Opinion | APC Is A Political Party, Not Personal Estate Of Anyone

Senator Magnus Abe responds to the purported smear campaign against him by Transportation Minister Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi.

By Magnus Abe

My attention has been drawn to an interview granted by the Minister of Transportation, Rt Hon Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi. In the said interview widely published by Daily Post and several online media houses, the Minister was said to have among other issues raised therein described me as a “betrayer” and an “ingrate”.

Nigerians are aware that Mr Amaechi has been calling me names for the past two years and in keeping with my personal values and upbringing, I have refrained from joining issues with Mr Amaechi in the public domain. However, it has become imperative that I set the records straight on the issues raised by the Minister so that Nigerians will know the truth.

First the minister said the justice of the case today demands that the riverine part of the state should produce the Governor.

Let us again place on the record that it was the same Amaechi who called the entire leadership of the Ogoni nation to a meeting, in which all spectrum of Ogoni leadership was represented, King Gininwa, President of MOSOP, KAGOTE, religious leaders and the academia, and told them that they were the poorest and most marginalized group in Rivers state. He said the reason they have never gotten the Governorship is because they have never succeeded in making enough noise. He held these closed door meetings with the Ogonis and made these promises more than four times during his tenure.

When he changed his mind on what justice in Rivers state demands, he simply moved on to hold the same kind of meetings and make the same promise to the Riverine people.

The Minister said if I am popular why did I go to court? My response is that I learnt from the case of Rotimi Amaechi Vs INEC that when the rich and powerful, those who have absolute control of the Party machinery are after you it is only the courts that can help you. So I simply followed Amaechi’s footsteps, if that meant he was not popular, then that is what it still means today.

Mr Amaechi said I fell ill when he picked Dakuku over me in 2015, let me answer honestly that I did not. Indeed Mr Amaechi himself will recollect that Rivers youths almost set fire to the Government House, and that I came out to address them and went on air to appeal for calm. He can also remember that I arranged a meeting of Ogoni leaders who met with him in the aftermath of that decision, no doctor attended to me.

But he will also remember that when Prof Osinbajo was announced as Vice Presidential candidate of the APC, he went into shock and a doctor had to be brought in to medicate him and put him on drip all night to stabilize him. Perhaps that was why he assumed that I would have also required medication. We all react differently to shock.

I am glad that Amaechi can still remember that myself and Wike attended meetings with him in an effort to support him to be governor, whatever transpired between him and Dr Odili, I am glad Dr Odili is still alive and is in a better position than myself to discuss Mr Amaechi’s loyalty.

But let me remind Mr Amaechi that he is not to me what Dr Odili was to him. I have never been Mr Amaechi’s personal staff, I have never lived in his boys quarters, our political partnership started in the House of Assembly to which I sponsored myself and Dr Odili sponsored him, so I do not owe him the kind of loyalty that he owes to Doctor Odili. How well he discharged that loyalty in the face of power is between him, Dr Odili and God.

Lastly, let me repeat once again, that I was elected Minority Leader of the Rivers State House of Assembly by members of the minority caucus of the House. I was appointed Commissioner of Information by Dr Peter Odili, and Dr Odili himself called me after my appointment and told me in the presence of two witnesses ( the then deputy Governor and the SSG) that my appointment was one he made by himself out of conviction that I will do well and he was not influenced by anyone in giving me that appointment.

Yes, the Minister as Governor appointed me as SSG, and supported me to go to the senate , but I did not lobby for the job neither did I get any extra benefit. I discharged my responsibilities faithfully and to the best of my ability.

I never went to the Minister sobbing for NDDC, rather I went to him and reminded him of a promise he made that if APC won the National elections my interest will be placed above every other interest in the state including his own. That was not done, but I have never cried about betrayal.

Most importantly none of this was done on the precondition that I would not attempt to be Governor.

I really must appeal to the Minister to take it easy, life is too short for all these pettiness and hatred. Nigeria is a democracy and I have a constitutional right to aspire to a position for which to the best of my knowledge he is not in contention.

The APC is not a personal estate of anyone, it is a political party.

Magnus Abe is a Senator (2011—2019) and former Rivers State Legislator, Commissioner and Secretary to the State Government.