The battle for the soul of Rivers State has begun in earnest with different political alignments and nocturnal meetings taking place. All over the streets of the state capital as well as other places, billboards and posters representing different groups and their aspirations welcome first time visitors and salute the residents of the state on a daily basis. The intensity of the electronic jingles and advertorials has been increased in the past few weeks as each group hopes to outwit the others.
While there is relative peace amongst rival groups but that is only a matter of time and they would move from the media to the field where those who have amassed more militant loyalists would try to overrun the others.
In all honesty and without any bias, this was hardly the case when the former governor, Peter Odili held sway.
Between 2003 and 2007, the opposition groups though relatively scarce had no voice. It was almost practically impossible for any one or group to openly display their ill-feelings towards the governor, besides, the state was working with the ruling party at the center. This is the first time Rivers State is in opposition to the Central Government.
What started as a romance has suddenly turned sour, so much that billions of naira has been spent in a bid to remove the governor, Rotimi Amaechi, all without success. The only option left for those who are bent on taking their pound of flesh from the governor is to ensure he does not install a successor after him in 2015.
Political battles are not new to Amaechi, but the 2015 battle may be his toughest battle in a bid to enthrone the next governor and also find an exit route for himself either to the Senate or to Aso Rock. He must do what others before him have done or he faces the risk of going into political extinction. The advantage he seems to have here is that the main bulk of those opposed to his government and his new political party, APC, are yet the same people who were opposed to his plan of becoming governor in 2007. He knows their style, their strategy, their strengths and their weaknesses. The only thing that has changed is that his former hatchet man, Nyesom Wike, is now leading the pack of the opposition. Wike also knows Amaechi’s style, his strategy, his strengths and his weaknesses.
Amaechi has thus become his own field marshall who would rely on his own experience to combat these long time enemies of his throne. The struggle to take over the reins of leadership of the state is no mean fit. And it is not a fight for boys but that of men.
Let me digress a bit here, when King David faced a similar battle in his days, he had lost his strong man and closest ally, Ahithophel. In fact, Ahithophel had joined forces with Absalom, David’s son who wanted to dethrone his father to become King. It was one painful episode in David’s life, not because his son fought him, but he had lost the man who could defeat Absalom within seconds. In those days, David though a fighter also relied on the strength and wisdom of Ahithophel who had the best war strategy in Israel. One begins to wonder what made Ahithophel switch loyalty to another while abandoning the man who had reposed so much confidence in him. Unknown to David, Ahithophel had bottled up animosity against David who had killed his grand daughter’s husband, Uriah and had taken his widow, Bathsheba as wife. Even while they worked,lived and ate together, Ahithophel was bitter in his heart and waited only for the right time to strike. He found one in Absalom’s rebellion!
But the major cause of Ahithophel’s disloyalty and attempt to destroy David was in David’s folly. The King was busy fighting external enemies without looking inward to know that there was an enemy within. Often times, the enemy within is more dangerous than the external enemy. It was also folly for the King to give so much power to Ahithophel without checking his excesses. He would have been able to detect when the man planned his revolt.
Governance and politics are two sides of a coin. They are like conjoined twins that exist dependent of one another. They cannot be separated. But Gov. Amaechi did. Wike was given political power!
Here probably lies Amaechi’s error which has brought him to field of mother of all battles. It is not enough that his former Chief of Staff who wielded so much political and financial power under him is leading the opposition against Amaechi but he wants to succeed him against all odds. Wike had long nursed the ambition and he knows the man better having worked in his inner courts.
While Amaechi knows that this is a battle supreme, he also knows that his former ally possesses the financial war chest and the contacts needed for such a fight.
Just like David who fought 66 battles and won all in his life time, Amaechi may have that same grace or power, but now, he must truly weigh the options. He may not need to gloat over his previous successes but to face this new battle from a different vantage position.
While Wike is stopping at nothing to ensure he achieves his long term dream, Amaechi must go beyond sentiments and fight like a wounded lion.
In 2007 and 2011, the choice of who became the governor was driven by passion for Amaechi by his die-hard loyalists including the Minister but in 2015, it would become money driven! The reason is that in the next elections, Amaechi would not be the candidate anymore for the governorship position. He would only field a candidate who may not have the kind of support he has enjoyed since he joined the political train in 1999. He succeeded in building a structure with all his resources as he was selfless and very generous with funds. More to it, he was very accessible to his followers. Now, the candidate he intends to field under the banner of APC may not be possess such traits. He would have to depend on Amaechi’s goodwill.
This is one thing Wike knows and is busy trying to take advantage of this fragile situation. He knows and believes that money can substitute passion, and he is utilizing it very well to his own advantage. Though the Minister in recent times has succeeded in building a structure using his GDI, a political outfit, he very well knows that his money got him the support in place of true passion for his person.
But the man who has his structure built solidly on true passion may only need to open his treasures a little bit more in order to sway the votes in favour of whoever emerges as his candidate.
Wisdom will have to prevail against sentiments if Amaechi must join the big league of former governors who chose their successor even in the face of stiff opposition!
Written by Adaoha