Amaechi and His Feats: A Close-Up on the Man Whose Shadow Gives Wike Nightmares By Eze Chukwuemeka Eze
According to Psalm 41:9: “Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.” And Psalm 55:12-14 says: “For it is not an enemy who reproaches me, then I could bear it; nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me, then I could hide myself from him. But it is you, a man my equal, my companion and my familiar friend; we who had sweet fellowship together, and walked in the house of God in the throng.” The above biblical quotes cannot find a better person than what Chief Nyesom Wike, the incumbent Governor of Rivers State, is currently doing to rubbish and ridicule the personality of ex-governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, his predecessor, political mentor and benefactor. On what is happening in Rivers State today, Lucien Bouchard was forced to describe Wike’s despicable act in the following words: “I have never known a more vulgar expression of betrayal and deceit.”
To throw more light on the level of betrayal by Wike against his mentor and benefactor, let us listen to what Amaechi said about Wike on 15th February, 2014 at the thanksgiving service held in honour of Senator Magnus Ngei Abe (who had to be flown to London for further medical treatment) in Bera, Gokana Local Government Area of Rivers State, after surviving the January 12, 2015 bullet shot by policemen during the inauguration of the pro-Amaechi’s Save Rivers Movement (SRM), at Obio/Akpor LG chapter. Former Governor Amaechi said: “Wike used the names of his children to swear that he would not betray me.” He told the congregation that a notable cleric earlier prophesied to him not to nominate Wike as minister, that he would betray him at last. “I believe in prophecies. Apostle Suleiman said I should not nominate Nyesom Wike as a minister; that he would not only betray me, but would try to destroy me.” When I confronted Nyesom Wike in the presence of Chima Chinye, he swore with his children that he would not betray me. “Any man that swears with the lives of his children is a wicked man. He does not appreciate those children at all. People who do not have character, you don’t give them political power. Nyesom Wike, Dakuku Peterside and Magnus Abe are among those I helped that passed through our friendship,” Amaechi said, adding that he intervened and assisted Wike to secure second term tenure when the people of Obio/Akpor Local Government Area vowed to deny him a second term as Chairman of the Council over alleged disrespect for elders, arrogance and poor performance. ‘What is his political history? Without the rest, God did them through me?
Mission of this treatise
After reading all the gibberish, blackmail, trash, without any substance or factual backing, being thrown and circulated against a man who did his best to redefine governance in Rivers State; and being an active participant in the politics of Rivers State, I will be failing the world if I fail to present the true position of what is currently happening in the State as failing in this regard will amount to allowing demented and deranged minds to succeed in presenting an innocent man in a borrowed robe; and vilifying and wrongly presenting Amaechi as the evil that Wike and his cohorts are trying to make out of him. In this regard, I will attempt to x-ray the issues at stake; who Amaechi truly is, and how he ran the affairs of Rivers State, particularly how the finances of the state was handled during his administration; and how he is perceived by the people of Rivers State, Nigerians and the international community and allow you the reader to pass the final verdict.
Amaechi and Wike
To understand the level of betrayal in this scenario one needs to explain the relationship between Amaechi and Wike. As a close associate and one who has worked under the two leaders, I am ably qualified to speak on the two. Both are of the Ikwerre extraction in Rivers State. From 1999 to 2007 Amaechi was the Speaker of Rivers State House of Assembly; an office he used to lobby and influence the election of Chief Nyesom Wike as two-term executive chairman of Obio-Akpor Local Government Area, one of the richest LGs in Nigeria. While Amaechi was the chairman, Council of Speakers’ Forum, Wike was chairman of the local government chairmen’s forum in Nigeria.
From 2007 to 2015, Amaechi was the Governor of Rivers State with Chief Wike as his chief of staff from 2007 to 2011. Besides, Wike was the Director-General of the re-election campaign organisation of the then Governor Amaechi, which he executed satisfactorily. As a result, Amaechi nominated him as a Minister to represent Rivers in the Federal Cabinet of President Goodluck Jonathan.
From the above, it should be very clear that Amaechi was the leader of his political dynasty, with Wike assisting him, accordingly. But reading and observing what is coming from Wike against his erstwhile boss and mentor may not look for a better definition than what David Levithan, who said: “It was a mistake, you said. But the cruel thing was, it felt like the mistake was mine, for trusting you.” Reading what Wike is doing to rubbish and ridicule Amaechi, after all that he did to assist him in his political life, Amaechi would be regretting the very day he set his eyes on this man that have turned a monster, ready to devour him.
Why is Wike Disparaging Amaechi?
