A PAPER PRESENTED BY CHIEF EZE CHUKWUEMEKA EZE AN APC CHIEFTAIN ON 6TH DECEMBER, 2020 ON THE OCCASION OF THE INAUGURATION OF AMAECHI VANGUARD, OBIO AKPOR CHAPTER, RIVERS STATE
Let me start this presentation by commending and appreciating the leadership of Amaechi Vanguard Nationwide particularly, Engr. Caleb Johnson the Coordinator of Obio-Akpor Chapter for deeming it fit to invite me to speak on such great and auspicious event of the inauguration of the Obio-Akpor chapter of the greatest political movement in NIGERIA today the Amaechi Vanguard.
For the type and calibre of great people seated in this hall today to have accepted at this critical time not only to join and work for the political aspiration and future of Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi when most people empowered by him are leaving his political family in droves is a sign that great things await this country no matter the odds.
These shortcomings for some of the shortsighted members of Amaechi’s political family to have left notwithstanding, by the time we go through this presentation we all will be convinced that following the political family of Amaechi at this period is the right decision by any patriotic Nigerian who surely desires a better future for our great county.
Before I proceed, I must state that I am honoured that this event is taking place in the domain of my good friend and brother the Executive Governor of Rivers State, Chief Nyesom Wike whom I am convinced will soon be joining the Amaechi train knowing very well that that is the future of this country.
I truly sympathize with those who are jumping ship for funny reasons of Amaechi not picking up their calls and shamelessly stating what they have benefitted from Amaechi politically and still feel that at this age, Amaechi must be involved with offsetting their breakfast, lunch and dinner bills. To me, this group of spent Politician’s are not only jokers but have lost the touch of reality. If I may ask, how many millions of Nigerians that have benefitted from Amaechi will he Amaechi continue to feed even when he pleaded with these remnants of Senator Magnus Abe of the dangers that await them should we lose the Brick House but instead they connived with their Principal, Senator Magnus Abe to put us in this mess and come around to blame Amaechi for their political woes.
According to their projection and prayers, there will be no APC in Rivers State come 2023 but they will be shamed because come 2023 APC will not only exist but will take over the Brick House their devious plot notwithstanding. The only thing left to the genuine and intending members of the party is to ensure that they participate in the forthcoming revalidation and registration of party members that will start off on 12th December, 2020 and let us see how these funny people will stop the existence of APC in Rivers State.
This is why members of Amaechi Vanguard and other sister Associations that have resolved to engage themselves in the propagation and promotion of the ideals and vision of Rt. Hon. Dr. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi for a greater, united, virile and most prosperous Nigeria need to be commended and congratulated for their courage and foresight as we jointly unite not only to salvage the political family of Amaechi but that of Nigeria no matter the odds.
On the future of the politics of Nigeria, I must reiterate that the zoning principle based on the spirit of equity, fairness and goodness must be sustained and encouraged. Here, Gov. Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai, Senator Ibrahim Shekarau and other great leaders of this country who have continued to voice their support that the next President of Nigeria must come from the Southern part of Nigeria need to be commended and congratulated as anything short of this is invitation to anarchy.
For those canvassing and plotting to use our brother, friend and former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan for him to contest the 2023 election so that the Sourthern section of Nigeria can only be entitled to one Term and for power to be shifted to the North after his single term if he wins the 2023 election should bury such thought as this plot is already dead on arrival.
The Business of the Day
It is only those who did not know or who may have forgotten the circumstances that brought Rt Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi into the APC and the certainty he brought regarding the victory of the party over the then ruling party that may continue to toy with the idea of destroying him.
When a group of Nigerian youths (AMAECHI VANGUARD) who want to make an impact in the politics of Nigeria came together recently and pleaded with me to assist them by throwing more light about the formation of the All Progressives Congress (APC) knowing the part some of us played in her formation, not minding many issues before me including health challenge, I decided to pen this treatise. It is aimed at throwing light not only on the factors that led and necessitated the formation of this great political movement but the inputs and impact played by the erstwhile Governor of Rivers State and incumbent Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Dr. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi. His inputs towards the formation and sustainability of the party cannot be downplayed by any serious-minded fellow.
In this treatise, I am expected also to examine the factors that forced Amaechi out of PDP and how his conviction that if General Muhammadu Buhari secures the party’s Presidential ticket to contest the 2015 general election, that the PDP would be roundly defeated.
Political Evolution and Development in Nigeria
Right from the 1960s, both the ruling and opposition parties are always at loggerheads. The opposition parties are treated with great contempt by the ruling parties and vice versa. Members of opposition parties that join forces with the ruling parties are labeled as traitors and can even be demonized. Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP), formed by Herbert Macaulay in 1923 became the first political party to emerge in Nigeria during British colonial rule. Since 1960, Nigeria has evolved in its political development.
Between 1960 and 1966, there was a parliamentary system of government in place. Nigeria’s first republic (1960-1966) was cut short when the military staged a coup on January 15, 1966 accusing the leaders of corruption. Between 1966 and 1979, successive military regimes steered the nation’s ship. Thus, in 1979, General Olusegun Obasanjo (retd), relinquished power to a democratically elected President in the person of Alhaji Shehu Shagari.
Nigeria’s second republic (1979-1983), ended abruptly when the military junta led by General Muhammudu Buhari (retd) took over the reins of power on December 31, 1983. His successor, General Ibrahim Babangida (retd), initiated the aborted third republic that collapsed due to the annulment of the June 12, 1993, elections believed to have been won by business mogul, MKO Abiola. The country was engulfed in serious political instability that forced Babangida out of power on August 27, 1993.
