By Babatunde Oladipo
This has not been the best times for Rivers indigenes and residents due to the return of the war drums in the political arena of the state. The state has been on the front burner in recent times as political jobbers will leave no stone unturned in order to continue their siege on the treasury of the once called Garden City of Nigeria.
The state governor, Rotimi Amaechi who has barely a year to complete his eight year reign has hardly slept well since he parted ways with his former Chief of Staff, Nyeso Wike, who is currently the Supervising Minister of Education. Wike’s nomination as Minister by the governor has become like the biblical thorn in the flesh of Apostle Paul, who though could heal others of a similar pain but had to live with his own pain in the course of his Missionary work.
If there is anything Gov. Amaechi could wish for, it would be to turn the hand of the clock back and keep Wike under his close watch. Sadly, it may never come to be as Wike who has since become the Presidency’s hatchet man in the state is still moving like an uncontrollable locomotive, with inaccurate velocity to dismantle anything that would give the governor some credit.
In all the plots that have been hatched by the opposition against Amaechi’s government ranging from taking away the PDP structure, frustrating him out of the Party, forcing him to appoint A Chief Judge that would work in opposite direction with the state government, reducing his control of the security agencies, impeachment plot, withholding money due him as well as seizing some oil wells belonging to the state in order to reduce his monthly allocations; the worst is to accuse the governor of importing Boko Haram members in the state through Aba. The PDP in the state has taken the battle beyond borders by such unsubstantiated claims capable of inciting Rivers people against innocent traders from the North who reside and do business in the state.
Without any fear or favour without caring whose ox is gored, the Military should invite the PDP Chairman, Felix Obuah andd and his media aide, Jerry Needam to come with further proof on the matter or they should be held responsible for any breakdown of law and order in the region.
The President has kept mute over the excesses of the Minister who has abdicated his seat and responsibilities at the Education Ministry while he is preoccupied with the business of visiting ex-militant leaders in the state to solicit their support for his ‘immoral’ ambition to succeed his fellow kinsman as governor of a multi-ethnic state where the issue of injustice and inequity led some youths into arms struggle, as they claim.
But that entire struggle has fizzled out as one man who boasts of having the structure and the financial war chest to prosecute an all-out political battle against the incumbent governor who ‘must’ en throne his successor. The craze for dollars has further heightened the tension in the state as most of the politicians who were knocked out of job by Amaechi have thrown all principles to the wind and are queuing behind the new chip on the block, for their meal tickets. Some are said to have received contracts from the Ministry running into hundreds of millions as profit even without executing the jobs.
While it is said that Amaechi is being stingy with state funds, his arch rival is the direct opposite of him and that has further led some of the immediate past Local Government Chairmen sneaking into the night to hold meetings with Wike and his men.
The failed attempt to upstage Amaechi last year on the floor of the Assembly which resulted to casualties during the plot to unseat the Speaker, Otelemba Amachree was said to have been scuttled when some of those who wanted a change in the leadership realized that they had been shortchanged by the man who is the arrowhead after he had received the sum of N6bn for the project.
The impeachment failed when late Hon. Tonye Harry who had been the choice of replacement for Otele Amachree learnt that the coordinating Minister had short-changed him by putting up Hon. Evans Bipi, a former domestic aide of the First Lady, as the man to replace the current Speaker. Thus, the fifteen lawmakers who initially backed Tonye made a u-turn, leaving only the six of them who are loyalists of the Minister. As such, the plot failed. The billions of Naira meant for removing Amaechi found its way inside the pockets of their leader while peanuts were given to the renegade lawmakers. Amaechi again had a dose of the good luck.
The presence of C.P. Mbu, did not also help matters for Amaechi as the Police Commissioner visibly took sides with the opposition. The governor who is supposed to be the Chief Security Officer of the State was without security. He could not call the shots any more as Wike’s men had a field day. Mbu had on several occasions stopped the governor’s convoy not until the shooting of Senator Magnus Abe during a rally of the Save Rivers Movement in Abuja. It took the intervention of the National Assembly to get the Inspector General of Police to remove Mbu from Rivers State. There was a sigh of relief amongst Amaechi’s supporters and sympathizers.
But the restive Minister and his men would not rest as new spanners were put in the works. His greatest challenge came when cracks emerged within the PDP in the state led by Hon.Elemchukwu Ogbowu, a two-time Commissioner and a former lawmaker. Ogbowu was irked by the governorship ambition of Wike using the Grass root Democratic Movement, GDI, to actualize his dream of succeeding his fellow kinsman, Amaechi.
Though Elemchukwu’s challenge incurred him the wrath of Wike and his toy Party Exco led by Obuah, he was not deterred by the expulsion forced down his throat by his best friend, Felix Obuah. The fiery former lawmaker in the state is bent on ensuring fair play, justice and equity amongst the different ethnic groups in the state.
On an alleged plot by Ogbowu and his group to ensure the removal of Obuah and co through the NWC of the Party, Wike and his group quickly went to Court to obtain an injunction restraining the PDP NWC from dropping Obuah and co as well as an Order asking INEC to recognize the Obuah-led Exco. This move has now pitched Wike against the Party at the Headquarters. The President is said to have ordered Muazu to appeal against the decision of the Federal High Court. It was said that a member of the NWC had received the sum of $150,000 in order to aid the scandalous Court Order.
While the Amaechi- led APC in the state prepares to checkmate Wike, it seems the PDP as well is also poised for a showdown with the Minister.
Meanwhile, if Wike succeeds to pick up the flag of the Party for the governorship election, that may also mean that the APC under Amaechi may opt for a candidate from the Riverine area particularly the Rivers East Senatorial zone as the flag bearer while picking an Ikwerre candidate as running mate. The Ikwerres have about 1.1million out of the 2million votes of the state. Allowing Wike as candidate may spell doom for the APC. As such many are of the opinion that for Gov. Amaechi, the best thing to do is to go for a Tele Ikuru/ Tony Okocha ticket. Ikuru is his deputy and a nephew to Uche Secondus, the National Deputy Chaiman of PDP and Ikuru’s political godfather and mentor. They hail from Andoni, a riverine Community in the Rivers South East Senatorial Zone. Tony Okocha, Wike’s kinsman, is Amaechi’s Chief of Staff and point’s man. He was Wike’s anchor man in his days as Chairman of Obio/Akpor LGA. Okocha will divide the votes of the Ikwerres and that would give Ikuru a further lead. The emergence of the deputy governor could further reduce the role of Seconndus in the PDP as he would naturally support his ‘son’ more than any other person. If Amaechi throws up this ace, that may finally put the nail on the coffin for Wike and the PDP.
Babatunde Oladipo is a Political Anayalist