“Ten years today, God answered our prayers. Ten years today, God installed us as Government of Rivers State. God answered mightily today, ten years ago. God refused to put us to shame and showed our betrayers and traducers that He was with us. Ten years today, God showed to the world that He is God and that man is not God. He answered in such a way that we overcame all the challenges that confronted us in government. I hear that they say God has abandoned us, the last I knew about them I know that they are not God. The bible says faith without works is dead. We must gird our loins and put our knees to the ground and call upon that same God not to glorify betrayal. He will answer and answer mightily”. Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi during the 10th Anniversary of this great day
In my new book titled, “AMAECHI: HIS FEATS, INSPIRATIONAL & REVOLUTIONARY LEADERSHIP STYLE” reflected and captured in 25 chapters still going through serious review by experts carefully selected to do justice to the book. One of the Reviewers of the book stated, “Chief Eze, your book truly tells the Amaechi story as never told. A true Insider account…”
Today, 25th October in the life of Rivers State is sacrosanct and key. In consideration of this, I took time to analyze some of the aspects and views based on this historical date in Chapter Three of the book
In this regard, as Nigerians celebrate this great date today, join me as I bring this eventful day before the world.
THE EXCERPTS FROM THE BOOK ON AMAECHI AND HIS CONTRIBUTIONS TO JURISPRUDENCE AS REFLECTED IN CHAPTER THREE
His Contributions to Development of the Judiciary
in Nigeria using his most Celebrated Supreme Court Judgment as a Case Study
This is the study and understanding of law as a tool for engineering a better society. It is a deep study of the theories of law and the institutions in law that show how law relates with the society.
Wikipedia: Jurisprudence, or legal theory, is the theoretical study of law. Scholars of jurisprudence seek to explain the nature of law in its most general form and provide a deeper understanding of legal reasoning, legal systems, legal institutions, and the role of law in society.
Modern jurisprudence began in the 18th century and was focused on the first principles of natural law, civil law, and the law of nations. General jurisprudence can be divided into categories both by the type of question scholars seek to answer and by the theories of jurisprudence, or schools of thought, regarding how those questions are best answered. Contemporary philosophy of law, which deals with general jurisprudence, addresses problems internal to law and legal systems and problems of law as a social institution that relates to the larger political and social context in which it exists.
Marcus Garvey, in one of his popular quotes stated, “A people without the knowledge of their past, origin and culture, is like a tree without roots,” and according to Harriet Tubman, “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world”. These great minds in these quotes set the aim of this treatise to be to examine a date in which a dreamer actualised his dream against all odds to prove that he with God is mightier than any mere mortal and their strategies. This epochal and monumental date that changed the annals of Rivers State politics and redefined not only the Judiciary but the electoral laws governing Nigeria is the main aim of this treatise.
The fact remains that apart from May 27th 1967, the date in which Rivers State was created by the then Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon; 25th October, 2007 is another great date in the annals of Rivers State as a jurisdictional entity. This day was not only epochal, sacrosanct, monumental but historical in the political history of Rivers State as the outcome of the Supreme Court bold judgment on this day redefined the politics of Rivers State and enhanced the potentials of Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, the major character in this episode in his contributions to the development and emancipation of Rivers State and the national politics as a whole.
The judgment opened a new window of debate in the practice of Law especially, in trying to understand who stands for an election in a democracy. The Supreme Court has settled that it is the Party, not the Candidate that stands for an election. This judicial precedence has expanded the scope of jurisprudence, not only in Nigeria but in every society where democracy is practised.
Apart from most of the key feats by Amaechi, the issue that actually catapulted him to the national limelight was when he encountered his major political challenge after convincingly winning the PDP Rivers State gubernatorial ticket in 2007 but was denied to fly the flag of the party for the 2007 general elections under a very controversial circumstance of the K-leg episode. This again afforded him the opportunity to demonstrate why he is a man ahead of his time.
