THE campaign rhetorics of the former governor of Rivers State, Chibuike Amaechi, have gone acidic. The man is throwing jabs in the manner of a street fighter. He is shooting from pillar to post, leaving hate and bad blood in his trail. He is not restrained by anything. In fact, he appears set for a drag-out fight with his opponents.
A few days ago, Amaechi was at a campaign rally somewhere in Rivers State. His message to his audience was delivered in clear terms. He told them to shun ex-president Goodluck Jonathan, his wife, Patience, and Governor Nyesom Wike so that the killings in Rivers State would come to an end. In other words, Amaechi has accused Jonathan, Patience and Wike of murder. That is reckless through and through. The language here is that of of hate delivered in very clear terms.
But why is Amaechi so incensed? Why is he spewing so much bile? The reason is not far to seek. The re-run elections of this Saturday is the bone of contention. The general elections of last year, regardless of the bad job Attahiru Jega’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) made of it, had returned PDP as the preferred party in Rivers State. Even though Jega pulled the rug off Jonathan’s feet, a development whose domino effect shaped and defined the outcome of the governorship and Houses of Assembly elections across the country, the people of Rivers State remained steadfast. They did not jump ship. They kept faith with the PDP. That was why and how Wike emerged as governor. That was also why and how the state House of Assembly was dominated by PDP members.
For an Amaechi, who stopped at nothing to undermine the Jonathan Presidency and who had promised the drivers of the All Progressives Congress (APC) that he would deliver his state to the party, the outcome of the gubernatorial and legislative elections in the state was bad news.
The impression it gave was that the former governor was an empty vessel without electoral value. Such a perception is unpalatable. It always comes with a baggage of repercussions. It is not good for any politician, especially someone like Amaechi, who shouted his voice hoarse over a fall that never was.
That development stung Amaechi like a bee. The bubble had burst. His bloated ego had been deflated. He had to fight back in the manner of a wounded lion. So far, he has made an appreciable impact. He and his army of rebels got the Election Petition Tribunal and the Court of Appeal to nullify the elections in Rivers State. That was no mean feat. It was quite remarkable. But the snag for Amaechi is that he is doing battle with a kindred spirit. He and Wike had played the turf game together in the past. One is as rugged as the other. Thus, while Amaechi was luxuriating over the point he scored, Wike was busy perfecting a counterpoise. Amaechi’s celebration was short-lived. He threw a faint-hearted jab at Wike. But the governor replied with an uppercut. That saw Amaechi groveling. The Supreme Court had upheld Wike as the validly elected governor of Rivers State.
But the Wike triumph was incomplete. His lieutenants did not have the advantage of a Supreme Court intervention. The Appeal Court, the last point of call for state elections matters, had ordered re-run elections for the cancelled seats. It is yet another occasion for the combatants to test their political strengths. Amaechi and Wike are at each other’s throat. They are fighting the political battle of their lives.
So far, Wike has applied a lot of restraint. He is not talking much. He is acting like a schemer; like a brilliant mathematician, who knows his answers and will not be bothered writing out all his equations.
The governor appears not to be interested in wasting words. He is not fighting in the air. He is, if you permit the cliche, on ground. That is the aura he radiates. That is the story behind the near absence of exuberance in his actions this time around.
But Amaechi is approaching the matter differently. He appears to be making the gallery his mainstay. He is shouting from the roof top. Like the preacher in the wilderness, he wants the world to hear his voice. Amaechi’s strategy has worked so far. We have heard him. He has spoken so eloquently. Many may have been taken in by the rhetoric. But we have gone beyond the stage of sentimental gyrations. It is now time to dissect the message. What, indeed, is the content of Amaechi’s rhetoric? The former governor is accusing the Wike government and the PDP in the state of intimidation, thuggery and outright murder.
That was why he brought Jonathan and his wife, who have no voting right in Rivers State into the fray. He is accusing them of aiding and abetting criminality in the state. But I am somewhat taken aback by the violent politics being forced on Jonathan. The Jonathan we know is not made of that stuff. That was why he deliberately paved the way for a Buhari presidency so that the dog and the baboon will not be soaked in blood.
What then is the Amaechi solution? What is the content of his campaign message? So far, we have not seen the Buhari minister market and sell the ruling party to the people of Rivers State. Rather, he is more interested in who has killed who in the state. The campaign issues are just absent here. What we have instead is the hate rhetoric, the threats and counter threats. Amaechi says he is expecting force of arms on the day of the election. He is alleging that Wike and his PDP want to kill and maim. But like the fighter that he is, Amaechi is asking the people to defy the threats of murder and come out in their numbers to vote for APC on 19th of March.
Amaechi says he is more emboldened and encouraged by the fact that Dakuku Peterside, Wike’s main challenger in the gubernatorial elections of last year, has been appointed the Director General of NIMASA. Amaechi has said that Petreside will use his new position to ensure that the Army and the Police are used to protect the waterways from Kula to Bonny. With this development, Amaechi is rest assured that Wike’s wings will be clipped on Election Day. The import of this declaration is clear enough. Peterside, according to Amaechi, is appointed so that he could fight the war in Rivers State.
I had thought that the DG of NIMASA, whoever he may be, should serve our national interest rather than a sectional one. This is how far the war-mongering in Rivers State has debased our national values. What is being played in Rivers State at moment is politics of blood. We are being made to feel that Rivers State will go to war on Saturday.
But beyond the sabre rattling , the forthcoming elections will lay to rest the supremacy contest between Amaechi and Wike. So far, Wike’s hands are on top. And he appears even more set to record more upsets against Amaechi and his crew. Judgement day is just two days away.