By Odimegwu Onwumere
When Governor Chibuike Amaechi put protocol aside and did alanta dance to the admiration of the unsuspecting crowd whilst the People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP) acting National Chairman, Dr. Bello Mohammed in 2011, handed him with the party’s flag to fly in the April 26 of that year’s election, he never believed that a day would come when somebody like Barr Ezebunwo Nyesom Wike would pinch the show of the alanta dance.
(Governor Amaechi left; Wike right)
Just as Amaechi is deafening our ears today, saying that over his dead body would Wike rule Rivers State or is it succeed him, so also he kept deaf ear when the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) in Rivers State said that the April 9 2011 National Assembly (NASS) elections in the state were marred by massive electoral fraud, and called for the cancellation.
Amaechi’s men were declared winners of all the elective positions in that year, just as Wike’s men were declared winners of the elective positions in 2015, in Rivers State.
They say, what goes around, comes around. Even though that Wike may not be a better option for Rivers State, it behooves on all residents of Rivers State to advise Amaechi to cover his face in disgrace and stop crying foul. He is no longer dancing alanta because he feels that someone who knows the game better than he had thought he knew has outsmart him and took the trophy.
It is a joyous thing today that Amaechi has seen how it pains when humiliated. He has seen that the so-called power of incumbency no longer plays a major role in the Nigerian politics; unlike in 2011 when it guaranteed the incumbent Amaechi to‘re-elect’ himself into office, even when the electorates did not actually want to elect him.
In the 2011 election in Rivers State, the APGA, shortly after the NASS election, fingered certain individuals that allegedly perpetrated irregularities and violated electoral laws during the elections. The party however called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega, to commence the immediate arrest and prosecution of the fingered. But who cared? When Amaechi was in power?
Just as Amaechi called for the removal of the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Rivers State when he saw that the 2015 elections were not in favour of his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and him, and no one listened, so also was Amaechi dancing alanta, when the APGA Rivers State in 2011 called on the authorities for the immediate removal of the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Rivers State, Mr. Aniedu Ikoiwak. But who cared? The INEC boss was told to effect his removal for allegedly aiding and abetting electoral malpractices in the state.
Tamunosisi Gogo Jaja, running mate to Sir Celestine Omehia, Rivers State APGA’s gubernatorial candidate in 2011, addressed newsmen and was disappointed by what was called ‘peaceful elections’ in Rivers State, by INEC and Amaechi. So, why is Amaechi crying today that the election that saw the emergence of Wike is not peaceful but was marred by irregularities?
Amaechi should understand that Jega refused to investigate the Rivers 2011 elections, even when Gogo Jaja said that it was saddening to say that electoral irregularities took place in Anambra Central Senatorial Zone, Bayelsa and Delta States, compared to what played in Rivers State. And Jega investigated these mentioned places, without Rivers State.
Also Mr. Jerry Godfry and Mr. Precious Barido, who were the state chairman and secretary of the APGA complained in a statement both of them signed of police brutality and criminal intimidation by government officials during the elections, even as Jaja insisted that the April 9 2011 NASS election showed that Rivers PDP had the highest rigging propensity in the country. Yet, Amaechi continued his alanta dance ignoring whoever!
Just as Wike’s PDP today won all the elective seats in the 2015 election, so also Amaechi was dancing alanta in 2011, when the INEC said that the PDP has won all the 32 seats of the Rivers State House of Assembly in the April 26 2011 governorship and state house of Assembly polls. The rather controversial Ikoiwak was it who said the results were announced at various constituency levels and thereafter forwarded to INEC office in Port Harcourt.
The INEC said in that 2011 that Amaechi polled 1,178, 529 votes to ‘defeat’ his opponents in the gubernatorial election. The candidate of the APGA, Celestine Omehia came ‘second’ with 112,528, while the ACN, Abiye Sekibo ‘got’ 60,240. Declaring the ‘results’ in Port Harcourt, the Returning Officer in the state, who is also the Vice Chancellor of the University of Port Harcourt, Professor Joseph (Ajienka), said that 1,401,464 votes were cast, 141,4064 were valid and 27,995 were rejected .
Even when on hearing this and many people said that the result was not acceptable, alleging that there was massive rigging and that the opposition would challenge the results in court, Amaechi was dancing alanta to the chagrin of the opposition political parties. Then as Chief of Staff, Ezebunwo Nyesom Wike disclosed through a jingle on radio that the PDP had found out the plot by the opposition to disrupt the state.
Wike, who was also the Chairman Amaechi Re-election Campaign Organisation, accused the Action Congress of Nigeria (CAN) and APGA governorship candidates and their supporters of planning to cause violence in the state due to what he termed, the frustration of losing the National Assembly and Presidential elections. This may be what Amaechi and his supporters are planning in the state due to the 2015 election did not favour them.
Whereas before the 2011 election in the state, Wike had said that Amaechi’s supporters had also uncovered plans by ACN and APGA to impersonate security personnel to intimidate and harass his party agents at polling units. He advertised that in furtherance of the alleged plan, they procured fake army and police uniforms to infiltrate the ranks of security operatives; Wike added that APGA had taken a step further by procuring the illicit services of plain clothes police operatives from Zone 6 in Calabar to storm Rumuigbo on the day of election. While Wike was showing his conscienceless brand of politics in 2011, Amaechi was still on his alanta dance.
Amaechi was dancing alanta even as the then Acting Chief Press Secretary, Blessing Wikina, also added his voice that the government alleged that opposition politicians had spent sleepless nights in the studio, trying to cut and join clips of speeches and pronouncements of Governor Amaechi, made at different occasions, on different days, into a jingle that would ultimately give the impression that the speech was made at a particular forum; something like “the governor had promised war if not re-elected in the governorship election in the state”.
It behooves on Amaechi to forget however or whichever ways that Wike emerged as governor-elect, because in 2011, the Amaechi Campaign Organisation advised residents to ignore the purported jingle by the opposition politicians and focus on the task of voting for the only candidate (Amaechi?) that could bring about positive change in the state.
We are not sure of the dancing step of Wike and his followers since he was declared winner of the 2015 election like Amaechi danced alanta and his supporters also joined in the dancing fray, as he was declared the ‘winner’ of the April 26, 2011 gubernatorial election in the state.
Amaechi should go and rest and stop crying because the INEC said Wike won in this year’s election. One lesson Amaechi should learn from the whole episode is that it takes absolute morality to expose absolute immorality.
Odimegwu Onwumere is the Coordinator, Concerned Non-Indigenes In Rivers State (CONIRIV). Tel: +2348057778358. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org