In the streets of Port Harcourt, the capital of Rivers State of Nigeria, one would find billboards with the picture of the state governor, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and a bold inscription which says, “The Truth Shall Prevail”. For everyone in life, this is a fact and somewhat a prayer particularly when going through a difficult time of criticism and backlash. One cannot help but ask that someday, the truth would prevail over falsehood, smear campaign and outright negative propaganda. This goes to show the insidious pain which the governor may be forced to live with from those who have vowed to rubbish him and his good works. Yes, the truth would prevail someday but how long shall the people wait to know the truth which according to the Holy Bible is the thing that sets one free?
I am compelled to believe that in this world of wickedness where darkness prevails over light and falsehood triumphs over truth, it is not always that the truth saves. Sometimes, it destroys and only the scars may be there as a reminder someday that the truth was killed in preference to falsehood.
Gov. Amaechi, no doubt has become an enigma in Nigerian politics that even those who hold him in disdain would love to ‘use a sledge hammer to kill a fly’. He has become an issue in both the national and international media for his courage and tenacity to remain relevant in the face of all manner of threats and opposition. Often times, one wonders what is it about the man that makes even the Presidency jittery whenever his name is mentioned. Unfortunately, those who do not know him well believe whatever they are told or what they read in the media.
Amaechi indeed has fought several political battles since his first major election to the Rivers State House of Assembly in 1999 under the umbrella of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
He became the Speaker from 1999 to 2007 and when he sought to become governor after the man whom he had loyally followed and meritoriously served; it became another major opposition that culminated in the nation’s apex court which declared him not just the rightful candidate for the election but also the rightful occupant of the seat in Rivers State Government House as the governor.
Why was there a major gang up against him, one would ask? It was nothing more than his penchant for being truthful and blunt. He is never one to paint the truth in order to suit his whims and caprices. Though, he may not be able to completely avoid those he suspects to be harmful and economical with truth, but his self-effort in trying to do so has cost him many ‘friends’ and that in turn has also gotten him badly bruised.
Amaechi is currently facing a difficult time now because of his insistence that the right thing must be done. When a contract is awarded, he expects nothing short of proper execution and completion of the project.
His soured relationship with his former Chief of Staff, Chief Nyeso Wike has caused him his relationship with President Goodluck Jonathan who prior now had always seen Amaechi as one of his sons, albeit, a stubborn one. But all that has changed and he has moved in the mind of the President from being a stubborn son to a public enemy.
A lot of lies were told against him by the same man he went against all odds to nominate as a Minister. The missing link in the jigsaw puzzle on how to bruise Amaechi was the President’s wife who could not understand what manner of love it was between Jonathan and David, though this time it is between Jonathan and Amaechi. The launch pad for the smear campaign was thus provided through his not rosy relationship with the First Lady.
The first shot fired against the governor was that he had an ambition to contest the Presidential election in 2015 as a running mate to a Northern candidate. While that was not convincing to Jonathan, Amaechi’s enemies now led by his former aide went to town with posters of Gov. Sule Lamido and himself as the joint ticket for PDP. That was the ace they needed to convince the President that his son, just like Absalom did to his father, David, was trying to upstage him and take over the throne.
But any right thinking person should have known that the position of Vice President is only made public after the emergence of an elected candidate by a political party, particularly the PDP.
The solution to this was for him to be denied a second tenure as the Chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum. A splinter group was then created where the worst form of democracy was exhibited before the prying eyes of the international community. Sixteen votes were said to be greater than nineteen!
His detractor would not stop. But the impact of the soured relationship is not only felt by the governor as the people of the state were no longer eligible for any Federal Government Project.
The allocations meant for State projects were now channeled to the execution of Federal roads, in particular. Unfortunately, monies amounting to billions of naira are being owed the state. His enemies applauded the Presidency while the people of the state which they now seek to rule are made to suffer. Allocations to the state dwindled as oil wells belonging to the state were ceded to Bayelsa state.
Worse still, he was forced to exit the PDP, the party he helped form and nurture. His complete dependence on his trusted allies cost him the party structure. They capitalized on the negligence of the Party Chairman, Chief G.U. Ake, who thought it was one united family and never asked for his Certificate of Return after being elected State Chairman of the party. The only evidence in court which was the video tape of the Congress that elected him was not sufficient to sustain his claims. The blank certificate from the PDP in Abuja was quickly written in favor of a man who neither expressed interest nor participated in the election. Felix Obuah, Wike’s surrogate Chairman had traveled out of the country few days to the Congress. Of course, the truth shall prevail someday after it has destroyed some persons.
Amaechi’s struggle to reclaim the Soku oil wells ceded to Bayelsa, a sister state carved out from the old Rivers state further became a smear tool against him. But what governor would fold its hands when his allocations are unjustly slashed in order to frustrate on going white elephant projects? The plethora of lies against Amaechi cannot be imagined, yet he hopes that someday, the truth would prevail. Had the governor not escaped to Ghana and fought for his mandate from there, would the truth have prevailed after fuve months of Celestine Omehia on the saddle as governor? The truth prevails against falsehood when the ”violent take it by force!”
The failure of the Federal Government to implement the UNEP report on the Ogoni oil spill confirms that Rivers state has been blacklisted under Amaechi in spite of being a PDP state with the largest voting strength in the South South and South East. The Bori-Bodo road has remained abandoned by the federal government.
Efforts to provide portable water for the people of the state through a world bank loan was again frustrated by agents of the federal government, not until few months to the end of his tenure, the approval was given.
I hope that soon, the truth would prevail when the people realize that Ahithophel had a reason for betraying and fighting David. If not, what could be further from the truth when a man who was appointed Chief of Staff for his support during the legal battle could short-change all those who were meant to be awarded contracts for their support? The total value of the contracts was N30 billion and he went ahead and registered business names and diverted the jobs to himself. The unsuspecting group of “Believers”, Amaechi’s supporters only got the contracts awarded to them as sublet for a meagre sum. The “Believers” were also made to believe that the governor was not interested in their welfare, so the man took credit for all that. Chai!
When it dawned on the governor that he had been double- crossed and most of his supporters now had their loyalty pledged to his COS, he challenged his most trusted ally. Rather than admit guilt, he chose to destroy the man who had been instrumental to his rise to political power.
Since then, more lies are being spread but for how long? Sure, they are running out of lies.
While we wait for the truth to prevail someday, we hope that it does not take too long to avert the destruction that may follow!