Iread with bemusement an article titled “Abe’s uncalculated Risk” credited to Olawale Olaleye and published on page sixty eight of THISDAY Newspaper of Sunday 6 August, 2017. It didn’t take any extra reasoning to fathom that the whole objective of the mercenary article was to make a horrible attempt at demonising Senator Magnus and to mischievously rewrite his political history just to prove how much of a god Rt. Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has been to him and why he must always freeze whenever that god sneezes. But as with all merchant writers detailed to smear and blackmail people they hardly know, the long and winding article ended up becoming a classic exposition of nothingness replete with bile and disgusting concoction of non-existent facts.
If anything, the said article only showed how low people are prepared to go to splatter mud on the character and reputation of others just to earn a living and massage the ego of their paymasters. As a man who has consistently followed Rivers politics and its principal actors for close to two decades now, I was shocked that people could turn fact on it’s head and create such a fallacious scenario as depicted in that article against a man like Senator Abe. It’s therefore with every fiber of my being that I condemn that villainous article which signposts the ongoing smear campaign against the person of the Senator representing Rivers South-East. And I am forced to ask, what exactly is the unrelenting blackmail of Senator Abe designed to achieve, and how does the campaign of calumny against him help the building of Rivers APC?
The issues in Rivers APC today have nothing whatsoever to do with the blurred pictures of falsehood dishonestly painted by the article of Olawale Olaleye that Amaechi “mooted the idea that everyone should come together, put away their personal ambitions and converge as a family to confront the challenges that were to come…But Abe, of all, was said not to have believed in the mindset. He thought it was a ploy to weaken and make him more vulnerable while at the same time positioning Peterside. As far as he was concerned, Amaechi still had a thing for Peterside and might have resolved to field him again in 2019”. That is false and far from the challenges bedeviling the party.
As a matter of fact, the issues in Rivers APC today are also not entirely about the governorship ticket of party in 2019, although that is of course very much part of it. The real issues are that many leaders of the party have insisted on internal democracy in the conduct of party affairs. They have also maintained that Amaechi who is leader of the party should listen to the voices of the people and respect the wishes of others in taking critical decisions that affect the party as well as aligning with the realities that are on ground as far as Rivers politics is concerned. The matter is by no means personal to Senator Abe, even though most notable leaders of the party are on the same page with him in his principled stand for internal democracy.
It’s also important to note that the impression being bandied about that Hon Rotimi Amaechi is the god of Senator Abe and others in Rivers APC is not correct in point of fact. Indeed, many of those who are presently involved in the struggle to institutionalise internal democracy in Rivers APC and who the minister is currently fighting with everything are actually his contemporaries who have added value to the career of Amaechi at one point on the other.
For example, it’s known to everybody in Rivers State that in 1999, it was late Tonye Harry, Hon Marcus Nle Eji, Hon Otelemaba Dan Amachree, Hon Tamunosisi Gogo Jaja, Hon George Tolofari and others who invited Hon Amaechi to Senator Abe’s house to lead them in Amaechi’s quest to become the Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly. All these men worked assiduously to install Amaechi as Speaker, and that is the foundation of his present career.
At various critical points during his political life, these men and others worked hard and risked everything to support Amaechi’s growth. To therefore paint the picture that Amaechi is the benevolent god who has done so much for others without any corresponding value from those people to him is to take sycophancy, which is at the very root of Amaechi’s problem, to bizarre and unacceptable proportions.
Yes, Senator Magnus Abe did say that he was the biggest investment of Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi in the politics of Nigeria, but to be candid, he could also easily have said that he is one of the biggest investors in Amaechi’s politics and that would still be unimpeachably valid. The river has actually flowed both ways. It has never been a one-way traffic as Olawale Olaleye falsely stated.
As earlier stated, it was Abe who first added value to the politics of Amaechi when they first met as elected members of the Rivers State House of Assembly in 1999, a value that culminated in Amaechi’s speakership of the assembly. Ever since then, Abe has not looked back in his dedicated and single-minded support of the growth of his friend, the Minister of Transportation. As minority leader of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Abe was voted the best legislator and it was only natural that the ruling PDP would have their searchlight beamed on the budding talent to lure him into its fold. And if Amaechi recommended Abe to be Commissioner of Information in Odili’s second term, it was in reciprocation of Abe’s value and hope in the quality service he was going to offer to the Odili government.
In 2007, Abe’s appointment as Secretary to Rivers State Government together with that of Barr. Wike as Chief of Staff to the governor were the first appointments Amaechi announced in recognition of their relentless support and exertions which manifested in the unprecedented victory of the former governor at the Supreme Court. These were not unearned favours done to people who were idling around and that should be noted.
By 2011 when Amaechi was going for his second term in office, Abe got the ticket of the PDP to go to the Senate. Whatever value there was flowed back and forth between these two men for mutual benefit.
If Olawale has conveniently forgotten, many Nigerians cannot forget in a hurry the monumental support that Magnus Abe and many others gave to Amaechi when all the instruments of the federal government were unleashed against him during the Jonathan presidency. That Amaechi survived the onslaught was largely due to the valiant resistance put up by Senator Abe and many leaders of the party that Amaechi has vowed to destroy today.
The story of the protracted 2015 elections in Rivers State has been well told, and I don’t have to belabour readers with it. But suffice to say that Olawale was simply mischievous when he incredulously insinuated that after Amaechi handed the guber ticket to Dakuku Peterside, while others “played along” (whatever that means) “Senator Abe didn’t let go as he wanted to be on the ticket”.
Pray, how could Abe who already picked the senatorial ticket and was canvassing for votes to go back to the senate have also wanted to be on the guber ticket which had already been given to Dakuku? Abe vigorously campaigned for all candidates of his party in 2015 and so it was that the only LGA that the party won in the guber election was in his senatorial district. In the reruns after the Appeal Court nullified most of the elections, all other candidates of the party got the same support that Abe was given, but it was Abe who made the biggest impression by winning back not only his senate seat, but also galvanised support for the APC to win all other contested legislative seats in his Senatorial district except for the Assembly and House of Reps seats in Andoni/Opobo Federal constituency where the governorship candidate of the party came from in 2015.
The unwieldy charge that Abe and others in the Rivers APC are “betraying” Amaechi is as lame as it is untrue. Those who are betraying Amaechi are those telling him yes when everybody knows that the answer is no.
Rivers people, and indeed the APC victims of the 2015 election have already seen the Part One of this current movie playing out in the party before, and now, they are simply rising up to say no to the part two because the Part One has been uninteresting. No former governor of Rivers State has succeeded in becoming a third term governor by proxy, and if this unwarranted fight against Senator Abe is all about the desires of Amaechi to continue to govern Rivers State by proxy, then he must check up his history books and he will see that nothing can validate what he is attempting to do.
Those who are seeking to demonise Abe and others within the Rivers APC because of their principled stand of insisting on internal democracy have already failed because Rivers people know the truth. They may succeed in deceiving those who are outside, but in Rivers State, the facts are very clear and will bear out at the end.
Adeyinka is a political analyst