Babangida set up an Interim National Government (ING) led by Chief Ernest Shonekan. The ING barely lasted for 82 days before General Abacha seized back power and ruled till his sudden death on June 8, 1998. His successor, General Abdulsalami Abubarkar (retd), ushered in the fourth republic in 1999 with the election of Olusegun Obasanjo as President of Nigeria. Since 1999, Nigeria has been enjoying uninterrupted democracy.
The History of Opposition Politics in Nigeria
The first party to assume the role of an opposition party was the Action Group (AG) led by Obafemi Awolowo in the first republic. The political intrigues during that era weakened the AG that held sway in the South West. Eventually, the politics of intolerance, suspicion and bitterness among the major political parties prompted the military to intervene in Nigerian politics on January 15, 1966. The successor political party to the defunct AG, Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) served as the main opposition party in the second republic. The second republic collapsed largely due to the alleged mismanagement of the economy, widespread corruption and massive electoral fraud witnessed during the 1983 general elections. Two major political parties emerged as the opposition parties when Nigeria returned to civilian rule in 1999. The Alliance for Democracy (AD) was the strongest party in South West, while the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) had strong presence in Northern Nigeria. Over the years, ANPP continued to witness internal crisis that really weakened its performance as a political party especially as an opposition to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Prior to the emergence of All Progressive Congress (APC), Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) served as the most recognizable opposition party in Nigeria. Generally, Nigeria’s political parties have been plagued by suspensions and expulsions of party members, cross carpeting particularly prior to elections and deep divisions and factions that have manifested sometimes in violent conflicts. Again, intra-party violent conflicts have been particularly heightened during election periods because of the imposition of favoured and dubious consensus and the swapping of nominated candidates by party chieftains. The absence of equalitarian platforms and the subversion of the will of ordinary party members and delegates in party primaries, have grieved several party leaders and members and underlined numerous defections and cross-carpeting.
History of Military Intervention in the Politics of Nigeria
The clash of the titans (Awolowo and Samuel Ladoke Akintola) over the control of Western region and the inability of the NPC-led government to provide good governance prompted some young military officers spearheaded by Major Chukwuemeka Nzeogwu to instigate a coup d’e tat that ended the first republic on January 15, 1966. The military institution produced a new set of the political class as the country was ruled by various military regimes namely: General Aguiyi Ironsi (1966); General Gowon (1967-1975); General Murtala Muhammed (1975-1976); General Olusegun Obasanjo (1976-1979); General Muhammudu Buhari (1984-1985); General Ibrahim Babaginda (1985-1993); General Sani Abacha (1993-1998), and General Abdulsalami Abubakar (1998-1999).
History of Formation and Merging Of Political Parties in Nigeria
I will like to examine at this juncture the past efforts in formation and regrouping of political parties in the second, third and fourth Republics to enable us appreciate why the formation of APC was not only unique but impactful in the annals of political movements in Nigeria.
Right from the first Republic of Nigeria and to the emergence of APC in 2013 series but futile attempts have been made to merge various political parties in order to unseat the political party in power but none of such efforts in the past had yielded any positive impact.
In this regard, the following experiences come to play.
First serious attempt to midwife a union of political parties was made during the second Republic when the Nigerian People’s Party (NPP) in conjunction with a coalition of several smaller groups: the National Union Council for Understanding (NUCU) led by Alhaji Waziri Ibrahim, Club 19, the Committee for National Unity, and the Progressive Front came into existence.
This first attempt of forming a union of political parties failed during the convention of the NPP which was held in November 1978 where the southern members refused to make Waziri both the Chairman and the Presidential candidate which prompted Waziri to quit the party and created the Great Nigerian People’s Party (GNPP).
At a hastily assembled second convention, Dr. Nnmandi Azikiwe, the most popular Igbo politician and former leader of the National Council for Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC), was chosen as the NPP presidential candidate.
Another serious attempt at formation of an alliance amongst political parties in Nigeria was mooted after the 1979 elections when NPP formed an alliance with the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) of Shehu Shagari that had majority votes but couldn’t have the desired majority in the National Assembly to govern the nation without having a hitch. This was the alliance that brought the Igbos closer to governance in Nigeria after the collapse of the first Republic as they were provided cabinet jobs and diplomatic appointments. This union came to an abrupt end when President Shagari in 1981disssolved the union to enable only the NPN members to govern the nation without any member of other political parties participating in governance of the country. This was a result of increasing demands by Azikiwe for his party.
All political parties in the second Republic were dissolved in 1983 when the military, led by Major General Muhammadu Buhari took over the civilian government in 1984. It also suspended sections of the 1979 Constitution, namely those guaranteeing such democratic features as free elections and political parties and such fundamental individual rights as due process and habeas corpus.
The Making of the Failed Third Republic
On 27 August 1985, military officers overthrew the 20 month-old government of Major-General Muhammadu Buhari and installed Major-General Ibrahim Babangida as president.
The ban on party politics was lifted in 1989. General Bagandida announced that only two government-created parties would be authorized: the National Republican Convention (NRC) and the Social Democratic Party (SDP). This Republic with all democratically elected leaders (from the Local Government, State Governments and National Assembly) came to an end when the presidential election believed to have been won by Chief M.K.O Abiola of SDP was annulled by the Military junta at the helm of Affairs.
Attempts of Failed Alliance during the Fourth Republic
The major political parties’ alliance in the fourth Republic was the coming together of the All People’s Party (APP) led by Dr Ogbonnaya Onu with the Alliance for Democracy (AD) led by Chief Olu Falae. Chief Falae was selected to fly the flag of the Alliance to confront the Chief Olusegun Obasanjo of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 1999 general elections. This attempt to unseat PDP also failed.
