Right of Reply
By UwikorÂ Andrew
When Shaka Momodu in his column, This Republic published on the back page of THISDAY Newspaper of Friday, July 21, 2017, wrote the titled article: â€œAmaechiâ€™s God Complexâ€, what intention he strove to accomplished is lost in my imagination and perhaps those who have been ardent followers of his column as I have been.Â
For the first time, I am wont to take divergence in his summations, which dialectics stilt largely from inadequate information at his disposal and set for a matter of public discourse that would further enrich our understanding of the so call â€˜God complexâ€™ in the enigma called Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi.
Inadvertently put, Momoduâ€™s Amaechiâ€™s God Complexâ€™s article could be deconstructed into two main frames: the mundane side of Amaechi and his spiritual side for proper perspectives in the understanding of the real meaning of the intentions of the author as reflected in the said article.Â
What though is lost is what he intended to achieve with the mundane side of Amaechi and his spiritual side. Is there a nexus between the mundane side of Amaechi and the spiritual side of Amaechi? Can the mundane side enhance the political discourse in Rivers State in particular and Nigeria in general?Â
Can the spiritual side of Amaechi further discourse in the Nigerian polity, nay Rivers State? Such are the thoughts that pressed on the subconscious mind that reads Momoduâ€™s Amaechiâ€™s God Complex.
Taken in a superlative context, Momoduâ€™s Amaechiâ€™s God complex is, but a flight of adjunct superfluousness, measured and deliberately written to confuse, rather than enhance further discourse of how the personae Amaechi fit into the Nigerian contextual political landscape. Momoduâ€™s Amaechiâ€™s God Complex was written to foreclose similar minds that may be living in abstractions just as the author.Â
The Nigerian political stage, just like any other is fluids with a lot of corridors and passages to take in whichever direction the politician wants to. What is certain is that the end result is not always certain. What, however, is certain is that the outcome defines who you are, good or bad. But it would be a curse if an individual fails to take the step. This canâ€™t be said of Chibuike Amaechi, in all his political life. He took a step.
The mundane side of Amaechi: permit me not to bore you with repetitive non essentials in the said write up. But the specifics of Momoduâ€™s 240 lines article posit that Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi rose from the menial position of Personal Assistant to Dr. Peter Odili when he was a Medical Doctor to be made Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly for eight years and later Governor for another eight years. Momodu put this rise to godfatherism and a curious judgment of the judiciary. He dismissed Amaechiâ€™s rise in the mundane sphere as the elevation of visionless people viz, plunderers, profiteers, gangsters with their manifest tendencies into position of leadership and authority. This, to me, is the height of indiscretion a columnist could publicly exhibit. Therefore, I beg to differ.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
I would rather think that Amaechi was made of the milk of humility when he accepted to serve as Personal Assistant to a Medical Doctor after graduation from the university. A position which neither adds to his personality; but definitely a subtraction, considering that he was the immediate past national president of NURSS. Albeit this, Odili must have seen a promising future in Amaechi when he offered him the job. I see a symbiotic relationship between Odili and Amaechi, rather than the nonlinear sight of Momodu.
We are all living witnesses to the circumstances that led to the Supreme Court judgment of October 25 2007. There is no gain repeating the details, but rather to state that Peter Odiliâ€™s PDP era was a monolithic political order that almost foreclosed political space and anyone with ambition to climb the ladder. Politicians queued to show evidence of loyalty, service and respect for party leadership while party leaders lined up to give a nod of approval or disapproval.Â
In this situation, one cannot challenge party hegemony. But Amaechi did and won. Why begrudge him for wining? It is distasteful to call a Supreme Court judgment curious! Let us not lose sight of a statement of the Supreme Court ruling which only stated that, in the eyes of the law, Celestine Omehia was the alter ego of Chibuike Amaechi. It therefore cannot be said that Amaechi did not contest election to be made governor of Rivers State. He did by proxy, so said the law.
If there was any doubt as to who was the preferred candidate between Celestine Omehia and Chibuike Amaechi in 2007, that battle of supremacy or popularity was settled in 2011 when both stood election for APGA and PDP respectively and Celestine lost gallantly. Throwing up the 2007 Supreme Court Judgment at each time Amaechiâ€™s name is mentioned, is but an intellectual laziness and is wont to add little or no value to the discourse. Amaechiâ€™s challenge of the PDPâ€™s hierarchy in 2007 and wining same was like a breath of fresh air after the stifling political space of the Odiliâ€™s era.
The spiritual side of Amaechi: citing Chinua Achebe, Momodu stated: â€œThose who have their paths cleared by the benevolent spirits should not forget to be humble.â€ The best bet in this comment would be in the conclusion that one could smell a stint of jealousy in the ink of ShakaMomodu as he writes his Amaechiâ€™s God Complex for his column, This Republic. In a politician like Amaechi, his strings of victories in politics are enough to evoke envy and petty jealousy in his foes and fans alike.Â
When no one thought of challenging party hegemony, he did and won the Rivers State coveted governorship seat. He defied the PDP apparatchik and won the then governorâ€™s forum chairmanship position. He was the fulcrum of the All Progress Congress (APC). As the Director General of the Buhariâ€™s campaign organization, he superintended the defeat of Dr.Goodluck Jonathan; in the first ever transition from a ruling party to the opposition. His judicial victories are so infectious that politicians struggle to replicate them in all spheres. So enigmatic is his name that it would not be out of place for Momodu to associate him with the God complex!