Many people have asked me what may cause this epochal rift that is not only tearing apart the relationship between Amaechi and Wike, but may lead to the collapse of the presidency of President Buhari, if not arrested. If I still know Wike very well and those sponsoring him, President Buhari’s presidency is actually the target of this macabre dance in Rivers State and not Amaechi. The idea is to destroy Amaechi, and Buhari’s administration will crumble. For avoidance of doubt, Amaechi did not only played a pivotal role in the election of President Buhari in the March 28, 2015 presidential polls, but was the Director-General of the President’s Campaign Organisation that spearheaded his election against the former president, Dr Goodluck Jonathan perceived as Amaechi’s brother.
So apart from the fact that Amaechi may have incurred the wrath of his people and some vested powerful interest in Niger Delta, by spearheading the defeat of their brother who performed so woefully as president of Nigeria, Amaechi supported and promoted a northerner and a Muslim against his Christian brother. To them, he must be destroyed by any means possible. But these people failed to understand that undermining Amaechi will ensure that the South-south does not have a strong voice in the administration of President Buhari.
On other factors that contributed to the rift, which will take writing a book to unravel but for the exigencies of this article, I will only state that Governor Wike, sadly, allowed himself to be used as a tool by former President Jonathan, his wife, Dame Patience Jonathan, and their collaborators in their blind ambition to destroy Amaechi, whom they saw as a threat to their continued plundering of the common patrimony of our nation. The third factor was the gathering or unification of those that see Amaechi as a threat to the realisation of their political ambitions in Rivers State. The third factor was the Dr Peter Odili/Sir Celestine Omehia Group, which felt that Amaechi sent them on a forced exile to Abuja, after the 2007 gubernatorial election. The last, but not the least, was the ambition of Chief Nyesom Wike to govern Rivers State, which many never knew until it was too late to stop him. It was his ambition and readiness to provide himself as a tool for the realisation of the goal – which is destroy Amaechi by any means – that united all these other groups. They embarked upon this project with zeal without knowing the end but, knowing what future portends for Wike, Amaechi and Jonathan, I did my best to dissuade them from this unwarranted struggle; but Wike and Jonathan refused to see reason. The result was the failure of Jonathan to survive the 2015 general elections.
Wike’s sole agenda and strategies
It is imperative at this juncture to state that Wike assumed office through a dubious election described in many quarters as a charade and sham. Prince Tonye Princewill, Labour Party candidate in the April 11, 2015 gubernatorial said: “The election that brought Wike to power is the worst ever conducted to elect a governor in Rivers State.” Over 100 souls were sacrificed during this ill-fated election. It has become very clear to all and sundry that the only project and agenda before Chief Wike is to destroy Amaechi; destroy Amaechi as he left every facet of governance in pursuit of his sole agenda. To achieve this singular agenda, no meaningful project has either been initiated or executed in Rivers State since Wike assumed office. Instead, a whopping sum borrowed as loan has been diverted in hiring jobbers, international and local media to initiate and circulate dubious write-ups with no substance, just to demystify Amaechi.
In carrying his agenda, immediately he assumed office on May 29, 2015, he organised a phantom tour of the Government House where he accused the governor of looting even cooking utensils, but the fact remains that there was no looting in any form in the government. I was one of the very few that left the Government House after Amaechi departed Rivers State to Abuja on May 28, 2015; and I can confirm that there was no looting. Therefore, if there was any looting, it’s either in the imagination of Wike, or he must have arranged the looting in order to portray the immediate past governor in bad light. To me, this plot is very childish as Wike knows that Amaechi is a highly principled leader, who can’t be involved in such a petty issue like looting. Besides, from the little I have come to know about Amaechi, he detests materialism. Check his record from his university days and you will come to appreciate this man as a unique leader. Wike is a character who can go to any length to achieve a purpose, including running down anybody on his way – even if that person is his benefactor, like Amaechi, who has shaped his political life.
After the looting accusation, he went further to set up a kangaroo Probe Panel to investigate the last 18 months of the administration of Amaechi, excluding the period when he was the chief of staff to Amaechi. To me, I wish to make it clear that the panel was principally set up to witch-hunt, tarnish the image and malign the hard-earned reputation of former Governor Amaechi. Wike affirmed my position when he stated, and I quote: “Don’t forget that Amaechi likes pointing fingers at others; calling them names and claiming to be a man of integrity and a man who is not corrupt. As a governor then, he probed his predecessor and he did not see it then as a vendetta. So, let him help the public to know, between him and Rivers State Government, who is right or wrong.” It is, therefore, evident that the main aim of this probe panel is to indict Amaechi as a corrupt leader so as to soil his good name. Though the Probe Panel report has not come out with its predetermined judgment, as both Wike and his cohorts have already gone to EFFC to state that Amaechi is guilty and must be tried.