The Emergence of APC in the Politics of Nigeria and Upstaging of a Ruling Political Party (PDP)
The fact remains that prior to the 2015 General Elections, opposition parties had never upstaged any ruling party. The alliance of prominent political parties such as Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) into a formidable opposition called All Progressives Change (APC) marked a new era in Nigeria’s democracy. The 2015 presidential poll was the fifth in succession since the military establishment relinquished power. This review will examine the factors that necessitated the emergence of APC as a formidable opposition party.
The Emergence of the All Progressives Congress
For 16 years, the behemoth, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) controlled the political system of Nigeria almost unopposed due to highly monetized politics, individualistic tendencies of politicians, incoherent party ideologies, and party defection, among several other factors. On February 6, 2013, the APC was born when Nigeria’s three biggest opposition parties; the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the Congress for Progressive (CPC), the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and a faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), merged to form the APC (The Nation, May 29, 2015 has the full story of this development). The rise of APC was very significant because several attempts in the past to form a mega party in the country had been unsuccessful. APC became more strengthened after five serving PDP governors defected to the newly formed party. These were Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State, Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara State, Rabiu Kwankwanso of Kano State, Murtala Nyako of Adamawa State and Aliyu Wamakko of Sokoto State. Similarly, 49 legislators defected to join the original 137 legislators in the APC. This new twist gave APC the cutting edge in the House of Representatives long before the election. On January 29, 2014, 11 senators led by former Kwara State Governor, Bukola Saraki. joined the new party
Other political heavyweights such as ex- Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal (now Sokoto State Governor) and former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, joined APC. On March 28, 2015, the presidential candidate of APC, Gen. Muhammudu Buhari (retd) defeated the incumbent president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP with almost 2.6 million votes. Currently, APC boasts of 22 executive governors, 64 senators and 225 members of the House of Representatives (including both the Senate President and the Speaker, House of Representatives).
APC is clearly the most dominant party in Nigeria since the conclusion of the 2015 general polls. Using the elite theory, APC won the polls because both the political elite in the north and southwestern Nigeria worked assiduously to iron out their perceived religious and cultural differences in order to build a formidable opposition party. The political elite in the north believed that the region was edged out of enjoying political power after the demise of late President Yaradua and the emergence of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan in 2011 as the elected President. Jonathan’s re-election bid was perceived by northern political elites to be an attempt by a section of the country to cripple the Hausa/Fulani control of power on Nigerian politics. Similarly, the Bolaji Ahmed Tinubu -led Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) perceived President Jonathan’s body language, political appointments and policies to be anti-Yoruba. Besides, the party stalwarts in ACN believed it was high time the Yoruba nation joined mainstream political groove of Nigeria. The vice presidential slot given to Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, an accomplished lawyer and scholar from Ogun State was a clear indication that southwest meant real business. The propaganda used by the northern and southwestern elite was well received by the people from those regions who boast of the largest percentage of population spread. The emergence of Buhari as APC’s presidential flagbearer, who commands a cult like followership in the north, and his track records as an anti-corruption crusader and military tactician helped in polishing his image both locally and internationally.
Why Was APC Formed
According to ex-Foreign Minister Tom Ikimi in a joint statement read to reporters by the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), it was stated thus, “At no time in our national life has radical change become more urgent. And to meet the challenge of that change, we…. have resolved to merge forthwith and become the All Progressive Congress,” The merger involves the ACN, led by Nigeria’s former anti-corruption chief Nuhu Ribadu, the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), headed by former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, as well as the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) led by Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu and All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA led by Chief Owelle Okorocha
President Muhammadu Buhari gave the details of the emergence of the APC and he stated that: “At one point, we in the four former opposition parties, the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), and All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), came to the painful realisation that there was no way we could defeat the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as separate entities without coming together as a united force. So, having agreed to come together, we decided to set up committees to look into how we can best merge to form a formidable opposition party. After that, each of the four parties developed the terms of reference for the committees on the modalities of the negotiations for the merger.
“We, however, made it clear that none of the committees has the power to take any final decision on the merger. Their work was mainly to discuss with their party members and report the outcome of the discussion to the leadership of their parties. The understanding was that the final decision regarding how to go about the merger would be made by the executives of each of the merging parties. We wanted to make the process as democratic as possible.”
“We eventually succeeded in coming together. It was a major sacrifice made by the leadership of the respective political parties. And the significance of this event was underscored by the fact that the future of Nigeria was tied to it. “I always wonder what would have been the political, economic and security consequences to the country without the merger of the old opposition parties and seizing political power from the ruling PDP democratically.
“I wonder how many people have taken the time to reflect on this development and make projections as to what could have happened if the opposition had failed to come together to take away power from PDP.”
“Fortunately, we have been able to reverse this downward slide in such a short period of time, even under more challenging circumstances from 20I5 to date”,
How Amaechi Was Forced Out of PDP
This political phenomenon and enigma, described in some quarters as the Lion of Niger Delta Politics, is a study in modern political engineering. Two-time Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly under the PDP, two-term chairman of Speakers’ Forum of Nigeria under the PDP; two-term governor of Rivers State under Peoples Democratic Party, of which he spent two years out of the eight as an APC governor and two-term chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum. If you talk of a truly thoroughbred PDP personality in Nigeria, then Amaechi should be the fellow. The reason why he joined the opposition to wrestle power from his party is a study in political movement. He thus played the role of the connecting rod between two important components of an engine, the PDP and APC.