For the avoidance of doubt, despite Amaechi’s landslide victory at the primaries, where he clinched 6,527 of the 6,575 possible votes while seven other aspirants that included political heavyweights like Hon. Chief Austin Okpara, a former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, late Senator Martin Yellowe, Pawariso Horsfall, and Mr. Chris Orji shared the remaining 48 votes among themselves. Amaechi’s name was subsequently forwarded to the INEC on December 14, 2006 in compliance with Section 32(1) & (2) of the Electoral Act 2006. INEC, thereafter, duly published Amaechi’s name as the gubernatorial candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in Rivers State. The story, however, took a different turn when, speaking at the presentation of the party flag to its gubernatorial candidate at the Liberation Stadium, Port Harcourt, former President, Gen Olusegun Obasanjo (rtd), declared that Amaechi’s candidacy had ‘k-leg.’
Following this outright abuse of office, the dreaded bulldog that was the Nuhu Ribadu-led Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was let loose on Amaechi, resulting in his decision to seek legal redress for his travails. Suffice to say, Amaechi went on self-exile to Ghana, and the powers that be further showed their contempt for him by selecting his cousin, Sir Celestine Omehia, who neither purchased nor filled a form, as PDP flag-bearer in his stead.
Amaechi with the gift of hindsight, pleaded with Rivers State not to mind his incarceration but should go ahead to vote for the Peoples Democratic Party during the April 14, 2007 general elections. The people of Rivers State complied with this appeal and voted overwhemly for all the candidates presented by the Peoples Democratic Party.
Amaechi’s vindication came with the October 25, 2007 landmark ruling by the Nigeria’s Supreme Court, declaring him as not only the authentic flag-bearer of PDP but also ordering that he be sworn-in immediately to replace Omehia, who had previously been sworn-in on May 29, 2007, as the Governor of Rivers State. Thus, Amaechi became the first and only person to occupy the office of governor in the country without standing for election. In explaining the ruling, the Supreme Court has since stated that it is the party that contests elections and that the PDP won the gubernatorial election, and that, consequently, Amaechi, being the rightful candidate, should assume power as governor.
Explaining this great feat better, my good friend, Ken O. Olumati, a legal counsel based in Port Harcourt, in an article he entitled, ‘Ameachi’s Debt to the Law’, captured what Amaechi has done to expand jurisprudence and improve the judiciary in Nigeria. He stated that, “It is noteworthy that the various decisions of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal in Governor Amaechi’s case were reported in Parts 1040 and 1065 of the Nigeria Weekly Law Reports. Part 1065 alone contains six decisions on Amaechi’s case; three by the Supreme Court and three by the Court of Appeal. This in itself underscores the significance of Amaechi’s battles through the courts. Few cases have enjoyed similar attention in the annals of Nigeria’s legal institution. Some of them include the case between Amodu Tijani Vs Secretary, Southern Nigeria, and the late Oba Oyekan’s legal battle for the Obaship of Lagos inthe 1950’s, which went as far as Her Majesty’s Privy Council before a clear winner was installed. In recent memory, the case of the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi against the Nigeria Bar Association as well as his numerous court battles against the Military Government of former President Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida.
This epochal feat stands as Amaechi’s greatest input towards the growth of judiciary in the political life of Nigeria, as it has become a reference case in determining similar cases in Nigeria today.
Amaechi Explains the Significance of 25th October, 2007
Capturing the significance of this great day, the principal actor in this event, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, described the tenth anniversary of the celebration of this day thus, “Ten years today, God answered our prayers. Ten years today, God installed us as Government of Rivers State. God answered mightily today, ten years ago. God refused to put us to shame and showed our betrayers and traducers that He was with us. Ten years today, God showed to the world that He is God and that man is not God. He answered in such a way that we overcame all the challenges that confronted us in government. I hear that they say God has abandoned us, the last I knew about them I know that they are not God. The bible says faith without works is dead. We must gird our loins and put our knees to the ground and call upon that same God not to glorify betrayal. He will answer and answer mightily”.
