By Eze Chukwuemeka Eze
Finally, let me reiterate that if the magical date, 25th October, 2007 did not change the political landscape of Rivers State and impacted positively on the politics of Rivers State and that of Nigeria then I wonder which other date in the annals of our history did better” – Eze
Some weeks ago, in an article I titled, “AMAECHI & 25TH OCTOBER: IMPLICATIONS ON RIVERS STATE AND THE NATION A DECADE AFTER (PART ONE)”, I examined the significant position of 25th October, 2007 in the political evolution of Rivers State and Nigeria at large using some of the facts postulated by Herbert Swope to expose how Amaechi challenged the powers that were at this period and succeeded to curve a niche for himself in the annals of the politics of Nigeria. According to Swope, “To be a good leader, you sometimes need to go down the untraveled path. Being bold in the face of uncertainty will help give your team courage and motivate them to keep striving when the going gets tough” Ken Kesey went further to x-ray the impacts of Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi on the politics of Rivers State and that of Nigeria when he stated, “You don’t lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case.” It was based on this truism that I stated, “This day was not only epochal, sacrosanct, monumental but historical in the politics of Rivers State as the outcome of the Supreme Court bold judgement on this day redefined the politics of Rivers State and enhanced the potentials of Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi the major character in this episode in his contributions to the development and emancipation of Rivers State and the national politics as a whole”.
This date as I earlier stated in segment one of this treatise derives its significance from the K-legged episode that resulted to the outright hijack of the 2007 PDP gubernatorial ticket which Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi won ahead of the 14th April, 2007 election in Rivers State and the vindication of his mandate by the Supreme Court on 25th October, 2007 when it declared him not only the authentic flag-bearer of PDP but also that he be sworn in to immediately replace Sir Celestine Omehia who had previously been sworn in on May 29, 2007 as the Governor of Rivers State. Thus, he became the first person to occupy the office of governor in the country without technically standing for election. In explaining the ruling, the Supreme Court has since stated that it is the party that contests elections and that the PDP won the gubernatorial elections, and that, consequently, Amaechi, being the rightful candidate, should assume power as governor.
Based on the explosive nature of this treatise, the following Nigerians reacted thus:
1. H E. Prince Tonye Princewill:
Prince Tonye Princewill is a scion of the famous Kalabari Kingdom in Rivers State, an influential political figure in Rivers State and most importantly a close associate of Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and according to him, “I read your Brilliant work on Amaechi and 25th October. I thank God for you & your energy. Even though it appears that you are not appreciated the way you deserve, be rest assured that your reward is not only in heaven. You will also reap bountifully, here on earth. Some of us will make sure of that. I know the leader sees you as invaluable. I see you as not only irreplaceable but timely”.
2. George Tolofari
George Tolofari a trusted ally of Amaechi, fearless, honest and forthright person in whom in his company, you can sleep with your two eyes closed. He reacted with these words, “Good one! Not to also forget that I rallied the troupe that went back to the House after the purported impeachment of Otele Amachree as the Speaker of the RSHA, that enabled the then Deputy Governor, Engr. Tele Ikuru to present the supplementary bill before the House. That action marked a turning point in authenticating Otele as the Speaker thereby rubbishing what the Ogu/Bolo chap, Evans Bipi and his co renegade travellers did earlier
Also to note, I sat in the House on that day after the appropriation bill was presented until the Deputy Governor left the House. After sitting and members scrambling to safety because Evans and co had mobilized back to the House with thugs, the mace, the symbol of authority was left behind. I was the one who went back to retrieve the mace and smuggled it in one of the cars we went with to the Assembly and took it to the Government House
I think I will have to take time, sit down and write my role in the Amaechi struggle before people forget most of the strategic roles I played. Otherwise, histories will the distorted”
3. H. E. Ambassador Oji N. Ngofa, Nigerian Ambassador to the Netherlands
If there is any politician that Governor Wike dreads and holds in awe, Ambassador Ngofa is that politician. Unassuming, amiable, humble but you don’t because of these qualities try to undermine him and if you do, I am sorry that you do that at your own peril. When during the 2015 general elections in Rivers State while other Rivers APC Leaders were busy doing noting in Port Harcourt, Ngofa was at his Local Government marching Wike and the dreaded PDP terror squad in a way that Wike lost all the elections that was held in Eleme Local Government Area including both the State and National Assembly, gubernatorial and presidential elections. To me, Ambassador Ngofa is the Tiger of Niger Delta Politics for cutting Wike to seize.
I was not surprised therefore when the Federal Government announced him as the Nigerian Ambassador to Netherlands. I presume that he may be the youngest or amongst the youngest ever appointed to such an exalted position but he merits it because he proved that he is a true change agent.
