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Amaechi vs. Wike: Peace or War

24 February 2014, 10:04 Emmanuel G. Onofua

In politics, there are no permanent friends or permanent foes; but permanent interests. This is the most popular quote I have heard from politicians since I consciously started to comprehend words.

The epic story of “no love lost” between two friends and political companions later turned adversaries occasioned by clash of political interests – Chibuike Amaechi and Nyesom Wike, has no doubt become one of the most popular stories making front pages of our dailies.

Until some months ago, the relationship between, Amaechi and Wike transcended personal and political spectres since 1999. In 2007 when Amaechi’s victory was hijacked and given to his cousin - Celestine Omehia, Amaechi was disappointed and probably ran out of ideas; then came his man, his friend; a grass root politician who was familiar with the political crannies of the state.

Aided with the unflinching and assured support of Wike, Amaechi headed for election tribunal to contest the stolen mandate. It is believed that Wike bore the lion’s share of the litigation cost. He was said to have represented Amaechi and as a loyal friend, rejected copious financial advances meant to induce him to dump Amaechi’s camp and abandon the prosecution of the case.

Following Amaechi’s victory in court, and subsequent swearing in on October 27, 2007, Wike was branded the hero and his singular act of faithfulness which birthed their victory needed to be appreciated by Amaechi, thus Wike’s appointment as Chief of Staff to the Rivers State Government in 2007. The duo was so close, it was rumoured that Wike was Amaechi’s anointed candidate for Rivers State Governorship seat in 2015.

As part of the quid pro quo, Amaechi nominated and coaxed President Goodluck Jonathan to appoint Nyesom Wike as Minister, representing Rivers State. After many daylight and nocturnal consultations, Wike was appointed Minister in 2011, as against the man initially fingered for the job – Tonye Cole, son of former Ambassador, Dr. Patrick Dele-Cole.

As a Minister of the Federal Republic, Mr. Wike then had two masters and two benefactors. Fewer things in life are more difficult than serving the interest of two masters; at some point the scale of subservience must be tipped in favour of one master as against the other, else, it becomes a case of standing between the devil and the deep blue sea.

Wike found himself in this quandary when Amaechi suddenly started dancing to the tune of some opposition forces who perceived him as a powerful tool from the South South, who, if absorbed into their arsenal will carve a huge chunk of the region for them. When Amaechi brazenly added forces to some other adversaries of President Jonathan, for Wike at that point, his personal survival eclipsed his friendship with Amaechi; thus, his alliance with his boss.

In every fight, you can always change sides; you just have to find the side that would favour you. Wike, sticking with his boss against his “former friend and partner”, the battle horn was sounded. It was time to test political strength, sagacity and popularity in the state. Wike floated Grassroot Development Initiative (GDI) - an organisation believed to have dual purposes of mobilising for President Jonathan in 2015 and to gather grassroot support for his gubernatorial pursuit in 2015. Amaechi birthed Save Rivers Movement (SRM) – believed to procure support for the new political conglomerate, the All Progressive’s Congress (APC).

It was rallies and counter rallies, words against words, accusations and counter accusations; media bites and blackmail. The State House of Assembly was encroached and divided; Amaechi favoured with a much larger share. A miniature coup in the house was botched; with a lawmaker almost knocking on death’s door. It became Amaechi vs Wike; former friends, now foes; no love lost, peace or war.

It became time to wash dirty linen in full public glare with Wike nattering about how his effort made Gov. Amaechi’s status more than a mere hallucination. Amaechi, garrulously chronicled how Wike never imagined of seeing Aso Rock or ever fraternising with the President. He even added hyperbolically that the Hon. Minister cannot make a full sentence in English, thus was a misfit for the reverend job.

Their political wrestling almost contaminated the gallant credentials of Frank Mbu, the out gone Commissioner of Police in the state following his rumoured romance with one of the opposing groups, thus his sentimental disposition of official duties. The political tussle almost claimed the life of Sen. Magnus Abe, who, although hit by a stray tear-gas canister at one of the political rallies, alleged to have been shot and spent a substantial time at a London hospital for treatment.

It has been an odyssey of political antagonism, with no victor and no vanquished. With this two, standing on an iroko tree is pointless because there is no truce in sight. With their supporters, they have vowed to match against the opponent’s camp till they scream eureka at their assailant’s failure.\\

As 2015 general elections stares at us in the face, will there be peace or will their political battle degenerate into war? Amaechi has vowed not to allow Wike become his successor, and those who know the latter tell that he hates to lose. Amaechi has accused Wike of breeding militants; while the latter had hinted that Amaechi has a gang of cultists trained for the 2015 election in the state.

If these accusations are anything to go by, then the volatile stage of the state might just be set for a political volcanic eruption as 2015 rolls in.

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