Highlights

THE FACE OF A DEFECTOR

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If it were possible to know a man’s character by his look, Henry Ogiri would come across as one capable of great cruelty. My first meeting with him reinforced this impression. We met in the days when Rotimi Amaechi had just returned from his Ghanahian exile to become the Governor of Rivers State. Henry Ogiri was then the state legislator from Abua-Odual. Under the pretext of granting me an interview, he had allowed me into his office where he proceeded to surprise me with a good dressing down for having written in a recent issue of Andy Briggs Report, at the time that Marshall Uwom, now the deputy speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly was the only Abua-Odual politician who had stayed loyal to Amaechi through out his 2007 court battles to reclaim his mandate as governor. Ogiri did not raise his voice at me but this did not diminish the intensity of the rebuke and my shock at being tongue-lashed by the legislator in his office just when I thought that I had secured an interview with him left me flat-footed. When he was done with the verbal assault, I gathered what was left of the shreds of my dignity and stepped out of his office, defiant and angry. It was our only encounter though having quite a few friends from Abua, I was constantly regaled with bits and pieces of information about Henry Ogiri.
When Henry Ogiri was appointed the Executive Director of Finance and Administration (EDFA) in the NDDC, he was immediately transformed into a political heavyweight in the Jonathan camp and became the most important political figure in Abua. He would eventually emerge as a foremost financial contributor to the Wike campaign. Even his kinsman rival in the Amaechi administration, the current deputy speaker of the Rivers House of Assembly started to defer to him as ‘my leader’. Henry Ogiri had become ‘loaded’. Apart from Wike who had probably spent billions to snatch the Rivers PDP from his former boss and had become the party guber candidate, it was alleged that no other Rivers PDP heavyweight was as ‘loaded’ as the EDFA. Only Ogiri can tell exactly how much he sunk into the Wike campaign but in Abua-Odual, he had become the leader and his alleged loot oiled the ‘security structure’ which held the area in its grip. There was nobody in the opposite camp, the Abua-Odual APC who was a friend of President Jonathan and commanded the kind of wealth and clout that the EDFA was alleged to have accumulated. I had to ask the Abua-Odual APC strongman and former council boss Udi Odum, how he planned to withstand the heavyweight EDFA. Despite Udi Odum’s tough reputation, I realised that it could be quite simple for one with the EDFA’s clout and cash to arrange Mr. Odum’s transfer to a place far from Abua, during the elections.
So, APC was eventually devastated, bushwacked, outmaneuvered…it was a nightmare for the Rivers APC but Buhari won the presidential election. Wike took charge in Rivers and Amaechi went to Abuja. Amaechi has sorted out Dakuku Peterside the Rivers APC guber candidate and a few others. In Rivers, however Ogiri’s discontent grew. He had been sacked from the NDDC and he had waited for Wike to reward his efforts with a plum. Wike had given him the honor of nominating the first caretaker council chairman of Abua-Odual in his administration. That was hardly anything compared to the size of the former EDFA’s contribution and resentment grew in the heart of Henry Ogiri. It is alleged that every request paper that Ogiri subsequently sent to Gov. Wike was quietly shoved aside.
Had Ogiri invested all his dosh in the Wike campaign? Probably not. Perhaps the fund had been quite depleted. Perhaps the former EDFA was finally feeling used and dumped. Perhaps the former EDFA had finally become aware of the ruthless Magu at the EFCC. It could not have been an easy decision, popping out of Wike’s camp to welcome the Minister of Trasport at the airport, the equivalent of high treason in the Wike camp. A press conference to announce Ogiri’s defection to the APC would have been a whisper compared to the thunder of welcoming Amaechi at the airport.
What does Ogiri hope to achieve ? Amaechi does not know how to forgive betrayal and Ogiri can not undo the damage he did to Amaechi and the APC especially in Abua where APC stalwarts went into exile during the election. It is unlikely that he can become the leader of APC in Abua. He is not in a position to make demands, either. He has become a traitor to the Abua-Odual PDP by going over to Amaechi. He has turned into a foe to the likes of Hon. Marshal Uwom and Hon. Betty Apiafi, his Abua-Odual allies in Wike’s camp. He will no longer control the ‘security structure’. It is most likely that Gov. Nyesom Wike already has a contingency in place. Henry Ogiri came with nothing to offer the APC. His defection is only a desperate plea for help.

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