By Ochereome Nnanna
THAT Rivers State will continue to be a theatre of high political drama in the coming months could be an understatement. On Tuesday, 26th March 2015, evidences of this were playing out on two television networks. On the Africa Independent Television (AIT) the crowd of the pro-People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Rivers elite who worked for the victory of Governor-elect, Barrister Nyesom Wike, backed up by former Governor Peter Odili and former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Barrister OCJ Okocha, held the fort, with Wike as the principal focus during a public lecture to usher in his administration.
And on Channels Television, their counterparts of the pro-All Progressives Congress (APC) led by the outgoing Governor Rotimi Amaechi, used the occasion of his 50th birthday anniversary and Children’s Day to gather with their friends and well-wishers. I could spot Dr Alex Otti, the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) candidate in the Abia State governorship election who is now at the Election Tribunal to try and reclaim his stolen mandate.
In his lengthy keynote address, Wike made it clear that he would “recover” all the state funds he claimed were looted during the eight years of Amaechi’s rule. Amaechi, who had obviously monitored the proceedings on AIT, spoke in an angry, disconcerted voice. After absolving himself of any act of corruption, he said he did not probe the government of Dr Odili (his former principal and mentor) because, according to him, people would not ask him how many people he probed while in office. They would ask him his achievements.
Let me remind us, before I go on, that Amaechi and Wike were once part of the political kingdom created by Odili when he was the Governor of Rivers State. Amaechi was the Speaker of the State House of Assembly for eight years, while Wike was an outstanding Chairman of the Obio/Akpor Local Government Area; a strategic and influential part of the greater Port Harcourt capital conurbation. Wike, a powerful grassroots politician, was instrumental to the reclamation of Amaechi’s mandate from Sir Celestine Omehia. Remember, Omehia was the replacement for Amaechi whom Obasanjo forced Odili to pick at a campaign rally because Obasanjo declared Amaechi’s eligibility to stand for PDP as having “developed “K”-leg? As a reward for Wike’s contributions, Amaechi appointed him his Chief of Staff. Trouble started between Amaechi and Wike when Amaechi could no longer cope with the growing clout of Wike and started looking for ways of whittling down his influence.
At his birthday event, Amaechi told a hair-raising story of how Wike allegedly killed people on his way to winning the governorship election. I quote him: “In a bid for Wike to be governor, he hired one Atake; they killed a young man and cut his private part. They slit his throats and hung him on a tree”! I have questions for Amaechi, because not everyone who listens to his frequent loose talks is a dummy. Most of us are conversant with every major step he has taken because he has been one of the most visible, audible and controversial politicians in his weight class.
First, his assertion about not probing Odili. That is not entirely true. Why did he set up the “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” headed by the late Justice Kayode Eso, who conducted a biased and kangaroo proceeding and indicted Odili without giving him adequate opportunity to defend himself? It is on record that a Rivers State High Court presided over by Justice RI Ahiakwo, later set aside the indictment of Odili, saying he was not given fair hearing.
Besides, we know that any probe of Odili’s financial dealings during his eight-year rule will also exhume Amaechi’s connivance as a willing tool at the head of a very subservient state legislature. The same thing would happen if Wike’s stewardship in Rivers is probed. Amaechi cannot escape being a collaborator or concealer of “sins” when the going was good between him and them.
Second, this murder thing. Look at that story again, and you brim with questions. This is what I call “cock-and-bull” story. The story has no facts in it. A credible murder story will detail who committed the murder, in connivance with whom? The only clear name was Wike whose identity is public knowledge. Who was the contract murderer? Amaechi only mentioned “Atake”. The only name well-known name remotely sounding like that in Rivers State is Ateke Tom, an ex-militant warlord. Is that the same as “Atake”?
Now, what is the concrete identity of the unfortunate individual who was allegedly murdered in this gruesome manner? He must have had a name. He must have come from a community and family. He must have been murdered somewhere. If such a grisly murder had taken place and got discovered, some documentation of the crime scene must have taken place. Apart from that, there must have been credible evidence linking this “murder” to Wike. The case ought to have been lodged with the police and charged to court. In fact, that sort of murder ought to disqualify a culprit from contesting for the office of Governor. Even if a conviction had not been achieved, the suspect would be stigmatised by being put in the dock for such a blood-curdling crime. In spite of the clear absence of evidence and conviction, Amaechi continues to call Wike a “murderer” based on unsubstantiated allegations.
If it is true that Wike committed the offence as charged, he will be going into the gubernatorial office with his hands covered in cold blood, and he will soon be pavilioned with executive immunity for the next four to eight years! Amaechi cannot escape being named as an accessory to the alleged crimes he has been trumpeting on rooftops against Odili and Wike.
Amaechi’s unwise political disposition has cost his state dearly. A state that once boasted of N100 billion in its savings account and received the second highest revenue from the Excess Crude Account (over N250 billion) is now owing workers salaries! That must be probed.