Rivers APC: Hard times for house Amaechi built

Sunday Trust - - VIEWPOINT - With Mon­ima Dam­inabo email: monidams@yahoo.co.uk 0805 9252424 (sms only)

Two de­vel­op­ments of the past week set the tone for a pal­lid fu­ture for the Rivers State Chap­ter of the All Pro­gres­sives Congress (APC), which for all prac­ti­cal in­tents and pur­poses, qual­i­fies as the house that was built by the Transportation Min­is­ter Ro­timi Amaechi. With­out doubt each of th­ese de­vel­op­ments has the po­ten­tial of al­ter­ing the course of po­lit­i­cal for­tunes in the state ei­ther for good or bad, de­pend­ing on fol­low-through cir­cum­stances. Firstly but not ear­lier, was the train of events which marked the com­mis­sion­ing by Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari of the Port Har­court In­ter­na­tional Air­port Ter­mi­nal build­ing last Thurs­day. The mere ab­sence of Amaechi at the event was con­spic­u­ous enough not to be no­ticed. As the over­all head of the Min­istry of Transportation, Amaechi should have qual­i­fiedly served as the chief host of the event.

But that was not to be as the ac­tual host was the Min­is­ter of State for Avi­a­tion Hadi Sirika, who runs the Avi­a­tion wing of the min­istry. More sig­nif­i­cantly, the de­vel­op­ment tells a lot about Amaechi’s vaunted sacro­sanct sta­tus in the ad­min­is­tra­tion of Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari. By the way is it not the same Sirika who had ear­lier side­lined the Port Har­court In­ter­na­tional Air­port by re­plac­ing it with Benin Air­port as the avi­a­tion hub of the South South zone?

Se­condly and ear­lier in the week, was a sad down­turn of events fol­low­ing a Supreme Court judg­ment which vir­tu­ally swept the car­pet away from the feet of the party in the state and is likely to al­ter the course of its pol­i­tics, in­clud­ing vi­ti­at­ing the for­tunes of the party to­wards ren­der­ing it a less po­tent force. The party which in re­cent times has been sub­jected to a de­bil­i­tat­ing con­test for supremacy be­tween at least two fac­tions - had wit­nessed a mas­sive hem­or­rhage of its crit­i­cal for­tunes in the man­ner of a house that is di­vided against it­self. As is al­ready pub­lic knowl­edge, the two lead­ing fac­tions re­main the one that is loyal to Amaechi - also a former gov­er­nor of the state, and the other whose loy­alty is to a serv­ing Sen­a­tor Mag­nus Abe. And the is­sue at stake is the un­masked, hell-bent dis­po­si­tion of Amaechi’s camp to deny Abe any sem­blance of op­por­tu­nity to aspire to or even con­test for the of­fice of the gov­er­nor of the state. Abe has since the judg­ment been parad­ing him­self as the APC can­di­date for the state. But that is a mat­ter for an­other day.

Mean­while the Supreme Court judg­ment has lit­er­ally con­jured an end game sce­nario for the party in the state by push­ing its for­tunes into the vor­tex of deep cri­sis from which op­tions for es­cape now con­sti­tute the core con­cerns of the APC, even at its na­tional level. In essence, the Supreme Court judg­ment up­held the rul­ing of a Port Har­court High Court which had ear­lier nul­li­fied the elec­tion of del­e­gates, who in turn emerged from lo­cal govern­ment and state con­gresses con­ducted by the state chap­ter of the party in May this year. In its ver­dict the Supreme Court voided a rul­ing of the Ap­peal Court sit­ting in Port Har­court which had ear­lier ruled against the Port Har­court High Court judg­ment.