According to him, “Chief Eze, Once again, thank you for your tireless projection and elucidation of the Amaechi persona which I believe is very necessary for the world to truly know and understand that he is truly an extraordinary person devoid of partisan colouration. I thank you”.
4. From a very important Aide to Amaechi during his tenure as Governor of Rivers State
“Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze: Just to commend you and to say that I read your piece on the R/s House of Assembly incident and the actors thereto. I agree with you to a considerable extent but will wish that you offer a paragraph in commending the all-important role played by Hon Irene Inimgba. She was the one who called me from her hiding inside one of the toilet rooms, to inform that Hon Kelechi Nwogu had brought in a Maze to legitimize the sitting of 5 Assembly members whose business was to impeach the Speaker and go ahead to impeach my principal CRA.
This was the call that took us to the Assembly complex. Inside the hallowed chambers on that day at the nick of time, were (the prodigious) Hon Lloyd, CRA, (CSO) Tony Iwelu, (Orderly)Debewari and my good self. Confirm these facts for the avoidance of doubts. You don’t need to mention my role anyhow, but for the records, that female member of the house as aforenamed ought necessarily to be commended. We couldn’t have been prophets or soothsayers to know what was to happen at the Assembly without that call. No more to be said”
5. Humphrey Bekaren
According to Mr. Humphrey Bakaren a Media mogul and a political strategist of note, “Chief Eze, I feel for you and I must confess that your commitment towards issues pertaining to Amaechi and his political family is unparalleled. The political happenings in Rivers State after 2015 is very unfortunate but I am happy that CRA is still holding both the knife and yam in Rivers State but he is still plagued by the Hamletian question of whether to be or not to be. It is a dilemma of sorts. These so-called law makers avowal coming after the Age on-going imbroglio should speak volumes”.
6. Dr Chidi Llyod
To me, the history of democracy in Nigeria particularly as it relates to the politics of Rivers State can’t be complete without the mention of Dr Llyod and the risk he took to safeguard democracy in Nigeria and according to this unsung sage,
“My dear chief, thank you for your kind words. My people have a saying that, the head upon which the coconut is broken is usually not the mouth that chews it. I have no regret I stood for justice, it doesn’t matter what the situation is now, at the appropriate time, history will be kind to me!
For lack of space, I can’t reflect all the reactions but will like to reassure all and sundry that played a part in making this dream of 25th October, 2007 a reality that their efforts will not be an exercise in futility as my communication with Chief Oby Ndukwe who is an authority on issues pertaining to Amaechi will surely result in chronicling all these thoughts in a book which I believe will assist to articulate and record for posterity the parts played by these patriotic Nigerians in moulding the Amaechi that we have today.
For avoidance of doubt read all about the first segment of this treatise in any of these International Media Links –
http://www.dailyglobewatch.eu/index.php?url=2017/10/amaechi-25th-october-implications-on-rivers-state-and-the-nation-a.html, http://puoreports.com/2017/10/30/amaechi-25th-october-implication-on-rivers-state-and-the-nation-a-decade-after-part-one, http://www.ndokwareporters.com/2017/10/30/amaechi-25th-october-implications-on-rivers-state-and-the-nation-a-decade-after-part-one/, https://elombah.com/index.php/politics/21445-amaechi-25th-october-implications-on-rivers-state-and-the-nation-a-decade-after-i, http://www.nairaland.com/4148695/amaechi-25th-october-implications-rivers, https://www.agendang.com/amaechi-25th-october-implications-on-rivers-state-and-the-nation-a-decade-after-part-one/ or http://africaupdatenewspaper.com/columns-corner/amaechi-25th-october-implications-rivers-state-nation-decade-part-one/
AMAECHI & 25TH OCTOBER 2007: THE SIGNIFICANCE, IMPLICATIONS ON RIVERS STATE AND THE NATION (PART TWO)
I will under this second segment present the remaining 25 key areas that the confirmation of Amaechi as Rivers State Governor on 25th October, 2007 by the Supreme Court had in the politics of Rivers State and Nigeria
1. WHAT TYPE OF RIVERS STATE DID GOV AMAECHI INHERIT?
To appreciate how much Rivers State has benefitted from this visionary leader, it becomes necessary to highlight the state of Rivers State prior to his assumption of office as Governor on 25th October, 2007.
According to records, Port Harcourt that Amaechi inherited was more like a war zone or rather a jungle where the fittest determines the fate of the lesser animals. It sounds pretty surprising but not unexpected that the city of Port Harcourt, a once very glamorous city, has been ranked among the three most dangerous cities in the world. The human resources unit of New York-based Marsh & McLennan Cos. had ranked Port Harcourt with Baghdad, Yemen’s capital of Sana’a and Khartoum in Sudan, as the world’s most dangerous cities. Going by the ranking published by Bloomberg, Port Harcourt ranked with Baghdad as one of the world’s most dangerous cities for foreign workers as criminal gangs and guerrillas seeking greater control of energy revenue step up attacks.
