Billionaire businessman and oil magnate, Tonye Dele Cole has emerged as the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi’s preferred candidate for the Rivers State Governorship election in 2019 on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC.
Amaechi broke the news to leaders of the party at a brief meeting held in Lagos before travelling to China, ahead of President Muhammadu Buhari’s trip this weekend.
Amaechi picked Tonye Cole, ahead of other aspirants including: Senator Magnus Abe, Chief Dumo-Lulu Briggs, Director-General of NIMASA, Dakuku Peterside and former Senior Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan, Bekingbo Dagogo-Jack.
NEWS CRYSTAL reports that those at the meeting include; Senator Andrew Uchendu, newly-defected Senator Osi Ideozor, former Executive Director of NDDC, Henry Ogiri, NIMASA DG, Dakuku Peterside and Prince Tonye Princewill.
Others are: Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs, former Commissioner for Transport in Rivers state, George Tolofari, Sekonte Davies, Azubike Wanjoku among others.
An impeccable source at the meeting said the Rivers APC leaders were shocked as Amaechi named Cole.
He quoted the Minister as saying the businessman was picked for a “neutral purpose.”
A transcribed script of Amaechi’s speech obtained by NEWS CRYSTAL quotes the Minister as saying, “We are aware that not all would find it easy to accept the decision but I am also conscious that the decision was made for the best interests of the party and the group. We are aware that interests are divergent and numerous. And that they can only coalesce if we get someone neutral; someone who is able to get every interests to converge as one.
“What is critical is victory. Loyalty is not only when it favours you but when you are tempted and stretched to your limits. Ventilate we must, but to move ahead we also must as the battles ahead are numerous and tedious.
“You all urged me on to proceed to make a decision and swore to stand by that decision. The time has therefore come to be together. God bless all of us,” Amaechi said.
But the source, who pleaded anonymity, said there was silence after Amaechi’s speech until the Senator representing Rivers East Senatorial District, Senator Andrew Uchendu, expressed marvel at the announcement.
Senator Uchendu was quoted as saying, “I am not sure any of us here has Tonye Cole’s telephone number much more meeting him in person. So, Your Excellency, how would we market him?”.
Meanwhile, the Director-General of NIMASA, Dakuku Peterside has been reported to have reacted to the choice of Rotimi Amaechi, his reaction reads thus:
UNITY TO TRIUMPH – DAP
Yesterday our leader , Rt Hon C R Amaechi, whom we all subscribe to his leadership made a decision of whom we should back for the office of the Governor of Rivers State in 2019. The lot fell on my friend and brother in Christ , Tonye Dele Cole .
2. I made a commitment to the group earlier to stand by whatever decision the leader makes in the overall interest of the party and rivers state . I reiterated my position yesterday in the leadership meeting. I thus stand by the decision on TDC .
3. We have toiled from 2013 to date ( a period of five years ) and have made sacrifices & lost lives in course of enthroning the kind of government we want in Rivers State; a government that will guarantee peace , unity and prosperity. In course of the struggle we bonded as one indivisible family under God.
4. The decision by the Leader has been meet with mixed reactions, which is expected. My appeal is that we allow the greater interest of APC & RVS to prevail .
5. To those who believe in the vision I shared in the past 5 years , the leadership I gave at various times & the path of loyalty to the cause I have chosen over time , I urge you all to stand by the Leader, the party and the ordinary people of rivers state in support of TDC . I personally pledge my loyalty to the Leader (who is to me family ) and the decision he has made . I enjoin all my supporters to queue behind our leader CRA & ensure total victory for our party.
6. I pray for unity among the members of APC & VICTORY in the 2019 election.”
Dakuku Peterside PhD
however other leaders of the All Progressives Congress iin Rivers state are yet to react to the development in Lagos.
Tonye Dele Cole is the CEO/Executive Director, Sahara Group and was once a ministerial nominee alongside Nyesom Wike by Amaechi in 2012 where former President Goodluck Jonathan picked Wike who was then appointed Minister of State for Education.