Yet another reason why Wike set up the panel is his belief that by demonising Amaechi, he would reduce his chances of occupying any sensitive position in the Buhari administration, which he believes will be detrimental to his interests and those of his newfound godfathers in the scheme of things at the national level.
As Amaechi himself put it, “The current governor of Rivers State and PDP are afraid of me getting appointment at the national level, because that will determine the politics of Rivers State. They know that the current president abhors corruption and the only way to stop me from getting appointment is to paint that picture of corruption.
“I’m not angry with the people who have come out to blackmail me, my anger is with Rivers people who know I don’t like money and I expect them to get up and defend me that this is not Ameachi’s character, that’s my anger. The Rivers people should stand up and tell this man to stop painting Ameachi black,” he said.
“I heard they (PDP) want to address a press conference to tell the president not to give me appointment that I’m corrupt but they don’t know that appointment is not everything, if God is happy with me, I’m happy with my life.”
Ameachi said his sin against many people in the South-South and the former president was supporting a Muslim candidate from the North. His words: “Our offence was supporting a Muslim, not only that, our offence was supporting a northerner. What they failed to realise is that money does not know ethnic group, the stealing the current president is fighting cut across the whole nation, it is not the South-South people that stole the money, every part of the country stole that money but it was under the supervision of a South-South president and we are watching.”
However, one thing Wike and his strategists fail to understand is that President Buhari is already aware of their desperation to victimise Amaechi, and also knows the politics of Rivers State as he knows his fingers. Therefore, their game evil plot is an exercise in futility.
More facts on the Amaechi that Wike is disparaging
Before presenting Amaechi’s score card in financial management of Rivers State, let me at this juncture present the Amaechi that Wike can’t destroy, no matter his efforts in this regard. Amaechi, apart from what we all know about him politically, is the proper definition of what humility is all about. However, to some people who don’t know him very well he is an arrogant fellow who must be destroyed. Amaechi is an enigma that defies description. Engr Tele Ikuru, his erstwhile deputy, who seems to know him better than most of us, tried to give an insight into who this man is when, during the seventh anniversary of the Supreme Court Judgement that brought Amaechi to power, stated: “Today, we have come to celebrate a resourceful leader, a dogged fighter, a political enigma, a change agent, people defender, transformer, catalyst, trail-blazer, phenomenon of our time, His Excellency, the Rt Hon Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, the Executive Governor of Rivers State. A leader whose word you can take to the bank. A trusted friend and ally, a man who stands by his friends and confidants, both in good times and in times of difficulties and challenges. A man of conscience who does not hide under the veil of circumstances to betray his friends and allies; a compassionate leader whose love for the development of the state and its people has no parallel. A sincere and honest leader, who rather than cart away the commonwealth of Rivers people entrusted to his care, has diligently applied it to the development of the state to the admiration of the true Rivers people and even his traducers. A visionary leader who knows and sees his people first.” I don’t know if any other person can beat this definition of the enigma known as Amaechi.
Amaechi and the resources of Rivers State: A Score Card
To demonstrate the seriousness of Amaechi’s careful management of the resources of Rivers State, he immediately on assuming office in 2007 constituted his cabinet with men and women of integrity and seeing the decay in infrastructure in the state commenced his task by initiating and signing into law, Road Maintenance and Rehabilitation Agency Bill No. 3 of 2008, Sustainable Development Amendment Bill No. 1 of 2008, Procurement Public Bill, Saving Public Fund Bill, and even a bill excluding the office of the governor from signing and awarding of contracts. The fact remains that no other state in Nigeria has such laws in operation, excluding the governor from interfering and awarding of contracts and saving part of its revenue for the rainy days. With the enactment of these bills, the governor demonstrated early enough the type of governance he intends to bequeath to the State: Governance premised on accountability, service delivery, people-oriented government for the greater good of Rivers people.
According to Amaechi, “In order to lay a strong foundation for positive change in governance in the state, the administration has taken it upon itself to initiate very critical bills on fiscal responsibility to the State House of Assembly and virtually all of which have been passed into law and assented to by me. The Executive arm of government so far has credit for having at least 60 per cent of all bills passed by the House of Assembly, saying that virtually all the bills were designed to deal with the age long problem of financial irresponsibility and rascality and as far as the existing laws on fiscal responsibility are concerned, anyone in government who tries to have an over sight of the due process mechanism in the state would surely run into problems.”
