By Donu Kogbara
Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, the current Minister of Transport and former Governor of Rivers State, was my bosom buddy for many years; and before, during and after the 2015 elections, I supported Amaechi to the hilt, sometimes reluctantly.
I would have been MUCH happier if Amaechi had resolved his conflicts with our Big Brother, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, the first-ever President of Nigeria who came from our South-South zone. But reconciliation was not possible at that point in time, largely because of interventions from Jonathan’s wife, Dame Patience Jonathan.
So I stood by Amaechi, followed him when he switched from PDP to APC and nearly got killed when I and other APC supporters were shot at during a pre-election rally that took place in Okrika, Mrs. Jonathan’s Rivers State village; and when the 2015 elections were marred by widespread violence, I complained about the violence on this page AND on international TV/Radio platforms like Al Jazeera and the BBC.
I also contacted senior foreign diplomat friends to express the view that the 2015 election results shouldn’t be announced until various deaths had been investigated. And Amaechi was there when I called the ambassador of a major European country.
Eighteen months later, in December 2016, there were legislative election re-runs in Rivers State; and a young PDP man was murdered in my village, Bodo, allegedly by a security operative who was attached to the APC candidate. And because I try my best to be morally consistent, I complained about this murder and expressed the view that the result should not be announced until it had been investigated.
I’m NOT blaming Maurice, the APC candidate – who has been declared the winner of the House Of Representatives poll – for this murder. Maurice was not even there when it happened. And I am not assuming that he asked anyone to kill anyone.
But in a normal civilised country, the results would have been suspended until the murder had been properly investigated; and the APC candidate and leadership would have been as horrified by this murder as I was…and would have publicly condemned it and publicly apologised to the family of the assassinated youth.
Lesson Learned in 2016: Anything goes in Nigeria. You can become a Federal law-maker, even if your bodyguard is accused of law-breaking and homicide.
The APC candidate/leadership have not officially reacted to the murder in my village; and I’m told that I have become persona non-grata in APC circles for daring to highlight his demise…and that I’m now regarded as an “enemy” and “traitor”!
Lesson Learned in 2016: It is OK to accuse PDP of violence and murder, but you must always pretend that APC people and their sidekicks are saints!!!
My complaints about electoral violence in Rivers State in 2015 and 2016 were largely based on eyewitness statements. In 2015, my APC chums did not complain about my usage of eyewitness statements. In 2016, the same APC chums were outraged by my usage of eyewitness statements and informed me that I had no right to complain about the murder in my village because I had not personally witnessed it.
Lesson Learned in 2016: Eyewitness statements are only valid or credible if the eyewitnesses happen to be pro-APC!!!
Kenneth Kobani, the Secretary to the Rivers State Government, is my cousin. I’ve always loved Kenneth dearly. And he has helped me a lot in the past. But he and Amaechi have not been on the same page, politically, for many years; but I once so believed in Amaechi, politically, that I sided with Amaechi rather than Kenneth.
Kenneth didn’t bellyache much when I was politically devoted to Amaechi. He understood my devotion to Amaechi when I explained my reasons to him and shrugged and loved me regardless.
Lesson Learned in 2016: True Love is not transactional. Blood can sometimes be much thicker than water; and Kenneth Kobani is a really nice guy!!!
When I met the Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike in November, I told him that I regarded him and Amaechi as friends and was praying that both of them would grow up and reconcile for the sake of our state. Wike’s response was civilised.
Lesson Learned in 2016: Amaechi and Wike CAN resolve their differences if they suppress their egos; and they should be HEAVILY pressurized to quit their toxic quarrel as soon as possible. An audio tape that made Wike sound very bad was recently released. Wike is saying that the tape was faked.
Whatever the case may be, I know that ALL Naija politicians resort to dubious tactics and I continue to pray that Amaechi/Wike sort themselves out.
I have two seriously ill Nigerian friends who are in the UK at the moment, undergoing medical tests and treatment because they did not trust the facilities back home.
Lesson learned in 2016: Some Naija doctors are competent. But Nigeria continues to be a joke – and a graveyard – for individuals who have serious but soluble health problems.
Finally, if you ask me, President Buhari is not doing well enough, overall. And most folks I know who voted APC last year will not vote for Buhari again if there is another election tomorrow. But Buhari HAS made considerable gains on the Boko Haram front. And he still has some fans, such as the following Vanguard reader:
Dear Donu, please help convey my deepest best wishes to President Muhammedu Buhari. From his body language and antecedents he loves Nigeria, what a man! Indeed this generation and future generations of Nigerians have no country other than Nigeria. We will remain here and salvage it together. God has thrust leadership on him again. Please tell him to be less vindictive in the corruption fight. Let him free all who are in detention. They are Nigerians their loot can still be recovered. God understands and will help him. We pray for his success. Am not a politician but I adore him.