. His support base is majorly regional. His brief disappearance from the political scene and activities after the 2015 rerun elections affected his support base and seemed to have erased him a bit from the minds of the people. Chidi has limited acceptability when compared to other contenders.
OPPORTUNITIES:
Chidi Lloyd is the only contender in this analysis with zero opportunity. The prevailing mood of Rivers people within the Party, generally do not even remotely favour a candidate from Ikwerre ethnic nationality for now.
THREATS:
He is from Ikwerre in Rivers East Senatorial District that produced the immediate past Governor, present Governor of the State and a serving Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The Party’s decision to rotate power does not favour his ethnic origin at the moment.
*DAKUKU ADOL PETERSIDE:*
STRENGTHS:
Director General of NIMASA, the Deputy leader of the Party in the State, Chairman of AAMA an intercontinental body, the 2015 Standard bearer of the APC, a former Commissioner for Works, a former member of the House of Representatives, a former Chairman House Committee on Petroleum (Downstream), highly intelligent and fluent with commendable administrative prowess. Dakuku Draws massive support across the 23 LGAs of the State and from his Riverine Ijaw ethnic nationality, the biggest contenders and the favourites to produce the Governor of the State. Easily accessed, Dakuku is about the most popular contender for the Governorship, perhaps, his popularity takes root from his position as the flag bearer of the Party in 2015. He is free handed, not out of reach, jovial and friendly to all, has an unparalleled Pan-Rivers outlook and loved by many. He is a friend to the Youths who form 90% of his support base. His government is most likely going to give hope and life to the youths and their aspirations. He enjoys the enviable position of being Amaechi’s most beloved son in whom he is well-pleased and is touted as his favourite for the Governorship.
WEAKNESSES:
Dakuku’s weaknesses are mostly perceptional rather than real. His major weakness is his pious approach to politics in a clime where morality is a political crime. He is a silent giver and hardly sings his own praises, this is politically wrong as uprightness and sincerity appear to be undesirable in the present political setting. Dakuku is a stickler to due process and a slave to loyalty and this makes him appear unforceful. These traits are good but mostly outside political spheres. Unlike his days as Commissioner for Works where he empowered several Rivers Sons and daughters, he has not be able to replicate same feat as DG of NIMASA, this is however, understandable as NIMASA is only a regulatory Agency under the Federal Government. Dakuku does not seem to be in the good books of most of his political colleagues and contemporaries, this is quite understandable as it is in human nature to envy  those who seem loved the most by their Father. Take a clue from Joseph and his eleven brethren in the bible. He is one of the most misunderstood contenders for the Governorship, his calm nature and genteel is misunderstood for weakness but only by those who mistake the gentle strides of the leopard as a symbol of cowardice.
OPPORTUNITIES:
Dakuku has the best opportunity of all potential aspirants in the party. Not only is he from the Rivers South East Senatorial District yet to produce a Governor of the three Districts in Rivers State, he is also from the Riverine part of the State that is the most favoured to produce the next Governor following the 20 years uninterrupted rule of the Upland. In fact, going by the principle of power rotation in its entire gamut, Dakuku becomes the most preferred contender to fly the Party’s flag in 2019 being the most visible and accepted aspirant from the Riverine part of Rivers Southeast.
THREATS
 Despite his seeming loyalty to the Party leadership and acceptability, back at home, from the traditional angle, his Amayanabo is currently working with the State government Dakuku intends to oust. This is likely to impede Dakuku’s support base on the home front. Again, Dakuku’s defeat at the 2015 elections which the Supreme Court affirmed was characterized by violence, before, during and after, is a ground on which most contenders are opposing his reemergence in 2019. Dakuku is also perceived as one whose success will likely retire the political class that are seeming contemporaries to the leader of the Party, CRA
*DUMO LULU-BRIGGS (DLB):*
STRENGTHS:
A Billionaire and Business Mogul, he has the capacity to mobilize funds from the private sector. One of the most consistent contenders for the Governorship in Rivers State, vastly experienced and intelligent. Hails from Kalabari, the most dominant group in the Riverine Community in the State, a known philanthropist and a friend to the masses. runs a Youth Foundation that has lived through different political eras. He is openhanded, accessible, a jolly-good fellow and a youth at heart. Has supported the Party financially and this has entrenched him firmly into the Party as a major contender despite joining the Party only in April 2017. DLB parades a strong Pan-Rivers disposition with minimal tribal sentiments. He is among the top and strongest contenders.
WEAKNESSES:
In DLB’s strength lies his weakness. Though appreciated by numerous members of the Party, for his financial intervention and support towards activities of the Party, they still do not consider him very deserving to fly the Party’s flag ahead of other contenders. Most of his supporters are mostly members of the Party who felt economically neglected and had their economic and material needs met by him. It is safe and right to say that DLB may not have a sincere or real followership as it is believed most persons crowding around are doing so because of his largesse. The Kingship tussle of Abonnema which his father is deeply involved in may constitute a major opposing block against his support base from the home front as those opposed to his father’s interest are likely going to kick against his gubernatorial ambitions. DLB is very accessible and popular but partly acceptable, his popularity does not have firm political base, it is only tied to his philanthropic activities.