Prince Tonye Princewill reacting to the tenth anniversary of this great day stated and I quote, “Time flies. That great day brought us together and renewed my faith in God. Though we have had our ups and our downs, I see now, why one must be led, come rain or shine; and follow, through thick and thin. Being part of a family demands that. All families have a leader. I trust your judgment. It is why I am here. You will not lead us into shame.”
The Great Judgment of the Supreme Court
Let me reiterate that in the politics of Nigeria, apart from Alh. Atiku Abubakar (GCON), former Vice President of Nigeria, who utilized his KNOWLEDGE of the power and impact of the Judiciary to exert his office in the hands of the very powerful President Obasanjo who had wanted to remove him from office by any means as the then Vice-president of Nigeria, no other Nigerian politician can boast of using the Judiciary to the fullest to achieve his political mission like Rt. Hon. Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State. To some schools of thought, ex-Governor Amaechi was the creation of the judiciary and that is the main thrust of this attempt to unravel what role the judiciary may have played in the political struggles of this enigma of Nigerian politics.
The vindication came with the 25th October, 2007 ruling by the Nigerian Supreme Court declaring Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi not only the authentic flag-bearer of PDP but also ordering that he be sworn in to immediately replace Omehia who had previously been sworn in on May 29, 2007 as the Governor of Rivers State.
Three Years After: The two Celebrations on the Judgment at Port Harcourt
On that fateful day at his spacious mansion situated in GRA, Port Harcourt, constructed within five months of his aborted rule as the Governor of Rivers State; Sir Celestine Omehia, and his supporters gathered to mourn what they termed a dark Thursday, where the Supreme Court ousted him as the Governor of Rivers State; at the same date and time his cousin, Rt. Hon Chuibike Rotimi Amaechi, met with his own supporters at the hall of the Rivers State House of Assembly where he held forte for eight years as the Speaker to celebrate what he termed an Act of God.
To Sir Celestine Omehia, the ruling of the Supreme Court ousting him from office on that 25th October, 2007, was a dark and black Thursday while on the other hand; Rt. Hon. Amaechi sees it as divine. Speaking during the commemoration, Sir Omehia said, it was a dark Thursday that would never be wished away. “Today we are here for a special mission in commemoration of what happened on the 25th day of October 2007”.
Omehia stated in his speech, “That was the day that the people of Rivers State were disenfranchised, the day the people of Rivers State were denied of their votes, the day I will call the dark Thursday of the year and it will ever remain dark in the history of Rivers politics. It is a dark Thursday in the history of democracy in Nigeria. That was the day that the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria was turned upside down for personal interest. That was the day people used their personal interests to destroy what 140 million people agreed to be in our Constitution”.
Conducting a service tagged “Take Over Service”, men of God led by Bishop Emma Ogu, prayed for the return of Sir Omehia to take over the mantle of leadership of the State. Bishop Ogu said the dark Thursday would be redeemed by the service they had conducted within 68 days when Sir Omehia would be restored to power. Funny enough, this prophecy and prayer never came to pass as Amaechi not only served his first term of four years but served his second tenure accordingly.
On the other divide of the town, Rt. Hon Chibuike Amaechi, addressed his own supporters in what he titled ‘You Must Not Sleep On Your Rights’. Speaking at the colloquium on jurisprudence and the rule of law in Rivers State, an event put together to celebrate four years of his Supreme Court victory of Thursday, October 25, 2007, the Governor, challenged all permutations and alliances against his governorship ambition before and after the April 14, 2007 governorship election in Rivers State. He urged Nigerians never to sleep on their rights. The governor faulted the Nigerian masses for their inactivity, noting that the populace largely and easily appears helpless in the face of challenges, especially before the powers that be.
