by Stanley Azuakola
Has a stormier birthday gift ever been given?
Rotimi Amaechi, the Rivers governor turned 48 years yesterday, and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party, marked the day by suspending him from membership of the party during an early morning emergency meeting of the party’s National Working Committee.
The move was the climax of what has been an intriguing political fight since Gov. Amaechi secured the majority votes from his colleagues in the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, to emerge as chairman. The win was a major upset as Aso Rock had thrown its might behind anyone but Amaechi. Since that victory on Friday, a parallel faction of the forum has emerged with Jonah Jang, the Plateau governor heading it and now Amaechi has been suspended.
The reason given for his suspension was that he has refused to reinstate suspended local government executives of the Obio/Akpor local government council in the state. The executive council of the local government was suspended, not by Amaechi, but by the state house of assembly over allegations of corruption, even though it was apparent that the suspension was politically motivated as the council was loyal to the minister of state for education, Nyesom Wike. Still, constitutional authority to reinstate the council executive rested with the assembly and not the governor.
The PDP national executive also set up a committee headed by Mr. Joe Gadzama, SAN, to probe allegations raised against Amaechi, hours after his suspension. The committee comprises names like Victor Kwon (the PDP national legal adviser); Inalegwu Onche, Friday Nwosu, Udorji Amedu, Ola Kukuyi, Wakil Mohammed, Yusuf Jangwe, Mrs Bola Doherty, Mr. Tanimu Adamson and Anicho Okoro as Secretary.
In the statement conveying the governor’s suspension issued by the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Chief Olisa Metuh, yesterday, the party said:
“The National Working Committee at its emergency meeting on Monday, May 27, 2013 considered the petition submitted by the PDP Rivers Executive Committee against His Excellency, Rt Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, the Executive Governor of Rivers State for violating Articles 58 1 (b), (c ), (h) and (m) of the PDP Constitution following his refusal to obey the lawful directive of the Rivers State Executive Committee to rescind his decision dissolving the elected Executive Council of Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State.
“The National Working Committee after preliminary hearing, in exercise of the powers conferred by Articles 57 (3), 59 (3), 59 (5) and 29 (2.b), hereby suspends the Executive Governor of River State, Rt Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi as a member of the PDP and refers the matter to the appropriate disciplinary committee of the Party.
“This is in furtherance of the determination of the leadership of the party to enforce discipline at all levels within the party.”
That same day, Amaechi responded during an interactive session he had with Rivers youths at the banquet hall of the state’s government house with the theme: “Consolidating on Rivers of our Dreams.” He had a lot to say.
1. On why he believed his suspension was a witch-hunt:
“The way these people at the federal level are desperate, they may come after my life. So when you pray, remember to pray for me to remain alive.
“Who has power to suspend Obio/Akpor council? Now you see political witch-hunting; it is so ridiculous, my party must rise above political witch-hunting. The Governor did not suspend Obio/Akpor council, I hope you know. My power is to dissolve and remit it to the House of Assembly, but I have not done that yet, what the Assembly has said is ‘we are investigating corruption’ then the party says we should not investigate corruption, is that fair?”.
“I was not invited by the National Working Committee of PDP, I was not given fair hearing. What I heard was ‘why did I refuse to reinstate the suspended Obio/Akpor Council executive? Who suspended them?” (The Rivers State House of Assembly, chorused the crowd).
“Who has the power to investigate Obio/Akpor council executive?”. (The State Assembly, chorused the crowd)
“If they are not guilty, then they will re-instate them, but if they are guilty, then we will ask for the dissolution of the council. We have not even gone half, and the Party (PDP) says re-instate them. It means that the party likes corruption. Let the Assembly resume and commence investigation, let’s see what goes on. Whether there is corruption or not, it is the business of the Assembly. I have been a Speaker, and I know the powers of a Speaker and the legislature. I used it when I was a Speaker.”
2. The partisanship of the police in Rivers state:
“What is the police still doing at the Obio/Akpor Council building? The court gave an order to the Police to vacate Obio/Akpor Council, they disobeyed, and the police are still stationed there.
“The Federal Government does not care, they only stationed police at Obio/Akpor council, even if everybody dies, they don’t care. Now the whole state will be grounded, because the police have refused to vacate the Obio/Akpor Council Secretariat. They don’t want to know, we are not important to the federal government, we are not important at all.”
3. On the lifeline given to militants in Rivers State:
“You know what it took for us to stop militancy in the state. But only last week, they now organized militants to return to the streets of Port Harcourt, is that not shameful? You all know how the militants spent our money, raped our women, killed our parents and young men. Immediately the militants stopped protesting, the police said, nobody should protest again.”
4. On whether he plans to leave the party:
“I will not leave the PDP. I will go to court.”
5. On Stella Oduah, the aviation minister:
“The plane (aircraft) issue is same politics, pure politics. For one year plus, a minister refused to sign import permit. I’m sure you are aware of the House of Representatives Committee report on the plane issue.”
6. On the NGF election and the video allegedly taken during the poll:
“You will see it on the internet when the Governors were voting, all the governors were there and you will also see the counting. We (Governors) agreed to vote, and all the governors voted, so any governor who said he didn’t vote is lying against the nation because all of us are on oath to govern properly. So we should not lie, every governor voted, you will see the video. If we leaders of Nigeria today are refusing to accept the results of a properly organized election supervised by the Director-General of the Governors’ Forum, and somebody brought a paper that was signed in April. If you check that list, it was signed in April and you brought it on May 24 after the Governors have finished voting their chairman into office; that list is not part of our election. There is a rumour that they want to go to court to stop me as NGF chairman. We are ready to meet them in court but they should not go through the backdoor to get an order .”
7. And what’s a politician’s speech without injecting God into it?:
“Internal democracy is important in our party, they fought me with everything, and I still won the Nigeria Governors’ Forum election, what should they do? They should have joined me to thank God. Because what it means is that God has spoken. It happened when I was in Ghana, I fasted and prayed for six months, 6am to 6pm, and God made me Governor.”