OPPORTUNITIES:
This political dispensation provides DLB’s biggest opportunity at clinching the plum job. His opportunity lies in the fact that he is from the Riverine Community of Rivers State favoured to produce the next Governor.
THREATS:
DLB’s biggest threat is the fact that he is barely more than a year old in the Party on whose platform he intends to contest for Governorship. This is a situation many members and stakeholders of the Party are deeply concerned and uncomfortable about. Another visible threat to DLB’s interest is his Senatorial District, Rivers West. His Senatorial District produced the First Governor of the State after the transition from Military rule to democracy in 1999. Going by the principle of power rotation, DLB, does not qualify to contest since his Senatorial District has produced a Governor whereas, the Rivers Southeast District is yet to produce any. Many Party members believe that DLB should be compensated with the Rivers West Senatorial ticket for his input towards the growth of the Party within a short period.
*MAGNUS NGEI ABE (MNA)*
STRENGTHS:
 A serving Senator and Chairman, Senate Committee on FERMA, a top leader and chieftain of the APC in the State, a strong contender for 2015 Standard bearer of the APC, a former Chairman Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream), a one time Minority Leader at the Rivers State House of Assembly, a former SSG and Commissioner, ready in speech, experienced and intelligent. He is financially buoyant and enjoys unlimited financial support from his NDCC nominee, Derek Mene, EDFA, NDDC. Besides the above listed attributes, MNA draws massive strength from his ethnic nationality, the Ogoni ethnic bloc, adjudged to be the second largest ethnic group in Rivers State as well as across some LGAs in the State. MNA is accessible, fairly friendly, has a strong political presence in the State, popular and respected.
WEAKNESSES:
MNA’s weaknesses are majorly inherent and partly associational. He parades a group of aged or retiring politicians as his political think tank. He does not enjoy massive support from his Ogoni home base and has a stigma not being very generous and unfriendly to his people. In fact, most of his people are yet to forgive him for the roles he played against the struggles of the revered Ogoni son, Late Ken Saro-Wiwa towards the liberation of the Ogoni nation. It is believed that he runs a relationship of convenience with his people, he draws close only when he has an interest. Has a very poor Pan-Rivers outlook and is inclined towards regional segregation. SMA banks chiefly on ethnic sentiments to clinch the top spot. This is a very faulty outlook politically. MNA is in the eyes of most Party Stakeholders and members, a political deserter because of his seeming insubordination to the Party leadership.
OPPORTUNITIES:
MNA’s biggest opportunity is also his biggest threat. The way he goes about it will either make or mar his political life. MNA’s opportunity is the fact that he comes from a Senatorial District,  Rivers South East, the only District in the State yet to produce a Governor.
THREATS:
MNA does not seem to be enjoying the support of the leadership of the Party, has placed his ambition above the collective interest of the Party and this is his biggest undoing. He is from the upland region of Rivers State whereas the predominant mood of the people favours a Riverine Governor. His spectrum of supporters are mainly his contemporaries, an indication that his government will have little or no place for the youths who constitute over 80% of the electorates. MNA’s ambition is anchored chiefly on ethnic sentiments  thereby, creating room for other ethnic groups to tow the same path.
*SAMPSON NGEREGBARA*
Ngerebara hails from Andoni, a Riverine Community in Rivers Southeast Senatorial District believed to be the most favoured District to produce the next Governor. An ace politician, a former Governorship Aspirant, a former Commissioner in the State, the DG of the Free Rivers Development Initiative – arguably the strongest and most vibrant NGO in the State at moment – very familiar with the political terrains and dynamics of the State, a political prodigy of former Governor Rufus Ada-George. He is highly knowledgeable in politics, intelligent, free-spoken and fairly accessible.
WEAKNESSES:
Ngeregbara is from the old political order and the oldest of all contenders, his interest is opposed to the dominant views of the people for a more youthful Governor. Ngeregbara is one of the few survivors of his political contemporaries. Most of his political associates are either retired or politically inactive. It is the view of many stakeholders of the Party that he should retire from active politics and take his place in the State’s political gallery of heroes. Ngeregbara is not a pioneer member of the Party, in fact, he joined the Party less than 2 years ago. People are of the view that he can’t be trusted with the Governorship. He parades a waned popularity and is not very accepted from his home front. His acceptability is local and is merely beyond his political Ward. He does not have a Pan-Rivers outlook, his political clout is limited and funding will pose a serious challenge for him.
OPPORTUNITIES:
Ngeregbara has a fair opportunity, but only to the extent that he is from the Rivers Southeast Senatorial District and a Riverine Community.
THREATS:
Ngeregbara hails from the same LGA as the State Party Chairman, political distribution of power does not support the situation where the Governorship candidate of the Party and its Chairman are from the same LGA. He is aged and is seen as not having fully paid his dues in the Party well enough to fly the Party’s flag in a Governorship poll since he joined the Party not too long ago. He has a stronger and more popular contender, Dakuku, in his region to beat if the ticket is zoned to the Riverine axis of his Senatorial District.