The foun­da­tion of the is­sue was when Mag­nus Abe and his sup­port­ers had gone to the Port Har­court High Court to seek re­dress over their com­plaints of be­ing de­nied par­tic­i­pa­tion in the congress polls in breach of the APC Con­sti­tu­tion. How­ever vir­tu­ally on the day of judg­ment on the mat­ter, there was re­ported gun­fire around the Port Har­court High Court premises, and van­dal­i­sa­tion of same. Nev­er­the­less, the trial judge braved the odds, sat and ruled the re­sult of the con­gresses null and void. That High Court rul­ing has re­mained the ref­er­ence point in the cy­cle of tri­als for the APC, lead­ing to the Supreme Court rul­ing un­der con­sid­er­a­tion.

Ex­pect­edly the Supreme Court judg­ment has been sub­jected to vary­ing in­ter­pre­ta­tions with each camp striv­ing to outdo the other in gain­ing pu­bic ap­peal for its po­si­tion, while the key dif­fer­ence be­tween them hinged only on the scope of im­pact which the judg­ment has on the for­tunes of the ri­val camp. For in­stance, the Abe camp which re­sorted to the ju­di­ciary at first in­stance and even­tu­ally went to the Supreme Court, con­tends that its judg­ment ef­fec­tively ren­dered null and void, all ac­tiv­i­ties based on the as­cen­dancy of such del­e­gates. By their con­tention its ef­fect also in­cludes the nul­lity of the elec­tion by such del­e­gates, of ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cers of the state chap­ter of the APC as well as nom­i­na­tion of can­di­dates for any of­fice in the land. Mean­while, the Amaechi fac­tion ar­gues to the con­trary claim­ing that all is not lost for them with re­spect to the im­pact of the judg­ment.

Yet less im­por­tant is the is­sue of who is right or wrong in the mat­ter than the more pro­found mat­ter of how much neg­a­tive im­pact the de­vel­op­ments - namely the air­port ter­mi­nal event and the judg­ment are hav­ing and may still have on the po­lit­i­cal turf of the state, es­pe­cially with re­spect to the sanc­tity of the rule of law. Be­cause at the end of the day, the real vic­tims of any mis­guided po­lit­i­cal bat­tle re­main the cit­i­zens who in er­ror con­ceded power to un­suit­able ben­e­fi­cia­ries. Pol­i­tics af­ter all is all about cit­i­zens ced­ing their rights and priv­i­leges to elected in­di­vid­u­als who in this case are po­lit­i­cal ac­tors, trusted to act on be­half of those be­stow­ing the trust. Just as well does the onus lie on the trusted agents of the peo­ple es­pe­cially those in high pub­lic of­fice, to act in line with the trust be­stowed on them. It was the great leader Uth­man Dan Fo­dio who is cred­ited with one of the most pro­found nar­ra­tives on trust when he said that “Trust is a bur­den”.

Mean­while the is­sue of Amaechi’s ab­sence at the com­mis­sion­ing of the now com­pleted Port Har­court In­ter­na­tional Air­port re­mains sig­nif­i­cant. While the trend­ing rea­son for his ab­sence was the ex­clu­sion of his name as one of the speak­ers at the occasion by the Min­is­ter of State for Avi­a­tion Hadi Sirika, it must have been for good rea­son. Against the back­drop of his se­rial dis­agree­ments with Sirika, Gov­er­nor of the Rivers Nye­som Wike, Mag­nus Abe and all other prom­i­nent politi­cians of both the APC and PDP as well as oth­ers, it was patently dis­cre­tional that he was de­nied the op­por­tu­nity to cre­ate any dis­trac­tion through the like­li­hood of an off-the-cuff com­ment by him.

This ar­ti­cle had started with ref­er­ence to Rivers APC as the house which Amaechi built. Noth­ing can be taken away from this as­ser­tion, if the po­lit­i­cal re­al­i­ties of 2014 in Nige­ria are re­called. It needs also to be feared by his fol­low­ers that just as he built the APC in the Rivers State he may also be on the road to wreck it. The is­sue of the Supreme Court judg­ment has Amaechi’s im­print be­hind it. Just as well, his ab­sence at the com­mis­sion­ing of Port Har­court air­port is mak­ing tongues wag. Who knows what out-of-the-or­di­nary de­vel­op­ment will in­volve him next, given his pro­cliv­ity for the­atrics?

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