But for the events that forced Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State to cross to the domain of the All Progressive Congress ( APC) a few months ago, he would have been gliding with ease towards disengaging from Brick House in May 2015.
The crossover to APC has altered the equation and thrown so many things into the air. The events that led to the closure of the State Assembly and those surrounding the former Commissioner of Police, Joseph Mbu are fragments of the emerging new reality in Rivers State. Although, the new Commissioner of Police , Mr Ogunsakin has diffused the tension coming from the police end of the spectrum, an order from above with respect to the 2015 election can quickly alter the current atmosphere of peace in the state.
Nevertheless, the battle grounds for Governor Amaechi from now till the 2015 elections have become many. He would need the war skills of Alexander the Great to take on the allied forces of local and Abuja politics.
Having successfully quelled the attempt by the rebels in the State House of Assembly to impeach him, Governor Amaechi now faces the following battle fields
1. Navigate the growing upland/riverine politics of the state to deliver a successor
2. Convince his fellow Ikwerre people to go along with an APC candidate from another tribe, given the chunk of the votes they hold
3. Fence off his former allies but now enemies in PDP
4. Convince the rest of Rivers people to go along with him
4. Deliver Rivers state to the APC in the presidential election.
When Governor Amaechi said that it would not be fair for an Ikwerre man to succeed him, some people felt that he made that statement strictly with Hon. Nyesom Wike, his former chief of staff, now Minister of State for education in mind. Anyone who truly knows the governor would not make that conclusion. Governor Amaechi preaches equity and as much as humanly possible practices it. The Governor believes from the dept of his soul that it will be inequitable for three sons of Ikwerre land to succeed themselves back to back, irrespective of who will be interested running from that ethnic group.
It is therefore safe to assume that the Governor will talk to his fellow Ikwerre people in the APC to stay clear of the guber ticket race with the understanding that they will still be accommodated within the greater scheme of things if APC takes the State.
However, if Hon. Wike gets the PDP ticket, Ikwerre land comprising of about eight local government areas and accounting for over 25% of state votes will become a battle ground.
The Riverine/Upland struggle may also play some crucial role in the next guber election. All the elected governors of the state have come from the upland because it has the numbers to get electoral victory. Therefore, to produce the next governor the riverine areas need to reach an understanding with the upland. If Governor Amaechi’s APC is considering a riverine candidate, then another battle field would come into play and would involve an even more intense negotiation. The only thing that may tweak the upland/riverine struggle would be the Ogoni factor. Their agitation for resource control goes beyond the state. If the APC offers its ticket to an Ogoni candidate, it may generate some sympathy and add a new flavour to the guber race.
The head on collision between APC and PDP is also something to watch out for. Rivers State has been under the control of the PDP since 1999. It is however now the second state in the South-South under the control of an opposition party. Besides, its huge chunk of votes, the quarrel between Governor Amaechi and Mr President and his wife automatically makes Rivers a battle ground state. Either party has so much at stake and would do whatever it takes to win the battle. The possibility of the outbreak of violence is very high especially given the antecedent of militancy in the state. It will therefore be interesting to see how Governor Amaechi will fare without allowing his state to go up in flame.
Lastly, will the Governor be able to deliver Rivers State to the APC in the presidential election. Doing so will be a major upturn and a spectacular victory for Governor Amaechi. More so if the APC fields a northern presidential candidate.The prevailing sentiment in the South-South is that President Jonathan being a “son” of the region should be allowed to do another four years irrespective of his performance in office. This is an sentiment that does not resonate with Governor Amaechi. He believes that the President should strictly be judged and offered another four years based on his performance. And in the Governor’s view, the President has neither done well for the country nor the region.
However, even if the Governor can not convince the rest of the South-South with his performance argument, he may be just be able to win the sympathy of the Rivers people about the President due to the disputed Soku oil wells which the President has given to his home state of Bayelsa. This has impacted negatively on the revenue profile of Rivers State.
What could however upturn the “son of the region” argument for Jonathan is the APC fielding a South-South candidate for the presidential election.
Governor Amaechi is strategically positioned to pick up such a ticket. Two South-South candidates in a head to head contest will be something to behold under the present circumstance. The drama will however be less intense but still be of significance if APC picks South-South candidate for its VP slot.
Whatever happens, Rivers State and Governor Amaechi will be on the watch list of many political analysts in the 2015 elections.
Article written by Philemon Adjekuko..
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