Amaechi and Buhari’s moral rebirth -By Evaristus Douglas

Filed under: National Issues |
Ex-governor of Rivers State and President Muhammadu Buhari

Ex-governor of Rivers State and President Muhammadu Buhari


One does not have to be super-intelligent to recognise that the elaborate social reception held in honour of Mr. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, former governor of Rivers State, at the Abuja International Conference Centre on Sunday, August 2, is part of an equally elaborate image laundering scheme for Mr Amaechi. The calibre of guests was A-List: Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; Aishatu, wife of President Muhammadu Buhari; Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, National Chairman of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC); described serving and former state governors, including Mallam Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna; leading political members of the APC, and a host of others.

The sentiments heaped on Amaechi that night were effusive, Vice President Osinbajo describing the guest of honour as a person worthy of emulation. Others eulogised the former Rivers governor for the role he played in ensuring victory for the APC at the last general elections, especially the presidential polls. Rotimi Amaechi was the Director General of the Buhari Campaign Organisation, a position he got after he was apparently passed over as nominee for vice presidential candidate.

But amid the flow of eulogies, no one could satisfactorily explain, or justify, why such a galaxy of VIP guests were out to dine and wine in honour of Amaechi. The APC had long celebrated its landmark electoral victory, and President Buhari is inching towards his first 100 days in office, although with an approval rating that is a far cry from the euphoria that swept him to power.
Before he left office as governor on May 29, Amaechi had also staged a book launch in Lagos to celebrate his tenure as Rivers governor. The Lagos event was equally well attended with the usual partisan crowd.

However, on August 2, Mr Amaechi did not disappoint in inadvertently disclosing the rationale for the social reception hosted in his honour in Abuja. It was to muster support as a counter measure to any move intended to block his nomination for a federal appointment. If other APC stalwarts in the other 35 states were to be hosted to similar ostentatious receptions, to garner support for their ministerial nomination, the cost would be enormous, and the very idea itself would be offensive to decency. It is worrisome that, while the Buhari administration is trying to enunciate a regime of frugality, some persons are spending lavishly, to polish Amaechi’s image.

As he’s been doing in the past couple of years, Amaechi, at the reception, disparaged the immediate past President, Goodluck Jonathan. He dropped the innuendo of suspected graft in the high claims for fuel subsidy during Jonathan’s administration. Amaechi also went after his successor, Governor Nyesom Wike. “May God not give me the kind of ambition of Nyesom Wike; he can sell anybody,” Amaechi was reported to have said, according to the news report on page 5 of The Nation Newspaper of Tuesday, August 4, 2015.

Amaechi further said, “Let me tell you what is currently going on in Rivers State. The governor and PDP are afraid of me getting an appointment to the national (Federal) Executive Council because that will determine what the politics of Rivers State will be. And they know that the current president abhors corruption. So, the only way they can stop me from getting the appointment is to paint me with corruption. And the people that know me in Rivers State know that I don’t like money… And I expect them to defend me that I don’t like money.”

Pray, what evidence is available that since 1999 when Nigeria returned to democratic rule, the politics of Rivers State has been determined by whoever was minister from the state? When Amaechi himself became governor in 2007, what role, if any, did the minister from the state play? While Amaechi was governor in his second term, Nyesom Wike was a member of the Federal Executive Council. Was Amaechi scared of Wike as minister? At least, the impression created by his frequent vituperations is that Amaechi is a fearless lion. Why would Wike be scared of Amaechi being a minister, or any other appointee of the federal government?

Those present at the Abuja reception for Amaechi probably saw only one dimension of the man; Rivers people see several dimensions. In the twilight of his eight-year rule as governor, Amaechi took on the unusual role of DG of the Buhari Campaign Organisation, which meant that Amaechi abandoned governance at the state level. For those who are quick to cite international best practices, it will surely be a difficult exercise to cite a parallel example of a governor of a state in the United States, virtually abandoning the post for which he was elected, to play the role of lead national coordinator for a US presidential candidate.