To be fair to Amaechi, he started out like a house on fire. If he were a sprinter, l would have likened him to the villainous Ben ‘’Bullet’’ Johnson who made starting out of the blocks like a bullet train a trade mark.
Titles have somewhat become customary in the Nigerian social, cultural and political landscape, and for good reason. In all the geopolitical zones of the country, these titles vary in nuance and connotation but a common denominator that is inherent in them is the fact that they are usually a testament to the level of appreciation shown in accordance with the holder’s achievements and contributions to society.
One title l have come to admire is that for which Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is known. Tinubu crept into our political consciousness when he and others in the then National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), practically withstood the tyrannically demonic regime of the late Sani Abacha. He later went on exile and returned to become elected as Governor of Lagos State in the third republic. His opposition to the then President Obasanjo led government culminated in the financial asphyxiation of Lagos State. This was all the leverage Tinubu needed and he exploited it to the max. Through a combination of tact, charisma and ingenuity, Tinubu transformed himself into the political behemoth we have come to know as the Lion of Bourdillon.
Just like Tinubu, the outgoing Governor of Rivers State, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi was also forced into exile, a venture which eventually led to his being sworn in as Governor under circumstances that can only be described as miraculous, given the judicial precedent that was set. Here was a man who did not contest for an election but became installed as Governor; riding triumphantly into the Brick House on the ass that is the law. Ironically, as the tenure of Amaechi comes to a rather shambolic end, one of the legacies he would be leaving behind is the strangulation of the judiciary; the same arm of government that ensured he became Governor in the first place. For almost two years, the judiciary in Rivers State has been in a near comatose state, aided by a senseless war Amaechi has waged against it through a symbolic weaponization of his authority. As it stands, this scenario is likely to create a constitutional quagmire in the state come the 29th of May because there is currently no Chief Judge to swear in the Governor Elect, Wike Nyesom. Alas, Amaechi’s disdain for the rule of law had been signalled early enough but we failed to take note. A Governor that personally supervised the most brazen act of lawlessness and brutality in the hallowed chambers of the Rivers State House of Assembly with the entire world watching, ought to have set off alarm bells. Perhaps, the decibel levels were not high enough.
If you think the judiciary is the only casualty of Amaechi’s authoritarian rule, you are mistaken. His executive rascality has also been duplicated in the education sector. I hear you say Amaechi built ‘’world class’’ schools all over the state. Yes, I know he built schools, but if these schools are truly world class is a discussion for another day. However, what a good number of those hyping these ‘’world class’’ schools do not know is the fact that the 13,000 teachers employed to render their services in these schools have remained unpaid for between six months to one year depending on the Local Government Area where the schools are located. This level of irresponsibility on the part of the Governor palls into insignificance compared to his arrant display of authoritarianism at the Rivers State University of Science and Technology. Amaechi not only installed a lackey (who by the way was unqualified based on statutory requirements) as Vice Chancellor, he also ensured that his town’s man (who, you guessed right, was also not qualified) was appointed as the Dean of Post Graduate School.
The consequences of these ill thought actions were damning. The institution was embroiled in an unending orgy of strikes embarked upon by the local ASUU chapter for almost two years and in the process it lost a good number of its best lecturers. Worse still, not a single student graduated from its Post Graduate School for three years! Right now, the institution which is the prime University of Science and Technology in Nigeria is a shadow of its old self. Don’t even get me started about the fate of Undergraduate and Post Graduate students of Rivers State origin, who have been left stranded in various UK universities because of the refusal of the Amaechi administration to release funds for their scholarships in the last six months.
When you listen to Amaechi speak about corruption in any public forum, you would think Angel Gabriel has by some stroke of supernatural intervention paid an unscheduled visit to mankind. But then again, hypocrisy and double speak are competencies Amaechi has in robust abundance; competencies he has leveraged on to steal Rivers State blind to such an extent that Steve Wonder has a better chance of regaining his sight. Where does one begin to evaluate this rape on the Rivers treasury by a man whose libido for financial malfeasance is higher than the Mount Everest?
Amaechi’s ‘’brilliant’’ resolution of the traffic management challenge in Port Harcourt the state capital, was the deployment of a monorail project. It covers a distance of less than 3km and is priced at a whooping cost of N150Billion. The project which has allegedly been fully paid for is only about 60% completed but was ostensibly commissioned on social media by Amaechi’s horde of pseudo-intellectual cheer leading simpletons. It is now all too apparent that instead of a MO-NO-RAIL, the good people of Rivers State have been bequeathed with OH-NO-RAIL! You would be hard pressed finding a whiter elephant project anywhere in Nigeria.
Amaechi it was, who without compulsion, promised the Rivers people at least 20hours of constant electricity through the implementation of the numerous IPP projects in the state, worth tens of billions of naira. What we have today as fulfilment of that promise are megawatts of darkness. As icing on a corruption laden cake, Amaechi recently requested and got the approval of the State Assembly for N12B to hold local government elections three days to the end of his tenure. An election that he has prevented from holding in the last two years. When you realize that INEC’s budget for the 2015 general elections in 744 Local Government Areas in Nigeria is N120B, you begin to wonder what the rationale for Amaechi’s humongous budget for 23 Local Government Areas is.
To be fair to Amaechi, he started out like a house on fire. If he were a sprinter, l would have likened him to the villainous Ben ‘’Bullet’’ Johnson who made starting out of the blocks like a bullet train a trade mark. Amaechi appeared like a man who had a pact with destiny to take the oil rich State to unassailable developmental heights. Unfortunately, somewhere in that pact, the devil must have been in the details, howbeit inconspicuously. He lost focus and like a dog that was resolute on getting lost, he ignored all entreaties made to retrace his steps by the whistling of the Rivers people. Like a man marked for destruction, he manifested at every given opportunity, insane traits that can only be associated with the gods. When you take out the propaganda, the lies and the unsubstantiated claims of the Amaechi administration, what you have is a carcass of nothingness. Egged on by the Lagos media, Amaechi’s eight years in the Rivers saddle can simply be summarized as a frenzied media hype deodorizing, in a veiled garb of performance, the stench that Rivers State has become under his watch.
As Amaechi prepares to finally vacate office, based on the litany of wretchedness he leaves behind in his authoritarian trail, the good people of Rivers State have unanimously decided to, out of the kindness of our collective hearts, confer on him the title Kitten of Ubima. It is a fitting title for a man who held so much promise but who allowed his insatiability and personal aspiration becloud good reason. A man, whose suicidal propensity for self aggrandizement and the destruction of state structures just to satisfy his egoistic taste buds, is legendary. A man driven by an inexplicable yet insatiable manic need to dramatize and in the process hug the klieg lights. A man who started out like a roaring lion but who has ended up transmuting into a paw-less kitten. Rivers State is by no means a financially deprived state but its current circumstances epitomize the manifestations of a morally depraved Governor. And just like his predecessor, Peter Odili, he surely would be consigned to the dustbin of Rivers history.
After all, the dustbin is where garbage belongs.
Charles Ohia is an Environmental Management Consultant whose tweetprints can be found on @9jaBloke.
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