*SOKONTE DAVIES (SD)*
STRENGTHS:
ED Marine NPA, a Chieftain of the Party, former member of the House of Representatives, has held several positions of public trust. SD is one of the longstanding leaders of the Party who have paid their dues. He has shown commendable loyalty and commitment to the Party. SD is fairly accessible and considerably openhanded. He is from Kalabari, the most dominant group in the Riverine Community being tipped to produce the next Governor of the State. He is perceived to be relatively financially buoyant, having served as a member of the House of Representatives during the era when “Ghana Must Go” bags were a common sight within the National Assembly and currently an Executive Director in an agency considered one of the nation’s cash cows.
WEAKNESSES:
SD’s weaknesses are mostly inherent. He is about the oldest of all contenders profiled in this work. The prevailing mindset of the people at the moment yearn for a more youthful candidate. His political clout is at best, regional, specifically limited within his Degema LGA and the Kalabari axis. This is not very good for someone contending to become the Governor of Rivers State. SD’s popularity is below average. In terms of popularity, he is only ranked above TDC of all the personalities profiled in this write-up. He does not have a Pan-Rivers outlook. He is about the least preferred of all contenders and does not seem to have a firm grip on the system.
OPPORTUNITIES:
The only opportunity available to SD is the fact that he hails from a Riverine community, which is now considered the most likely to produce the next Governor in the principle of power rotation.
THREATS:
SD is from Rivers West Senatorial District that has already produced a Governor. If the much talked about principle of power rotation is implemented SD does not stand a chance. He  also has more preferred aspirants from the same Kalabari axis to contend with. Again, SD’s interest is threatened by the growing national clamour for more Youthful persons to take over governance at all levels under the “NOT TOO YOUNG TO RUN” slogan.
*TONYE DELE COLE (TDC):*
STRENGTHS:
A billionaire, TDC has the capacity to mobilize funds from the private sector, a Business Mogul, well-experienced, intelligent and  a close ally of the leader of the Party, CRA. He hails from Kalabari, one of the leading groups in the Riverine Community agitating for the Governorship. TDC is said to be a one time ministerial nominee under CRA. Has a huge financial war chest with which to prosecute the elections. His father, Patrick Dele Cole was a Presidential aspirant under the SDP, his experience may prove useful for TDC. TDC is like the new bride.
WEAKNESSES:
TDC  has several weaknesses which makes him unlikely to clinch the big job of governing the State. He is largely unknown in the Party in any capacity and is considered a political greenhorn. Tonye does not know the nook and cranny of the State neither does he understand its political peculiarities and terrain. terrains. In fact, if he gets the ticket, his campaign outings would be the very first time most Party members would be seeing him or getting to know him. TDC is the most overrated and about the politically weakest contender of all. He is not completely abreast with the internal dynamics of the Party and may be unable to effectively lead the Party as expected. TDC has practically no support base in the Party, there is no evidence to show he has been a Party man. Not much is known of him beyond Facebook, his political outlook is unknown, he is politically not accessible and largely unacceptable to the people. His popularity is limited only in the business domain and unfit to conquer or thrive in the political waters. His biggest promoters on social media are a couple of new entrants into the Party from the PDP. TDC is likely to view politics from the business perspective and as an investment of sort. His attention will be divided between politics and his business being a professional businessman. TDC,’s government will breed political opportunists who will bank on his limited knowledge in politics to enrich themselves at the expense of the Party and State.
OPPORTUNITIES:
TDC’s opportunities are limited and weak. His biggest opportunity is the fact that he comes from the Riverine Community clamouring to produce the next Governor.
THREATS:
TDC has zero political presence in the State. He is unknown both to Party members and the general electorates. He comes from the Rivers West Senatorial District which  has produced a Governor.
CONCLUSION:
While there may be other guber hopefuls under the Party, these ones are the most visible and talked about. All contenders discussed here are qualified to be Governor, however, not all have equal chances. The opinions expressed here are the writer’s and are based on his personal observations. It is not intended to undermine or dismiss any individual, it is merely an expression of opinion and an independent SWOT analysis of all guber hopefuls in the Rivers APC.
As the 2019 elections draw close, the leadership of APC is anchoring it’s campaign to takeover power from the PDP on the premise that power must rotate and there is a rising clamour and agitation (and justifiably so) for the Riverine community to produce the next Governor, but this agitation and clamour must be guided and shaped by the fact that the Rivers Southeast Senatorial District is yet to produce a Governor. Thus, it becomes pertinent to state here that the pursuit for equitable rotation of power must be total and wholesome. Put more succinctly, the principle of rotation of power must satisfy both the Senatorial Districts and Riverine/Upland Dichotomy in all fairness and equity.
If it is fair that a Riverine community should or must produce the Governor of Rivers State in 2019, then it is fairer and more equitable for that Governor to come from the Riverine community in the Senatorial District yet to produce a Governor of the three Districts that make up the State. Only a Riverine Governor from Rivers Southeast Senatorial District can satisfy all concerns, misgivings and agitations about power rotation. It will satisfy the clamour of the Riverine community and at the same time satisfy the clamour of the Southeast District to produce a Governor. Simpliciter

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