Before delving into the role Amaechi played in making the dream of APC to unseat the most powerful political party then in Nigeria, PDP, the coming of the erstwhile Governor of Rivers State becomes imperative. Let me state that the obvious desperation of the PDP leadership to completely destroy Amaechi led to his departure, alongside six other PDP governors, to form the New PDP, with five of them later joining the mega opposition political party, the All Progressives Congress.
Explaining why he joined APC, Governor Amaechi said: “Unfortunately, recent events within the PDP have given me reason to reconsider our collective interest as people of the South-South and, indeed as Rivers people. At various times, as the one whom you gave your mandate, I had cause to complain about the marginalization of our state and our people, despite our huge contribution to the national coffers and our unflinching commitment and support for the ruling PDP. While the political and economic importance of Rivers State cannot be contested, we continue to hold the shorter end of the stick.
“A few instances may suffice: Our demand that the Federal Government return oil wells belonging to Rivers State to us has gone unheeded and been treated with levity under this administration. Rather, our oil wells have been ceded to Bayelsa, Abia and Akwa Ibom states. Even after we got a judgment that the oil wells were wrongly ceded to Akwa Ibom State and should be returned to us; only dry wells that were no longer producing oil were returned.
“In the specific case of the Soku oil wells, despite a decision reached that the monies should remain in an escrow account till all matters concerning it are resolved, the Federal government continues to pay neighbouring Bayelsa State the revenues meant for Rivers State in a classic case of robbing Peter to pay Paul. It is indeed noteworthy that we have made several representations formally and informally on this matter.
“A second instance is the total absence of federal presence in Rivers State. The ‘National Good Governance Tour’ provided a good opportunity for the Federal Government to showcase its presence in Rivers State. The tour, if nothing else, proved that there was not much to show in a state that is the cash cow of the federation. The East-West Road remains abandoned, work has been deliberately slow on the Port Harcourt International Airport, the third busiest airport in the country, while all airports started along with it have long been completed and commissioned. The Bonny-Bomu Road that leads to the only functional liquefied natural gas project remains uncompleted. In the midst of all these, our administration went ahead to fix federal roads to the tune of N103 billion. Several representations and letters after, not one kobo has been repaid. The Federal Government is actively discouraging investments in Rivers State.”
Amaechi in another fora stated, “They have become so desperate that they have gone to hire Joseph Mbu to serve as the political wing of the PDP in Rivers State. I pray to God to save Rivers State so that those thieves will not come to power and steal your money. We want to confront the Nigerian Police. When you hear impunity, it is because you allow it. There is no revolution without blood. From now till election, we should mobilize and confront the Nigerian police. If they say they are ready for debate, tell them I am ready. They should go to the National Assembly and summon me.”
Other instances that made the departure of Amaechi from PDP imperative are the following:
- Posting and encouraging the excesses of the tyrannical Police Commissioner Joseph Mbu during these inglorious days in the state.
- Supporting every imaginable act of impunity in the state, including the plot by five State Assembly members to impeach the speaker in a House of 31 members, with the hope of impeaching Amaechi thereafter. This led to the closure of the courts but they turned round to blame the victim, Amaechi.
- Seizing and grounding the planes of the state for no just cause. Shutting down of a robust security arcjitecture that was to save the region and oil facilities;
- Harassing and intimidating the duly elected governor of Rivers State for no just cause, and even supporting the splitting of the Governors Forum into two, to ensure that Governor Amaechi, who was duly elected by his colleagues, does not have an easy reign as the chairman of the forum.
Throwing more light on the perceived sins of Gov Amaechi during this period one of his closest allies, former Commissioner of Works and then the Chairman of the Petroleum Downstream Committee of the House of Representatives, Hon. Chief Dakuku Peterside, recently in an interview stated, “Some persons also claim that he Amaechi is too forthright and I don’t know what crime that is called. However, the biggest unsaid problem is the perception by certain persons in the presidency that Governor Amaechi has ambition to aspire to higher office. The attempt to criminalize ambition, if any, is the root cause of the perceived problem in NGF. The second strand is speaking truth to power as can be seen in Governor Amaechi’s comments on sovereign wealth fund, excess crude account, Rivers-Bayelsa oil well issue, fuel subsidy, East-West Road, Adamawa PDP amongst others”.
THE WOOING OF AMAECHI BY THE APC LEADERS
Considering the fact that all the past attempts for opposition political parties to challenge talkless of ousting a sitting political party the need of securing a rallying force capable of leading the struggle to have an opposition political party to unseat a party in power the need of having the Lion of Niger Delta becomes imperative.
To achieve this onerous task, APC leaders stormed Port Harcourt to officially woo Amaechi on November 5, 2013 to join their party ahead of the 2015 general election. They did this because they saw that the PDP did not want him anymore by their action.
Bisi Akande who was the interim National Chairman of APC clearly said they had come to ‘woo’ Amaechi because of his antecedents in the Nigerian political spectrum and also for his developmental strides in all areas of the economy. On his part, former Lagos State Governor and the leader of the APC, Senator Bola Tinubu, commended Amaechi for being a ‘progressive’. He said; “We did not come here to campaign. We are here to see, to seek and to invite. I know Port Harcourt, I know Rivers State and I know Rotimi Amaechi; he has performed extremely well and we know this country cannot develop on the axis of intimidation, harassment, and lies. We know this man is focused. “A man who stands to be cheated is not a man, he is a pig. I invite all of you to please ask Governor Amaechi to lead you to APC. We will join hands to move this country forward. The progressives have come”.
