Since the defection, some weeks ago of five Peoples Democratic Party governors to the All Progressives Congress, concerns have continued to mount over the involvement of the Rivers State Governor Chibuike Amaechi, for allegedly rebelling against his own, President Goodluck Jonathan. Yet questions about his many frustrations have not been properly situated, writes Olawale Olaleye
In their fired bid to run him out of town, it is clear that the political enemies of the Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, have not at each stage of their onslaught, factored some safety into their many assumptions. None- with regards to the moves that are clearly bereft of basic elementary thinking, much less any strategic consideration! Instead, he has roundly been underrated and discountenanced as an issue in the scheme of things despite being a dogged fighter as many see him.
In his characteristic nature, Amaechi had long analysed the developments when they were still simmering and had served notice on some of the things that seem to be playing out now. Rather than see his points and intervene proportionately, they claimed he had no respect for the person and office of the president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan and as such, must pay for it. But the palpable fact is that Amaechi has been completely undermined as not just the governor of Rivers, but a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governor and chairman of the aristocratic club of the billionaires- the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF).
In his “limited wisdom” as a “nobody” in the PDP, he warned of the implications of the alleged moves to not only see his back from office as governor albeit illegally, but also of the poorly conscripted ploy to decimate his political career for obvious ungodly reasons. He was however dismissed as the ranting of an emerging loser and thus, forced to brave the odds as well as confront head-on, the chase to political oblivion.
His frustrations are legion and in no particular order but it became obvious that there were some sinister plots against him when the former police commissioner in the state was arbitrarily redeployed and another brought in to deconstruct Amaechi, allegedly on the order of the First Lady, Mrs. Patience Jonathan.
Since Joseph Mbu assumed office as the police commissioner in Rivers, the relative peace being enjoyed in the state as a result of the governor’s hard work with his security chiefs, began to decline and in a short time, there was no doubting the fact that the redeployment of Mbu was not an error of decision. He seemed to have the record for the kind of job identified for him and has since done no less of his assignment. Perhaps, the next security meeting in the state will hold when Mbu is eventually moved out of the state.
The crisis that attended the election of Amaechi as chairman of the governors’ forum in spite of the claim to the contrary by the pastor- governor of Plateau State, Jonah Jang, was avoidable. Indeed, there was said to be a last minute push for peace when Amaechi allegedly sold to a delegation of the PDP and the presidency that they should avoid going to the poll. He warned that if they went to the poll, whether or not he won, there would be problems. He saw the present debacle coming and as a way out, was said to have told them the need to allow him return as NGF chairman, pledge his loyalty to the president, serve for just a year and then quit thereafter.
In what seemed to have made some sense to the president, Jonathan was said to have bought into it and gave his go ahead before one of the South-south governors who suddenly sees Amaechi as a competitor allegedly walked in and dismissed the proposal. “Let’s go to the poll; we will defeat him,” he allegedly told the gathering even when he had no clearly marked out strategy for the election. He was said to have convinced the president to ignore the Amaechi proposal and ended up embarrassing Jonathan with an ignominious defeat of the Villa candidate, Jang. The NGF has since not remained the same.
To follow this was the destabilisation plot of the state House of Assembly through the instigation of five lawmakers led by one Evans Bipi, an identified loyalist of the First Lady, who once referred to her as his Jesus Christ, to impeach the speaker, Hon. O. Amachree. Not oblivious of the plans to ultimately get rid of him as the motive behind the assembly invasion, Amaechi moved in and thwarted the ploy. Although he is still governor, many people paid for the consequences of the quashed ploy including some security personnel attached to him. The legislature has also not known peace and remains shut.
Not unexpectedly, Amaechi, shortly after this raised the alarm over alleged threat to his life. Even if he was crying foul, the fact that the size of his security formation was cut down significantly for no reason other than politics and the military wing withdrawn, have lent credence to his claims.
