Idon’t know if it is appropriate for the old saying, “How are the mighty fallen”, to come into play here. But chai, life is a joke. Full of ironies. Tosses us up and down. And, I just wonder, and ask myself, why we struggle, so much, to impress life, instead of allowing it to deal with us as it deems fit.
You know, atimes, after so much struggles, arranging and packaging out lives, life just laughs, and deals an inexplicable blow on us. Or, how does one explain what has happened, politically, to the immediate past Transportation Minister, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi?
Of course, you know Amaechi. Who doesn’t? He comes as big as one can imagine. As large. And as loud. Ambitious. Blunt. Atimes, no niceties. Sure-footed. Fine boy, no pimple, with a closely knit family. Many people admire the, often, “public affection” between him and his wife, Judith. He calls her his best friend, confidant, wife of his youth. Awwww! Nice.
You know all those.But for the purpose of this write-up, I need to do a brief re-introduction of Amaechi.
Amaechi’s journey to Politics began when he was appointed a Special Assistant during the Government, in Rivers State, of Chief Rufus Ada George and his Deputy, Dr Peter Odili. Amaechi was attached to Odili’s office. He had always been attached to Odili – long before then.
The Military, headed by maximum leader, General Sani Abacha, sacked that Government. It was an Interim one, hurriedly put together by then (Military) President, General Ibrahim Babangida, when he stepped aside.
When General Abacha, passed on, and the gentle-looking General Abdulsalami Abubakar stepped in as the Head of State, Politicians and politics came alive again. And Amaechi was, of course, with Odili.
While Odili contested for the office of the Governor, Amaechi went for the House of Assembly. The strong speculation is that Amaechi was, allegedly, defeated by Uche Okwukwu, but somehow, he made it to the Assembly. And Odili made sure Amaechi was installed Speaker of the House, a position he held for eight years.
From there, Amaechi’s luck propelled to high heavens.More than any of those who contested for the Presidential Primary of the APC, Amaechi had held more challenging and responsible and respectable political offices. Here goes:
Two-term Speaker of the House of Assembly.Chairman Conference of Speakers, Nigeria.Two-term Chairman, Nigeria Governors Forum.Two term Minister of Transportation.For two times, Director General of President Muhammadu Buhari Presidential Campaign Council – 2015, 2019.
How solid and rich can one’s credentials be?
As a Governor, he knew how to use power. Ask the Rivers State Commissioner of Police, the brilliant Joseph Mbu, during Amaechi’s time as Governor. He showed the guy pepper and fire, at once. Mbu, a sure-footed Officer, withstood the fire, and closed his eyes to avoid Amaechi’s pepper.
Then, Amaechi faced then President Goodluck Jonathan. Stubborn guy, strong-willed, Amaechi was the one who leaked the controversial, non-proven story that over 45 billion US Dollars were missing during Jonathan’s administration. Ask then Central Bank Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, former Emir of Kano, he said so. Amaechi was the one, who, as a Governor, led the rebellion against Jonathan. And, he was the one who introduced APC to Rivers State and the South-south.
As a Grade A Minister, under President Muhammadu Buhari, he was very powerful. There were many times he showed raw power. He knew how to have his way. Ask former Managing Director of the Nigeria Ports Authority, the elegant Hadiza Bala-Usman. Amaechi dealt with her. He was a powerful Minister, very powerful.
So what happened to Amaechi? The Amaechi who not a few people thought was being groomed, by President Buhari and the powers-that-be in the North, to succeed him in office. He served the North. No doubt, he did. Check out the number of landmark projects he executed down there, especially, in Daura. When he was given the high profile title – Dan Amanar Daura – by the Emir of Daura, Buhari’s Emir, many thought ”ah, that’s it, he will succeed Buhar.” Especially, as Nigeria’s First Lady, the no-nonsense Aisha Buhari, did the unprecedented. She visited Amaechi and his wife, Judith, in their home, bearing gifts, to congratulate him on the Daura title. The pictures were flaunted. And many took that visit as an endorsement of Amaechi as Aisha’s husband’s successor in office.
So, what happened? Or, what has happened. How did Amaechi suddenly, so suddenly, become anonymous? Is it not the same Amaechi who called a former Minister of Aviation a thief on National Television? Why has he been so quiet, politically? How did his larger than life image disappear? Where has all that power gone to? Why has he become irrelevant, politically, both in Rivers State and at the National level? It is like cold water has been poured on him. Has Amaechi suddenly become history?
Not a few people think so. And they point accusing fingers at Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, the one man riot squad of Nigerian politics who not only showed his Party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, pepper but destroyed it, and ended Atiku Abubakar’s every four-years Presidential run, unless the Courts say otherwise.
You would recall, dear readers, that Amaechi and Wike were of the same PDP. They were good friends. Aside from the fact that both of them belonged to the influential Odili Political family, Wike stood by Amaechi when former President Olusegun Obasanjo stopped Amaechi from running for the Governorship seat of Rivers State, which Odili had ceded to him.
Wike fought for Amaechi who was in exile in Ghana. And when the Supreme Court, in one of its inexplicable rulings, declared Amaechi the Governor, even though he did not stand for election, Amaechi rewarded Wike by making him his Chief of Staff. But it was a relationship bound not to last. Two strong, stubborn, ambitious people, they were bound to be caught in a power struggle.
At that time their relationship with their mentor, Odili, had become cold. When Wike was literally shipped to Abuja by Amaechi to become a Minister of State, Education, Wike found “his feet”, and according to him, literally crawled back to the Odilis. And his relationship with Amaechi continued to go down the hill. Then, a combination of a few things made Amaechi dump the PDP for the APC.
