Save Rotimi Amaechi, not Rivers people…


By Godwin Sogolo
There is an African adage which says that it is the fly that refuses to

heed advice that follows the corpse into the grave. Before the APC rally

that took place in Ogoniland on Saturday, 25th January, 2014, elders from

four Local Government Areas, under the aegis of the Concerned Ogoni Elders

Forum, had advised Rivers State Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, to

cancel the planned rally. The advice fell on deaf ears.

But, when eventually the Governor had the opportunity of addressing his

supporters, his message to them was simply that he had insisted on

attending the rally to tell them that they: must not run away from

violence; should defend and protect themselves, and must be prepared for

more violence as long as the Commissioner of Police, Joseph Mbu, remains

in Rivers state. Ironically, Amaechi was speaking at the rally under the

heavy protection of well-armed policemen, deployed by CP Mbu.

If the Save Rivers Movement, the organizers of the rally, were genuinely

committed to saving anybody, that person should be Amaechi himself. They

must save Amaechi first from his own death-wish and then from all those

goading him into self-destruction. How the Governor got himself to his

now pathetic psychological disposition, is difficult to explain, except

that it calls to mind the classical quote from Greek literature that “they

whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad.”

Those who have pushed Amaechi to the precipice and who are now urging him

to fight on and die for a non-existent cause are mainly strangers to his

life, politically and socially. What, for instance, could have brought

Amaechi and Sam Nda-Isaiah, publisher of Leadership newspaper, together?

Yet, it was this total stranger who devoted a section of his weekly column

to praising Amaechi for having the courage to tell the people of River

State “not to run away in the face of violence” but be prepared to bite

the bullet that might come from “a Commissioner of Police sent to the

state by the president to create instability” (Leadership of 27 January,

2014, back page). Nda-Isaiah called on Rivers people to heed the warning

of their leader that “there will be more violence in Rivers State as long

as the commissioner of police, Mbu Joseph, remains there.”

Casting one's mind back to the PDP's Special Convention of August 2013,

when some political leaders walked out, Governor Amaechi was very much in

the mix of strange bedfellows. He looked confused and harassed, and we

knew immediately that something had snapped. Since then, his condition has

deteriorated, either when welcoming APC leaders to Rivers State or reading

out communiqués of his own faction of the Governors Forum or merely

standing in solidarity with his newly found friends, such as Nasir

el-Rufai and Lai Mohammed. Today, Amaechi does nothing but sing war songs,

indulge in hate-mongering and throw missiles at the Federal Government,

President Jonathan, the First Lady, his own people who happen to be PDP

supporters and the Police, all of whom he accuses of planning to destroy

the people of River State. He was friend to these people not long ago.

Amaechi's case is now beyond political rascality. What has become certain

is that in his misadventure, it is Rivers State that is suffering. It is

the people of that State that are being psychologically tortured in this

needless war. What benefits does the average Rivers man, woman or youth

derive from the threat by the APC to shutdown the Federal government?

Absolute nothing! Yet, Governor Amaechi is excited by this prospect

because he has nothing to lose!
The people of Rivers State have a collective responsibility to protect

themselves from being drawn into a war that is of no concern to them. How

come that suddenly, Muhammadu Buhari, Bola Tinubu, Bisi Akande, Lai

Balogun, El-Rufai and others, now love the people of Rivers State more

than they love themselves? Why are they prepared to destroy the Federal

Government in order to save Rivers people? Only these men can explain how,

exactly, the problems of Rivers State have become the greatest challenges

facing the Nigerian state. Be extremely careful when a stranger comes to

your house to declare that he loves you and your family more than he loves

Outside Rivers State, Nigerians have a responsibility to save Governor

Amaechi from himself. In his current state of mind, the Governor has lost

control and appears to have lost touch with reality. If Amaechi were not a

governor and he displayed the kind of character, conduct and utterances

that we have observed recently on a daily basis, he would have been

treated differently. The Save Rivers Movement must retool its strategies

and save Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, first, before doing anything

Sogolo is a Professor of Philosophy and Public Policy Analyst.