Amaechi: A Godfatherless Governor
One of the banes of Nigerian politics has been the issue of godfatherism. This phenomenom has eaten so deep into the nation's political landscape since the return democracy and its experimentation in Nigeria from May29, 1999 to date. One major instance and worthy of note was the period of awesome infrastructural decay in Awka, the state capital of Anambra State when Chinweoke Mbadinuju held sway as the Chief Executive of the state. In addition, not only was the state of infrastructure in a state of comatose as evidenced in poor health facilities, insecurity, poor roads, etc but civil servants and their pensioner counterparts were owed back log of arrears by the then Mbadiniuju's led administration.
In short that regime was adduced as a failed administration in the annals of political history of Anambra State, courtesy of self-centered, megalomaniac, kleptomaniac avaricious and visionless godfather – Emeka Ofor. The story how Mbadinuju and his political godfather, Emeka Ofor who sponsored him for the Governorship post reached an agreement on how to share government funds is public knowledge. This duo unleashed painful and unequaled economic rape in the lives and psyche of Anambrarians that will ever remain indelible.
Aware of the saying that “those who are not familiar with the tragedies of history do repeat them”, Mbadinuju's successor, Chris Ngige defied to abide by the terms of agreement which he reached with his godfather, Chris Uba. Later it was learnt that he (Chris Ngige) signed a document under duress on how to settle his godfather with state funds for helping him ascend to the position of a governor. Ngige's refusal to share state fund with his godfather occasioned politically masterminded crisis in the state which culminated to his abduction.
Commenting on the crisis on page 12 of the Nigeria Compass, feb.22, 2009, one Emmanuel Enyi Appolos wrote, “But that administration witnessed turbulence than no other. The reason was due to Ngige's dogged wrestle against the godfathers who wanted him to hold the cow of the state while they milked it.
The above scenario was what informed the substitution of Governor Amaechi with his cousin, Sir Celestine Omehia to run for the governorship post at the eleventh hour by the godfathers who run the political landscape in Rivers State. The reason for his replacement being that he may not likely settle his godfathers with state funds among others.
As a law abiding citizen, Amaechi fought his replacement constitutionally which saw him through the Appeal Court, where he lost, and to the Supreme Court in Abuja, which declared him as the suitable candidate who ought to occupy the Brick House in Port Harcourt.
Having come into power by the Supreme Court ruling, Amaechi considered it as a duty, responsibility and obligation to protect the interest of Rivers State people and not the parochial and avaricious interest of a few godfathers who wanted to frustrate his governorship bid. In this regard, he has not failed his people though there may be some contrary opinions.
With the experience he garnered as former Speaker of Rivers State House of Assembly, for about 8years, Amaechi knew virtually all the challenges staring his state in the face to wit; insecurity, deplorable healthcare system, poor roads, deficient waste management, abysmal education sector, poor revenue generation and so. These were the legacies left behind which he inherited from his predecessors as he mounted the mantle of rulership.
Those who have sincere, honest and frank opinion of the present administration, be it the ordinary man on the street, the elite, opposition party members and market women will agree that Amaechi has performed creditably well in the aforementioned challenges just within a period of two years. In the words of one Chief .Eze.C.Eze, a political analyst: “In Dr Odili's eight years at the helms of affairs in the state, only about thirty roads were attended to. However, within two years of Amaechi's administration a conservative total of about 245 roads are under construction in various parts of the State. Even with Odili's antecedents as a Medical Doctor, the Health Sector of the state was moribund, with very few medical establishments given attention during his tenure. Whilst over 150 model Health centres, three major Health Institutions (Delta, Mega Hospital and Mother and Child Care etc) are currently under construction glaringly testify to Amaechi's commitment to bringing sanity to the Health sector. During Odili's infamous regime, no PPP Project was initiated, but Amaechi's regime in its two years of existence, has recorded at least four major PPP initiative projects in the State - (The International Market, Mother and Child Hospital, Mega Hospital and the Silver Bird Cinema)”.
With these achievements, Amaechi has not considered it expedient to invite President Umar Musa Yar'Adua to commission the projects, knowing full well how much it will cost the state to host the President. This may to some extent buttress the depiction of Amaechi by some as one who is frugal, miserly inclined and parsimonious with state funds.
This is a complete departure from the regime of Odili who made it a duty that for every three months Obasanjo pays a jamboree state visit to the state to commission uncompleted or non-functional projects or the other in order to squander state fund on the ex-president which should have been used to better the lots of Rivers' people.
Amaechi may be waiting for the right time when the ovation or encomium poured on him in regard to his landmark developmental projects is loudest before he can invite President Yar' Adua to come and commission the projects.
Though without known godfather, to settle with state funds, to the detriment of Rivers State people and in connection to Amaechi's commendable strides, with particular reference to massive construction of roads, Urban Renewal, employment, etc all need to be said is, ride on the Godfatherless Governor but let not commendations becloud your determination to turn around positively the fortunes of Rivers State.
Nwaororgu Faustinus Chilee is Scio-political commentator writes in from Igboeche, Rivers State, Port Harcourt.