Throwing more light on this, Ahamefula Ogbu a Journalist with Thisday Newspapers described one of the scenes in the State at this period in these words ‘Rambo could not have done better. With automatic rifles in their hands and hate, revenge and murder hanging around their necks, warring cultists took Port Harcourt, Rivers State, by storm yesterday for the second day running. Pandemonium broke out as residents ran for safety. It was sorrow, tears and blood. At the end of it all—or, more aptly, at the interval, for no one knows the end yet—15 persons had been dispatched to their early graves’ and true to this unsung prophet nobody knew the end as the next few days saw about eighty innocent souls wasted by an agitation uncommon to our people in the Niger Delta.
Thanks to God that under the watch of Amaechi, Rivers State people could sleep with their two eyes closed and people could leave their doors ajar while sleeping to justify the efforts that this young man has brought to bear on the insecurity situation of the State until Governor Wike came up.
2. EDUCATION AND HEALTH
Amaechi further stated, “We have made great strides in education and health. I know that it is not my responsibility to build primary schools; it is the responsibility of the local councils. I met 1,300 primary schools without facilities like toilets, auditorium or library. Today, we have in four years built 1,300 of the primary schools while in the last 50 years there were 500 schools. These are 14 modern classroom blocks, with ICT infrastructure, auditorium, library and toilets. After we identified the necessity to have a solid base for primary education a committee we set up reported that the local councils lacked resources to manage primary education. So we took it over and inherited a salary of N1.2 billion. It has gone up to N2 billion. With the minimum wage, it will be higher.
Just as we cannot address secondary schools without the primary schools, we found we had to deal with primary health care before secondary health care. So we went ahead to deal with primary health care and we can say that we have between 80 and 100 of them functioning.
We look at the long-term effect of our decisions. And so, when people look at these primary schools in the next 20 or 30 years they will not need to do anything about them because the maintenance have been outsourced. For instance, as soon as a child walks into the toilet and walks out, somebody walks into the toilet to clean it up. The workers are there to ensure that everywhere is clean. Sadly, all these efforts have been disrupted and destroyed by the Wike’s administration in his mission to rubbish all that Amaechi achieved for Rivers State.
3. THE JUDICIARY
My good friend, Ken O.Olumati a legal counsel based in Port Harcourt in an article he titled ‘Ameachi’s Debt to the Law’ captured what Amaechi has done to improve the judiciary. He stated that, “It is also noteworthy that the various decisions of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal in Governor Amaechi’s case were reported in Parts 1040 and 1065 of the Nigeria Weekly Law Reports. In Part 1065 alone contains six decisions on Amaechi’s case; three by the Supreme Court and three by the Court of Appeal. This in itself underscores the significance of Amaechi’s battles through the courts. Few cases have enjoyed similar attention in the annals of Nigeria’s legal history. Some of them include the case between Amodu Tijani V Secretary, Southern Nigeria, the late Oba Oyekan’s legal battle for the Obaship of Lagos in the 1950’s, which went as far as Her Majesty’s Privy Council before a clear winner was installed. In recent memory, the case of the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi against the Nigeria Bar Association as well as his numerous court battles against the Military Government of former President Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida”.
4. NIGERIA DEMOCRCAY
Amaechi’s contribution towards the growth of democracy in Nigeria is infectious. He stands as the only Nigerian that have served for eight years as Speaker of a State House of Assembly, Chairman of the Conference of Speakers of Nigeria, executive Governor for eight years and two term Chairman of the Governor’s Forum of Nigeria. Saw to the ouster of a sitting President, a task only somebody like Amaechi could achieve.
5. Based on his outstanding feats, the Federal Government on 14th November, 2011 conferred on him the prestigious national award of the “Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON)
6. “If not for anything, one lesson the political life of Amaechi should teach many politicians or those intending to go into politics is that a politician must not always play the stooge for another at the higher rung of the ladder. More so, standing on legitimate grounds, a politician can challenge whoever; lock horns with the Oga at the top and come out even stronger, without fearing for his political career” – Ojo M. Maduekwe
7. The Supreme Court ruling vindicated Amaechi’s position that Omehia had no case against him. The Supreme Court’s ruling provided a new opportunity for everyone to join hands with Amaechi’s administration in the development of Rivers State and the advancement of Rivers people – David Iyofor
8. Today’s judgment once again shows that God is with us. And as God has put us to oversee the affairs of Rivers State, we will continue to do it diligently and tirelessly to better the lives of our people and develop the state.” – Amaechi
9. On 27th May, 2013 the PDP National Leadership in a undemocratic move suspended Amaechi from the party without any sound reason and was to follow it up with expulsion before he decided to join APC that ousted PDP out of power and this once a great party is currently wallowing in darkness.
