Nigeria News

Nigeria: Do you know the genesis of the Rivers House of Assembly crisis?

Jonathan and AmaechiThat house was one of the most unified in the nation until the removal of the duly elected Chairman of Obio-Akpor Local Government. 5 members of the house objected to the process used in removing him and they described it as undemocratic and not following due legislative process. The other 27 stuck to their gun. The state government denied involvement in what was purely a legislative action.

The governor appointed a caretaker chairman who took over from the elected chairman. It later emerged that the removed elected Chairman was sympathetic to Minister Nyesom Wike who is believed to have been instrumental to his getting the ticket to contest. The other 5 legislators are also Nwike's beneficiaries while still the Chief of Staff to Amaechi and the most powerful local politician of those days.

Those seeking a solution to the crisis should also look at Obio-Akpor situation. It needs resolution because I don't believe the constitution envisaged a situation where an elected LGA Chairman will retain his seat at the mercy of state legislators. If that is the case, we need urgent amendment of the relevant portion. That it was called "suspension" suggests to me that a loophole in state laws was used to effect the removal.

What does Nyesom Wike Want?

He was a local government Chairman under Odili. When Amaechi was shoved aside by imperial Obasanjo who described his due nomination as having K-leg, Wike faithfully supported Amaechi. Whereas others linked up with Omehia, Nyesom, Chidi Lloyd and a few others were loyal to Amaechi's cause. It is believed that Nyesom actually paid a major part of the cost of litigation that returned Amaechi to power as well as provided him with safe hide out while he was being hunted by the PDP muderous cabal of those days described then by someone as a nest of killers.

When Amaechi was restored, he promptly compensated Nyesom and not only made him Chief of Staff but also the most powerful man in the regime's first tenure. Most people familiar with the govt will tell you that Wike was larger than life. He acquired stinking wealth and political goodwill. But then Amaechi has always been a strong character himself and could think for himself.

In 2011 Nyesom wanted to go to the Senate. The same senatorial constituency with Amaechi. Amaechi reasoned that if Nyesom should get that seat he will not agree to relinquish it in 2015 for him. He opted to put a "controllable" candidate who can be quietly eased out in 2015 for Amaechi to become Senator Rotimi Amaechi. To compensate Nyesom, he offered him Rivers State Ministerial slot and actually nominated and pushed his candidacy to the President.

Unfortunately, some guys at the presidency were too scared of Nyesom Wike and didn't want him closer than necessary to the President. He was appointed a junior minister of education. What does Nyesom know about education, talk less of the humiliation of being junior to a female minister. The man must hate his current job passionately and has nobody to blame but Amaechi. That was how he became a willing recruit in the hands of those who had issues with Amaechi. Pay back.

Two principal issues Amaechi had with elements in the Presidency include his confrontation with Mrs Patience Jonathan over the demolition of PH waterfront. Mrs Jonathan is from Okirika and in her maiden triumphant visit to her hometown as President's wife, her people inundated her with tales of how Amaechi demolished the waterfront and expelled their people from their homes. Those were same people that have already collected millions from Amaechi as compensation. Only God knows what more they want. If you know the PH waterside in question, you will praise Amaechi's courage and determination to demolish it. It was a criminal enclave and a major recruiting point for militants and sundry criminals. The likes of Late Soboma George were proud alumnus of Port Harcourt waterfront.

Amaechi's cardinal objective in his first tenure was security of lives and properties. He pursued it with uncommon zeal. He would have scored zero if he didn't demolish the waterfront. But like every multi-ethnic environment, some people stoked the fire and alleged ethnic bias against their people. They ran to their most prominent daughter and complained bitterly. Sadly, the woman they complained to shared a common attribute with Amaechi-abrasiveness. She forgot protocol and publicly chastised Amaechi right before his subjects in a public event. Even me pitied the governor who was publicly humiliated by the wife of the President without hearing his side of the story. But then Amaechi would have done same in a reversed position. They have that in common-yawoyawo.

Regardless of the foregoing, Amaechi still worked with Jonathan and was everywhere campaigning for him. He delivered over 2m votes which was key in pegging back Niger-born and child voters that showed up in Katsina and Kano. As a Niger Deltan, he has done his bit and can be proud of that. But even that was not enough to earn the respect and trust of the Madam on top of our President. She never pretended to like or approve of him. It was only a matter of time before the two large egos will clash again.

This time, Madam's team have a good recruit called Nyesom Wike. They started stalking Amaechi and imputing wrong motives to ordinary actions and utterances. Of course he didn't help himself. He talks too much at times. And then the issue of Rivers-Bayelsa oil issue came up. Don't forget that Rivers previously had issues with Abia and Akwa Ibom on border delineation and ownership of oil bearing land. It is common knowledge in Abia that many of the oil wells credited to Rivers actually belongs to Abia and even some found right within Abia are being horizontally drilled and credited to Rivers. At least many Abians suspect that much but lack the resources to fight the richer Rivers. Supreme court and boundary adjustment verdicts still favour the highest bidder who can arrange certain comforts including the capacity to hire the best legal representation and navigate the top echelon of the judiciary and boundary adjustment commision. This is still Nigeria.

Akwa Ibom adopted a fire for fire approach in their dispute with Rivers in their boundary dispute and delivered a humiliating blow that cost Rivers billions in derivation revenue and effectively made Akwa Ibom the most liquid state in the South South and South East. The blow was too much for Amaechi to bear and there were suspicions that Akwa Ibom had help from above. "Above" in this case can only mean the all powerful Presidency. Your guess is as good as mine as to who Amaechi/Rivers suspected of undoing them in favour of Akwa Ibom.

