Opinion | Tonye Cole’s Emergence: After The Storm Comes The Calm

By Tolofari George

My dear party faithfuls, stakeholders, brothers and sisters,

Once again, as a follow up to my last message, I write with a deep sense of commitment and loyalty to our great party, the All Progressives Congress, and to all of you who have stood to defend this Party, her leadership and her ideals over the years.

The event that took place on Friday 22nd April, 2022, where one of the Riverine aspirants from the Riverine Ijaw extraction was chosen by a committee to represent the Riverine aspirants at the forthcoming primaries has brought about mixed feelings and reactions from across many quarters because some expectations were not met. Many of you were disgruntled, sad, shocked and even surprised to say the least. Some of you as a result have reached out to me and other party leaders privately and openly to vent your spleen. Sincerely we feel your frustration and understand how it feels when the lot does not fall on you because we’ve all been there before at one time or the other.

What many of us may not know is that all the aspirants from the Riverine Ijaw extraction came together and surrendered their rights to the party to chose for them since they could not reach a consensus amongst themselves. Hence, the decision taken by the committee was in the best interest of the aspirants, the party and all of us after a thorough scrutiny of all concerned.

Some of you have erroneously accused and casted aspersions and insults at our leader for imposing Tonye Cole on the party, but unknown to you, our leader, the Hon. Minister of Transportation recused himself from the process and asked us to freely exercise our rights in the best interest of the party which we did. I appeal to us all to stop the unwarranted attacks on our leader because he has done nothing wrong, rather he set the stage for free deliberations and consultations. If he had wanted to impose a candidate on us, he would not need to set up a committee. He would have just announced his preferred candidate and asked us to support him, but this he didn’t do. It may even surprise some of you that our leader’s preference may not have emerged but he allowed majority decision of the party elders to fly.

I was part of that process and all decisions taken by the larger majority of the committee members are binding on me. I will say that again for emphasis. Although expectations of all party faithfuls may not have been met as some of us had wished our “principal” emerged. I do not believe in that system where when it favours me, I applaud leadership and it’s process and castigate leadership and it’s process when it does not favour me. As painful as it is, we must exercise restraint. We must not destroy APC because we didn’t get the endorsement of the leadership this time around.

Many of us have been beneficiaries of same consensus decisions at some point in time and when it favoured us, others were probably displeased and when it favours others we may be displeased also. That is common human factor. I, George Tolofari benefitted from consensus in the past. Dakuku Peterside, Sokonte Davis, Emeka Beke, Victor Giadom, Dawari George, Ojukaye Flag Amachree and a host of us are all beneficiaries of this same system however it was arrived at. So we must learn the principles of give and take at times like this and also understand what party loyalty means. Loyalty is a very costly commodity and difficult to find and it’s no loyalty until it is tested. Indeed, we are in for a loyalty test once again. Let me borrow the words of Bill Hybels; “Storms draw something out of us that calm seas don’t”.

I will also advise we take seriously the counsel of Bryant H. McGill, when he said; “When the storm rips you to pieces, you get to decide how to put yourself back together again”. As we’re being challenged and ripped by the storm of the committee’s decision today, we must decide to put ourselves back together and prepare for the real task ahead. While venting our frustrations and disappointment (which is in order), we must never forget the good old days when we all dined, ate, drank, laughed and played together. We must never forget the benefits of yesterday and throw away the promises of a greater tomorrow. We must not forget the victory that awaits us all and the trophies we must win.

I have advised our dear friend, Tonye Cole, to roll his sleeves and go down to the grassroot to meet with both big and small, young and old, because everyone is important and I know he is already doing that because he confirmed this to me today when we spoke earlier.

As the storm of our frustration begins to seamer, I will advise we take the counsel of Mattie Stepanek where he said; “Remember to play after every storm”.

Finally, I want to appeal that we desist from taking our party internal affairs to the social media as doing so will send the wrong signals and give our opponents enough tools to attack us during the campaign period. We are in the contest to win and Tonye Cole is not yet the party’s candidate until after or when he emerges at the primaries in a free and fair contest with other aspirants either from the Riverine or Upland area. He was only adopted as the Riverine Consensus aspirant. The party has also made it clear that any aspirant that is not satisfied with the decision of its committee can still go ahead, pick up the form and contest against Tonye Cole at the primaries.

We shall play again after night fall because it is yet morning again in APC Rivers State.

Thank you and God bless us all.

George Tolofari is the Coordinator, Progressives Aspirants Forum