Not a few people believe that Amaechi, more than anything else, left the PDP because of Wike. They say Wike was too strong for him in the State. And, even though Amaechi was Governor, Wike caged him.
That was how come Wike stopped Amaechi from installing his own successor. He defeated Amaechi, and became the Governor.
With Wike as Governor, Amaechi was finally caged. He ran Amaechi out of the State. Federal might could not save him. It was from that time that Amaechi’s influence in the State began to wane..
Of course Amaechi’s office as Minister for Transportation gave him a lot of power and influence, and visibility, but it couldn’t save him. The APC was unable to win any significant position in the State. Not encouraging. But at the Federal level, within APC, Amaechi reigned. In his State, he had no tap root.
At the Presidential Villa, Amaechi reigned too. Otherwise, how was he able to carry out so many projects in Daura which earned him that high profile title from the Emirate? How was he even able to remove the high profile and privileged Bala-Mohammed from the Managing Directorship of the NPA?
When Amaechi picked the Presidential form for the APC Primary, many thought it would be a “goooooal” for him. But many too felt he lost it the day he declared, in Porthacourt, his interest to run for the office.They said he made a fundamental mistake when he ran round the venue to show he is very healthy. They say it was not a diplomatic move, seeing that the state of Buhari’s health was a subject of controversy. “What did he want prove?”, they asked. “Was he, indirectly, mocking the President’s fragile health?, others murmured. When he lost to Tinubu, not much sympathy went his way from his Party members.
His non reappointment as a Minister by Buhari, after the Presidential Primary was seen as a sign that Amaechi had fallen out of favour. Perhaps, he didn’t take note. But the worst awaited him in the hands of Wike who found a way to shunt him out of the APC.
Wike took over the APC in the State, and made Amaechi irrelevant in a Party where he was among the top 20. At the National level, Wike convinced them Amaechi is a paper-weight politician in the State. Every who is who in the APC began to ignore him.
In Rivers State, Wike became the man to go to. The toast. APC leaders, Including APC Governors, would visit Porthacourt and ignore Amaechi. They would go and dine and wine with Wike, and not even have the courtesy of placing a phone call to Amaechi to tell him “We are coming to your State, or we are in your State.”
Amaechi was reduced to a nobody in the Tinubu-Shettima Presidential Campaign Council. He had no role to play. It is even doubtful he was invited to most of the rallies. To the extent that when the APC Presidential train and team arrived Porthacourt, Amaechi was nowhere to be seen. He chose to be absent. The APC cut a deal with Wike behind Amaechi.
By doing that, they indirectly told the former powerful Transportation Minister that he had neither power nor influence in Rivers Politics again. They knew where the power was. It was with Wike.
On 25th February, the day of the Presidential election, Amaechi played no role for APC. Wike was in charge, and by hook or crook, delivered the candidate of Amaechi’s Party to spite his own Party’s Candidate. Amaechi contributed nothing, many in APC taunted him later.
To rub it in, to show that he was in charge, on the day of the Governorship election, Wike played the opposite role. He sent Amaechi’s APC Governorship Candidate, Tonye Cole, crashing, and delivered the PDP Candidate. There was no “pim” from Amaechi then, and still no ”pim” from him till date. He is just there!
A couple of weeks ago, a number of APC members, thought to be loyal to Amaechi, rose against him. They said he was no longer the APC leader in the State, a position he cherished so much. They accused him of anti-party activities. Only a couple of people spoke up for him.
A few days ago, two of his closest allies were suspended by the Rivers APC. Can you imagine that? He was saved the humiliation by the National body which rescued him from that embarrassment, by canceling the suspension.
Just by playing smart, by playing a double game, by eating his cake, and still had it tucked away in his pocket, Wike reduced Amaechi to a nobody in APC.
Nobody knows exactly what Wike wants. Will he dump the PDP for APC, a Party he swore he hated to the sky and back? Many think his plan is to, eventually, rebuild the PDP and lead it. Nobody should doubt that, especially, in the PDP. The Party Leaders were all there, mopping, when Wike, single-handedly, killed and buried the Party. They did nothing. He removed two of their National Chairmen, one after the other from office. They did nothing. They were afraid of him. Still are.
This order day, he flaunted Tinubu on PDP’s grave, in Porthacourt, danced and peed on it. Effectively, Wike is the leader of both the PDP and the APC in Rivers State.
But back to Amaechi.
Does he regret dumping PDP for APC? Perhaps, yes. Afterall, he, allegedly, worked for the APC Presidential Candidate, Atiku Abubakar, in the Presidential election. Too late. Made no impact. But for the Coup he led against Jonathan and PDP, the Party which gave him all in 2015, PDP could still have been in power. Perhaps. He and his fellow Coupists, most of whom have fallen by the wayside, could still have been parading as the powers-that-be.
But, perhaps, he has no regrets. Being the Minister for Transportation for eight years is a big deal. Yet it pales before what he gained in the PDP, and could have continued to gain.
However, he should be consoled that he is not the only “big politician” in Rivers State who Wike has reduced to nothing. They are many. He reduced them to empty drums. Just noise makers. In Rivers, politically, it seems there is none, man enough, to do, or say “pim” before Wike – the Jagaban of the State, the Jagaban of the PDP.
So, will Amaechi ever rise again, politically? Probably. Age is on his side. But my guess is not very soon. And that’s sad. He had such a bright future, politically. But now, he is just “siddon look.” Bewildering.
Source: Newspot Nigeria
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