Amaechi’s Presidential Ambition Tears APC Apart, Sets Rivers on Fire
A hidden presidential ambition of Nigeria’s Transportation Minister and former Governor of Rivers State, Chibuike Amaechi, is tearing the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state apart the more, and a huge threat to peace and security.
Amaechi’s presidential ambition allegedly started in 2014 when he was hoping to run with President Muhammadu Buhari as his running mate, aiming to step into Buhari’s shoes in either 2019 or 2023.
But, when Prof. Yemi Osinbajo was announced as vice presidential candidate of the APC, Amaechi, allegedly went into shock and a doctor had to be brought in to treat him.
The worsening political rift between the minister and his hitherto closed confidant and political associate, Senator Magnus Abe, is fuelling unease in Rivers, the oil and gas capital of Nigeria. Some leaders of the APC are stripping themselves naked and sending out disturbing signals to their followers.
Some concerned citizens say if Abuja fails to call the warring APC chiefs to order, the worrisome situation might boil over. Already, Abe on his Facebook wall says the minister was placed on drip all night to stabilise him after he suffered a very serious shock from being passed over by Buhari.
His full testimony: ‘’My attention has been drawn to an interview granted by Amaechi. In the interview widely publicised by the Daily Post and several online media houses, the minister was said to have among issues raised therein described me as a betrayer and an ingrate.
‘’Nigerians are aware that Amaechi has been calling me names for the past two years and in keeping with my personal values and upbringing, I have refrained from joining issues with him in the public domain. However, it has become imperative that I set the records straight on the issues raised by the minister so that Nigerians will know the truth.
‘’First, the minister said the justice of the case today demands that the Riverine part of the state should produce the governor. Let me again place on record that it was the same Amaechi who called the entire leadership of the Ogoni nation to several meetings to promise the Ogoni people the same governorship for the same the same reason .
‘’All spectrum of the Ogoni including the supreme council of Ogoni traditional rulers, Mosop, Kagote, the church leaders council, the Academia are all aware of the minister’s commitment. He has told the Ogoni people on several occasions that they were the poorest and most marginalised group in Rivers state.
‘’He said the reason they have never gotten the governorship position is because they have never succeeded in making enough noise. He held closed door meetings with Ogoni leaders and made these promises more than four times during his tenure.
‘’When he changed his mind on what justice in Rivers state demands, he simply moved on to hold the same kind of meeting and make the same promise to the Riverine people.
‘’The minister asked if I am popular why did I go to court? My response is that I learnt from the case of _Rotimi Amaechi Vs INEC_ that when the rich and powerful, those who have absolute control of the party machinery, are after you it is only the courts that can help you. So I simply followed in Amaechi’s footsteps. If that meant he was not popular, then that is what it still means today.
‘’Amaechi said I fell ill when he picked Dakuku over me in 2015 I should answer honestly that I did not fall ill. Indeed Mr. Amaechi himself will recollect that Rivers youths almost set the Government house on fire, and that I came out to address them and went on air to appeal for calm. He can also remember that I arranged a meeting of Ogoni leaders who met with him in the aftermath of that decision. No doctor attended to me.
‘’But he will also remember that when Prof. Osinbajo was announced as vice presidential candidate of the APC, he went into shock and a doctor had to be brought in to treat him. He was placed on drip all night to stabilize him. That was why he assumed that I would have also require medication. We all react differently to shock.
‘’I am glad that Amaechi can still remember that myself and Wike attended meetings with him in an effort to support him to be governor. Whatever transpired between him and Dr Odili, I am glad Dr. Odili is still alive and he is in a better position than myself to discuss Mr. Amaechi’s loyalty.
‘’But let me remind Amaechi that he is not to me what Odili was to him. I have never been on Amaechi’s personal staff. I have never lived in his boys quarters. Our political partnership started in the house of Assembly to which I sponsored myself and Odili sponsored him. So I do not owe him the kind of loyalty that he owes Odili. How well he discharged that loyalty in the face of power is between him, Odili and God.
‘’Lastly, let me repeat once again, that I was elected Minority Leader of the Rivers State House of Assembly by members of the minority caucus of the House. I was appointed Commissioner of Information by Peter Odili. Odili himself called me after my appointment and told me in the presence of two witnesses ( the then Deputy Governor and the SSG) that my appointment was one he made by himself out of conviction that I would do well and he was not influenced by anyone in giving me that appointment.
‘’Yes, the minister as governor appointed me as SSG and supported me to go to the Senate. I thank him for the privilege, but I did not lobby for the job, and served with total commitment, and discharged my responsibilities faithfully and to the best of my ability.
‘’I never went to the minister sobbing for Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Job, and he knows that talk of me and the governorship predates and postdates NDDC. Most importantly none of this was done on the precondition that I would not attempt to be governor.
