The Amaechi I Know...and The Cynicism Of His Traducers
Politicians are to play politics the way magical tricks are expected of magicians. But while the roles and nature of a magician is precisely defined, a politician's remains perjoratively obscure. It is tragic that, nowadays, even universally, a politician is almost a euphemistic verb for a sugar-tongued sleek cheat. Yes, politicians have, globally too, in the overwhelming majority, lied and scammed and unabashedly existed as moral tragedies. The greater tragedy is that citizens world over expect politicians to be the way they are and that is bad for an increasingly republican world gorverned by politicians. In this great stream of moral failures called politicians, a few good eggs has slipped through, and we are too traumatised to notice, most times.
I grew up in Port Harcourt in the 90's, witnessed a tame city during two Juntas; IBB's and Abacha's. It was a city with ambitious trajectories even if it had always remained the South-South's commercial capital. Looking from 1993 or 1994 anything seemed possible- Beijing, Tokyo, Zurich, Berling or even London, in very close years. Outside Port-Harcourt, in the other towns of Rivers State, although isolated at those time, promise and hope was very evident.
I lived in Rivers state in two phases, the pre-Bayelsa phase, the years before Abacha carved out parts of the Old Rivers state in 1996 to become Present Bayelsa state, and the post-Bayelsa years, the years disullionment forced some of us back to the parts that are Rivers state some years after Bayelsa's creation. From 2004 to 2007 I lived in Mgbuoba town of Port Harcourt and attended Istan High at Rumuipirikom. I remember how we frequently stuck our fingers inside electrical ports because we were certain power would not be restored, people even lay clothes to dry on electrical lines. I-pass-my-neigbough generators were the masters of the night's sound waves. We were frequently attacked by armed robbers or gang members. The daily rides to school was helish, like many other internal roads that time, the road from Mgbuoba to Rumuipirikom was almost unpassable, a nightmare for all motorists as the roads had deep ditches, it was terrible during the rainy season. Today, after 8 years of Rotimi Amaechi, there is a flawlessly built two lane road from Rumuipirikom to Mgbuoba, the armed robbers and the gang members have been pushed out of the city and there is stable power supply. The change I have witnessed in the Mgbuoba to Rumuipirikom axis is not limited to that axis alone, but is unarguably statewide. Amaechi, despite a few pockets of human shortcomings, reunited Rivers state to the Rivers state of the 90s that had unlimited possibilities, he restored Port Harcourt back to her 'Garden City' status.
The efforts of Amaechi should not frail before petty politics. Cynics and enemies or whatnots, justified or not, should not and cannot wish away Amaechi's strides by wands of deception and cynicism. One problem our country has not been as inventive as its supposed to be is that we have, for reasons vague and unbecoming, shyed away from encouraging those who have been taking that extra step. Our politics somehow compartmentalizes and contextualizes things to warping degrees: he's PDP so he hasn't done well, he is APC so he is a brute etc. So, in the context that Amaechi 'betrayed' his people by leaving the 'traditional party of his people' he has, in a fell swoop,' failed in governance'. Like some would say, after all he's a politician. If efforts could be so easily undone, plucked out from reality like some are trying to do the efforts of Gov. Amaechi, then the underlining implicature is that public office holders should forget about that extra effort for positive advancement and play masturbatory politics. Amaechi didn't masturbate, didn't play ball, didn't tow the easy line, didn't kiss the asses 'his people' expected him to kiss. But how does masturbatos, ball players, easy liners and ass kissers end in the anals of history: moral and administrative wrecks.
Politicians will always catfight for the soul of the land and the people. In many cases it would be evil against evil, in few cases it clearly would be good against evil. But for the case of Rotimi Amaechi and those currently occupying Rivers state Government house, one merely needs a simple check on backgrounds and facts to know.
Julius Bokoru is an essayist, writer, social and political commentator. He is the author of the critically acclaimed book The Angel That Was Always There. He could be reached at [email protected]