Leader Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi of the Rivers APC is at it again. The man whose middle name is controversy, last weekend, put an end to the speculation that has been in the air since 2016. He formally informed his kitchen cabinet that Mr. Tonye Dele Cole his preferred candidate for the office of governor of Rivers State come 2019. Amaechi’s bombshell instantly went viral on the social media. And before long, it has become the subject of discussions as it filtered into every kitchen in Rivers State. Amaechi has finally revealed what he has kept close to his chest since the Supreme Court put paid to Dr. Dakuku Peterside’s bid to govern Rivers State.
Going by the APC timetable, gubernatorial primaries is barely three weeks away. But until now, it is Amaechi’s directive that none within the party fold should discuss the issue, let alone indicate interest to run. For holding a contrary view, Senator Magnus Abe and his supporters have since been branded enemies of the party.
By decreeing silence, Amaechi has succeeded in keeping a cross section of party faithful on their toes while they grovel for his blessing. He deliberately kept them in the dark while engaging them to unleash a war of calumny on the only man who insists that everyone should be given equal and unfettered opportunity to aspire.
Despite the bold face put up by Engr. Ngerebara and co., it is evident that until Thursday the 30th of August, it has been Amaechi and Amaechi alone who is privy to nominating Tonye Cole to vie for the APC ticket. In other words, but for Abe’s audacity, Thursday’s pronouncement of Mr. Cole would’ve automatically qualified him as the man to slug it out with an incumbent governor in a state where the APC is in the opposition. That is APC we bemoan under a petulant leader.
Amaechi’s choice of Mr. Cole didn’t entirely come as a surprise knowing their friendship since his days as governor. But settling for a man many believe is more of a business partner than political ally to confront Wike in a very crucial election leaves so much to ponder about. First, it gives the impression that the Ubima born politician is up to something sinister and novel. Second, Amaechi’s choice implies that he cannot possibly trust any of those who have patiently waited on him (Amaechi) to anoint them for the office this past three years? Third, by preferring the apolitical, but business partner to his political lieutenants, Amaechi seem to be confirming the speculation that he needs the Rivers treasury for his presidential ambition come 2023.
It is therefore not surprising that the man who knows Amaechi more than any other has in less than forty eight hours sounded the alarm. Barr. Ezebunwo Wike, Amaechi’s own kinsnsman and, the sitting governor of the state has through his press assistant promptly reacted to what he believes is Amaechi’s ploy to corner and completely control Rivers resources through a crony. He has even vowed never to allow the state fall into the hands of business partners. To this I say amen.
While Amaechi’s gimmick is yet to fully unveil, it has become pertinent to take a closer look at the man’s political character. Maybe those who are still yoked in feigned ignorance, especially in the Rivers APC will come to terms with Amaechi’s politics of self-glorification. One truly wonders what those who have in the last two and a half years vilified Magnus Abe for daring Amaechi’s tyranny in the Rivers APC will be saying to themselves now that their object of servitude has been given to the one Amaechi can trust.
It is indeed miserable to hear those who wish to be addressed as progressives say “the leader has spoken” as if we are in Stalin’s Germany. We know that their hearts bleed yet it seems too late to call evil by its name. My heart also weeps for these supposed leaders who, against good conscience called Abe unprintable names-names like betrayer, simply because he refused to be gagged. Now we see how the apolitical can build the Rivers APC for Rivers people.
Sadly, none of the yes men was bold enough to remind the leader that power is not given on a platter. That the Rivers APC has come to stay because party men and women paid in coin and blood. And that it smacks insensibility for the leader to now unilaterally invite the politically neutral to reap from where the partisans have toiled.
On November 30, 2017, I did a piece I titled the Rivers APC and the Burden of a Petulant Leader. I had in that piece discussed what I considered Amaechi’s hypocrisy when he suddenly became the apostle of a riverine governor. And it is sad that the man we call leader is so impulsive that he could give and take back his word in a heartbeat. Only recently, the erudite and fearless Prof. Tam David-West admonished that there is something suspect about the man who quarrels with everybody around him. Nothing can be further from the truth. He didn’t also mince word in alluding to the “almighty Amaechi”
In 2014 Amaechi led the Rivers APC to zone her gubernatorial ticket to the Rivers South-East senatorial district. He argued that it is the turn of the district to produce the next governor of the state base on the principles of justice, equity and fair play. Yet, even when nothing has changed, Amaechi has within the space of three years staged a volte face, speaking from the wrong side of his mouth.
A leader who suddenly jettisons equity and fair play simply because Abe is in the picture, lacks integrity. Integrity, to my mind is what is missing in the man who became governor not because his predecessor was riverine, but because the former was of Rivers-West and the latter of Rivers-East senatorial districts respectively. Therefore, his current pretence of invoking the upland/riverine consideration is to say the least pathetic. What man of integrity sets fire on the wooden ladder with which he climbed up, only to present a rope ladder to those who aided him? A leader whose integrity is evidently in question is to say the least suspect.
By endorsing Tonye Cole, a man from outer space to vie for the APC gubernatorial ticket, Amaechi indirectly tests the Rivers will. His message is unambiguous. Amaechi believes it is his prerogative to decide where and how the pendulum swings. He alone decides when it is upland, riverine or senatorial. The only criterion is that it serves his purpose in every circumstance.
A leader who upturns the table at every turn for his selfish ends is bereft of honour. A leader who cannot trust any of his political lieutenants to take charge because he is afraid they are equally ambitious is a leader without honour. Indeed a leader whose presidential ambition come 2023 blindfolds him to good conscience cannot be said to share a thing with Honour.