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Knocks, kudos trail honour for Wike, Amaechi

By Ann Godwin (Port Harcourt)
07 March 2022   |   3:15 am
The cultural honours done to two political gladiators in Rivers State, recently, which coincidentally, happened the same day, February 5, 2022, have raised some contentious issues, considering their political face-off.

Chibuike Amaechi

The cultural honours done to two political gladiators in Rivers State, recently, which coincidentally, happened the same day, February 5, 2022, have raised some contentious issues, considering their political face-off.
  
The gladiators are Governor Nyesom Wike and his predecessor, Chibuike Amaechi. The duo were close allies when the former served as Chief of Staff to the latter until 2014 when politics tore them apart and the fight has continued unabated till date. 
   
Before the traditional titles were conferred titles on them, they had disagreed over the state-owned aircraft allegedly abandoned in Germany since 2012.    
   
Wike had accused Amaechi of trying to divert the plane to personal property, but Amaechi fired back through his supporters, saying that the move by Wike to spend N1.4 billion (Three million Euros) to repair and retrieve the Legacy 600 aircraft was to use it for his 2023 campaigns.

   
Wike was conferred with a newly created and high-profile traditional title ‘Se-Ibi-Dokubo Kalabari’ by the Kalabari tribe of Rivers State. The title means ‘He who does good things for Kalabari People’.
   
The event, organised by the three coastal Councils, Asari-Toru, Akuku-Toru and Degema, was to appreciate the governor’s effort in investing over N40 billion for various developmental projects in the area. With this title, Governor Wike is recognised as a member of the Kalabri Kingdom, a major Ijaw ethnic group in the state.
   
Amaechi, an Ubima son in Ikwerre Council of the state was also honoured in far away Katsina State with the noble Hausa/Fulani title, called ‘The Dan Amanah Daura, meaning the ‘Trusted son of Daura’, or the confidant of Daura.
   
The Daura Emirate Council under His Highness, the Emir of Daura, Alhaji Faruk Umar Faruk, said the title conferment to the Minister of Transportation, was sequel to his dedication and commitment in infrastructural development of the emirate and the nation.
   
He said the emirate deemed it necessary to reciprocate the gesture extended to them by Amaechi, who initiated the siting of University of Transportation in the area and connection to Daura rail services.
  
The conferment of the two titles, which witnessed elaborate receptions and injection of huge funds into their publicity has left many tongues wagging, querying if such lavish events, especially the one in Katsina was necessary considering widespread poverty in the country.
   
Investigations show that the ceremony in Daura was televised live in at least three television stations with each attracting a cost of between six and N10 million, while Wike’s coronation in Kalabari was said to have been televised live in one television station, valued at over N6.5 million.  
   
The turbaning ceremony was witnessed by Governor Aminu Masari of Katsina State, Ministers Adamu Adamu (education), Niyi Adebayo (Industries), Festus Keyamo (State for Labour), Sunday Dare (Sports), Adeleke Mamora (Health) HRH Oba of Benin,
Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku’ Akpolokpolo Ewuare 11.

Etim Edet Ekong, representative of Cross River Council of Chiefs, Bashir Jamo (NIMASA) , Mohammed Koko (NPA), First Military Governor of Rivers State and Amanyanabo of Twon-Brass, Bayelsa State, King Alfred Diete-Spiff, frontline politician in Rivers State, Tonye Princewill, Senator Andrew Uchendu, former Nigeria’s ambassador to The Netherlands, Ambassador Oji Ngofa and former acting national Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Victor Giadom, among other Amaechi loyalists.

   
Wike’s coronation, which according to the organisers, was a non-political event, as politicians didn’t turn up well. It was, however, witnessed by the Chairman of Rivers State Elders Forum, Chief Ferdinand Anabraba, the former Vice Chancellor of the University of Port Harcourt, Prof. Nimi Briggs, Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs, A human rights activist, Ann Kio-Briggs, among others.
   
While some political associates of the award recipients applauded the prized cultural honour done to the duo, keen political analysts queried the value and impact of the titles to the lives of common Nigerians.
   
A political analyst and chancellor of International Society for Social Justice and Human Rights, Jackson Omenazu, described the honours to the two Rivers sons as good but added that the honours should motivate them to work more and provide economic leverage for humanity.
   
Omenazu said:  “Governor Wike should gear up and provide the needed economic support for the citizens. Sincerely, Rivers people lack economic empowerment. A hungry man does not know the value of modern roads, yes we have got roads but we need industries and factories in the state as well as better welfare for workers.”
   
Similarly, a woman leader in Ikwerre Local Council, Mrs. Celestina Aaron, said: “There is hunger everywhere. They should empower us. The women in Rivers State are suffering, flood has ravaged our farmlands, and we need empowerment. All these titles and awards mean nothing to us because our children and we are hungry.
   
