By Jimitota Onoyume
Governor Chibuke Amechi’s entry into the Rivers State Government House in 2007 quite after the inauguration of his colleagues was unusual. It seems his bid for the second term may take an equally unusual route.
Even days before the first public inclination of a second term bid by the governor, student bodies, members of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in the state and the State House of Assembly among others, had piled pressure on him to run.
At a special session recently in honour of Amaechi, who then was celebrating his 45th birthday, the state legislature called on the governor to contest the election.
Omehia as a likely opponent
Meantime, the rumour mill, as usual, is at work on those who are likely to vie for the seat with the governor in next year’s election. They include his cousin, former governor Celestine Omehia.
It would be recalled that Omehia was sacked by the Supreme Court and in his stead Amaechi was installed by the same court as governor. The court had maintained that Omehia was not the proper candidate of the PDP in the 2007 governorship election that brought him on board as governor. Currently, posters by a group calling on Omehia to contest the election have flooded the state capital.
Omehia and Amaechi are members of the PDP. While the former may be grouped among Abuja members of the party, Governor Amaechi seems to call the shots on ground in the party at the state level. It is not known if the two cousins will choose to go for the PDP primaries or if one of them would seek to pursue his aspiration on another party’s platform.
Also in the race against Amechi is former Secretary to the State Government, Dr Abiye Sekibo, who was also Minister of Transport in the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Sekibo has crossed over to the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN. He is expected to pursue his governorship ambition on that platform.
Also contesting on the plank of the ACN is Dr. Itekena Abel-Tariah who formally declared his own intention to occupy the Rivers State Government House on Monday, December 6, 2010.
There are insinuations, however, that Dr. Abel-Tariah could receive the sympathy of Governor Amechi to pick the ACN ticket on the strength of what sources say is the governor’s assessment of the potency of a potential challenge from Sekibo.
Remarkably, no PDP member has formally declared interest in slugging it out with Amechi with the governor having the prospect of sailing through in the forthcoming primaries if his cousin or any other challenger fails to come out.
In the beginning
Omehia, Sekibo and Amaechi were all key actors in the political empire of two-time former governor, Dr. Peter Odil.. The structure, however, witnessed a major crack during the 2007 governorship election which gave rise to two visible contending factions. The duo of Sekibo and Omehia remained with Odili while Amaechi went solo and thus started the process of raising a new political structure with him at the helm of affairs.
Many still view the emergence of Amaechi as governor of the state as an act of God even if it was via a Supreme Court judgement. But for the verdict the governor had almost completely lost out in the political power play in the PDP both at the state and national levels.
Amaechi, who at the moment is seen as one of the few governors in the country operating without a god father, marked his three years in office recently.
Amaechi lists achievements
At an event to mark his 1095 days in office, Amaechi spoke his administration’s efforts to tackle power problem in the state, saying that he was happy to note that the power situation had improved in the state. He also identified 500 communities that are yet to be connected to the national grid in the state and assured that they would enjoy electricity before he leaves office.
Amaechi also said his government had sealed up talk to build a substation at Rumuolumenin that would service Rumuolumeni, Ozuoba, Mgbuoba, Choba , noting that by next year the state, on its own, would generate 520 megawatts.