Further into his frustrations, while President Jonathan was being positioned to call the shots in the party and determine what goes on, Amaechi as governor was stripped of the control of the party in the state by sacking a duly elected state executive and imposing the favoured villa team through what has been described as a criminal judgment delivered by Justice Ishaq Bello. What with the exacerbation of Obior/Akpo local government crisis through alleged instigation and funding by the Supervising Minister of Education, Nyesome Wike, who is unable to achieve any success in the all important ministry with the sustained strike by the Association of Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
Gradually and because the actors did not see the need to nip the crisis in the bud, it began to assume a trend of the absurd. Suddenly, there was the alleged discovery to kidnap Amaechi even as governor. The closest the nation had to this was 10 years ago when a former governor of Anambra State, Senator Chris Ngige, was kidnapped despite the security of his office.
But sources claimed the plan to kidnap Amaechi was going to be so managed that he would be taken to a palatial office designed as his and video-recorded as resigning his position on scripted grounds by his “official abductors”. The governor is said to have documented proofs for this and the ploy automatically died the moment it came to public knowledge.
This was trailed behind by another alleged plan to have Amaechi’s wife, Judith, arrested on the grounds that her office was being used to move money. While Amaechi was said to have swiftly acted on the move designed to embarrass him as well as create emotional torture in the struggle for power game, there is the belief that those hatching the ploy are yet to back down but waiting for an auspicious moment to further realise the plan.
To further compound his frustrations, Amaechi had long claimed that some of the oil wells belonging to Rivers had been ceded to neighbouring states including the president’s home state of Bayelsa as part of moves to incapacitate the state financially. Rivers is still in court over one of such oil wells ceded to Bayelsa.
Apart from Mbu who was sent on assignment to Rivers as the military wing of the movement against Amaechi, there was also the posting and redeployment of the brigade commander in the state believed to be loyal to Amaechi, a move said to have compounded the security woes of the state.
Added to this is the non-refund of the money allegedly spent on federal government’s project in the state, said to be totaling about N106billion. Amaechi was said to have intervened in some of the despicable federal roads in the state, with the understanding that he would be reimbursed. But whilst some of his colleague governors who are believed to be close to the president were said to have been reimbursed at different times, Amaechi and those loyal to him have not been considered and knowing what was at stake, he decided to push it aside pending the time that a government with a human face would pay back Rivers’ money.
Above all, one crucial justification that Amaechi has continued to latch on to as having accentuated his disagreement with the presidency and PDP is the non-citing of any federal government project in the state. Worse still, the few considerations that the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was said to have conceded to the state was stripped of it by the Jonathan presidency, despite being a South-southerner.
As these go on, the alleged harassment of Amaechi, his colleague governors as well as their supporters by the police under the Inspector-General of Police, Muhammed Abubakar, both in Rivers State and Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), has continued unabated. Twice at the meetings of the governors, the police had interrupted them on the grounds of an order from above such that the last one held at the Kano State Governor’s Lodge, Abuja, almost resulted in serious altercations. Amaechi was once reported as being prevented from accessing the Government House, Port Harcourt by Mbu’s police.
Recently when the All Progressives Congress (APC) leaders paid Amaechi a solidarity visit, his supporters were reportedly prevented from accessing the airport to welcome their guests unlike the kind of treatment that the police are said to often mete out to Wike’s supporters.
When the matter eventually became controversial, the police then took a decision and banned protest of all shades at the nation’s airports, declaring that such activities constituted grave security threat to the nation and the people. Curiously, the police never saw demonstrations, peaceful or not, at the airports as security threat until Amaechi’s supporters attempted to welcome the APC leaders.
Against the backdrop of these frustrations, few of which are identified above, it is clear that Amaechi was no longer wanted in the PDP and the option of embracing another party, more so a major opposition party that seemed to be soaring in popularity, had become imperative.
Although the PDP leadership has suddenly realised the implication of the defection of Amaechi and four other governors and have started to make overtures for their return, there is no doubting the fact that it is now late for such a return to the PDP. If anything, any such move would be suicidal and could end the careers of the governors in misery.
The import of Amaechi’s exit from the PDP may have begun to dawn on some of the political actors as something that would affect the party in a negative sense, either in the immediate or in the long run especially given the now delicate balance of power. What is certain, however, is that the party leadership and the presidency pushed him to this point of no return. With established grounds of frustrations, many reckon that there is no rational and political sense in rethinking his defection. The result is none other but a political suicide which Amaechi does not appear inclined to.