OPINION: The Odds Against Magnus Abe By Oby Ndukwe

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Without having to repeat all that has been reeled out by his supporters as the salient qualities and achievements of this distinguished Nigerian, whose political entrance to the Rivers State House of Assembly in 1999 as a Lawmaker was through the umbrella of an opposition party, APP, there is no doubt that from a Minority Leader, he became the best legislator in that era where Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi was the Speaker and then joined the ruling party, PDP, from where the then Governor, Dr. Peter Odili appointed him as the Commissioner for Information.


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His oratory skills was an added advantage to his dexterity in driving home a point on any issue he believed in.
Both Odili and Amaechi found him trustworthy and competent, as he was immediately elevated to the position of Secretary to the State Government, SSG, when in 2007, the Supreme Court sacked Barrister Celestine Omehia as Governor and declared Amaechi as the rightful occupant of the seat.
Magnus Abe has enjoyed a flourishing political career for which he had abandoned his wig as a lawyer. From the position of SSG, he was elected to represent the people of the Rivers South East Senatorial zone in the Red Chambers of the National Assembly. Born an Ogoni man, he quickly stepped up the call for the emancipation of the marginalized people of Ogoni land, though in a more subtle approach when compared to the radical approach of the late Kenule Saro Wiwa.
Though a first time Senator, he was appointed as the Senate Committee Chairman of Petrolatum, Downstream sector. He truly legislated well. Abe’s popularity had traversed the nooks and crannies of the different ethnic groups that make up the 23 Local Government Areas of Rivers State and beyond the shores of the Niger Delta Region. No wonder he became one of the topmost contenders for the governorship candidates of the APC. He eventually lost out to Dr. Dakuku Peterside but had succeeded in whipping up sentiments among the highly marginalized but populated people of Ogoni who occupy three LGAs.
He had challenged the decision of INEC to declare his closest opponent, Senator Olaka Nwogu of the PDP as the winner of the 2015 election for the senatorial seat. The Appeal Court upheld his appeal and ordered a rerun of the election. Abe is back to the trenches, with more determination to win the votes of his people.
Senator Abe has engaged in a vigorous campaign, empowering his people. With a bagful of achievements coupled with his ever increasing popularity, winning the election should be a simple walkover. His rival, Olaka Nwogu, apart from enjoying the privileges of being a close ally of Governor Nyesom Wike of the ruling PDP in the state, cannot match the support Abe enjoys from a relatively larger voting strength of the core Ogonis. Nwogu is from Eleme, which is made up of the Igbos and Ogonis with mixed breed.
In spite of these advantages, Magnus Abe may need more than an organised social media team reeling out his qualities before he can win the rerun. His Party, the APC has continued to count its loses since the last general elections, which their hopes to recapture the seat of power from Wike and the PDP were dashed by the Supreme Court recently. Though there are no recorded defection of APC members to the PDP yet, particularly in his constituency, it is not likely that the odds would favor him.


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Abe remains one of the strongest political characters in this dispensation. Though he is hardly associated with violence, he remains a threat to any strong politician and Gov. Wike knows this. It is not likely that the governor will allow someone of such political height to occupy a space in the National Assembly, having tasted the true taste of power as a Minister. He will fight to ensure that Abe loses the election.
Another factor that may militate against Abe’s return to the Senate is the fact that the elections may never be free and fair. Voting will only be mere formalities. Besides, the financial fortunes of the APC has further diminished, except the National organ of the party led by John Oyegun and Bola Tinubu join forces with Rotimi Amaechi to deliver the Rivers State chapter of the APC.
With a formidable opposition whose base is in the South South, the PDP will fight to ensure that their number in the National Assembly is increased to further frustrate the Change Agenda of President Buhari whose lack lustre attitude towards his party members in the zone has given the opposition the needed push to return in 2019. Magnus Abe, no doubt, will become a rallying point for the APC if he wins. The plot to stop Abe is more or less an orchestrated one by the entire PDP governors in the South South and by extension South East.
Magnus Abe may no longer be in the good books of Odili who has since staged a come back as the godfather of Rivers politics courtesy of Gov. Wike. It is likely that this may be a payback time for Odili who sees it as an act of disloyalty for Abe to have secretly supported Amaechi’s 2007 struggle to reclaim his mandate, even as he served as Information Commissioner under Odili.
Another major area of concern is that the likes of Senator Godswill Akpabio, the immediate past governor of Akwa Ibom know that Abe is able to take over as the leader of the South South caucus if he is reelected. Akpabio, incidentally, knows how to pay his way through.
But if the Change Agenda of Buhari means anything to him, then he may have to do away with his sanctimonious stance and play with power as he should to ensure that a free and fair election, devoid of large scale rigging and violence is conducted, in order to have men of like minds join forces with him to return the country to its path of glory. Anything short of this, then it may yet be another wasted effort by Abe, as the plot to disable him thickens.


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