“This is farming season, but we have nothing because floods damaged all our crops, yet you are talking about awards when the people are hungry, it doesn’t make sense to us.”
   
She urged the Rivers sons to look into the welfare of citizens, saying, “As God has blessed them, they should also bless the common people. We are hungry and they are just busy receiving awards.”
   
Speaking also, a widow in Elele, Silverline Onuoha, said: “I am from Ubima but Amaechi doesn’t do anything for us here, that is why we are not happy. We are not getting any help from him. We, the widows, are suffering. We need empowerment. The boys are not doing anything, which is why stealing, kidnapping and other social vices are on the increase. We want them to come and establish skill acquisition centres for us”
   
Meanwhile, the former Chief of Staff under Amaechi’s administration, Tony Okocha, in his comment, argued that charity begins at home. He challenged the minister to showcase the projects he attracted to his home town (Ubima) to enable him to deserve such honour.

According to Okocha, when the Emir spoke, he said he honoured Amaechi in reciprocation of the projects he was able to bring to their place. “So, we are saying that Amaechi should propagate the gospel of charity begins at home. What is it that he has at home that will make the Ubima and Ikwerre people to receive him and confer the highest title in the world on him?” He asked.

   
He said: “What happened in Daura was a jamboree. Amaechi does not qualify to be in the Ubima Council of chiefs because he has nothing to show.”
    
On his part, the APC publicity secretary in Rivers State loyal to Amaechi, Mr. Chris Fineborne, said it was disheartening to see a group of elderly men and women singing and praying to God for divine intervention on Governor Wike to pay them their gratuity and pension. Fineborne lamented that many of the aged people have died for lack of medical care.
   
“Many will be wondering why a state whose governor doles out hundreds of millions of naira to far away states, yet the citizens, even families that lived well before, now scrounge to have one meal a day because they are not paid their pensions,” he remarked.

However, Chief Anabraba eulogised Wike, declaring that Governor Wike has systematically fulfilled all promises he made to them, including projects and appointment of Kalabari people into his administration.
  
Also, the former Vice Chancellor of the University of Port Harcourt, Prof. Nimi Briggs, said people of Kalabari have enthusiastically and with relentless vigour, contributed to the growth and development of Rivers State and Nigeria by extension.
   
A human rights activist, Kio-Briggs said although Rivers State is a complex place to govern, it does not mean that the people do not love each other.
  
Speaking on the significance of turbaning Amaechi, Ngofa said Amaechi had performed superlatively as governor of Rivers State and Speaker of all Speakers. He expressed joy that the Minister is getting recognition in Nigeria.

Giadom stated that the honour was very important to Nigerians, as it will promote the diversity and unity of the country.
   
The first Military Governor of Rivers State and Amanyanabo of Twon-Brass, Bayelsa State, King Alfred Diete-Spiff, expressed hope that the turbaning would further strengthen the relationship between the Northern and Southern parts of the country.
On his part, Princewill said, Amaechi had always done a lot not just in Daura but also for the country at large.
   
Political relevance of the honours
Though Wike and Amaechi have not declared their next political intent like Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a frontline chieftain of the APC, but their body languages appear to be vacillating to the presidential seat.  
   
Keen political observers have noted that Amaechi’s recognition in faraway Kastina, the home of President Muhammadu Buhari, will serve as a marketing tool for him  (Amaechi) and will help him in the APC primary.

Arguably, the resonances of this turbaning will literally usher in major political events in the party, considering the imminence of the National Convention.
   
For Wike, who is a grassroots man, he needs all the home base support to move on. Notably, all these are happening at a prime time for politics, considering the nearness of the 2023 general elections.

   
Amaechi has lost hold of the state since he left office in 2015 and there have been serious battles between him and Wike over who controls the State.

The Guardian recalls that the friendship between the two politicians turned sour when Amaechi, who governed the State from 2007 to 2015, appointed Okocha to replace Wike as his Chief of Staff and influenced Wike’s appointment as a Minister of State for Education.
   
At that time, that move was seen by stakeholders as one meant to truncate or tame Wike’s growing political roots. The action turned out to be Amaechi’s worst political plot. Their political relationship finally collapsed when Wike’s allies, through controversial, judicial circumstances, usurped PDP’s state executive structure from the pro-Amaechi executive, an event that culminated in Amaechi’s defection to All Progressives Congress (APC).

With PDP’s structure firmly in his grip, Wike went on to become PDP’s flag bearer and eventually won the 2015 governorship election as well as the 2019 fiercely contested election. This further exacerbated the Amaechi-Wike feud.
   
However, residents are hopeful that with the title conferment, which has a great significance of culture and high sense of decorum, the two men will sheathe their swords and create an atmosphere that will usher in peaceful and violent free elections in 2023, unlike what happened in previous polls.

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