10. “We are, however, not surprised by his attitude, for apart from being desperate for power, Omehia has allowed himself to become a tool in the hands of the acting Minister of Education, Chief Nyesom Wike, who has devoted enormous resources towards the destabilization of the Amaechi administration just to please his paymasters in Abuja.” – Chief Eze, nPDP NPS
11. “The Court of Appeal in Abuja erred in law to have ruled in favour of Mr. Omehia, whom had no stake in the case he filed in court.- Justice Muhammad Muntaka-Coomassie
12. “As a government, we believe that the court remains the last hope that we can go to. We thank God for the Supreme Court of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,”- Ibim Semenitari,
13. The Supreme Court ruling should serve as a warning to all those who insist on the way of the moving train known as Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi.” – Chief Eze C Eze
14. His Royal Majesty, King Alfred Diete-Spiff, military governor of the old Rivers State, from 1967 to 1975 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.”
15. 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.”
16. 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.”
17. 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.
18. 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.
19. The former Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, stated: “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.”
20. 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…”
21. 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 celebrat”.
22. 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 opportunities will always keep him alive in their hearts as Amaechi will be remembered long after he left this earth.”
23. Engr Tele Ikuru, erstwhile deputy Governor of Rivers State, who seems to know Amaechi better than most of us, tried to give an insight into who Amaechi 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.
24. According to Obasanjo during his trip to Rivers State during Amaechi’s tenure, “I have come with my delegates, I have heard, I have seen and I have come to declare. Seeing is believing and what I see, I believe and what I believe, I will talk about. What we have seen in the rural areas of the state, the infrastructure is worth believing and is worth declaring.”
25. Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu the APC National Leader on Amaechi and his uncommon feat:
Ken Kesey who x-rayed the impacts of Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi on the politics of Rivers State and that of Nigeria when he stated, “You don’t lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case.”
In proven Ken Kesey right, Senator Bola Tinubu the Jagaban, the maverick and one of Nigeria’s most celebrated political leader described Amaechi with these words: “We are here today, because one of the generals in the Common Sense Revolution Army, Rotimi Amaechi is bold and willing to show the world what he has achieved in the task to chart the critical path to total political and economic emancipation of the people whose mandate he enjoyed for 8 years. In my view, our gathering to celebrate the landmark achievements of my brother, Governor Rotimi Amaechi, in Rivers State in the last eight years is also another justifiable celebration of idea of Common Sense Revolution for development.
The publication of the book, Dynamics of Change: The Amaechi Years is a timely service to history. This occasion is all the more remarkable because of the huge challenges Amaechi has been facing especially in his second term from an extremely hostile federal government. His role as the chairman of the Governors’ Forum invariably brought him into a bitter collision with President Goodluck Jonathan.
This is, therefore, another great opportunity to salute Amaechi’s rare courage of conviction and sense of purpose. The All Progressives Congress (APC) has every cause to be proud of him. Rotimi will go on from here to continue to serve Nigeria in key positions. He will not be alone. He will share the company of many change agents and professionals who have cast their lots with the new political order under the Leadership President elect, General Muhammadu Buhari”
Rightly as stated by this political juggernaut, Amaechi rose to become the Minister of Transportation against all odds and today, he has embarked upon the most ambitious mission of linking all the 36 State capitals of Nigeria through rail-line. A feat only a great leader like Amaechi can achieve made possible by the outcome of 25th October, 2007 Supreme Court ruling.
Let me formally conclude this treatise by quoting Amaechi, “If I am accused of being ambitious in the development agenda, I will quickly say that what we met on ground was overwhelming and I needed to respond to them. If we had responded gradually, we might have addressed only one or two issues. And today, we have been accused of doing too many things, but the comfort is that nobody has said the projects are not necessary.
Amaechi’s stand are affirmed by his uncommon feats in education, massive infrastructural investments around the State, road projects, schools, health centres, rural electrification, ongoing monorail project, rural development, land reclamation, implementation of the Greater Port Harcourt Master Plan and, most importantly, the sustenance of relative peace and security evident in the continued attraction and influx of foreign investors to the State. Amaechi stands as the only African Leader to have constructed 60 health centres, donated to 60 communities. His astute leadership in striving for financial transparency, accountability and inclusive governance has earned the State a lot of accolades, numerous awards and recognitions by international bodies and corporations, including the ability to attract a B+/AA Fitch investment rating to the State, boost economic and structural development as well as enhance content development in all sectors of Rivers State.
Finally, let me reiterate that if the magical date, 25th October, 2007 did not change the political landscape of Rivers State and impacted positively on the politics of Rivers State and that of Nigeria then I wonder which other date in the annals of our history did better.
Eze Chukwuemeka Eze is a Media Consultant based in Port Harcourt, Rivers State and can be reached through, firstname.lastname@example.org, 08022049770