9th May, 2013
By Peter Claver Oparah
To start with, I am no fan of Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, the governor of Rivers State. Not that he is my enemy though. He is of the PDP, the party most of us believe, has been behind the monumental wreck of the Nigerian state in the past fourteen years. I took note of his political activities during the period he took up the PDP for whimsically disowning his governorship candidacy because the father of PDP, Olusegun Obasanjo woke up one sultry morning to feel that Amaechi’s candidacy had k-leg. He fought the battle to the end and was rewarded with the plum office of Rivers governor by the highest court in the land. Then, he walked back to the PDP and the revelry continued. Today, he is besieged and hemmed in on all sides by the same PDP.
He is primed for the guillotine and his head has been placed on the slab for slaughter. Yes, a new lord of the manor is on the throne and he hates Ameachi’s guts. In an epoch where so-called democratic governance has been so viscerally mismanaged to look like an unquestioned tyranny, that means a hell lot. In a country where the beneficiaries of our gritty struggle to overthrow a tyrannical military deign themselves the new autocrats in town, the fate of Amaechi needs to be pitied.
The battle against Chibuike Amaechi is premised on the wild permutations on the 2015 presidency. The Jonathan presidency, after a humbling score sheet, desires an encore and in this desire and with performance not favouring it, the regime needs every rough tactics to strengthen its quest for a second term. Not that Amaechi has expressed interest in the presidency and not that he has given any flesh to the robust rumour that he is tagging as running mate to a northern governor in the run up to the 2015 presidency. Rather, much of his alleged sins are still domesticated on how he respects or greets the president and his spouse. Much of his sins are still located on how the minders of Jonathan’s presidency read his body language and his swagger. In a Jonathan presidency afflicted by a rich swathe of commissioned and non commissioned courtiers, gossips, idlers, meal time jokers, petty lickspittles, ethnic denizens, mercenary activists, among a legion of standpatters that struggle to eke out a living from the sowing dread, fear and crisis in the land, the business of scavenging for who disrespects, frowns at and abuses the presidency has become a lucrative venture. For a presidency, inherently not gifted with the faculty of discernment and highly susceptible to mind manipulation by desperate hustlers to corner the larger chunk of the free meal that fires the pin of the presidency, this becomes a portent weapon to hunt down Amaechi.
Amaechi and Jonathan share things in common as members of the PDP, a party that does covet power for its own face value and nothing more. The party does not believe that there is responsibility attached to power and in this power heritage mentality, it is wont to apply any crooked means to corner power. It is the party of the fixers and enablers and both Amaechi and Jonathan subscribe to this base template. Both came to power on this pedestal. But that is where the similarity ends. Amaechi struggled and fought and won power from outside the PDP ring while Jonathan had power thrust on his laps by the sleight of hands of the powers that be. Amaechi is street wise, witty and a practical political artist while Jonathan depends on the benevolent gods to crack his kernel for him. While Jonathan believes so much in the talisman in his Goodluck name, Amaechi knows that he had to pull himself by his bootstraps. While Amaechi has tried to acquit himself in power, Jonathan has been a huge disappointment, blundering and sleep walking through the enormous afflictions of the country. While Amaechi possesses the attributes of a veteran fighter, Jonathan shadow-boxes through a retinue of aides who predicate a huge payoff from making enemies for him. They are those whose job briefs revolve not around how to improve the dawdy face of statecraft in Jonathan’s Nigeria but finding who disrespects or abuses the president and that remains the tragedy of Nigeria under Jonathan’s watch.
But, we may be making the mistakes of our lives to limit the present on-going feud to an Amaechi-Jonathan jostle for political supremacy or one of the usual PDP family matters that are settled with heavy deployment of state resources. This issue is about democracy and rule of law and concerns all Nigerians that have the least concern about the state of health of our greatly mismanaged democracy. It is about the fate of our wobbling democracy and how we can rescue the democracy we all sweated and slaved for from the hands of pocket dictators and demigods who have employed it as tools to enslave us and enrich themselves. Not that Amaechi is fighting for us anyway but it is absolutely wrong for him to be witch-hunted on the basis of perceived ambition or who he relates with or how he expresses his mood. I may not agree that Amaechi’s performance has been very spectacular, as his menservants have put forth but after a visit to Rivers State penultimate week, I feel he stands out from a motley crowd of PDP governors who feel they owe nobody any decent performance to nick any available office. Most importantly, he stands head and shoulder above a wobbling presidency that has put every feet wrong in meeting Nigerians’ expectations from a democratic civilian government. He towers above his traducers whose penchant for pedestrian politics has led to fangling an endless war front where perceived and real enemies are destined to be crushed through a bland and often illegal deployment of state power and force.
It is within Amaechi’s constitutional rights to dream dreams. It is within his individual rights to associate with any person or political shade he elects to. He is not overstepping his inalienable rights if he decides to back any candidate or even throw his hat in the ring for the 2015 presidency. He is not constitutionally barred from pursuing any ambition and owes no one any apology for any intent that does not infringe the laws of the land. He is not shackled to the interests of Goodluck Jonathan and where he chooses to think otherwise from that of Jonathan and his handmaidens, he should not be criminalised for not working for the interest of Jonathan as many of the idle courtiers that line Jonathan’s court are making at present. He does not deserve the largely unconstitutional umbrage he is receiving at present and while he should submit to routine legal sanctions where he has deviated from the laws, he should not be subjected to the kind of scorched earth measures being meted out to him at present. So Nigerians who desire the growth of the present democracy must enlist in this on going battle; not for Amaechi or Jonathan but for the health of our democracy. If we do not desire to wake up one day, being frog jumped by a clone of Pharaoh, we must join the present war happening in Rivers State. We must look beyond the real face of the present debacle and see in it the need to curb the imperial predilection of the Nigerian presidency and its mutation into an unquestioned Frankenstein. We must meld our voices and actions with those of the people of Rivers State who are fighting the present impunity for it pokes violently on our collective freedom.
For Chibuike Amaechi, he has two broad choices facing him; either fight like a free man or eat the humble pie, go on his knees and get manacled before an imperial presidency. I know the later is the desirable option any good PDP man will take but he can source tremendous lessons from former Governor Bola Tinubu of Lagos and Orji Uzor Kalu of Abia State on how to stand down the empty rage of a besotted presidency and live thereafter. He must chose to die like a free man or live like a bondman. I feel he must wear his fighting glove and enter the ring. He must get his boots ready for a fight for there lies the chances of his retaining his manhood. The alternative is living the rest of his days a conquered, shamed and vanquished vassal of a lawless, imperial presidency and his party.
•Oparah wrote from Lagos. e-mail: [email protected]