For the former Head of state, General Buhari, the APC has been keeping an eye on Amaechi for a while and “We believe he is an ‘asset’ the party will like to own. The leadership of APC decided to target some governors who we think should make changes in the political scene of this country. We are here to come and seek understanding and support of your leader, Governor Rotimi Amaechi”.
Owelle Rochas Okorocha then Imo state Governor and Chairman of the APC governors boasted that in 2015, “victory has been signed and sealed for the APC.“ We have come to invite you, our brother, into this movement. APC is not a political party, per se, it is a movement, a movement of change. We are people, carefully, selected by God. We’ll assure you as our colleagues that governors in APC are accorded their due respect. I want to assure you that you are coming to a place you rightfully belong.”
Amaechi told the APC delegation that he would consult with major stakeholders, including President Goodluck Jonathan and other PDP and South-South leaders before making a decision.
“To our guests, (APC), we have heard you but we are a group of seven Governors.
“I will get up and consult our leaders. I will also consult you (Rivers people). The day we shall take a decision whether for or against, it shall be at the stadium. If we are staying with the PDP, the President will address us and if we are going, Tinubu and Buhari will address us”, he said.
It is said that during the intervening days, many inventions were made to save the crisis and resolve the matter. Important national leaders including Retired General Yakubu Gowon tried to stop the departure of Amaechi knowing it was the only way to stop the exodus. But, the more such efforts were made, the harder those who did not want Amaechi in the party again worked to push him out.
New PDP Joins APC
Five governors and ex-presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, formed a PDP splinter group in August. The PDP now has fewer governors supporting it than the opposition.
According to a joint statement read out by Kawu Baraje, the New PDP National Chairman, “After exhaustive deliberations, the two parties (APC & nPDP) agreed to merge in order to rescue our fledgling democracy and the nation,”
In September, President Jonathan sacked nine cabinet ministers amid serious divisions in the governing party. This came a month after the PDP splinter group was formed – the seven state governors and former Vice-President Abubakar were angered after their allies were disqualified from party elections.
Past Failed Attempts By General Buhari To Seek The Office Of President In Nigeria
President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, was born on December 17, 1942. He was at various times Military Administrator of the defunct North Eastern State (now Borno and Yobe states) from July 1975 to February 1976; Federal Commissioner of Petroleum and Natural Resources from March 1976 – June 1978; and Head of the Federal Military Government from 1984-85. He later became Chairman of a major interventionist initiative, Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF). A respected elder statesman and one of the few celebrated saints in Nigeria and the only Nigerian who has contested for president of Nigeria three consecutive times, Buhari won on the fourth attempt. His first shot at the number one position was in 2003 against President Olusegun Obasanjo during his second term; and in 2007, he ran against Alhaji Umaru Yar’Adua (now late) and in 2011, he contested against Dr Goodluck Jonathan – all of the Peoples Democratic Party. He lost all the three elections. And on his fourth attempt in 2015 – on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), an amalgam of major opposition parties – he defeated an incumbent President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan.
To emerge as the APC presidential candidate, Buhari scored 3,430 votes to beat Kwankwaso the former Kano State governor and now a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to a distant second with 974 votes. Surprisingly, former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar came third with 954 votes, while Owelle Rochas Okorocha, the Imo State Governor, polled 624 votes to come fourth while the publisher, Leadership Newspapers, Mr. Sam Nda-Isaiah, came fifth with 10 votes.
The Making Of Buhari”S Presidency
The PDP had won every national election since the end of military rule in 1999 but this came to an abrupt end when Amaechi joined the opposition political party and this marked the making of the Buhari’s Presidency.
The fact remains that when it comes to believing in the abilities of President Buhari, I am yet to see anyone who can rival Amaechi. His belief in Buhari and strong belief in his ability to take Nigeria out of the woods is like an obsession.
“I can still vividly remember how Amaechi predicted Buhari’s emergence as president during the early days of APC and long before the issue of who would fly the party’s flag came up. When on 9th September, 2013 my appointment as the National Publicity Secretary of the defunct New Peoples Democratic Party was announced to Nigerians, the only brief I received was the 30-minute encounter I had with Governor Amaechi. During that encounter, he kept repeating that whenever Gen Buhari (rtd) accepted to fly the flag of the emergent mega opposition political party in the country, the unseating of President Jonathan and PDP would become a reality. I was deeply impressed by his strong belief in Gen Buhari. It was based on this that I went boldly into the field and with the cooperation of the G7 Governors and other leaders of the New PDP, we were able to dismantle what was the famous and largest political party in Africa, PDP,’ said Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze.
Amaechi pursued Buhari’s emergence as APC presidential candidate with evangelical zeal, after the New PDP joined APC. “This obsession explains why Amaechi did all within his power to ensure that Buhari emerged as the flag-bearer of APC during the Lagos Convention and, as the Director-General of the Buhari Campaign Organisation, worked even harder to ensure that Buhari emerge victorious during the March 28, 2015 presidential election.
The fact remains also that if not for the emergence of Buhari as President, PDP Cheiftains would have arrested and jailed Amechi for championing the attempt to oust PDP from governance at the centre.
The investment and acceptance of Amaechi to lead the Buhari’s Campaign Organisation both for the 2015 and the 2019 general elections shows the sterling qualities this great man is made up with. John Maxwell and General Montgomery therefore must have had Amaechi in mind when they stated respectively that, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way” and “My own definition of leadership is this: The capacity and the will to rally men and women to a common purpose and the character which inspires confidence”. These quotes by these great men simply attest to the ability of Amaechi to conceive the way and mobilise Nigerians to send packing a party that prides itself as the largest and biggest political movement in Africa.
