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“Game on” in Rivers

By Ochereome Nnanna
IT was horrible in the corridors of power in Port Harcourt on Tuesday last week. If it were a scripted Nollywood home video, it would have been either age-barred or altogether banned by the Nigerian Video Censors Board.

An “honourable” member had a heavy, blunt object in his two hands. He swung it over his head and delivered a hit on the forehead of another “honourable” member.

Rather than the victim turning tail and running for dear life as fast as his feet could take him, he was spinning around like a headless chicken. Perhaps, he was too dazed to run.

He was repeatedly attacked until he found himself near an exit door. Just before he plunged into it, his assailant released a final hit across back in the waist region. We later heard the blunt object was a camera tripod – a steel object!

Someone described that cold-blooded assault as an “attempted murder”. That assailant, whoever he is, must be prosecuted accordingly. The victim could easily have fallen down and lost his life. After all, the late Hon. Aminu Safana, a legislator from Katsina, simply slumped during a heated argument in the chamber of the House of Reps during the Patricia Etteh scandal in 2007 even though he was not even assaulted.

Another sickening part of it all was that a policeman decked in his newly-acquired fatigue uniform was seen stripping the victim of his black jacket and in the process rendering him more vulnerable before his attacker.

Earlier on, five members of the Rivers State House of Assembly opposed to Governor Chibuike Amaechi had conducted a comical charade in which they said they had impeached the Speaker of the House, Otelemabala Amachree, replacing him with Evans Bipi. What else would you call a situation where five out of 32 members of a legislature would purport to carry out an impeachment when the constitution clearly says they needed two-thirds majority or roughly 20 members. The impeachment’s nullity was proved when 26 members later assembled and attended to a supplementary budget brought to the house by the Deputy Governor, Tele Ikuru.

What happened that Tuesday was a move to push Governor Amaechi further to the outer fringes of power, perhaps before the final nudge. The opposition rehearsed its roles very carefully. You must have seen how the grounds of the Assembly were flooded with people described as “thugs” in some media quarters. Since there was a screening of both members and visitors to the Assembly, with scores of policemen in evidence, how was it possible for “thugs” to make it into the “hallowed chamber” of the House if superior powers were not in the picture and on the side of the opposition?

And how come that the policemen sat on their palms and watched the live movie, rather than do their job as law enforcement agents? Those (like Dr. Doyin Okupe, the Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs) who said the Presidency had nothing to do with events of that day were merely playing to the gallery. This was simply the latest episode of the President Goodluck Jonathan versus Governor Chibuike Amaechi political muscle-flexing. It was the newest phase of the political game meant to push matters rapidly towards the endgame.

After the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) election, which Amaechi doggedly contested against the directives of his party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and won, thus making President Jonathan lose face; he had drawn a bold battle line. He not only gave the president’s political enemies in the north the opportunity to betray the Party and the President; he was also the rallying point for the rebellion.

Thereafter, the two sides (President and Governor) made that routine protocol encounter at the Port Harcourt International Airport when Jonathan visited his home state. It was splashed all over the front pages of the dailies, and speculated as a move towards reconciliation. The following day, the major stakeholders opposed to Amaechi in the Rivers State PDP led by Hon. Felix Obuah, visited the President in Aso Villa. They included Amaechi’s former principal, ex-Governor Peter Odili. That visit was meant to keep the President focused on his warpath with the Governor.

The anti-Amaechi group would obviously want him out of the picture as soon as possible because he could remain an irritant on President Jonathan’s path to re-election in his home base. The PDP and the Presidency are set for a general re-jig of structures in readiness for the oncoming political high season and undesirable elements will be dropped from the wagon as soon as possible.

Amaechi started this crisis by striking the posture of an opposition element; a strange bedfellow, within the ruling party. He chose to fight the party and the Presidency from within, rather than honourably resign and join his allies in the All Progressives Congress (APC) parties, to which he is now the rallying point. People say he has the constitutional right to do what he is doing, but the party also has the right to protect itself from a member who now acts in the interest of the opposition. This is power play, and it is game on.

Amaechi says he is under siege. What did he expect? He would do the same to anyone who undermines him. The hand that disturbs the bee’s nest will be stung.

Boko Haram convictions

TUESDAY, July 9th 2013 became an important day in our history of war on terrorism. It was on this day that Hon. Justice Bilikisu Aliyu of an Abuja Federal High Court sentenced Shuaibu Abubakar, Salisu Ahmed, Umar Babagana, and Mohammed Ali, all members of the terror group, Boko Haram, to life in jail for their parts in the bombing of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) office in Suleija.

Many were elated that, at least and at last, some terrorists have been brought to book, even if they got less than they deserved: death, which they meted out to their victims.

Concerns remain, though. What about their sponsors; the big men who assembled and financed the ugly venture? You don’t kill a snake by cutting the tail leaving the head.

Secondly, sending them to jail for life means we have to be vigilant forever for fear of their affiliates setting them free through jailbreaks, the sort we witnessed in Ondo and Bama prisons recently.




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