AN OPEN LETTER TO CHIBUIKE ROTIMI AMAECHI (1)
Dear Rt. Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, constraint as I am as a result of lack of direct personal access to you, I have decided to write you this open letter in the hope that one way or the other, it will get your reading attention . I do not boast of the resources or contact to put this letter in a national daily, yet, I remain optimistic that you will see it. If it thus happen, as I suppose, glory to the Lord, for I would have passed the message of this first epistle of a trilogy to come, a duty that A STILL SMALL VOICE within me which I call God (pardon me, I am a mystic) dictated that I must perform.
I am very sure you do not know me, and you are unlikely to know me till my time on this terrestrial plane is done, but let me just say a few lines about myself. I am your eternal admirer. And I have been your unlucky supporter too. Perhaps, that is what has placed this huge burden in my spirit man.
In the year 2007, exactly in May thereof, I lost my first job. What was the issue? A director in the company I worked had openly told me to shut up. Why did he say so? I had told him that Amaechi would be governor of Rivers State before the end of that year, and that it didn’t matter whether he told me to shut up or not. Why was the director so personal with me? The CEO of our company was a friend to Omehia, and was already doing contracts with the Rivers State government, and petro-Dollars income was gushing into our company. To cut the long story short, the following day, my sack letter was ready, personally signed by the CEO himself. I was gone, for the “sin” of standing with what my conscience told me was right. As a mystic, I left with my head high, knowing that the duty I owed to my conscience was stronger than the pain a job loss could inflict.
Seven years later, in the year 2014, thunder would strike twice. History would repeat itself, only that this time, it came with a name tag which I neither desired nor deserved:Judas.
Why was it so? I was in the employ of an influential Kalabari young man who was working with former President Jonathan and raking in billions of naira. My pay was good, and so was the condition of my service, but because I was uncomfortably vocal about what Nyesom Wike was using the name of President Jonathan to do in Rivers State against you, my employer got increasingly dismayed about my stubborn insistence that Jonathan was headed the wrong way. For my guts, I was dismissed, because of supporting you, for the second time in my life. I still didn’t care, for as Usman Dan Fodio said, “conscience is an open wound, only truth can heal it”.
Your Excellency, I am sorry to have bored you with the vicissitudes that have befallen me by reason of my unrelenting support for you, but there are many people out there like me, who have never met you in person, but who have nevertheless suffered one form of personal loss or the other as a result of their uncompromising support for you. For those of us in that category, it’s always been your boldness, courage and faith to do what is right and just that endeared us. And we were many. Unfortunately, recently, our ranks are depleting alarmingly. That brings me to the crux of this letter.
Your Excellency, since January this year, your fans and admirers across Nigeria have been confounded about the publicized war you have been waging in Rivers State, within your own party the APC. Till date, many of us do not understand the reason why you are fighting this latest battle, not against your political foes as usual, but against your own friends and associates of more than a decade and half of relationship. I have been very concerned.
Your Excellency, of a truth, you are not a stranger to political acrimony. Your own political history is a chronicle of many pulsating political battles.
In 1999, you fought hard, with the help of Odili and his wife, to get your seat at the Rivers State House of Assembly through the tribunal, having been declared to have lost to your competitor on the field by INEC. I believe that God was with you in that fight, because through it, your manifest destiny was made real. You had a reason to fight. You would go ahead to attain the speakership of the Assembly, a lofty position you held for eight years.
Between 2006/7, you fought your second major political battle. After a lot of intrigues and subterfuge, you won the nomination of your former party, the PDP, in a fiercely contested primaries, as gubernatorial flag bearer in Rivers State. Suddenly, EFCC dogs ( many believed it was manipulated) started trailing you, leading to the infamous K-leg saga pronounced by the sagacious, if controversial, OBJ which lead to your unlawful substitution as candidate of your party.
Even though it was your cousin, Celestine Omehia, who took your mantle (and for that many people felt you shouldn’t have gone ahead to initiate the fight against him) you went ahead to fight the injustice meted on you. I know that in that fight, you lied to Odili, your godfather, about why you were going to court. You had told Odili to support you to fight against EFCC’s indictment in the Court, for which you got generous support from him. But you later turned around, behind Odili, to institute a case against your wrongful substitution . Even at that, I believe that God was with you in that fight, for you had a reason to fight, because you had suffered wrong. Like Moses who lied about his wife, God overlooked your lies, and through his boundless mercies, enveloped you in his grace. The intensity and implication of that fight was so big that you feared for you life, and had to go on exile in Ghana.
