Good luck, Governor Amaechi
The drama involving Governor Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State and certain political goons is approaching a climax. What started as a governor-family affair has, somehow, managed to infect the rest of us. The Nigerian Governors' Forum, as some commentators have argued, might be extra legal, 'unconstitutional' and have no immediate relevance, but so far, the governors have managed to keep us entertained with their trifling. They have also given us an insight into why - as long as their present political occupation subsists - 2015 might just be more of the same.
What should have been a simple election among less than three-dozen presumably enlightened adults has morphed into a major creek brawl with two sides laying claim to the exalted throne of the NGF. It is shameful and reprehensible but the Peoples Democratic Party long lost its self-censor device. If anyone had any hopes - or delusion - that the Nigerian political actors have the moral conviction to do anything differently in the forthcoming elections, this latest NGF battle royale loudly says otherwise.
If Amaechi maintains his staying power, things could get more exciting -and perhaps predictable - in the next few days. No one will be surprised if the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission suspends its yearlong hibernation and goes after Amaechi with uncommon vigour. They will animate his skeletons to start crawling out of the cupboard. You need not be a prophet to predict the turn of events in altercations between the President and the lesser gods; the PDP uses the same worn script all the time.
On Monday, the PDP's National Working Committee suspended Amaechi's membership of the party for his 'failure' to rescind the dissolution of the elected Executive Council of Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State. I wonder why, of all possible disciplinary actions, they chose that path. And, why at this time? Considering that Amaechi became a governor in his first term through a Supreme Court judgment that planked his electoral victory on his party membership, you know the PDP's move reeks of mischief, or vengeance.
Amaechi himself is no stranger to hot water. As Speaker of Rivers State House of Assembly and, later as the governorship candidate of the PDP, to a two-term governor, he has fought a few good fights and bloodied some noses in his political career trajectory. As governor, he is no longer an outstanding performer, at least, relative to his first term.
His battles, if not anything, will enable him to wear a victim complex and very soon, join the Jeremiah Club currently dominated by ex-governors - Ayo Fayose, Peter Odili, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, (and perhaps in future, Timipre Sylva) - who do not lose an opportunity to lament that they were hung out to dry because of political machinations.
At a recent inter-party summit, Amaechi himself was already talking in obituary terms. When he said, 'Even if I am removed tomorrow, I am satisfied…,' he all but admitted that the weight of the PDP was crushing him. At this point, he has two choices: One is to renounce his attempt at independent-mindedness and grovel before the PDP graven image. This is the thrust of advice offered him by Alamieyeseigha -and that is one man who should know, having being through the proverbial valley of the shadow of death.
Alams said he told Amaechi, 'After God, next comes the government…' It is a loaded statement that pithily explains why Governor Godswill Akpabio is naturally obsequious where President Goodluck Jonathan and his interests are involved, and also why Governor Olusegun Mimiko is a member of Labour Party by day and a PDP member at night.
The other option available to Amaechi is to face the fiery furnace being heated up for his sake. However, unlike the fable of the three Hebrew children, I am not sure there is an angel anywhere coming to rescue him. If things get too hot, other governors who stand by him now will not hesitate to beat a tactical retreat. Who wants his balls crushed by the almighty government? As Nigeria is presently constituted, the government, especially the one domiciled at the centre, is not next to God; the government is God.
As is being surmised here and there, does this PDP vs. Amaechi fight really signify the end of the PDP? Hardly. In certain ways, the squabble is a blessing for the newly formed All Progressives Congress but I do not yet see how it goes farther. The PDP's in-built resilience is based on how many political lives hang around its continued existence. Its members will do anything to protect their party even if it means sacrificing Amaechi. He is not critical to the survival of the PDP neither is he bigger than the party. He will be used as a parable to whip other members into line, to teach them never to 'break ranks'. Like others before him, they will use Amaechi to demonstrate to other members that they are, because the PDP is.
It is of course, very tempting to take sides with Amaechi. The media are gradually constructing him as some kind of David who is facing a well-armed Goliath with mere sling and stones. It is a fabrication that subtly obliterates the road that led us to this place. Amaechi, last time I checked, is a member of the PDP and a beneficiary of all the political capital and the repressive might the party wields. He is as much a Goliath as the PDP itself. Not too long ago, did he not immodestly announce that his 'official' jet cost N7bn, and not the N9bn being speculated in the media? Where was his conscience when he was acquiring this adult toy with which he has been attending one private party after another all over the place? Just in 2012, he was hopping from media house to media house trying to buy support for the fuel subsidy removal. His argument then was that most of the state allocation funds went into recurring expenditure and governors needed the extra money that was being spent on subsidising fuel. Yet, he could afford a jet?
If there is any David here, it is the longsuffering Nigerian masses that will, one way or the other, bear the brunt of this rhubarb. Unless I see how this all comes down to the benefit of Nigerians, especially as it affects the price of fish in the market, I have no shred of pity for any side. The best I can do is wish Amaechi good luck. And lots of it too!