Political Notes

March 13, 2021

The alcohol problem between Amaechi and Wike

Muslim-Muslim Presidency

Wednesday’s savage attack on Rotimi Amaechi by Nyesom Wike was arguably the most brutal public attack by a sitting governor on a predecessor. Alcohol, remarkably, was the trigger.

Wike spoke at the commissioning of Omuihuechi – Omuoko – Omokiri – Link Road within Amaechi’s Local Government Area. So, the attack would have been brought more home.

The occasion was a forum that was supposed to celebrate one of the infrastructure deliveries by the Wike administration. But it turned into a brutal assault by the governor on his former boss, turned rival and political shadow.

Egged on by a partisan crowd and drumbeaters who easily overlooked the fact that Amaechi was a local boy, the governor like a wounded lion savaged his predecessor with apparently with a determination to humiliate their folk hero.

Remarkably, not once did he mention Amaechi by name in the about 17-minute assault.

The attack was prompted by Amaechi’s assertions earlier in the day during an appearance on AIT’s morning programme, Kaakaki.

The minister was asked to respond to accusations by Wike that the Bonny Seaport and the Port-Harcourt to Maiduguri rail line were political antics meant to deceive the populace.

The basis of the accusations was the lack of time for Amaechi to deliver the projects having in the opinion of Wike, stayed five years earlier delivering the Lagos-Ibadan rail project and fast-tracking the rail project from Katsina to Niger Republic. While he did all that, many in Rivers State and the South-South muttered that Amaechi forgot them.

So, responding to the allegation from Wike, Amaechi told his AIT interviewers that before he became a governor, that he was taught that governors do not speak carelessly, and that they speak with facts and figures.

“I am not garrulous in that nature. I speak intelligently knowing that when I speak it matters. I don’t drink alcohol so I don’t speak out of my sense,” he said

Asked by his AIT interviewers if he was referring to Wike as being garrulous or a drunk, Amaechi waved it aside and poohpoohed all questions referring to Wike.

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And so, when Wike came to commission the link road at Amaechi’s backyard, the governor took his pound of flesh.

He lampooned someone he said was brought up on 20 homes and who according to him had done a law programme for 16 years from the United Kingdom to Baze University.

“This morning I was watching Kaakaki and I heard somebody who is a minister saying that he does not drink. Who told you to drink? A minister of the Federal Republic! If the way you are behaving, then you drink….?

After drawing allusions from the late Chuba Okadigbo, well-known for his drinking habit, Wike said:

“A man drinks and comes out with First Class and a man does not drink and comes out with Pass, ‘who would you choose?’ he asked his audience.

“A man drinks, he does not destroy peoples homes, a man does not drink he destroys people’s homes. Which one do you prefer,” the governor asked?

“If you are my friend, please drink so that you won’t destroy people’s homes. If you are my friend please drink so that you will come out tops in your class.”

“People should stop talking, people should stop talking. You are a minister, you have been this, you have been this and you don’t know how to talk.”

“I stayed in my father’s house up till the time I married, I didn’t stay in 20 peoples houses,” the governor said as he continued his personal attacks to the cheer of his hearers.

“If you don’t keep quiet we will come and tell the world, if you don’t this is what I call introduction,” Wike reiterated.

Despite the governor’s warning that people (that is Amaechi) should stop talking, the former governor, the following day, Thursday, showed up on Arise Television, but took a different approach.

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Responding to the issues raised against him, the minister of transportation drew back from hitting back at Wike.

Amaechi said he had made his point and moved on and won’t bring himself to Wike’s level, who he said was his staff when he was the governor of Rivers State.

He said, “I don’t think I want to address the issue of the governor, I have made my point, I have moved on. He was my staff, I can’t bring myself low. I was a governor, I was also a speaker, I’m a minister. I was two-term chairman of governors’ forum. The same when I was a speaker. Why should I be discussing about him (Wike)?” Amaechi asked.

Ameachi, however, denied calling Wike a “drunk”, stating that will be disrespectful of a governor.

He said, “I didn’t say that. That will be disrespectful of (the office of) a governor; I only said that I don’t make statements under the influence of alcohol. Some people are attaching meaning to what I said.”

As at Friday morning, Wike was yet to respond to Amaechi’s violation of his warning underlining the resolve of the former governor not to be cowed.

It also shows the determination and desperation of the two former political allies to engage one another in a fight to finish ahead of the 2023 contest.

Unlike 2019 when Amaechi was restrained by political intrigues within his All Progressives Congress, APC, the path for him so far ahead of 2023 is increasingly being cleared with the landmines here and there being removed.

Without alcohol it had been a testy affair. Now with alcohol in the milieu, it would be a more grumpy affair!

Vanguard News Nigeria