It was therefore not surprising that when another dispute arose between Rivers and Bayelsa, Amaechi went all out to avoid further loss of land and revenue. In a moment of carelessness, rumors have it, Amaechi said some things that wasn't so complimentary of the office of the President in a state exco retreat at Obudu Cattle Ranch in Cross River State. Someone took the tape to Abuja as evidence of anti-Presidency stance of Amaechi. That was quickly added to the "sins" of Amaechi for which he must be dealt with and treated as an enemy to the Presidency. Those who have personal and political issues with Amaechi seized on the theme to draw up a road map for Amaechi's humiliation. The VP propaganda was manufactured and sold to the President and the public. Even without any concrete evidence of Amaechi being interested in any such position.

Rather than quickly meet with the President to explain his own side Amaechi dug in and tried to fight back and protect his dignity as a person. Of course he employed all the experience of his long studentship at Nigeria's political school to ensure he stays afloat. Nigerian people love the "underdog" and hence were sympathetic to his cause. On the other hand, Jonathan's political opponents saw an opportunity to divide his political base and make his re-election difficult, if not impossible. They stoked the fire endlessly and offered Amaechi a phantom shoulder to lean on. All they want is to use the crisis to mess up the re-election of the President. While the likes of Wike have seen an opportunity to pay back Amaechi and possibly get the senate seat they want in 2015. To booth, moribund politicians like Odili, Omehia, Honorable Nwuche, Abiye Sekibo etc are now caucusing together in the true spirit of my enemy's enemy is my friend. The same gang that raped Rivers State with impunity for 8 years.

God Dey!

Way Forward.

Amaechi should immediately take steps to douse the tension and make up with President Jonathan himself. Forget the wife and her antics. Forget third parties. Do it yourself. Approach the President and explain your position. If necessary, apologize profusely and offer your support for his 2015 project.

It is unthinkable for the Niger Delta to lose the Presidency and settle for anything less under any guise or arrangement. It is terrible politics. Moreover, if the come comes to become you will be on your own. All the Professors in the world and the media of the world will move on and find other engagements. If in doubt, ask Late MKO Abiola and Diepreye Alamisegha. Political oblivion beckons and must be avoided at all cost, including pride. There is nothing about Chidi Lloyds and his murderous gang that can save you. Most likely they will negotiate for themselves to remain in power and avoid long jail terms. There is simply no such thing as parliamentary immunity for attempted murder. I was among those deceived by the media into believing it exists. It doesn't exist.

Removing a governor is as simple as the method applied in removing Obio-Akpor LGA Chairman. In Nigeria, the process doesn't have to be right and after the initial uproars everyone will move on to other things. Be guided.

Restore the Obio-Akpor LGA chairman as a confidence building measure. You can no longer claim "legislative affairs" given your physical intervention in favour of the 27 at the state house of assembly. If you can intervene in a legislative fracas to save the majority then you must also intervene to restore the Chairman. There are other ways to asphyxiate the man if you no longer like him. Moreover, the next LGA election is only a year away from now. He who goes to equity must go with clean hands.

Concurrently, you must visit the battered Michael Chinda and not only offer your sympathies but also make sure he gets the best possible medical treatment available in the world. Condemn without reservation the barbaric actions of Chidi Llyolds and your security aides and distance your self from them. Chidi will do same to you if the heat starts getting hot. Don't forget that Chinda is also an Ikwerre man like you and all the 32 legislators are your subjects and previously worked for you, just like you worked for Jonathan previously. There is no permanent friend or enemy in politics and a wise man is the one who remains politically relevant. Brave men don't last in politics and only those with staying power can run their laudable projects. The other side is lonely, my governor. Don't go there with your two eyes open.

This is the time and opportunity for Mr President to show statesmanship. He must remember that a house divided against itself cannot stand. No sane man uses all the powers he has and a forgiving spirit is the true hallmark of a great leader. Removal of Amaechi or even his destabilization might be as simple as ABC but the ripple effect might not be palatable. There are sub-ethnic connotations that have recently come to the fore. People are talking about Ijaw versus Ikwerre in high and not so high places. Ogoni people are queuing behind Amaechi because they know only his completion of his tenure can guarantee the next governor being of Ogoni extraction. Remember their long held suspicions of the Ijaw including the wars of the 90s. Don't divide the state and Niger Delta because you must show Amaechi where the real power lies. Most importantly Mr President, you will need more than 2m votes from Rivers state to wedge against the evil opposition that has gathered against you. If you get 74% of Rivers votes you will lose the election sir. No Niger Delta or South East state should deliver less than 76% of the votes to you for your Presidency to be assured in 2015.

Mr President sir, what shall it profit you if you win the battle against Amaechi and lose the 2015 war?

Where on earth are the so called traditional rulers and elders of the Niger Delta? Why are they keeping quiet while Rome burns? Why are they taking sides in a fight between two brothers? When will you all gather and take Amaechi to the President for reconciliation? Are you waiting for anarchy to go anarchical before you show your partisan faces? Have Ghana must go bags turned you to unreasoning men of timber and saw dust? I don't want to mention your names but you know yourselves and must know that it is now or never. If you do nothing, next week might be too late. The die appears cast for a full and final showdown.

Anthony-Claret Onwutalobi
Anthony-Claret Onwutalobi
Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC and CEO of Portia Web Solutions. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.

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