Tonye Cole, governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC has been on a tightly packed campaign to communities in the 23 Local Government Areas of Rivers State. He stopped for a moment to respond to questions put to him by National Point Managing Director, Ibiba DonPedro, on the trending Kalabari governorship issue and other matters.
Your campaign team has faced attacks in Port Harcourt during your campaign at Ojukwu field, as well as in Opobo. What is your party doing about these attacks?
APC is a law-abiding party, and we have over the months, tried to keep all our activities clean and within the ambits of the law. As you are aware, attacks have been targeted at not just the APC, but other opposition political parties. The provocation has been high, but we are morally constrained to follow laid down procedures. In both cases we have filed reports and complaints to the relevant authorities and carried out internal investigations and audits of our strategy to avoid the continuous attacks on our peaceful campaigns.
Is there a Kalabari governorship dilemma, or is the multiplicity of Kalabari governorship candidates a function of healthy democratic development?
You have answered the question. The emergence of candidates reflects better political awareness. I must emphasize that there is no Kalabari Governorship dilemma and there is nothing like a Kalabari governorship. The constitution allows all legitimate citizens to vote and be voted for, and that’s what we practice in the APC.
There is a belief that some Kalabari candidates in the race may simply be placed as likely substitutes, in anticipation of a possible repeat of the 2019 saga where Awara of the AAC was used by the APC to challenge Wike.
First of all, I must say that the Kalabari people are very focus driven people. No Kalabari man will be used as a placeholder, including the former AAC guber candidate, Engr Awara. Awara was determined and stood tall in the face of tyranny, unfortunately undemocratic forces upturned the obvious demystification of Nyesom Wike.
There is a perception of the riverine areas being marginalized. What is your opinion on this and what will you do differently, if given the opportunity?
When you look at cities like Venice, you will know that anything is possible in our riverine communities.
Our riverine communities are moving in the opposite direction, in terms of development. The prospects of these areas are very high but, little or no attention has been given to them. My government will be different. We will transform the riverine area to modern cities. We will maximize their potentials and ensure that these cities are attractive enough for investors, habitation and tourism.
What is your opinion on the trending cross party allegiances currently surrounding the political space.
Where does your allegiance lie with regards to the presidential elections?
Like I always say, political parties in Nigeria are more like vehicles to get to a destination. Ideology usually takes the backstage. I stick to morality and due to that I am fully committed to the success of all candidates of the APC from House of Assembly candidates, to the Presidential candidate. However, it is important to note that this coming election is about the people. Elections will be won based on the competence of the candidates and not the party name. I see a lot of surprises coming, but I am sure of victory, and the unique qualities of our Presidential candidate will give him a very strong advantage over other candidates.
How would you weigh your chances against other candidates in the race to Brick House 2023?
My chances are very bright. I have taken out time to go around the state to speak directly to the people. They have heard my voice and have seen the future of Rivers State under a Tonye Cole leadership. The state is going through a transition process. We are moving from a very politically driven state to a state where talent and hard work will be given priority. This awareness needs an experienced administrator to nurture this new trend. The Rivers people have realized that their problem remains unemployment, lack of purposeful development and lack of respect for the common man. I bring a different style of leadership. I have what it takes. My track record speaks for me.