‘’I really must appeal to the minister to take it easy. All is too transient in life to habour so much pettiness and hatred. Nigeria is a democracy and I have a constitutional right to aspire to a position for which to the best of my knowledge he is not in contention. The APC is not a personal estate of anyone, it is a political party and I am playing by the rules. He should try to understand the rules so we can play together.’’
Senator Abe who is representing Rivers South-East Senatorial District has been admonishing the Amaechi, to accept full responsibility for the political woes that have befell the big oil state.
APC in Rivers has no electoral candidates for all the elections this year. The tragedy is however, self-inflicted.
Internal crisIs arising from Amaechi’s desire to foist a governorship candidate has been rocking the party since 2014.It came to the front burner last year when Abe, whom the minister denied an opportunity to take part in the APC gubernatorial primaries in 2014 decided that he will not accept a repeat of the 2014 primaries.
APC did not conduct a gubernotorial primaries then as Dakuku Peter side was imposed on the party. In 2019, Amaechi attempted to impose his friend and business partner, Pastor Tonye Cole but Abe insisted he must take part in the primaries.
In a seeming bid to frustrate the Ogoni political leader, Amaechi, who dominated the state for some eight years, whipped up the polarising Upland/ Riverine sentiment to nail Abe’s undying governorship ambition.
Peter Odili (1999-2007) was from Upland, Amaechi (2007-2015) Upland, and Abe is being classified as Upland, though the Ogoni am claiming to be both given the nature of their terrain.
The intra-parry crisis has led to several court cases and judgment that no candidate of the APC should take part in the general elections as the normal process of choosing party candidates were not observed.
Abe, an estranged friend and political ally of Amaechi, has requested the minister to swallow his pride and take responsibility for his actions that has plunged APC in Rivers in the present logjam. According to Abe, rather than face the reality on the ground, the minister is busy staging needless battles against everybody he suspects, including the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Abe described Amaechi’s comments against him as very insulting, childish and an attempt to deviate from the crux of the matter, pointing out that neither INEC nor Governor Nyesom Wike is responsible for the pitiable situation APC in the state has found itself.
According to him, ‘’it is unfortunate that the Honourable Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, rather than acknowledge his actions which has dragged the APC in Rivers to the edge. He has continued to stage an unnecessary personal battle against everybody and he has simply refused to look in the mirror and acknowledge that it is his own actions as a leader that has dragged the party to where it is.’’
While noting that it is neither INEC nor Wike, but the actions of the APC leader in Rivers, Amaechi that has dragged the party to where it is, he added that party supremacy in the modern world is about the supremacy of the constitution and rules of the party, not the supremacy of the leader, wondering why the minister is going around calling names instead of looking inwards.
He explained that when the party had its congresses, members of the party paid for forms, but the Minister decreed that they were no longer members of the party and should not be allowed to take part in the congresses.
He (Amaechi) gave that order, the aggrieved party members rushed to the Courts, the people brought guns to the courts and violently tried to stop the courts from adjudicating in the matter. That attack on the courts is the foundation of his problem with the judiciary. It has nothing to do with me, Wike or the INEC Chairman.
As a leader he could have made some compromises to resolve the matter, the choice to fight to finish was that of Amaechi: ‘’Ameachi’s comment today on the radio was very childish, what he should be talking about by this time as a politician is the way forward. How do we come together to deliver the President, because everybody’s votes including the aggrieved people are necessary for the President Buhari.
‘’So, we called this meeting to encourage all members of this party to come out en mass to support the president. The resources of the party are with him, it is his responsibility as the leader of the party in the state and the DG of the campaign. He should do whatever he needs to do to protect the votes.
‘’Secondly, I feel insulted when Amaechi says Nyesom Wike is using me. With all due respect to the Governor of Rivers State, he is not in any way my superior. He is my junior at the Barr and in politics.
‘’I have tried as much as possible for us to keep our dirty linen inside, Amaechi should not open his mouth again and say Wike is using me. He Amaechi could not use me as a Governor, against my principles and my beliefs, so how can Wike in a different party use me.
‘’Amaechi talks about how he has contributed to 80 percent of Rivers politicians but he has never mentioned to Nigerians what 80 percent of Rivers politicians contributed to him to make him what he is today. If he made everybody, what did God do.
‘’Nigerians should ask who is working for Wike, it is the problem Amaechi foisted on APC that Wike is benefiting from, his political blunders has made him Wike’s greatest benefactor. When this crisis started we tried to draw his attention but he refused. We were telling him if this crisis continues he will suffer the outcome. What did he do when everybody was telling him including his close friends, were telling he will suffer ultimately because he is the leader of the party.
‘’Today he is telling people he did not want Wike to be governor because he is from Ikwerre. But after Wike became governor he still went ahead to nominate himself as Minister, why didn’t he stop himself since Wike is from Ikwerre? Rivers people are not fools. God is powerful and remained powerful.
‘’The only chance left to put APC on the ballot is for the court to accept the direct primary that was supervised by the state party executive.’’