The peace that prevailed in Rivers State under the watch of Gov Amaechi resulted not only the attraction of foreign investments but also in Port Harcourt becoming the haven of both National and International eventss. Apart from hosting one of the best organised National Sports Festival ever in Nigeria, the just concluded School Sports and the Police Games by March 2013. Port Harcourt apart from Abuja and probably Lagos is the only State to have hosted US-Nigeria biennial National Conference, Pan African Parliamentary; Garden City Literary Festival, hosted CARNRIV involving several foreign countries to showcase the rich culture, potentials and beauty of her people, the 2nd Dr Claude Ake Memorial Lecture, Rivers State Investment Forum and Governor’s Interactive Session with Rivers State Youths.
Other major events hosted by Rivers State include the ION Film Festival where the world best Film Producers were feted with the hospitality of Rivers State, Miss ECOWAS Pageant, Garden City Literary Festival, Guild of Editors, Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP), a trade delegation from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on an enlighten mission for private companies within the South-South zone on how to access business opportunities available within the ECOWAS sub region among many other major events hosted by the Rivers State Government. The State is the UNESCO’s World Book Capital 2014. What a feat and what an accomplishment.
Amaechi was at various times Chairman of the Forum of Nigerian Speakers from 1999 to 2011 and Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum from 2007 to 2015, he was the recipient of an honorary Doctorate Degree from various Universities in Nigeria including the Usmanu Danfodiyo University of Sokoto. He is a holder of the Commander of the Order of Niger, CON and Man of the Year recipient of Sun, Leadership, Compass and recently Vanguard Newspaper. The following comments by some outstanding Nigerians attest to the above.
In an advertorial by 32 members of the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly of Nigeria signed by Deputy Senate President, Sen. Ike Ekweremadu, the federal lawmakers said: “Today as always, we rejoice with you, our worthy friend, a democrat, a patriotic Nigerian and an epitome of good governance as you add another feather to your cap as Vanguard Man of the year 2012.”
Gov. Amaechi got the Sun Newspaper Man of the Year Award in 2007 and the Compass Newspaper Award for Security in 2008. The Governor of the year 2009 Award was presented to Governor Amaechi at the ‘Leadership Award for Excellence – 2009’ chaired by former Head of State of Nigeria, General Abdulsalami Abubakar (Rtd) in Abuja.
He was also conferred with the prestigious SERA award for his contributions towards the social development of Rivers State, in line with the objectives of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), especially in the areas of Health and Education.
Amaechi believes in transparency and accountability. He was the first governor in this country to begin a Stewardship Account. He was the first governor to publicly say to people, this is what we have received, this is what we have spent; this is where we have spent it. He was the first governor in this country to take over the payment of primary school teachers, which is a local government function. Rivers State under Amaechi was the first state to have its own Procurement Act. The World Bank not only commended, but asked other states to go and see the Implementation of the Due Process regime in Rivers State. He was the first governor to pass the Fiscal Responsibility Law to check government officials and this is the fellow that Wike is presenting in borrowed robe.
Amaechi in the eyes of Rivers people
Indigenes of Rivers State in the United States in a press statement in Washington, DC, the group’s president, Dr. Chisom Skyprince, stated: “On behalf of Rivers Society Group in United States. I want to commend the effort of former Gov Rotimi Amaechi for supporting the majority of Nigerians to send out the administration of PDP at the Federal level. His role, during the struggle will ever be known. We also have no doubts in his leadership to join hands with President Muhammadu Buhari in transforming the country.”
“The allegations raised by the Integrity Group – a group that is clearly without integrity – headed by one Livingstone Wechie, against Amaechi, is nothing but a dubious and baseless piece of thrash,” Barr Worgu Boms, immediate past Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Rivers State.
“Wike’s government is a calamity… generated from Jonathan’s laboratory of impunity… the campaign of calumny against Amaechi by Wike cannot dim Amaechi’s light…” – Oji Ngofa, Deputy National Secretary, APC.
Amaechi in the eyes of great minds
- His Royal Majesty, King Alfred Diete-Spiff, military governor of the old Rivers State, from 1967 to 1975. He was also a member of the Supreme Military Council (SMC) under General Yakubu Gowon’s administration and currently, the Amanyanabo of Twon Brass, Bayelsa State, once stated and I quote: “Yes, I am attributed to be the father of the old Rivers State but, without sounding immodest, let me reiterate that Governor Amaechi can be described as the builder of the modern Rivers State, if all the infrastructure he has put in are anything to go by. I am so proud of his feats and if he continues like this, Rivers State will be a proud place to all Nigerians.”
