When in August 2013, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, then governor of Rivers State led us as faithful party men and women from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to join the All Progressives Congress (APC); we followed him as vanguard of change.
Our reasons for following, which were not far-fetched, were predicated on a dual standpoint. We followed Amaechi not as his flock, but as faithful party loyalists, averse to the twin evil of leadership high-handedness and the subversion of democratic ethos in a political organization. We followed Amaechi because we believed our country, Nigeria, at the time was in dire need of an alternative to the irresponsibility that had become the norm in the ruling party.
Though we were not oblivious of Amaechi’s own excesses; it was our thinking that Amaechi’s ordeal in the hands of the Jonathan’s were enough lessons to force a self-appraisal. Paradoxically, it turned out that a leopard really cannot shed its spot.
Our leader, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi recently stirred the hornet’s nest, when he publicly accused Senator Magnus Abe of overheating the polity within the Rivers APC. Abe, he alleged, had sown a seed of discord in the party. This, he had done, refusing to conceal his intention to run for the office of governor of Rivers State.
Amaechi, by implication insists it is his prerogative to anoint who should seek the party’s ticket to the exalted office. Neither Abe nor any other should nurture such ambition without an express permission from him as the leader. On the contrary, Abe’s Ambition to govern Rivers State preceded the 2015 general elections, and as such, is no longer a secret.
But does Amaechi truly reserve the moral justification to vilify Abe as he presently does?
“By 2001, barely 2 years into my first tenure as Governor of Rivers State, the subterranean scheming for who will succeed me started among the young political team I had built since 1994/95”. Dr. Peter Odili, Conscience and history.
In the instance above, Odili was just a first term governor whose agenda for a second term should be uppermost in the minds of his supporters; yet such ambition as Amaechi now wishes to extinguish were his lot as at 2001. Sadly, Rivers State is yet to recover from the backlash of that “subterranean” ambition to succeed Odili. We know those who were restless with their gubernatorial ambition as at 2001. Incidentally, Senator Abe was not among them.
Notwithstanding Abe’s preparation to succeed Amaechi in 2015, Abe quietly stepped down when the one-man leadership of the party so decreed ‘in the interest of the party’. At that point Abe’s obedience did not cause a stir in the Rivers APC. Yet only a man with Abe’s presence of mind would swallow such bitter political pill with an uncommon equanimity.
It is on record that Amaechi fought like a wounded lion the moment late Chief Godspower Ake, the one he anointed was ousted as chairman of the Rivers PDP by a court ruling. And that Amaechi eventually dumped the PDP in a heartbeat the moment his interest was threatened.
Abe had in various fora alluded to the meeting of the APC leadership in Rivers State where the governorship slot of the party was zoned to the Rivers South-East Senatorial District in accordance with the senatorial rotation of that office. Neither Amaechi nor Chief Ikanya, the state Chairman of the party has denied this statement of fact. One therefore wonders why Abe’s ambition, (which can no longer be cowed), coming from that Senatorial District has become the trouble with the Rivers APC?
Dr. Peter Odili is arguably a lucky man. He was the first democratically elected governor, privileged to have presided over the affairs of the Rivers State for a constitutionally enabled two terms of eight years. None of his predecessor was so blest. Odili was said to have climbed into the saddle riding on the back of the upland/riverine dichotomy which was burning issue in the polity at the time. Those who facilitated odili’s emergence were quick to cite the supposed marginalization of the upland as the rationale for supporting Odili. They claimed they acted in good conscience, and in obedience to equity.
Incidentally by the time Odili left office, he had done more years than his predecessors put together. In other words, there couldn’t have been a better time to return power to the riverine; had politics been a game of scruples. It simply would’ve followed that a riverine succeeded Odili. But that wasn’t the case. Instead, it suited Odili, then ‘giver’ of power, and Rotimi Amaechi, then crown prince and heir to downplay, as much jettison the now hallowed upland/riverine gimmick. We were all made to believe that the dichotomy had been exorcized because of its divisive tendencies.
We challenge Rotimi Amaechi to deny that he is not the prime beneficiary of the interment of that dichotomy; whether he is not being hypocritical trying to exhume the ghost of the dichotomy he stabbed to death in 2007! What happened to this ‘hallowed’ principle when it was the turn of the Rivers-East senatorial district in 2007? When it was Amaechi’s turn to succeed Odili?
We recall with a troubled sense of history, Amaechi’s boast that the Rivers APC would go for a thanksgiving service should the PDP field Ezebunwo Nyesom Wike in 2015. And how the PDP didn’t not only field Wike, but had had so many thanksgiving services from the moment the APC made her own choice. Such is the fate of a party where the decision of one man reigns supreme.
In his characteristic volatility, Amaechi recently dropped some party leaders for identifying with Abe; yet those whose support lay with Amaechi’s stooge have remained untouched. What could be more antithetical to the sustenance of intra-party cohesion than this petulant leader’s impulsiveness?
We know that Amaechi’s ambition to succeed Odili in 2007 began as early as 2001; and that neither Odili nor the party at the time crucified him for desiring to govern Rivers State. We also know as a matter of fact that Amaechi is the prime beneficiary of the senatorial rotation of the office of governor in Rivers State. What we do not know is the rationale behind this unwarranted Abe-phobia?
The PDP has argued that she skipped the principle of rotation in their 2015 political calculation, because she needed to field a lion tamer. What reason has the APC for the current conspiracy to stop Abe by all means?
Must the Rivers APC burn except Amaechi is allowed to repeat the mistakes of 2015 come 2019?