Highlights

AMAECHI’S MISCALCULATION

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I do not need to advertise the roles I played in the battle to actualize an APC Governorship in Rivers State in the 2015 guber election. My editorials, still to be found on my web site andybriggsreport.me adequately articulate the story. It will tell when I shifted my support from Jonathan to Amaechi and why I did so. It will also articulate my warning to Amaechi in the story ‘Abe is Wike’s anti-dote’. Amaechi did not really listen and in the spirit of my loyalty to him, I joined the Dakuku Peterside guber effort. One of those who encouraged me to do so was Rotimi Amaechi’s elder brother. Looking back, I doubt that even Magnus Abe could have withstood Wike’s lethal weapon in the person of Mama P.
Dakuku Peterside, well known to me since the Odili era was always pleasant to get along with but it would become clear to me after a few weeks of the kick off of his campaign that he would need a lot of empowerment to beat Wike. By the time that  Dakuku kicked off his campaign with a faltering rally at Elekahia Stadium, Wike and GDI had been to almost every local government area in Rivers State, opening GDI offices. His target was to neutralise Amaechi. Dakukku Peterside was not really the one he needed to beat down to actualise his ambition.
When Dakuku was driven away from Okrika on his first attempt to rally there, pundits appreciated his peaceful disposition but still wondered how he was going to beat Wike, if he hadto beat a hasty retreat anytime Wike and Mama P’s militants showed up. As if that was not enough, Wike’s campaign showed all signs of being far better funded even as stories of Wike’s generousity became a favorite topic of conversation all over Port Harcourt. It was also painfully obvious that Amaechi had decided to commit himself almost entirely to the Buhari presidential campaign. When he became the director-general of the Buhari campaign, he became fanatical in the pursuit of that project.
I sent him a note then just as many others did to draw his attention to the danger of abandoning Dakuku to his devices. I told him that Dakuku could not go it alone, that indeed the task of stopping Wike and realizing a Dakuku victory needed his physical presence in Rivers State. Odili practically campaigned for his successors. Obasanjo did all the campaigning for a sick Yaradua. Installing once successor was not something to be done at weekends or whenever one could catch his breath on the excruciating course of the Buhari presidential trail. Many people saw the defeat coming after the Ekiti State Gubernatorial election. How would one confront fifty thousand strong security forces in Rivers State during the election? Osun State guber came next and Ogbeni Rauf provided the answer, battling the PDP to a standstill but I realised that Rauf’s victory was allowed because President Jonathan and his first lady were not as fiercely determined to take Osun as they were about Rivers State. Jonathan was wary of creating a crisis in the heart of Yoruba land but would not shrink from doing so, close to home in Rivers where  Amaechi had ticked him off, big time.
There is no doubt that Amaechi exerted himsel on a superhuman scale as DG of the Buhari campaign. That was where his heart was. He saw Buhari’s victory as the only way that he could escape the fury of the Jonathans. His statements after the Buhari victory have confirmed so. The Buhari presidential campaign depleted him financially especially as the Rivers State allocation had been severely trimmed down in successive months by an offended presidency. Civil servants and pensioneers bore the main brunt of this development, being owed for months. Amaechi had retreated into a tight-fisted, presumptious attitude. He no longer thought it necessary to reach out to people as he once did. He obviously believed that a Buhari victory would make everything alright. If he realised that so many people in Rivers State were furious with him, he did not show it. His stalwarts believed that a Buhari victory would make Amaechi, the most powerful man in the country, perhaps second only to Buhari.
There will always be many versions of what happened in Rivers State on the eve of the presidential polls but on the night before the presidential polls, I alerted Governor Amaechi from a hotel where I was holed up because there had been some serious rounds of gunfire in my neighborhood, the previous night. ‘Oga, madam is in town,’ I wrote in a phone message. ‘I hope you have her anti-dote.’ He replied, ‘Relax. We will restrict her.’ The presidential election was the next day. The result is now history. A week later, Wike repeated the feat at the governorship polls, backed to the hilt by the Jonathans.
Amaechi could not resist gloating after the presidential election.He delivered only 69,000 votes to Buhari from Rivers but Buhari had still won in a landslide delivered by the Northern and Western states of Nigeria. ‘I thought you said I was wrong to work for Buhari ?’, he accused me. ‘Nope,’ I replied. ‘I said that you made youself vulnerable in Rivers by focussing all your attention on the presidential race. Imagine how your followers were wiped out at the national and state assemblies. How many people can you take to Abuja?’ The man in whose support I had taken risks to launch media attacks against Wike, then accused me of disloyalty.
I was sceptical about the various court battles to reverse Wike’s gubernatorial victory but after Dakuku Peterside won at the Appeal Court, I began to imagine that perhaps Buhari had decided to use his powers to oust Wike. I abandoned this suspicion once Wike won at the Supreme Court.
The Federal Minister for Transport, Rotimi Amaechi swept into Port Harcourt in a convoy of great publicity kicked off by a controversial AIT interview. His mission was clear; to rouse his one million strong Rivers APC membership base to sweep the rerun polls and prove that he remained the master of Rivers politics. Federal might accompanied him. It is alleged that he moved around with about four hundred soldiets though he had complained about the state commissioner of police. To be fair to Amaechi, he had come to feed Wike a dose of his own medicine. Who can forget the security forces-delivered brigandage of the 2015 elections, denying the govetnor entry into Abonnema, detention of APC stalwarts at Harry’s Town on the eve of the polls, turning the governor back to Government House while Wike strolled around his village polling places handing out largesse. Unfortunately, Amaechi’s loss had been consolidated by almost a year of Wike’s governorship. It is wretchedly difficult to beat a governor on his home turf. Wike could not have stood a chance against Amaechi in 2015, if not for the impunity so absolutely backed by President Jonathan. There was no way that Amaechi could wallop Wike in the second leg face-off under a president who would not allow his wife to rule in impunity. So, Buhari saved Wike and Wike has been thanking him and Amaechi has gone back to Buhari. I bet Amaechi never saw it coming.

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