Let me address the superlatives which formed the choice of words in the title. Momodu quoted Amaechi as saying: â€œIn my capacity as the leader of APC in Rivers State, Abe cannot be the governorship candidate of the party in Rivers State in 2019. Abe has no character.â€Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
Momoduâ€™s angst with the wording saw Amaechi playing God when this same Abe was his Secretary to the State Government and once feigned being shot for his sake. Momodu also pointed to other unsavory statements made by the former governor and the APC leader in the state concerning other party stalwarts. Taken on their face values, the wordings are very strong terms to describe the personality of the erudite Senator of the Federal Republic. But in truth, can those words be taken to mean the perceptions of what Amaechi holds of the person of Abe? Can such a speech, in this age of doublespeak, in the quick sand of Nigerian politics, be taken for real? I doubt lt. My only summation here is that Shaka Momodu has been taken in, in the doublespeak of Chibuike Amaechi and concluded that the words meant what they were.
Perhaps, Abeâ€™s reply would help as it seems that he best understood what his party leader meant when he stated that he has no character. Hear him speaking to his kinsmen in Ogoni recently: â€œLet me use the opportunity of this visit to address some issues in our great party, the APC in Rivers State and to say clearly for the record that there are no members of the party, including myself, that is disputing the leadership of my friend, the Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi. We are not disputing with him who is the leader of the party. He is the leader and will continue to be the leader of our party in Rivers State.â€ Abe understood Amaechiâ€™s diatribes as accusing him of having no regard for his leadership of the party in Rivers State and publicly offered otherwise. Abeâ€™s comment means he holds Amaechiâ€™s leadership of the APC in Rivers State in very high regards. End of the matter.
Again, Momodu wrote based on hearsay, as all that he quoted were not in public domain. It is obvious that both Abe and Dakuku have benefited from Amaechiâ€™s political decisions over the years, and will not be surprised if he ever sounded that way. He knows how best to approach the enemy outside, particularly now that there is a crude, recalcitrant, formidable foe to contend with. So also, Amaechi who understands what it means and takes to be a Governor in Rivers state may not have made a mistake to have said that Abe do not have character. He knows that to have character, it means the support and the strengthening of the party by ensuring that everybody remains in one ship. Amaechiâ€™s choice of words was apt in the face of decampments in the Rivers APC.
One final comment that perhaps may point to some unsavory language used by Amaechi in the weeks of party realignment to himself may be in the matter put before him concerning the party, on which he needed to stamp his authority. This is contained in the press briefing given by the chairman of the party in the state, Chief Davis Ikannya. Perhaps, if Momodu has this clip, he would have thought otherwise in his write up. Said Ikannya: â€œAfter a careful appraisal of the political developments in Rivers State in the past two years, we have come to the conclusion that certain issues require special mention and documentation for the purpose of clear understanding, direction and benefit of posterity, we note with shock a statement credited to a group that calls itself Rivers Elders Consultative Council led by a certain Dr. Granville Abiye Georgewill in which the said Dr.Georgewill disparaged the person of our respected leader and mentor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, Honourable Minister of Transportation for allegedly facilitating a stakeholder meeting during the visit of Acting President, Prof.Yemi Osinbajo to Rivers State recently.
We unequivocally state that the APC Family in Rivers State under the leadership of Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi remains solidly unified, cohesive and intact. We wish to warn that any person or persons in the family that may lend themselves to the machinations of the enemy will be doing a great disservice to the party. We urge the party to watch out for such persons and take appropriate disciplinary actions in established cases. We reiterate that the loyalty of each and every member of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Rivers State is to the party, under the able-leadership of our great leader, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi.â€
Ikannyaâ€™s central theme in his briefing was that the leadership of the party was disparaged and that there was a question of loyalty. Going into 2019, the APC cannot win the ultimate prize with a disparaged leadership with a dubious claim on loyalty, hence the grand standing of Chibuike Amaechi. As a matter of hindsight, the APC Rivers State is standing on three powerful tripods that does not auger well for it to remain one. The first tripod belong to the Honourable Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi; the second, Senator Magnus Abe, senator representing Rivers – East Senatorial District in Nigeriaâ€™s 8th Assembly and the third, the Director- General of the Nigerian Maritime and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Dr.Adol Dakuku Peterside.
Between the last two tripods, Abe and Peterside, the heat generated for their gubernatorial ambitions by their supporters almost tore the party in the state apart.Â Â With the state leadership seemingly unable to whip party faithful in line for sanity to prevail, the leadership of the party reverts to their national leader Chibuike Amaechi to stem the tide of disaffection and desertions plaguing the party. Amaechiâ€™s welding of the big stick against Abe and other senior party members was to create a level playing field in the party as the party plots to wrestle the state from the PDP. The strategy may not have been sanguine, but for now, sanity has returned to the state APC.
For 16 consecutive years Chubuike Rotimi Ameachi pulled the strings and weathered the political storm in Rivers State leaving his name on the sands of time. No wonder at the Federal Ministry of transportation where he currently superintends over, is on the fast track of uncommon development. No thanks to his sense of commitment and dedication, dotted by his vision and spirit of doggedness.Â
Be that as it may, one would have wished that Shaka Momoduâ€™s Amaechiâ€™s God complex have narratives that would further national discourse rather than personality talks, because whenever political discourse is God centered, it becomes futile to progress forward or build consensus. Momoduâ€™s God centered approach in the Amaechiâ€™s monologue abruptly ends the narratives, thereby defeating the purpose for which it was meant to serve or achieve.Â
In this, Momoduâ€™s Amaechiâ€™s God Complex failed in the narrative, hence losing the point.
â€¢ Mr Andrew, a political analyst, writes from Port Harcourt, Rivers State