THE unfolding political drama in Rivers State is, no doubt, a worrisome distraction not only to the dramatis personae and their henchmen but also to the entire polity. Its festering dimension as we follow the intrigues and name-calling portrays us as an unserious lot who see politics and political power as avenues to lay claim to some fiendish acclaim.
It is depressing as a recurring negative of our democracy and why the political system is fraught with many challenges, yearning for overhauling.
But my greater worry is the implication of this unrestrained indulgence on the critical question of proper governance in the state and the basic interest of the people which should be the pre-occupation of the incumbent governor, Nyesom Wike.
Rather than the fixation on his predecessor with all sorts of recriminations, many believe the new government should be circumspect by focusing more on governance as a pressing factor of its responsibility.
From the look of things, it will appear to any objective observer that this is a dog fight which has a deeper, disguised essence other than the much publicised allegations against the immediate past governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi. This is an important observation, reinforced by the sequence of events and indeed the feisty and bitter nature of public pronouncements of Governor Wike against Amaechi before and after the controversial election in the state. The persuasive deduction from this important observation as many are wont to believe is that the whole orchestration that is gradually but consciously executed by the new power block in the state is aimed at rubbishing the legacy of the former governor which is regrettable.
Now, the refrain in the government establishment in Port-Harcourt and those of associated political interest groups is the tendency to cast Amaechi in very dark stripes as a “demon” and in the new consciousness of betrayal and ardent provocation as a ‘fraud” barely six months after leaving office as a celebrated performer, a humanist and democracy hero, one who actually made a difference in the lives of his people.
So what really happened? Why the bizarre obsession to destroy a good man at all cost especially when we recollect his many firsts in leadership, effective governance and overall huge successes in policy and programmes and as affirmed in public opinion in no distant time? What could be the issue? Is it a manifestation of the evils of our crude politics or sheer banality? This should be a time for soul-searching as well as time for healing, I believe.
Lest we forget that our politics is still largely driven by opportunism: from that sunny day at the water front in Okirika, when Amaechi had a “confrontation” with the former First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, over policy (public good)rather than such mundane interest as she then postulated, the seed of discord was sown. As with all things Nigerian, our dear Nyesom Wike capitalised on the faceoff to feather his own nest. He became the willing tool, no matter the moral question, to persecute his benefactor. From that moment till date, Wike had never hidden his disdain for Amaechi (the Pull Him Down Syndrome) with his burning interest and target to become the next governor of Rivers State and a new power broker.
A lot had since happened but certainly the desire to rubbish Amaechi by Wike in any way possible remains a constant element in his agenda. From day one in office, this desire became a priority going by his numerous vindictive and selfish actions against Amaechi.
But beyond the maddening crowd of Amaechi crucifixion, can we really justifiably believe the new found corruption claim of the state government other than a deliberate plot to paint Amaechi so black with a possible damning verdict by a court so primed to deliver a hasty pronouncement on his tenure? A logical end in the on-going hot pursuit of a sworn enemy?
Of course, it is too clear to every discerning observer of the macabre dance in Port-Harcourt that the objective is to dent Amaechi’s hard earned reputation to possibly frustrate his higher elevation in leadership position and national service but this will fail so woefully. President Muhammadu Buhari, all conscientious leaders and the generality of patriotic Nigerians can see beyond Wike’s façade of hypocrisy. It won’t stop Amaechi from ascending to higher calling as a will of God.
No matter what his political enemies may say, Amaechi is an uncommon leader who was conscious of his place in history and acted so pragmatically especially in the last presidential election. His strategic roles in the election of President Buhari will continue to be of serious evaluation and analysis with a generous verdict by perceptive thinkers as a vote for national interest rather than tribe or ethnic leaning.
He was simply a patriot whose activist and progressive leadership in this 4th Republic raises hope for democratic consolidation and national renewal. Amaechi is a man of convictions, dogged, thorough and certainly a key architect of the democratic success we enjoy today. He deserves to be celebrated as a genuine national icon.
From that Okirika incident to the huge infraction of the Soku Oil Well to the ‘16 higher than 19 votes” at the Governors Forum election down to the orchestrated impeachment as we recollect those terrible occurrences in the state house of assembly, deprivation of Amaechi’s administration in legitimate constitutional entitlements and privileges to all manner of political intimidation and harassment (remember Mathew Mbu), the stage had since been set to bring down the Lion Heart. But in major considerations, we can only look back and reckon so proudly that Amaechi won the battle, notwithstanding the subsisting leftover as we are witnessing.
Amaechi came into office well prepared and he delivered on his lofty promises to the huge excitement of his people. His passion and determination were too visible to the end. First, he worked so hard to birth a lasting peace in a former enclave of street gangs and insecurity.
He moved so fast to reposition education in a creative manner that has changed the lot of a generation. Making Port-Harcourt a UNESCO World Book Capital was not an accident. Health, agriculture, entrepreneurship and empowerment, infrastructure, particularly roads and bridges got major attention as he provided a remarkable leadership which was duly recognised locally and abroad. He bonded freely with his people and they loved him for his forthrightness.
Like Rosa Park, Amaechi, however, insisted on being treated with dignity, decorum and equity. He refused to sacrifice his principles on the altar of convenience or compromise. It is a moral force shaped by his values and ethics which have also helped to build his enduring leadership of integrity and honour. He was courageous and he continues to inspire. This was the defining moment which Wike and his tribe of opportunists hated so much and exploited to become somebody today but I doubt if Amaechi is regretting his course of action.
Amaechi’s legacy remains indelible and no amount of human efforts can obliterate that important part of history.
Mr. George Njoku, a political analyst, wrote from Port-Harcourt, Rivers States.