The Right Honourable Chibuike Rotimi Amechi is a no nonsense politician. He is a stubborn and dogged fighter. He is a goal-getter. He never looks back on what he sets his mind to do, and will dare the consequences provided he achieves his goal.
Chibuike Amechi is almost a household name in Nigeria today. He is Nigeria’s Minister of Transportation, which includes land, rail, air and sea transportations. He is one of the super Ministers in the cabinet of President Muhammadu Buhari. He is equally the indefatigable Director General of President Buhari’s election campaign team.
Chibuike Amechi started his foray in politics during the botched Third Republic, when he was appointed special assistant to the then Deputy Governor of Rivers State, Dr. Peter Odili. A lawyer by profession, at the birth of the Fourth Republic, Chibuike Amechi contested and won election to the Rivers State House of Assembly on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
With the assistance of Peter Odili who then was the Executive Governor of Rivers State, Chibuike Amechi was elected Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly. He served in that capacity for two-terms of eight years. He also chaired the Conference of Speakers of Nigeria’s State Houses of Assembly.
When Odili was about to serve out his eight-year term, he looked for someone who would succeed him. He found Chibuike Amechi quite suitable and supported him to win his party’s ticket. When, however, Amechi was to be presented with his party’s flag, former President Olusegun Obasanjo did not fancy it. He said that Amechi’s case had a “K-leg” and refused to hand over the flag to him. In desperation, the PDP looked for someone who would succeed Amechi, and fished out one of his cousins, Celestine Omehia, and gave him the flag.
Chibuike Amechi was flabbergasted, but he would not surrender. He vowed to fight to the end since what he believed was a grave injustice done to him. He then headed to the court to challenge the action.
To ensure that the struggle was sustained and that nothing happened to him in the course of the struggle, he fled to Ghana, leaving behind his foot-soldiers, Ezenwo Nyeson Wike and co., to carry on with the fight.
Meanwhile, Celestine Omehia who already was flying the flag of the PDP, had begun to traverse the length and breadth of Rivers State, canvassing for votes. At the end the day, the PDP was declared the winner of the election. Omehia presented himself, and he was sworn in as Governor of Rivers State. That was in May 2007.
However, in October the same year, the Supreme Court of Nigeria came out with a bang – that it was Amechi that should be sworn in and not Omehia, because Chibuike Amechi was the rightful candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The court said that it was the PDP that Rivers State people voted, and not the individual whose name appeared on the ballot paper. That was an unprecedented verdict and since it was the decision of the highest court in the land, Amechi flew in from Ghana and was sworn in as Governor of Rivers State.
Having served the people of Rivers State for a total of sixteen years – eight years as Speaker of the State House of Assembly, and another eight years as State Governor – one would have thought Chibuike Amechi to be an institution as far as politics in Rivers State was concerned, or that he would have the Rivers State in his firm grips. But that does not seem to be the case now as many people have been deserting him.
The other day we read in the papers the altercations between Amechi and his one-time soulmate and former Secretary to the State Government, Senator Magnus Abbe, as well as how about 5,000 members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State had left the party and joined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). These were no good news for Chibuike Amechi.
If, during his sixteen years stewardship of Rivers State Chibuike Amechi had made many friends, he equally had made many more enemies. He courted controversies here and there. A two-term chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, Amechi had used the position to antagonize and fight the Federal Government.
Amechi has alienated himself from many of his former political allies, friends and benefactors, including Peter Odili, who brought him into political limelight. He fought those he perceived were standing on his way or were trying to take shine out of him. He preferred to be the only tree standing in the forest. Some people say that Chibuike Amechi is proud and that he is arrogant.
Chibuike Amechi’s albatross appears to be his former close friend, Ezenwo Nyeson Wike, the current Governor of Rivers State. Wike was at the forefront in the struggle for the restoration of Amechi’s mandate. At first, Amechi had Wike as a member of his kitchen cabinet, but later, suspecting Wike to be a threat to his political career, he decided to send him on political exile, to Abuja to becomr a Minister.
But Wike understood the trick, the game plan. He refused to go on permanent political exile, or to be caged. Though serving as minister in Abuja, he was frequenting Rivers State to put together his political structures and to constantly oil the machinery. Before Amechi, a sitting governor, knew what was happening, Wike had pulled the rug over his feet: he had taken over the PDP structures in Rivers State.
Amechi was dazed. In desperation, he left PDP and joined the All Progressives Congress (APC). He thought he would from there install his successor. He picked Dakuku Peterside to vie for governorship of Rivers State, but Wike dusted him. He tried to go through the courts to upturn the electoral victory on his side, boasting that he had the federal might, still Wike floored him. He tried to cause confusion in Rivers State, hoping thereby to get the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency in the state, sack Wike and then he would install his lackey, again he did not succeed.
Now, Chibuike Amechi is like an orphan. He is a General without army. Many people are turning their backs on him and he is now walking the lonely path alone. In spite of the Federal might behind him, Amechi no longer makes his usual triumphal entry into Rivers State. Very often he comes in unannounced and unnoticed.
Lessons. Never over-estimate yourself. Don’t bite the fingers that fed you. Don’t neglect the ladder with which you climbed to the top, because you will still meet that same ladder on your way down.