Governor Amaechi And The APC Romance- By John Ainofenokhai




Amaechi & APC leaders

In 1997, Olusegun Obasanjo blatantly refused to accept the candidature of Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi as the gubernatorial candidate of his ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for Rivers State.  In fact, the former president refused to hand the symbolic party flag over to Amaechi who had won a badly flawed PDP governorship primary in Rivers State, describing his candidature as having “a k-leg”, a euphemism for abnormality.  In the end, Celestine Omehia, a gentleman in every sense, was settled for as the consensus candidate and Omehia, it was, who faced the electorate and got their votes as elected governor. Obasanjo considered Amaechi then as a poor choice for the Rivers people.  But that is ancient history as the Supreme Court in a controversial judgment imposed a man who never canvassed for the votes of the people on them as governor.

Governor Rotimi Amaechi in his first term strived to earn the respect of the people by providing good governance in the area of infrastructural renewal.  Yet a large number of his people still saw him as an interloper, a man they never voted for, and at best considered him the ‘Court’s Governor’.  Again, that does not matter because the courts are an integral part of the democratic process.  It is unfortunate though, that the same Amaechi who was a product of the courts now appears to have only scant regards for the judiciary. Since a high court threw away the state executive of the PDP he favours in his state and recognised the Felix Obuah led executive, Amaechi does not believe that the courts have a role to play in a party democracy.  And to be sure, Amaechi has vowed never to accept that court judgment.  That is one of the ironies of the world.

Amaechi is not only up in arms against the judiciary; he has declared a full-scale war on his party, PDP, the Rivers people and the entire people of the South-south region. Or how else can anybody understand his unrestrained and disrespectful affront to President Jonathan, the leaders of his party, and the open confrontation with the leaders of the PDP both at the national level and in his state? The latest of the series of Amaechi’s defiance of the PDP is the grand hosting of the leaders of the opposition party, All Progressives Congress (APC) in Port Harcourt, the penultimate week. At the event, APC leaders, Bola Ahmed Tinubu and General Muhammadu Buhari extolled the qualities of Amaechi as a democrat and pleaded with him to come over to APC.

Although politics as practised in our land is defined largely by doublespeak, would Tinubu in all honesty be glad to have a man like Amaechi in his fold?  Knowing that both Tinubu and Buhari are not good advertisements for democratic conduct given their dictatorial tendencies, are they sure they can put up with a governor whose anti-party credentials speak volumes?  Are they really sure they can tolerate a governor who thinks he is the best thing that has happened to the Rivers people when indices on the ground do not support that? Are they really sure that they want in their midst a politician who does not harbour an iota of respect for elders or a politician who is ready to trade off the political gains of an entire South-south region for his own selfish ambition? Can Tinubu in all honesty stomach an Amaechi-like contumacious behaviour from any of his APC governors?  If APC can provide answers to these posers in the affirmative, then let them have Governor Amaechi!

Interestingly APC leaders are not wooing Amaechi because of his discipline or “democratic qualities” as they claim.  Their eyes are rather fixed on the rich treasure base of Rivers State, which Amaechi controls.  And as it is said, politics is a game of interests.  Amaechi is shopping for a forum to supplant Goodluck Jonathan, by pushing through his ambition to be vice president, (even when the president is a son of the South-south) while the APC are looking to use the resources of the Rivers people to fund their 2015 elections.  In essence, there are coinciding interests here.  Already many citizens of Rivers state have started complaining of how Amaechi has turned the State House in Port Harcourt into a playground for South-west politicians, lawyers and intelligentsia; and how their resources are being wasted daily to fete Amaechi’s new circle of friends against the interest of the people.

Yes, there is no doubt that the Rivers Governor is learning well from his new tutors in the South-west.  He has mastered the act of propaganda and deceit by using every opportunity to portray himself as being persecuted when he is the troublemaker.  Amaechi has indeed been properly schooled and programmed to act in the manner he is doing these days to evoke cheap public sympathy.  For instance, If the pilots of the tokunbo jet he bought for the state at the price of a new brand one failed to file the manifest of the passengers on board the aircraft as required by law, and his aircraft grounded, Amaechi must call a world press conference to show how Jonathan is persecuting him; if the police move to execute court judgment by sealing off an illegal office run by an illegal group called the new PDP near the government house, then Amaechi must find a way to get into the mix and proclaim that he has been blocked from entering his office.  And if the First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, decides to visit her home town in Port Harcourt, the Rivers Government will make noise about how the state has come under siege!

Since Amaechi started his new romance with the APC, governance has taken the back seat in Port Harcourt and the people are perhaps now cursing themselves for electing Amaechi as their governor two years ago.  Whereas other governors are spending time doing hard thinking on how to improve the life chances of their people, Amaechi is crisscrossing the length and breadth of Nigeria scheming for an election that is two years away; he is wasting the resources of the people servicing the political machinery of a godfather in the Southwest in his narcissistic quest to be vice president to a northern candidate. The result today is that a man who possibly could have ended up as the best governor of Rivers State is now etching his name in filth as the worst ever.  The capital city of Port Harcourt typifies its governor’s distraction from important things.  The chaotic traffic situation, the uncoordinated road projects most of them now abandoned and the general sense of high handedness of the governor are telling enough.

What is annoying the Rivers people more about their governor is his poor sense of history.  As they recall the struggles of the people of the Niger Delta from Adaka Boro to Saro-Wiwa, the blood of their people that have been spilled in the struggle to protect their resources and identity as a people, and how Governor Rotimi Amaechi is working assiduously to reverse the gains the South-south has made politically, they are beginning to wonder whether their governor is emotionally stable.  Yes, they are incensed that one of their sons is using their own resources to fight his brother who is president just to be made vice president.   Is it any surprise then that the people of Rivers are telling Amaechi in unmistakable terms to count them out of his misadventure and romance with the APC?

·      Ainofenokhai contributed this piece from Benin City, Edo State Capital.

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