05 July 2013, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt – The Governors of the Niger Delta viewed together, read like a collage of eclectic personalities stuck together on a platform by an artist whose beans have gone sour. In the nearest future, I promise to do an expose of the lot but Governor Amaechi’s sabre rattling and recent activism for democracy makes him a first among equals to grace this page.
A man with an arrested intellect famous in the land for conceiving of a monorail project worth billions but without target passengers, he became speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly directly from the cubby hole of a clerk’s office at Dr. Peter Odili’s Pamo Clinic on Aba Road, Port Harcourt. At a dinner organised by my friend at the Shell Residential Area in Port Harcourt in 1999, I came face to face with the gangly Speaker – to – be, faded flannels, a disused coat and the coarsest boots in the land! I was happy for him and for the state as I mused within me that many such unknown quantities had saved if not raised their homelands. And for me, he had as much right as the sons of the elitist families of Rivers State, to aspire to an office as high as the Speakership of the House of Assembly. Forget for now that one man Uche Okwukwu was crying aloud that he had been the winner of the Assembly election at Amaechi’s Constituency.
As falcon he carried out the duties of the falconer, Dr. Peter Odili with diligence, manipulating the House to grant parliamentary approval to the former governor’s rascality with the commonwealth of Rivers State. Forget again that he diligently documented the rascalities and passed them on to the EFCC when Dr. Odili started supporting Celestine Omehia to succeed him. This man who became governor of Rivers State without participating in an election, without campaigning, without voting or being voted for and without a known manifesto but through the magnanimity of a retired Supreme Court, has neither respect nor a pretended knowledge of law. In several cases, his contractors were ordered to move unto sites despite valid restraining orders from the courts. He disrespected the elders of the state, abusing the folk he led, never failing to remind them that they did not make him governor. Governor Amaechi the peasant developed a god-like mien months into his rule and governed the state like a patch of real estate left to him by a childless relative.
About three months ago I represented an Okrika/Ijaw community on whose land, government wanted to develop a Golf Estate. The government rep started the meeting by telling us that the developers were open to dealing with contractors from the communities. When asked about the important issue of compensation that was a universal phenomenon all over the state, she first produced a 1963 map drawn by the Eastern Regional government and openly threatened the people that if they talked about compensation, government would drive them from patches that they had encroached upon by virtue of the 1963 acquisition. She stated secondly that an Ikwerre community had been awarded all the land now required for the Golf Estate and that the land actually belonged to that community. Note that government did not pay that community compensation. Note also that reps of that community were not even invited for the parley. The Lady finally looked in our faces and told us that the Governor has decided that there would be no compensation in this case. For me, this was the defining point of impunity; the machinations of a tyrant who could sink low enough to threaten and blackmail a constituency under his trust. I told my fellow delegates it was time to leave and to the lady I said these words I had picked up from a Cameron film:
“The days for honouring yourselves would soon be at an end.”
It was a month later, lying leisurely in the warm ambience of my Houston hotel room that I learnt with immeasurable glee of the travails of the tyrant of Rivers State.
“Shoot me if you want” Amaechi says to the CP, Rivers, the newspapers reported.
Suffering limited perceptibility and lacking in intellect, Amaechi would not realise this is the language of the falling and fallen tyrant. Col. Gaddhafi, the former tyrant of Tripoli asked his tormentors:
“Do you have any knowledge of good and evil?”
The moral to be drawn from the overthrow of Egyptian President Morsi is that though the ballot regulates democratic practices, people should not and do not have to endure a tyrant even months into his rule. Again, as the Egyptians of Tahrir Square have shown us, Protest against a tyrant is a more eloquent vote of No Confidence than any impeachment process by politicians. Why do the Rivers people have to wait till 2015 to send off this tyrant from their most hallowed piece of real estate? It is so funny to hear Governor Amaechi talk of tyranny as he may never know that the representation of that word is the Man in his mirror!