By Emmanuel Aziken
When Senator Magnus Abe last Monday insinuated that followers of the minister of transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, were running loose in Rivers State, it again brought to light the fickleness in relationships among Nigeria’s political class.
His assertion followed what he alleged as the disruption of a gathering of his supporters in Buguma City by those inclined to the minister, the previous day.
Though Abe did not mention Amaechi by name, the insinuation that the minister’s foot soldiers disrupted the gathering was suggestive of where blame should be.
Remarkably, Abe went on to link the sponsor of the violence against his supporters as the same person people who also allegedly instigated violence against supporters of Nyesom Wike in the period leading to the 2015 election.
It was as such implied that Amaechi or his associates had been employing violence as a means of political expression from his time as governor.
Given Amaechi’s usual sermons about propriety, it is a claim that will be difficult for many to believe.
But coming from Abe who had journeyed with Amaechi for close to 20 years, that claim should not be easily shaken off. Your correspondent can also share his disappointment and disbelief with Amaechi following news reports in December 2016 that he was a principal facilitator of the violence that characterized the December 2016 National Assembly rerun elections.
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According to news reports, Amaechi was on ground to deliver all three APC Senate candidates with Abe the most pressing. It was claimed that after not supporting Abe in the 2015 governorship election that Amaechi saw it as his duty to return Abe to the Senate by hook or crook.
Amaechi ensured Abe and Andrew Uchendu were returned to the Senate on the ticket of the APC in that blood tainted election.
Given the solidarity between the two men at that time it is now shocking that their opposing interests froze out their party in the 2019 General Election. Of course, that was to the cheer of Governor Wike.
But how did it happen? It is claimed that Amaechi embarrassed Abe in his home by telling him he would not be governor. Whether true or not, the fracture between both men grew ever since. Abe’s demand for a level playing level ground for all aspirants ahead of the 2019 General Election did not help matters.
Some would say that Amaechi after putting his life and line for Abe to go to the Senate that the senator was being ambitious.
Those who say so are sometimes told to look back at the relationship between both men over the years.
Amaechi had recently been quoted as saying that over 80% of the present political actors in the state were nurtured or helped by him.
That obviously could include Abe. Abe was an All Peoples Party, APP member of the House of Assembly between 1999 and 2003, having won his election outside the Peter Odili structure.
It is alleged that Amaechi as Speaker wooed him over to the PDP and helped in his appointment as commissioner for information in Odili’s second term.
If anyone was loyal or passionate to Odili, Abe was also such a man. Your correspondent met him along with some other reporters sometime in November/December 2006 and drew some lessons from him on the marital harmony that existed and should still exist between Sir Peter and Justice Mary Odili.
His devotion to Sir Peter at that time your correspondent gathered, made him name his first son and child after Peter Odili.
So, when in 2007, Abe, Wike and some others broke away in the gang-up against Odili to enthrone Amaechi as governor, it obviously would have meant much to Abe.
Every time Abe looked at his little son, it would have pulled at his conscience that he was in a rebellion against a man he had found worthy to be his son’s god father.
For those who have followed the events in Rivers State the assertions and activities of Abe also push the narrative that he is in cahoots with Wike to shut out the APC.
But can it be true? It is almost a certainty that Wike cannot support Abe as a successor even if he would not mind aiding him to destabilise Amaechi.
There is also the narrative that Abe willingly or unwillingly became a tool for those within the APC leadership and especially at the presidency who had been determined to cut Amaechi to size.
Those who push this narrative say that the deceased Chief of Staff, Mallam Abba Kyari was well into this game. It is also alleged that that may have played a role in the appointment of Abe into the board of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC.
In the beginning of the APC government most of the appointments in the South-South were determined by Amaechi. But over time that power faded as Kyari increasingly took control of the government. It is in that light that Abe was supposedly empowered to humiliate Amaechi.
It is tempting for the Amaechi crowd to see the actions of Senator Abe as insulting and as a betrayal. However, they should not.
If Amaechi could walk away from Sir Peter and Justice Mary Odili after a closer relationship, then the moral court will not find Abe guilty despite all the ‘dirty things’ Amaechi was alleged to have done in the night of December 10, 2016 to return Abe to the Senate.