But you were lucky to have few dedicated men who stayed back here in Nigeria, faced the danger, braved the mountainous odds, marshaled men and resources, through thick and thin, to birth a great victory, God being in the enterprise.
In October 2007, an unprecedented judicial pronouncement that shook the foundation of the legal world would be made by the apex court, and without canvassing for votes and standing election, you would be declared Governor of Rivers State through the “eyes of the law”. Again, I say God was with you, for you had a reason to fight.
Your Excellency, your next political fight was three in one package. Nyesom Wike, who was your Chief of Staff, had cunningly used Dr Jonathan and his household to wage a costly war against you. Initially, the purpose of the well-oiled war was to undermine your mandate as Governor and your standing in the ruling PDP. The purpose of the war would get enlarged to unseat you, using few elements in the assembly.
The war would crystallize into trying to stop you from exercising your right to contest for the leadership of the NGF. Jonathan led that war, through surrogates. But because you had the existence of a right, because you had justice in your favour and on your side, God was with you, and against all odds, you did the incredible by defeating Jonathan and his surrogates to win your second election as Chairman of the NGF.
The mother of that war was during the 2015 election. You pitched your tent against Jonathan and for Buhari, a northerner, much to the chagrin of your Niger Delta kindred, which chagrin exist to this day. But because you had a reason to fight, God was with you. You were fighting for the life of you and your family, which a Jonathan victory could possibly have extinguished. A few of your friends and political associates from Rivers State joined you to wage that deadly political battle at the highest level, and the masses who believed in the rightness of your fight joined you too.
Even though you lost Rivers State in a catastrophic fashion, your contribution and sacrifice was huge. You mobilized great war chest (indeed, I know it was not your own money, it was state resources, money that belonged to all Rivers sons and daughters) yet, God showed mercy in the victory of Buhari. You had a strong reason to fight the way you did.
Your last important battle came when you were nominated as Minister by President Buhari. Hell was let loose in a frenetic bid to stop you. There was no blackmail too vile to be concocted to stop you. This is something you worked for, so denying you the opportunity to serve was unjust. God again fought on your side, and you were screened, confirmed and sworn-in as Minister.
Your Excellency, the question on the lips of all your true supporters that I have met is this: what exactly is Amaechi fighting against his own people for this time?
In my own attempt to find an answer to that question, I have read newspaper reports about the implosion in Rivers APC which you are masterminding, and I cannot see any reason, any rationale, any philosophy or political morality or correctness which is the underpinning of this particular fight. That makes this fight different from all your previous fights. I am afraid that this time, you are on the wrong side of history.
The arguments that you have advanced, through the newspaper reports I have read, as to the reasons why you are waging war against members of your own party which you lead are not only watery and shallow, they are bereft of everything just and fair, and go against everything you have stood for in your own glittering political career.
I heard, your Excellency, that you have said you want to be like Tinubu and control the politics of Rivers State the way Tinubu controls the politics of Lagos State and South-west. But Your Excellency, how can you be like Bola Tinubu when you are Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi? How can you be like Tinubu when your own style and strategy have been the very opposite of the genius?
Your Excellency, I have heard that you have said you want to put a stooge in the Brick House in Rivers State in 2019 so that while the person runs the government, you will run the politics, and you have said that is what Tinubu does in Lagos. But have you considered well the political history of River State?
Your Excellency, before you go ahead with your next plan in this fight you are fighting, I want to refer you to the paper you delivered at the PDP National Retreat at Tinapa in Calabar on the 3-4th of July, 2008, titled “Amaechi’s Recipe On Rule of Law and Internal Democracy”. In that paper, you railed against godfatherism . Your Excellency, are you now fighting against your own people just to become a godfather?
I see your political denouement in this fight, because you are fighting against the very values you hold dear. You are now the oppressor. This is a fight you cannot win, no matter the outcome.
It’s been a long one from me, Your Excellency. In my next letter, I will give what I consider to be the different possible outcomes of this fight and how it will impact your politics. Until then, take a deep breath, and remain blessed.
Pascal Damian Tamuno writes from Port Harcourt.