Based on the above, it is important for APC leaders to review their actions and know what Amaechi brought to the table and what trying to destroy him in the party could also mean. Elders need few worlds to know the truth.
Eze Chukwuemeka Eze is a Media Consultant and APC Chieftain based in Port Harcourt and can be reached either through email@example.com
PENDULUM BY DELE MOMODU: Who Shall Tell the President Nigeria is Dying?
Fellow Nigerians, please, take note of the title of my column this week. I did not say Nigerians are dying. That is stale news, as well as an understatement. My focus is that the country called Nigeria is dying. I do not know what sort of security briefing President Muhammadu Buhari, regularly or periodically, receives from his obviously reticent and incompetent security team. I doubt it includes the fact that Nigeria is speeding towards a monumental collapse, unless a miracle, or something drastic is done to stop this supersonic drift towards perdition. It might even be that the President does not receive any or proper security details, either because he does not want to hear or worse still, he assumes all is well. Whichever way one contemplates these last two scenarios, it is a calamity indeed.
Believe me, I’m not writing as a wailing wailer, or as a Prophet of doom. I am not writing as a clairvoyant or a seer. I merely write as a realist. The symptoms of a failed nation are just too palpable to be missed or ignored by a reasonable people. I am not talking about a State which has failed because of social and economic policies that even the authors and protagonists cannot decipher or fathom. This nation is on the precipice because its leaders are playing Russian Roulette with the security of Africa’s biggest and most important country. It is all now a matter of guesswork, that the gun is loaded, but the way we are going it is looking like every chamber is now full and not just one. Whatever shot you fire is bound to be the killer shot. Our leaders clearly know this but are in such an inebriated state that they have become oblivious, impervious and immune to all the danger signals.
I know power makes people blind. It intoxicates, addles the mind and takes full possession of the powerful, especially if they want to play God. This is why I’m shocked that some Nigerians are already daydreaming about becoming President in 2023, when they have no guarantee that Nigeria will still be alive by then. Or maybe I should not be surprised because what better can one expect from this bungling class of crass elements. The usual leading contenders, as typical of this confounding breed of persons, are pretending that all is well, although they know much better having been the contributors to, and cause, of the problem. They must not be seen to be criticizing the rudderless, directionless and visionless government of President Buhari lest they are marked down as enemies of the President. They know that elections are never held here, stricto sensu. What we have is a selection process with the hapless people being trundled out to deceive the unsuspecting international observers who can’t believe that what they are seeing is possible even in a Banana Republic. Simply put, elections are largely controlled from the very top, where the omnipotent President holds sway, and the outcome of the selection process is dictated by his whims and caprices.
If nobody has yet told the President, then he must hear this somehow. Our security situation is more than dire and grim. It is now catastrophic. Nigerians are now being killed, kidnapped and raped in places that used to know only peace. The orgy of banditry has since moved from the core North and middle belt to Yorubaland, previously considered a safe haven. The tales are unbelievably horrid and terrible. The situation in Ondo State is so critical that the Governor Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) has now cried out that the “Fulani bandits” must move out of his State within seven days. I salute him for having the courage to say it as it is, being a member of the same party as our most reluctant President who seems unabashedly unaware of the bloody forays and operations perpetrated by some of his kinsmen in far-flung territories and domains outside their traditional space. The Governor obviously cried out in utter exasperation, frustration and, perhaps, fear. I knew him as a die-hard Buharist. But only a bastard would sit arms akimbo and watch his mother or daughter being raped by some monsters and say or do nothing! That is the situation in which Arakunrin Akeredolu has more or less found himself. As with the President, he has discovered, albeit tragically, that family comes first. Nobody will watch over yours, when theirs is also threatened by the same fate. As the Yorubas will say, “a ki so ori olori, ki awodi gbe t’eni lo”!
Osun State has virtually become a major theatre of war involving series of killings and kidnappings. I don’t know if the Governor, Adegboyega Oyetola, has been as vociferous as Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), but I am sure he is slowly being driven to come to the same conclusion. Akeredolu has nothing against the Fulani. There are many great and peaceful Fulani living in different parts of Nigeria. Some generations of Fulani people have fully integrated in those communities outside their sphere of influence without anyone raising eyebrows. But these bloodthirsty wanderers and vagrants, who are said to have meandered their ways from outside Nigeria, must be flushed out and ruthlessly dealt with regardless of whether the current President of Nigeria is their godfather, avuncular mentor, swami or whatever he represents to them.
The situation in Oyo State is just as scary. I have read the account from no less a personage than the highly respected and revered Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III, another die-hard Buharist who now appears ready to part ways with Buhari if necessary. I have had the opportunity of sitting with Iku Baba Yeye, as we fondly call him, and I know how disappointed this esteemed traditional ruler is that the Federal Government has refused to act speedily and decisively on the matter of the gross insecurity ravaging and destroying the country. I was not surprised to receive his lengthy letter to the President days ago which I hope Buhari found time to read, or someone found the opportunity to read to him. I won’t bother to talk about very reserved and highly respectable and regarded Northern Leaders led by the spiritual monarch, The Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar, a cosmopolitan and cerebral leader I have come to love and adulate so much for his simplicity and forthrightness. Virtually every part of the nation is haemorrhaging to death while the Federal Government is watching helplessly and hopelessly!
The Alaafin has done well by properly documenting some of the dastardly acts of these merciless bandits and his public missive to our President, Muhammadu Buhari excerpts of which are worth repeating on these pages because the letter is one for posterity whatever fate befalls the entity presently known as Nigeria and whichever way the country goes in the end:
“In recent times however, I am worried about the security situation in the country, especially in the South West geo-political zone, nay the entire Yoruba-speaking area of the country including KWARA, Kogi, and Edo States.
