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Godwin Sogolo: Save Rotimi Amaechi, Not Rivers People…



There is an African adage which says that it is the fly that refuses to heed advice that follows the corpse into the grave. Before the APC rally that took place in Ogoniland on Saturday, 25th January, 2014, elders from four Local Government Areas, under the aegis of the Concerned Ogoni Elders Forum, had advised Rivers State Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, to cancel the planned rally. The advice fell on deaf ears.

But, when eventually the Governor had the opportunity of addressing his supporters, his message to them was simply that he had insisted on attending the rally to tell them that they: must not run away from violence; should defend and protect themselves, and must be prepared for more violence as long as the Commissioner of Police, Joseph Mbu, remains in Rivers state. Ironically, Amaechi was speaking at the rally under the heavy protection of well-armed policemen, deployed by CP Mbu.

If the Save Rivers Movement, the organizers of the rally, were genuinely committed to saving anybody, that person should be Amaechi himself. They must save Amaechi first from his own death-wish and then from all those goading him into self-destruction. How the Governor got himself to his now pathetic psychological disposition, is difficult to explain, except that it calls to mind the classical quote from Greek literature that “they whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad.”

Those who have pushed Amaechi to the precipice and who are now urging him to fight on and die for a non-existent cause are mainly strangers to his life, politically and socially. What, for instance, could have brought Amaechi and Sam Nda-Isaiah, publisher of Leadership newspaper, together? Yet, it was this total stranger who devoted a section of his weekly column to praising Amaechi for having the courage to tell the people of River State “not to run away in the face of violence” but be prepared to bite the bullet that might come from “a Commissioner of Police sent to the state by the president to create instability” (Leadership of 27 January, 2014, back page). Nda-Isaiah called on Rivers people to heed the warning of their leader that “there will be more violence in Rivers State as long as the commissioner of police, Mbu Joseph, remains there.”

Casting one’s mind back to the PDP’s Special Convention of August 2013, when some political leaders walked out, Governor Amaechi was very much in the mix of strange bedfellows. He looked confused and harassed, and we knew immediately that something had snapped. Since then, his condition has deteriorated, either when welcoming APC leaders to Rivers State or reading out communiqués of his own faction of the Governors Forum or merely standing in solidarity with his newly found friends, such as Nasir el-Rufai and Lai Mohammed. Today, Amaechi does nothing but sing war songs, indulge in hate-mongering and throw missiles at the Federal Government, President Jonathan, the First Lady, his own people who happen to be PDP supporters and the Police, all of whom he accuses of planning to destroy the people of River State. He was friend to these people not long ago.

Amaechi’s case is now beyond political rascality. What has become certain is that in his misadventure, it is Rivers State that is suffering. It is the people of that State that are being psychologically tortured in this needless war. What benefits does the average Rivers man, woman or youth derive from the threat by the APC to shutdown the Federal government? Absolute nothing! Yet, Governor Amaechi is excited by this prospect because he has nothing to lose!

The people of Rivers State have a collective responsibility to protect themselves from being drawn into a war that is of no concern to them. How come that suddenly, Muhammadu Buhari, Bola Tinubu, Bisi Akande, Lai Balogun, El-Rufai and others, now love the people of Rivers State more than they love themselves? Why are they prepared to destroy the Federal Government in order to save Rivers people? Only these men can explain how, exactly, the problems of Rivers State have become the greatest challenges facing the Nigerian state. Be extremely careful when a stranger comes to your house to declare that he loves you and your family more than he loves himself.

Outside Rivers State, Nigerians have a responsibility to save Governor Amaechi from himself. In his current state of mind, the Governor has lost control and appears to have lost touch with reality. If Amaechi were not a governor and he displayed the kind of character, conduct and utterances that we have observed recently on a daily basis, he would have been treated differently. The Save Rivers Movement must retool its strategies and save Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, first, before doing anything else.

Written By Godwin Sogolo

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