- Former President Jonathan while on inspection tour of the PH – Owerri Road, constructed by the administration of Amaechi said that, “the several road networks embarked upon by the Rivers State Government and the Monorail transport system planned by the government has significantly shown that the state is moving ahead, beside the road network, I want to commend Governor Amaechi on the three major projects, the quality of primary and secondary schools that we saw, as well as the power project that would aid Small Business Enterprises.”
- Prof. Tam David-West, “If you compare the administration of Odili and that of Amaechi, you will agree with me that the present administration under Amaechi has done in two years far more than what Odili did in eight years.”
- Former Governor Shekarau of Kano State who was in the State to witness some of the great feats of Amaechi remarked, “I feel highly fulfilled by coming here today to hear and see the dividends of democracy, as I urge Governor Amaechi to build more of such schools which he described as vehicle for change. But for time, I would have borrowed a leaf from Amaechi by replicating the quality of schools I have seen here in his State.”
- The former President of the Republic of Zambia, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda, during his visit to the State described the leadership of the Governor of Rivers State as a focused one. Dr. Kaunda noted that with the focused leadership of Governor Amaechi, Rivers State would continue to be of service to humanity for many years to come.
- The Deputy Speaker of Ugandan Parliament and Chairperson of CWP, Hon Rebecca Kadaga, lauded the developmental efforts and policies of Governor Amaechi, especially those geared towards improving the lot of children and women, saying that the issues already canvassed confirm that what the CWP was set to achieve are already in place in Rivers State.
- The former Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, stated recently: “The impression that I always get when I come to Africa is that these countries have enormous potential and your country and your State (Rivers) have enormous potential and I think that you happen to have at this time in history also, a dynamic, energetic and capable leadership that can make the dreams of building up the State into a reality of life for the 5.1 million residents in Rivers State that want their lives to be of much higher and greater quality.”
- The then United States Consul General in Lagos, Mr. Jeffrey Hawkins, while exchanging ideas with some journalists stated, “I must commend Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State for embarking on numerous people-oriented projects and showing enthusiasm on Niger Delta issues. We are very appreciative of all that Amaechi has done. We are quite clear that addressing the issues of the Niger Delta, the challenges require focusing on things like education development, agriculture, health, all sorts of issues, and the governor was kind enough to show us…”
- According to Prof. Wole Soyinka, Amaechi and Tinubu were the two architects of the APC victory in the general elections. Prof Soyinka said: “In the political atmosphere today, whatever you call it, change or hope or cautious hope and or careless hope, I recognise two personalities in particular who led the chant of change. One of them, I call him the architect of the process, the architect in fact, that houses the essence of hope – Bola Tinubu. The other person (Amaechi) was unconsciously, perhaps, the arrowhead of that charge that led to the change and that is the man that we gather here to celebrate.
“He was the one who said no, we cannot turn the clock backwards. Nothing about the philosophy of the clock runs against what we were hoping for. It was a very unpopular and risky decision to take. But it exposed to us the basic arithmetic fallacy of governance in demonstrating that when 16 is said to be higher than 19, something is fundamentally wrong and the same kind of arithmetic leads to the cooking of figures in governance.
“And it was within that nexus that he stood up and challenged even his own colleagues, and said let’s change the mentality of the stock, let us re-orientate it towards the people and towards the nation and the electorate.”
- According to Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, “Ameachi is also a man of big ideas and very insightful, he understands how to live long in the hearts of men. His education policies in Rivers State and all of those children he gave real hope and opportunity will always that he will be remembered long after he left this earth.”
The fact remains that if APC did not win the March, 28th 2015 Presidential election, people like Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi would have either been dead by now or cooling off in any of the Prisons or if allowed to live would have been on exile. Chief Wike stated this in February, 2015 that once Dr Jonathan is declared winner of the polls, Amaechi will be arrested so when Amaechi said that God engineered the victory of APC to save him from the death that would have been his portion if PDP has won, he was speaking the truth.
Not minding the sad macabre dance in Rivers State, I am counselled by Isaiah 33:1
“Woe to you, O destroyer, While you were not destroyed; And he who is treacherous, while others did not deal treacherously with him As soon as you finish destroying, you will be destroyed; As soon as you cease to deal treacherously, others will deal treacherously with you”
Finally, let me encourage Amaechi as he goes through this fire of batisim by a fellow he brought up politically as he will surely come out of it unscathed according to Mark 14:21, “For the Son of Man is to go just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.” And Malcolm X, “To me, the thing that is worse than death is betrayal. You see, I could conceive death, but I could not conceive betrayal.”
- Eze Chukwuemeka Ezeis a Port Harcourt-based Media Consultant. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org