“This has to do with the incessant and increasing menace of Fulani herdsmen that have laid siege in almost all the highways of Yorubaland. Whether in Owo, AKURE, Ilesanmi/Ife-Ibadan Road or Ibarapa zone and Ijebu area of Ogun State, the story is the same.
“I have held series of consultations with opinion moulders and eminent Yoruba leaders across board about the menace of these cattle herdsmen with such assault like raping of our women and on some occasions in the presence of their husbands. That is apart from massive destruction of our agricultural lands; which ultimately points to imminent starvation…
“After due consultations with Yoruba leaders… we are worried by the audacity of these lawless people in effecting their illegal acts in broad daylight on our usually bushy highways without any arm of security being able to do anything…
“Now, we cannot even talk of parading suspects, when in actual sense, no major arrests have been made in this part of the country. Without arrests we cannot talk of their facing of the law.
“Unfortunately, and painfully indeed, in the face of the apparent helplessness of our security agencies, where do we go from here?”
It is at the wake of this manifest frustration of our people that our people have found it unavoidable, even though reluctantly to resort to alternative measures to safeguard their lives and property… Today, it is not merely infraction in the course of doing business, but blatant and criminal violation of the constitutional right to life and liberty of innocent citizens of Yoruba land. A few publicly known instances will suffice.
Certain individuals were kidnapped along Erio-Aromoko Road, Ekiti State. They were tortured and exposed to danger in the forest for upward of two weeks.
These victims included the Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association, Ikole Branch, Adeola Adebayo, whose decomposing body was eventually found after a ransom price of four million Naira had been paid.
Two officials of the Federal Road Safety Corps, both Yoruba, were picked up along Ilesa-Akure highway. In the process of this kidnap, an unnamed individual died.
Musibau Adetumbi, a legal practitioner based in Ibadan, was going to attend an Appeal Court session in Akure when he was kidnapped along Ilesa-Akure highway. Professor Adegbehingbe, a surgeon at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife was abducted along Ibadan-Ile-Ife highway. Dr. Muslim Omoleke, the Administrative Secretary of the National Electoral Commission was kidnapped around Ilesa, Osun State.
Mr Ayo Oladele, an employee of Guinness Nigeria, and an Old Student of Christ School, Ado-Ekiti, was abducted and taken away and lately, Dayo Adewole, son of a member of your 2015-2019 executive council and Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole was kidnapped on his farm at Iroko, a village along Ibadan-Oyo Road…
As ugly as the picture above seems to be, the people of Yoruba land have remained generally peaceful and have resisted concerted efforts to push them into civil disobedience or adopting self-help mechanisms to protect themselves…
I am therefore writing to you, as a concerned stakeholder in your administration, to alert you and demonstrate to you, the urgency of the need to quickly respond to these and other issues concerning Yoruba land….
There is a general impression among opposition group that you are not known to take decisive and proactive steps in many matters of national interest and that you are not usually too disturbed about the gale of insecurity in Yoruba land…
As no major arrest of Fulani pseudo herdsmen has been made till date in Yoruba land, suspects cannot be paraded, let alone arraigned…
I am aware that members of the Odua People’s Congress scattered all over the world are already being mobilized to stand in the defence of their land and are ready, willing and able to raise an army of volunteers as was done in 1968 by the Agbekoya…”
These are pearly words of wisdom and advice from a monarch who is practically deified in Yoruba land. The President has been stridently admonished and strongly advised in forceful, resounding and vibrating language which is reverberating all over the polity. Effectively, Alaafin Adeyemi is saying that enough is enough and that things will get pretty unpleasant and nasty, pretty soon, unless the President wakes up from his deep, almost comatose, slumber and does the needful by a wholesale revamp and reshaping of our security architecture and thereby protect his fellow Nigerian citizens. The President swore to uphold our Constitution, it is about time that he started upholding that oath by acting like a patriotic Nigerian and safeguarding all his people and preserving their property.
On a similar note, I have been watching the videos of a militant Yoruba man, named Sunday Igboho, from Oyo State and what I see is raw determination to unleash mayhem, if need be, to protect his kinsmen from the brigands and mosstroopers trampling on them and their rights. The views Igboho expresses are symptomatic and reflective of the views of most of Yoruba land. He is the latest Yoruba hero for his fearlessness.
I hope and pray that President Buhari would appreciate this authentic security briefing from The Alaafin, one of Africa’s most important custodians of tradition and culture and resist the temptation of sending his trigger-happy military against the people of Oyo State. They are obviously ready for a full-scale showdown and battle in order to redeem their manhood against the rampaging kidnappers, rapists, raiders and corsairs. I foresee a civil war and bloodbath if action is not taken soon.
May this cup pass over us…
Your lamentations over Gov. Umahi’s defection is becoming childish, Eze tells PDP
Chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and erstwhile National Publicity Secretary of the defunct New Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP) Chief Eze Chumwuemeka, has expressed discomfort at the continued lamentations of the People’s Democratic Party over the recent movement of Gov. Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State from the badly perforated umbrella that has lost the strength and capacity to maintain its relevance and shield members from the rains, to the progressives family.
In a statement made available to media houses, the party Chief restated that it remains within the exclusive preserve of every member of a political party to pitch tent with another political association where his genuine grievances, especially those affecting public interests are not properly addressed, noting that the unnecessary blabbing of the opposition party on the issue is a gross display of deliberate iconoclasm.
