OPPOSITION’S STRANGE VISIT TO GOVT HOUSE

Filed in Politics by on July 21, 2012

Opposition’s strange visit to Govt House
July 21, 2012 by CHUKWUDI AKASIKE

Amaechi with the former governorship candidates

The recent visit by a group of governorship candidates to the Rivers State governor has become the topic of an ongoing debate in the state. CHUKWUDI AKASIKE considers the possible reasons for such a visit

The ways of Nigerian politicians will continue to be strange to even those who are close to them. It is not in doubt that an average politician in this clime blows hot and cold at various times. Before the 2011 governorship election in Rivers State, the opposition took a look at areas where they felt that the incumbent governor, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, did not measure up to expectation and used them as campaign points against the governor.

Many observers may not have forgotten that the opposition even criticised the governor on the model school projects his administration had embarked on. To many, education remains a no-go area for criticism as Amaechi is known to have gone the extra mile to develop the education sector in the state. Agriculture and transportation are other areas the current administration is believed to have created a big impression on the people.

But the opposition, during the campaign in 2011, criticised the governor’s policies on agriculture, education and other sectors without considering the Amaechi’s unique selling points, which were targeted at human and capital development. The politicking went on until the governor won the election for a second term.

Surprisingly, the opposition, with the exception of the Action Congress of Nigeria and the All Nigeria Peoples Party, kept quiet since the Peoples Democratic Party won the governorship poll. However, the opposition took an action that was most unexpected by the people of the state. They came out in a different form with what was seen as an unusual name: Coalition of Rivers State 2011 Governorship Candidates, and embarked on a visit to the same governor whose policies they had condemned.

The reason for their visit, according to the chairman of the coalition, Mr. Uchechukwu Ichenwo, was to tell the governor that they were impressed with his performance. Ichenwo, who led 17 members of the coalition to the Government House in Port Harcourt, hailed the governor’s achievements on power generation, primary health care, roads and education. That the opposition had reversed itself on earlier criticism of the administration became the focal point of political observers.

Not done with his eulogies, the leader of the coalition, said, “We salute your sincere and purposeful leadership in Rivers State. We appreciate the enormous investment the government has made in the power sector, especially in the area of power generation. So far, you have done well with your primary health care system.”

The coalition extolled the governor’s accomplishments in other sectors, saying, “We commend you on your housing scheme so far. We sincerely commend you on your environmental waste management scheme being put in place in various parts of the state. We appreciate your zeal in the transport sector.”

The governor’s reaction to the deluge of praises was swift and straight to the point as he thanked his guests for their visit and words of encouragement. Amaechi told them that he was humbled by their presence and kind words. He said that their commendation would inspire him to do more for the people of the state. The 18-member alliance of former governorship candidates, who embarked on the courtesy visit, were Ichenwo of the Alliance for Democracy, Rev. Harry Sillis (National Solidarity Democratic Party); Mr. Roberts Go-Oba (Peoples Redemption Party); Mr. Worlu Joshua (Social Democratic Mega Party); Mr. Godwin David (New Nigeria Peoples Party) and Mr. Geoffrey Anugwo (Peoples Progressive Party).

Other members, according to a statement issued in Port Harcourt by the State Government Press Unit, are Sir Dave Banijo (African Liberation Party); Mr. Chijoke Amadi (UNDP); Chief Tamuno Roberts (African Democratic Congress) and Mr. Fred Nwibeke (Change Advocacy Party). Others are Mr. Young Lot (National Transformation Party); Mr. Nelson Douglas (Progressive Peoples Alliance); Chief Doopue Nnaa (Advance Congress of Democrats); Mr. Justus Green (CPS); Elder Samuel Ibiama (Democratic Front for Peoples Federation); Mr. Asiemia Dumo (National Conscience Party); Mr. Samuel Urang (Justice Party) and Mr. Vince  Orgwu of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria.

Reacting to the politicians’ trip to the Government House, the acting National Chairman of the African Renaissance Party, Chief Jackson Omenazu, stated that though there was nothing wrong with visiting the governor, what the people of Rivers were expecting from the former candidates was beyond a mere visitation or paying homage to the governor.

Omenazu said, “Some of them that claim to be governorship candidates are bench warmers. Going to pay the state governor a courtesy visit is not wrong, but how many times have they written a letter or memo to the governor on how the state can continue to move forward? It is not enough to visit the governor and commend him. They should also contribute their quota to the growth of the state.”

But the State PDP Publicity Secretary, Mr. George Ukwuoma-Nwogba, commended the coalition for taking the decision to visit and appreciate Amaechi’s achievements.

“The issue here is that Amaechi is a performing governor and he is doing well for the state. Those that contested against him saw the reason to pay him a visit and appreciate his achievements so far. So, we in the Rivers PDP are happy with them for identifying with the accomplishments of the governor. People should stop any form of acrimony after elections. What the former governorship candidates in the state have done is worthy to be emulated. It should also be done at the local and federal levels. Another factor those against the visit of the former governorship candidates should realise is that Amaechi is not the governor of the PDP alone; he is the governor of the entire state, other political parties inclusive,” Ukwuoma-Nwogba added.

On its part, the state chapter of the ACN expressed dissatisfaction and disappointment over the visit, describing the politicians as a visionless group of executive beggars. The ACN in a statement issued and signed by its Publicity Secretary, Mr. Jerry Needam, said there could not have been any other reason for what it called an unholy alliance with the ruling PDP than gluttony and hunger.

“We regret that these self-acclaimed governorship candidates with no visible party offices or following across the 23 council areas of the state think the best way to worm themselves back into the Amaechi-led government is to constitute themselves into a praise-singing lot and dress the governor in borrowed robe,” Needam stated.

He added that the encomiums by the politicians, who parade themselves as former governorship candidates, showed that all they needed from Amaechi was nothing but contracts, employment and political appointments. The ACN urged the governor to disregard the deceptive vote of confidence by his visitors and face the challenges starring his administration in the face.

But a political analyst in the state, Mr. Okechukwu Udemba, disagreed with the ACN position. Udemba said the visit of the former governorship candidates to the governor should not attract such scathing criticism. Such a visit, according to him, is rare and should be applauded. “Most Nigerians are bad losers; if a governor is performing and delivering democracy dividends, the best we can do for that governor is to encourage him. We cannot pretend that we are not seeing what the current administration has put on the ground. The truth is that Amaechi has done well and deserves to be praised,” Udemba emphasised.

The former National Vice-Chairman, South-South Zone of the ANPP, Chief Asukewe Iko-Awaji, described the governor’s visitors as politicians without portfolios, adding that none of the political parties represented by the surprise guests to the Government House has a state secretariat in Rivers State.

Describing them as disguised members of the PDP, Iko-Awaji said, “Those people work for the governor. I have been in the opposition since 1999 and I don’t jump from one political party to the other like some of our politicians. I am not ready to go to the PDP in any guise. I cannot be part of such bandwagon. The so-called governorship candidates that visited the government house are sycophants. They are not even sincere to themselves.”

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