WILL Governor Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State dump the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, for the All Progressive Congress, APC? This is the one million dollar question on the lips of many after the national leadership of the APC visited the governor at the Government House, Port Harcourt on Tuesday.
Thousands of people had turned up from the 23 local government areas of the state that day to join Amaechi at the Helipad field in Government House, Port Harcourt to welcome the chieftains of the APC. Protocol officers had challenges controlling the large crowd. It was a similar situation at the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa.
As early as 6am that day, supporters of the governor had stormed the airport in their large numbers waiting to cheer him up on arrival. Amaechi had traveled out of the state the previous day; so he was expected back that morning ahead of the visit of the APC chieftains. There was a mild drama at the airport as the crowd was not allowed beyond a point, three to four kilometers to the airport premises by security operatives.
The restriction did not dampen their spirit as they kept singing and chanting pro-Amaechi songs.On inquiry, he was told that security men did not allow them beyond that point. Amaechi had to alight from his vehicle and led them into the airport. They trekked a distance of about four kilometers. And together, they received the visiting chieftains of the APC. In a very long convoy, the governor and his visitors drove to Government House, Port Harcourt where another crowd of supporters had been waiting to be part of the event.
The National Deputy Chairman of the PDP splinter group to which Amaechi and seven other governors belonging, Mr Sam Jaja, was the first to mount therostrum. He poured encomiums on the governor before the National Chairman of the APC; Chief Bisi Akande, was called to speak. Akande described Amaechi as a courageous leader who had continually resisted impunity. He said they were in the state to invite him to join the APC because it is a party for progressive minds like the governor.
“This is another important stop, because it allows us, the APC leaders, not only to invite Chibuike Amaechi, the courageous governor of Rivers, to join the growing APC family, but to show our solidarity with a man who has succeeded in battling anti-democratic forces to a standstill,” Akande said. “Let us be clear. Our party has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Gov. Amaechi since the beginning of his travails. We have been unrelenting in our support because our party stands for justice, fairness and unfettered freedom.
We abhor dictatorship clad in fake democratic garments. “We believe that the system of government that we operate does not make provision for an imperial presidency, who can neither be criticised nor opposed. That is why we told those who said the APC is crying more than the bereaved on the Rivers State issue, that we are indeed the bereaved anytime the rule of law is supplanted with the rule of the jungle; and we are the bereaved anytime a democratically-elected president thumbs his nose at the Nigerian Constitution.
Or how else do we explain a situation in which a duly elected governor, who is known to the Constitution as the Chief Security Officer of his state, is now being made to run his state side by side with the state police commissioner, who has been elevated to the de facto governor by the presidency?”. A former governor of Lagos State and chieftain of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who also lauded the courage of the governor, said he was impressed with the records of the administration.
Tinubu said they were not in the state to campaign but to invite Amaechi to join the APC. He further moved a motion which enjoyed overwhelming endorsement from the crowd calling on the governor to cross over to the APC. General Muhammad Buhari lauded the success of the governor in the area of education, saying he was deeply impressed.
“My hope rose today when the governor showed us his education programme. Education is the best legacy anybody can bequeath to any society. Education will help the people to look after themselves, their country and after the people. Ladies and gentlemen, I congratulate the governor for this noble step taken to liberate the people from ignorance and want. I have so much respect for the governor. We can as well see his effort in other sectors of the economy.
Ladies and gentlemen, I can assure you that there will be hope for our children and ourselves come 2015. I thank you very much for this honor done us”, he said. The 23 local government chairmen in Rivers State also came out to pledge their unflinching loyalty to Amaechi, describing him as their political leader.
They said they would follow him to any party of his choice. In their separate comments, spokesmen for the 26 pro-Amaechi members of the Rivers State House of Assembly and the governor’s loyalists in the National Assembly also reaffirmed the unflinching support of the lawmakers to him. Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Hon Otelemaba Amachree , urged the governor to speedily decide on when he would join the APC.
He said they were tired of hearing about his rumored romance with the APC, adding that what they would want to hear next was the marriage between him and the party.” What we are saying is that he should quickly hurry up because this romance with the APC is getting too long. We now want marriage,” Amachree said..
He (governor) has been having nocturnal meetings with you; I must say we are sick and tired of these nocturnal meetings. In fact, what the people are now saying is marriage. Your Excellency, and of course, you know that when a bill is presented for assent and the governor fails to sign it, what happens? The House will veto it”. Senator Magnus Abe, who spoke for the senators behind the governor, described him as their leader even as he called on political parties to encourage internal discipline.
On his part, Hon Andrew Uchendu of the House of Representatives pledged the loyalty of the pro-Amaechi members of the House of Representatives from the state to the governor. Amaechi was later called to respond to the request by the APC leadership to join the party. The governor, who looked visibly excited, grabbed the microphone and sang a popular Igbo Christian song, celebrating God in his life.
He said he had listened to the various speakers but he would want to consult with President Goodluck Jonathan and other stakeholders in the political sector before deciding on whether to dump the PDP. The governor described himself as special in the committee of the seven governors of the ‘New PDP’ because he is from the same South-south zone with President Jonathan. “I am peculiar in the group of the seven governors.
The president comes from our zone. I will consult our leaders, the president; I will consult you (referring to the mammoth crowd). I will consult all consultables. I will come back to you. The day we shall take a decision, it will be at the new stadium that can take 40,000 persons.
If we are staying (referring to the PDP), we shall call the president to the stadium to address; us if we are going, we shall call Tinubu and Buhari to come and address us”, he said. Amaechi, who took on his political foes, said the political crisis in Rivers was largely due to his refusal to abuse public funds, stressing that he was not a corrupt governor.” They don’t accuse me of being corrupt.
They only say I don’t run an inclusive government which is ‘chop I chop’.” he said. The governor said he would continue to pray to God to protect the state from those he accused of plotting to plunder its resources. Amaechi gave reasons why he danced excitedly at the funeral of the foster mother of the wife of President Jonathan in Okrika..
“I was told I would be stoned at Okrika if I went there. I went there, I raised my right hand, there was applause and the left, it was the same. I said ‘God I thank you’. “ He said those fighting him in the state were corrupt, adding that he was ready to engage them publicly on accountability and transparency in governance anytime he was called to do so. “Those on the other side are corrupt. We shall reply them one after the other.
They have served and now are hungry. They are desperate and hungry politicians”. The governor, who said he would not compromise on good governance, dismissed the speculation that he might be sacked by a court verdict on Monday, 11 November. “” You have been hearing ‘we will remove him since’ 2007.
Have I been removed! They talk as if they are God. They said we will be removed on the 11th which is Monday. Come that day, I will dance here”, he said while singing, “There is nobody greater than God. There is no one greater than the Lord divine”.
Amaechi said his administration was constructing roads, building health centres, schools, adding that he had also commenced empowerment scheme for youths in the various wards in the state. The governor called on the people to resist acts of impunity on the part of the police command in the state.