The Re-run Elections In Rivers State And Amaechi’s Political Legacy


When you wrestle with a pig, the pig gets happy and you get dirty.-Babatunde Fashola(SAN)

The March 19th re-run elections in Rivers State seem to have opened a paradox of commentaries. Some of them have focused on the wider issues of violence and electoral malpractices which were preponderant during that election while others have deliberately focused on specific individuals. I consider it a difficult task to objectively analyse the issues that emerged from that election without mentioning the name of the frontline gladiators, however there are those who have hidden under the cloak of reviewing that election to vent their anger, frustrations and even descend to mudslinging.  One of such individuals who goes by the name Abraham Ogbodo who apparently an editor at the Guardian newspapers wrote a piece on the 4th of April.

Initially I wanted to ignore that article especially when I consider the wisdom in what the former governor of Lagos State and Minister for Power counselled in the past. However, I had to reconsider my decision because I did not want the author to present a completely one sided and faulty narrative to the respected readers of that newspaper. I remember when I was younger, I believed most of the things I read from the copies of guardian newspaper that my father handed me daily. Now I am older I now know that there are people like that author who could smuggle their heavily jaundiced views into a medium I considered -rightly or wrongly, a prestigious medium. It is therefore the duty of some us who know better to challenge and submerge such cocktail of half-truths and falsehood with superior information.

I do not work for the former Governor of Rivers State and Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi. He has not asked me to respond on his behalf. However, I am someone who cannot endure the agony of seeing lies being packaged and sold as truth. From the tone of the article and the frequency of the use of the words like strike, battle, generalissimo, cut and others in that article one will know that the author comes from a violent school of thought. He soundbites of magisterial finality betrayed him as someone who is on a predestined mission. Even the Supreme Court Judges had to gauge the mood of the country before they came up with reasons to justify their decision on Rivers State. However, the author's account it is clear that he is someone who neither understands the politics of Rivers State now could clearly explain what happened in the last two elections in the state. I will like to help him out.

Before I proceed, let me state clearly that contrary to the insinuations in that article, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi does not need any other chance to assert himself politically both in Rivers State or anywhere in the country. He did so eloquently in 2015 by going against the grail and we are proud that Nigeria is better off for that action. From the level of revelations coming as a result of the mindless squandering of public resources that happened under the nose of the former President, my submission is that Nigeria would have been liquidated by now if Goodluck Jonathan was allowed another four year of Presidency. For that alone this country must remain grateful to Mr. Amaechi and others for steering the country away from such a suicidal political trajectory. And let me explain that whatever is happening in Rivers State today is a consequence of that singular act of patriotism. The former governor of Rivers State is paying the price and he may keep doing that for some time to come.

Now I want someone to prove me wrong. The current governor of Rivers State is not a popular politician. However, he is one hell of a political tactician who thinks ahead of many of his contemporaries. He made the best use of the ambition of the former President to sort himself out. Mr. Wike's emergence as a gubernatorial candidate was not out of popularity. It was just because he positioned himself appropriately. We have not forgotten that sixteen other gubernatorial candidates who were vying for the same position were disqualified at the directive of the then powerful First Lady, Patience Jonathan to allow Mr. Wike to emerge. Those who understand the politics of the state and the upland-riverine divide know what I am talking about. When the author refers to any electoral victory in Rivers State, he only succeeded in exposing his crass ignorance and amusing many of us. Even those who benefited from the so called victory know that elections did not hold. Until when a free and fair election is held in Rivers State, no commentator should conclude that what happened on April 11, 2015 or March 19th translates to popularity of one political party or individual against another. Remove the Jonathan factor and let us see if Wike will be governor for one day. Why did the state governor had to run around to get the Supreme Court to re-validate his election?  If he was that popular as claimed by the author, he should have allowed a gubernatorial re-run!

I will not allow myself to descend lowly to respond to the sections of that article that referred to Mr. Amaechi as a political chicken. For a man who served his state for sixteen years, first as Speaker of the House of Assembly and later as Governor and who has served the country in various capacities- as Chairman of the Conference of Speakers, Chairman of Nigerian Governors' Forum, Director General of one the most successful campaign organisations in the history of Nigeria and now a federal Minister. What can I say? What else can he do to qualify as an eagle in the eyes of the author? For me, the main part of Amaechi's wrong doing is that he is a patriot who places the country first. Otherwise it would have been the simplest thing for him to cut a deal with the former President. At a time when President Jonathan became very desperate and was ready to do anything to get Amaechi's support at all costs, including dropping Wike from the cabinet, the Ubima-born politician would have made a deal. May be today he would have remained in the People's Democratic Party(PDP), planted a successor of his choice and the rot would have continued. But he chose otherwise and here we are today.

Abraham Ogbodo appeared to have pronounced an end to Amaechi's politics because of the outcome of the re-run election – an election he did not contest. One will not go far to see where the author is coming from. Is there a plan to retire Amaechi from politics? Really! Since after 2015 elections, many commentators in search of cheap popularity or patronage have descended on the former governor at will. If you read their venom and recycled arguments, you will find out that their sponsors simply want to use them to vent their frustration about that civilian coup that the former governor and his colleagues masterminded. That political tsunami that saw a sitting President descend from his Olympian heights through the ballot box for the first time in the history of Nigeria.  Come to think of it, they have a right to be angry. However, in the midst of the relentless mudsling, I implore them not to forget what governance is all about. They must endeavour to keep a space for infrastructural development, delivery of quality education and health services as well as security in the conversation. It is after they have put these issues into the right perspectives and reviewed the record of the Amaechi years as governor and come up with a verdict that I will now get up for a debate with them. For now, I will gain nothing by joining them to wrestle in the mud.

Written by Kingsley George Jnr.
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