These are not the best of times for Rt. Hon. Chibuke Amaechi. Though he is the campaign manager of the president, whatever is the outcome would surely not soothe the bitter pill he is being forced to swallow in his native Rivers State.
Amaechi is among the handful of political office holders in the country who have held one office or the other since the advent of the Fourth Republic. That is apart from the five months he spent in exile while his cousin, Celestine Omehia held the office of governor.
As Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly for eight straight years, (a record unmatched either in the state or nationally), as two-term governor of the state, and now as minister of transportation, he was able to build a formidable political capacity. It was one that many of his contemporaries of yore in the old National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS could only have envied.
His capacity for leadership was not only shown in his unbroken tenure as speaker and governor but was also manifested with the network he built as chairman of the Conference of Speakers and chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum.
The relationship he built among the speakers has rubbed off positively (or negatively for some) in the enthronement of Simon Lalong as governor of Plateau State. Amaechi it is generally believed was the one who made his former fellow speaker governor on the plateau. He was also believed to have despite the opposition of some powerful Southwest leaders brought in his former fellow Speaker, Olurunimbe Mamora as his deputy in running the Buhari campaign in 2014.
Even as governor of Rivers State, especially before he started carrying brooms about, his performance as governor was outstanding. So alluring were his performances in health, education, and agriculture that Rivers State during his tenure became a point of reference for many state governors.
The Amaechi schools as they were called, for example, compared to the best one could find even outside the country.
Against the background of the seemingly sterling service rendered to his state, the determination of some to turn the former governor into an object of political spectacle calls for concern.
Though he is the campaign manager of the president, it is trite to say that whatever is the result will still leave him in a sour mood today as he ponders the fate of his disciples in the four years ahead as they again wander in the wilderness in Rivers State.
After nearly 20 years of playing at the top echelon of the politics of the state and grooming several disciples, it is a pity that Amaechi’s political heritage is today edging towards despair. Former aides like Nyesom Wike and Magnus Abe now delight in making him a spectacle for all to see.
The decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC to bar the All Progressives Congress, APC from all elective positions in the state is a significant blow to Amaechi’s political heritage.
Indeed, his assertion that 80% of the political actors in Rivers State may have passed through his political tutelage may not be taken as too much of a boast given his antecedents. Even if half or a third of that figure is correct, it means that about a third of the political actors in his state will be of no significant relevance in driving policy, programmes or politics in the state in the foreseeable future.
As Nigerians everywhere go to the polls to ponder on whether they are better today than they were four years ago, the people of Rivers State would have no opportunity of bringing Amaechi’s APC as a political variable. No thanks to a former disciple in the person of Senator Magnus Abe.
Not too long ago it looked so promising for Amaechi as he prepared to pay back Governor Nyesom Wike with the same measure he, Wike and Mrs. Patience Jonathan did to him four years ago.
A test run of that was ably done in the National Assembly re-run election that returned Senator Abe to the National Assembly in 2017. At that time the two men were on the same page and were as such able to get away with whatever anti-democratic nuances that characterized that election. Today, both men are on opposite sides as aspiration is squelched with authority with Amaechi losing the grandeur and grace that once made him the poster boy for his contemporaries.