Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has become a political nightmare to his kinsman, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi. Wike has again shown that he is the master of the turbulent waters of Rivers politics. To therefore, deliver himself from the scourge, he will need to enroll for a master programme in the Wike school of political mastery.
Following his earthquake victory on Wednesday, Wike did not only dedicate the victory to God, he led prominent Rivers people and other Nigerians to offer Thanksgiving to the Almighty at the Government House Port Harcourt Chapel of Everlasting Grace
Prof. Teddy Adias, the State Returning Officer, who doubles as the Deputy Vice Chancellor of the Federal University Otueke, in Bayelsa State, declared Wike of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) winner of the controversial Rivers governorship poll in Port Harcourt, the state capital.
The governor emerged winner with a total of 886,264 votes, while Biokpomabo Awara, the governorship candidate of the African Alliance Congress (AAC) who was fronting for Amaechi, trailed behind him with 173,859 votes.
Adias declared the total margin of between the two contestants as 712,405, adding that the total number of registered voters was 3,048,741, accredited voters 1,130,445, valid votes cast 1,102,823, total votes cast=1,123,840 and voided votes, 249,324.
AAC’s party agent, Chukwunenye Kocha, said that the party would study the results before taking any decision. He, however, pointed out that the party stood for peace, and accordingly urged the people of Rivers and other political parties to maintain peace.
PDP had since described Wike’s victory as a victory for the peoples of Rivers and the triumph of good over evil. According to the PDP Spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, ‘’Governor Wike’s record 700,000 votes margin of victory over the disgraced combined anti-people forces of the APC and the AAC and compromised security agencies speaks volume of the resilience of the people of Rivers in the face of intimidations, harassment and manipulations by oppressive forces.’’
Continuing, the party said, ‘’the victory reinforces the confidence of the people in the resoluteness of asserting their democratic choice of leadership as well as standing in defence of their mandate to the end. It also demonstrates that the will of the people will always prevail against every form of suppression as were eminently manifested in the desperation by the APC leaders, particularly, Amaechi, to forcefully and violently take over control of the state against the wish of the people.’’
Ologbondiyan said PDP salutes and venerates all compatriots who were killed by ‘’agents of the oppressors’’ during the election, adding that those compatriots did not die in vain and those who shed their innocent blood will surely be brought to book.’’PDP however, commended Governor Wike, the peoples of Rivers and all lovers of democracy across the board for standing firm until the very end to hand this disgraceful defeat to the enemies of the people.
Adding, he said, ‘’we congratulate all our candidates, who won their elections at all levels across the country and assures those pursuing their stolen mandates at the tribunals that the party is fully behind them, given that they all have water tight cases at the courts.’’
Wike was however, accompanied by his wife, Justice Eberechi Suzzette Nyesom-Wike, Imo State Governor-elect, Emeka Ihedioha, members of the National Assembly and the state House of Assembly for the thanksgiving.
Chaplain of the Government House Chapel of Everlasting Grace, Venerable Sunday Opara prayed for Governor Wike, his wife and top government officials, stating that the victory came from God, stating God will continue to guide the Governor to do exploits during his second term.
Amaechi, former Speaker of the state House of Assembly (1999-2007) and Governor from 2007-2015, and presently Transportation Minister (2015 till date) by all standards, is a phenomenon in the big oil and gas state he has been troubling since he left the party that made him politically, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for a seeming unholy intercourse with the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Without the doubt, Amaechi exists. He is being seen. The Rivers people felt him during the elections. As a political demi-god his politics may either be unusual or interesting, depending from the lens one is perusing this iconic character his admirers prefer to call the Lion of Ubima (because he hails from Ubima in Ikwerre Local Government Area). That is what makes him a phenomenon.
As a phenomenon, his problem in Rivers is political, not really a quest for a developmental agenda. As a Port Harcourt boy who has tasted political power and the patronage system of government on which elite cohesion depends, because of the issuance of contracts, kickbacks and leakage for big infrastructure projects, he has been fighting hard to establish a political dynasty in the state.
He has not succeeded yet. The 2019 general election has been disastrous to him as 2015 was. Rivers State which is named after the many rivers that border her territory, was part of the Oil Rivers Protectorate from 1885 till 1893, when it became part of the Niger Coast Protectorate. In 1900 the region was merged with the chartered territories of the Royal Niger Company to form the colony of Southern Nigeria. The state was formed in 1967 with the split of the Eastern Region of Nigeria. In 1996 the state lost territory to form Bayelsa State.
Rivers is home to many indigenous ethnic groups: Ogoni, Abua, Ekpeye, Ikwerre, Ibani, Opobo, Eleme, Okrika, and Kalabari, Etche, Ogba, Engenni, Egbema, Obolo and others. The way things are in the state, to be able to acquire a Bola Tinubu-like status in Lagos, will require a painstaking rainbow coalition. It is doubtful if Amaechi could build such an enduring coalition.
Apparently conscious of the fact that kickbacks are what the political elite chop, and without them the political machine grinds to a halt, the problem therefore, facing Amaechi is where to look for funds to keep his relevance going in the event of being dropped by President Muhammadu Buhari in the new government.
For a Czarist political leader like Amaechi, patronage and identity politics tend to matter more than electioneering.Their fight is not for the economic wellbeing of the citizenry. It is purely for their political gain which is fuelled by the logic of rent and patronage.
Amaechi became Governor without a broad support of the elders of Rivers who had previously perceived him as an ‘’arrogant’’ fellow. Thanks to the Supreme Court ruling of October, 2007 that terminated the Celestine Omehia administration. In his 2011 re-election bid, the mercurial Nyesom Wike literally carried him on his back across the state soliciting for electoral support.
To be fighting Wike with such intensity since 2015, tends to show that Amaechi lacks what it takes to keep his political family together. That simply explains why his party, the APC did not field any candidate in the state. His muscle-flexing with Senator Magnus Abe, a strong political ally since the inauguration of the state House of Assembly in 1999, became a big political tragedy for the APC. Such an avoidable mistake is capable of dimming the political light of Amaechi the more if the party sits down to review the Rivers folly.
If the APC eventually sanctions Amaechi and prevents him from being re-appointed as minister, the Amaechi military power politics is likely to suffer from a conjunction of two deficiencies- legitimacy and naira power. Most likely, he will not be able to sustain the services of security agents, the starving electorate and ‘loyal’ party chiefs without the naira bills, issued via lucrative government contracts.