By Uche Mbah
The long standing struggle for political supremacy between Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, a National leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, and Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, former Governor of Rivers state who is currently the Minister of Transport, came to a head recently when President Muhammadu Buhari relieved Amaechi of his position as the Director of campaign for the reelection of Buhari and handed same to Tinubu. Buhari had handed over the presidential campaign structure to Tinubu citing that he needed more time for governance as his reason. Immediately after, he jetted out of the country to attend a conference on Climate change in Paris.
With this development, Amaechi is expected to be reporting to Tinubu.
Almost simultaneously, the Court of Appeal in Rivers state nullified the appeal from the APC seeking the recognition of Amaechi’s candidate as the authentic APC candidate for the governorship election in the state. This means that Nyesom Wike, the current governor, who belongs to the opposition People’s Democratic Party, PDP, is already coasting to victory as the APC is the main opposition in Rivers state.
This double jeopardy has seriously diminished his political stature, a situation which his political arch-rival, Tinubu, is comfortable with.
The struggle between the two started during the early days of the formation of the APC. Amaechi had thrown in everything, almost outspending Tinubu in the runoff to the 2015 elections. This was with the hope of being chosen as the Vice presidential candidate. But when the chips were down, the ruling Northern elites that were partly responsible for Osinbajo’s emergence told him in no uncertain terms that he is a king without a kingdom, and that Tinubu has Southwest under him in the APC. As compensations, he was given a jumbo portfolio in the transport Ministry. Osinbajo, a godson of Tinubu, was chosen when the issue of Muslim-Muslim Ticket did not allow Tinubu himself to be chosen.
Tinubu has immediately set his compass in installing people in strategic positions for himself. Amaechi, who has been a very close ally of Bukola saraki, fought hard to get Saraki as the Senate President, and also to deny Honorable Gbajiabiamila the position of the Speaker of the House of representatives. He had wanted to replicate the Bourdillon mystique in Rivers state, but he met a Rock of Gibraltar in Nyesom Wike, the governor of Rivers. Wike never allowed him inroad into Rivers. In fact, in one of the times after a series of violent contest, his candidate still lost in the state for senatorial elections, Amina Zakari, then the Director of Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC Operations, was said to heve told him plainly that he is not on ground, and that he is “a king without a kingdom.”
The alleged Aso Rock Cabal, seing that Tinubu is larger than life, wanted to cut him to size. He resorted to silence. But they realized how strategic southwest is for the presidency to come back in February, and they went back to him. As for Amaechi, he was becoming more and more Marginalized.First, they weakened his position with the appointment of Festus Kyamo as the spokes person for the campaign. He was obviously being over shadowed. Initially, he tried to defend it by claiming that Lai Mohamed has credibility issues, but as time goes on he started seeing himself as being more and more marginalized. To worsen issues, rumors were rife that he has not been able to see the president one on one for a long time now.
This was the situation of things when the PDP released an audio tape where he was making a scathing criticism of the president, alleging that he does not care and does not read. Although his former aid, Ibim Seminatiri, has come out to say the tape was edited out of context, Amaechi has not officially denied the tape.
With the appointment of Tinubu, a new tape emerged criticizing Lagos as a glorified Village, where there are no infrastructure, no roads, traffic is killing and only 1000 megawatts available to the teeming population Analysts indicate that he may have been warming himself back to PDP with the belief that Atiku will win the elections. He may not want to be left out. Hence the double game he is allegedly playing.
Whether their speculations are true shall only be vindicated by time.