Excerpts from the statement read “I have watched with utter disbelief and nostalgia the naked and macabre dance by some PDP bigwigs since Engr. Dave Nwaze Umahi, the Executive Governor of Ebonyi State and South East Chairman of Governors Forum decided to join forces with the ruling party at the centre, the All Progressives Congress, (APC) in order to give political direction to Ndi Igbo”.
“By his defection to the APC, Governor Umahi, has proven that he is politically ahead of his peers and especially, considering his developmental strides in turning Ebonyi State, a once neglected and underdeveloped State in Nigeria into the most developed State in the country”
The APC chieftain averred that the infrastructural revolution ignited by his administration in Ebonyi state is a very critical tool and determinant factor in governance and justifies his defection from the crippling and sinking People Democratic Party to the progressives family. He said Umahi’s movement has suddenly ignited the daily babbling of misguided leaders of the PDP who have now resorted to acts of ill will in a bid to distract the performing Governor from his determination to make the difference in governance.
Chief Eze said Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State kick-started the attacks on the erstwhile exceptional leader of PDP in the South East for defecting to APC and after shouting himself hoarse, the embattled and soon to be sacked National Chairman of PDP, Chief Uche Secondus followed suit with the wrong perception that calling Governor Umahi unprintable names will will win him favour to sustain his office.
Furthermore, Kola Ologbondiyan, the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP in the ensuing efforts to disparage Umahi launched a similar attack, although he got lost on what to say.
The party stalwart said every true progressive and Nigerian patriot will derive pleasure to learn what vacuum the defection of Governor Umahi has created in the opposition PDP, stressing that with the excruciating pain suffered by the PDP following his exit, the battered umbrella political organization seems to have lost relevance and direction.
The latest and most laughable of all the lamentations is the one that came from one funny but irrelevant fellow who claims to be the Publicity Secretary of the collapsed PDP in Ebonyi State, Mr. Silas Onu, who in an effort to justify the monthly peanuts he gets, attempted to disparage the image of Governor Umahi, but only succeeded in making a fool out of himself.
In his futile effort, he stated that the PDP is threatening to write US, UK governments alleging that Umahi is plotting to kill some of the PDP bigwigs in the State.
Addressing a press conference on Abuja the Publicity Secretary of the chapter, Silas Onu, raised alarm that the present holiday season may be the bloodiest in the state’s history in view of the stockpiling of arms in the state.
“The British High Commission, Canadian High Commissioner and the Ambassador of the United States of America are called upon to take a special interest in Ebonyi State as the government have continually resorted to uncivilized methods for political engagements.
“Our petitions will be sent to all High Commissions and Embassies to draw attention towards this inhumane leadership style that cares less about human lives.
While also noting that the lives of the opponents of the governor are being threatened, he said the arms stockpile discovered in Abakaliki market should be properly investigated, noting: “The location of the interception is not a coincidence as no other authority have access into that market apart from the State government.
Taking the laughable lamentation of the PDP higher, the Acting National Vice Chairman of PDP, South-east Zone, Chief Ali Odefa alleged that it has uncovered plans by the State Government to assassinate members of the party that will include the former President of the Senate, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, former Governor of the State, Senator Sam Egwu, Senator Obinna Ogba amongst others
Eze condemned Mr. Fred Udogu, PDP Ebonyi Chairman for all the futile efforts to portray the Governor in bad light few who days ago petitioned the new Commissioner of Police, Department of State Services (DSS) and other security agencies in the state just because he is asked to return the vehicle given to him by the State Government as a onetime functionary of the State Government is uncalled for.
Clearing the issue of the assumed threat on the life of the PDP State Chairman, Chief Emegha the commissioner for internal security stated that the vehicle which Mr. Udeogu is asked to return was allotted to him as the chairman of the capital territory Board. Now when he is relieved from his duties, did he supposed to go with the official vehicle meant for the commission?”
Eze asked does this issue amounts to threat to life and call for the unwarranted noise been peddled about by this mischievous fellow aimed at tarnishing the image of a God fearing Governor, Eze queried. He pleaded that, “we should try to play politics with morality and fear of God if we are to be taken serious as leaders”.
Eze described all of the allegations as destitute of reality, merely intended to distract the efforts of the Governor to provide leadership to the people of his State as Governor Umahi had no intention of harming any son or daughter of Ebonyi and as God will have it Ebonyi stands as the safest State during the yuletide period in the entire country.
He called on the leaders of the PDP to go back to the drawing board and review the architectural design of the party to spot the defects and find ways of fixing and repositioning the dwindling fortunes of the party and desist from politics of smear campaign and spurious allegations, stressing that such carriages will yield them no results.
If they think that the only solution to their litany of problems is to continue to raise unsubstantiated allegations against an Apostle of God who detests campaign of calumny and all forms of actions that contradict acceptable standard of human behavior, then their efforts must be exercises in futility.
While sympathizing with the PDP and its leadership for losing such a great asset and high ranking political leader like Umahi, Eze admonished the party to come to terms and accept the reality of the fact that the departure of Umahi from the PDP signifies an imminent collapse of the party in the South East.
Chief Eze said the PDP has failed abysmally in providing answers to the genuine concerns that prompted Umahi’s exit from the party which among others include the total neglect of the South East during her sixteen years of misrule in Nigeria, stressing that the administration of President Buhari has achieved so much not just for Ebonyi State but the entire South East region including the Second Niger Bridge, the Enugu International Airport, Onitsha to Enugu, Port Harcourt to Enugu and several other federal projects littered across the region.
Eze applauded Umahi for his bold step which has earned him the Poster Boy of the politics of South East and one of the revelations of the current political dispensation.
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