He urged Nigerians to stand up and take their rights from politicians rather than allow them to wrongly meddle in their destiny. He, however noted that only Senator Ifeanyi Araraume and himself summoned courage to challenge the then almighty power and won their liberation through the courts, given which effort his governorship dreams materialized, while those who went to sleep on their rights never made it. He corroborated earlier statements by Chief Godpower Ake, the then PDP chairman in the State, that most PDP members and the Nigerian populace were helpless before former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, whose decisions could hardly be challenged and who had then declared that Amaechi’s governorship bid had k-leg.
Amaechi is not the type of leader who will suggest to his followers to take any risk without him being at the forefront of such a risk. That is why Ken Kesey, after a careful study of his uncommon risk and feats embarked upon to revalidate his mandate, stated and I quote, “You don’t lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case.” The fact remains that to be a good leader, you sometimes need to go down the untravelled path. Being bold in the face of uncertainty will help give your team courage and motivate them to keep striving when the going gets tough and this is the hallmark of Amaechi and his model of politics.
Amaechi is widely known for his courageous guide for everyone whose rights were threatened, to always put up a fight first. He also mobilizes followers to fight for their principal especially, in the pursuit of the course in which they believe. He demonstrated this spirit much earlier in 2006 when his boss (Gov. Peter Odili) was being threatened out of the presidential race at the PDP national convention. Amaechi and a handful of others stood their ground, urging the then Governor not to throw in the towel as he was being compelled to do by Aso Rock and the EFCC. Amaechi rallied round the other aides who were being coarsed to abandon the Governor, reminding them of a key war ethic, ‘never abandon the Principal’. Many then took note of Amaechi’s resilience. When it was his turn, Amaechi lived up to what he had preached and his rare display of courage propelled his colleagues and followers to nod in admiration and vowing to follow him.
Throwing more light on the K-leg episode and the 25th October, 2007 Supreme Court judgment, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi stated, “Unknown to most of the electorates and probably to the PDP Leadership was that the Supreme Court had said that in the eyes of the law people were voting for me and no one can question that. They were correct because at the time that the election was taking place, the ruling of Binta Nyako setting aside Omehia’s substitution for not complying with her order had not been quashed and there was no appeal against that judgment that succeeded. And they did not appeal until after the election when they cross- appealed. This meant that as at the time the election was taking place, Omehia wasn’t a candidate. I was the candidate, but I wasn’t strong enough to face the former President so I quietly went to Ghana until his tenure was over”.
In other words, both President General Olusgen Obasanjo, Sir Celestine Omehia, the assumed flag-bearer of PDP during the guber election in Rivers State in 2007 and Chief Abiye Sekibo, the Returning Officer of PDP and their cohorts, were indirectly, without knowledge, campaigning and voting for Amaechi who was cooling off with his family.
Omehia Fights Back
Not satisfied with the Supreme Court judgment of 25th October, 2007 that upheld Amaechi as the Governor of Rivers State, Sir Celestine Omehia, the five months Governor of Rivers State, approached the Supreme Court in 2010 to reverse her judgment and reinstate him as Governor of Rivers State.
The court quashed the decision of an appeal court which gave Mr. Omehia a temporary win that suggested he may oust Mr. Amaechi after seven years in office.
Justice Muhammad Muntaka-Coomassie, who read the Supreme Court judgment, said the Court of Appeal in Abuja erred in law to have ruled in favour of Mr. Omehia, whom the judge said had no stake in the case he filed in court.
Ahead of the 2011 election, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Cyprian Chukwu, asked a Federal High Court in Abuja to interpret the Supreme Court judgment on Mr. Amaechi’s tenure. The court was to specifically decide whether Mr. Amaechi can stand election in April of 2011, or should wait to the expiration of his tenure in October. In his ruling, Justice Abdul Kafarati affirmed that the governorship election in Rivers State must hold during the general election of April 2011. Mr. Omehia, not related to the case, accused the PDP man, Mr. Chukwu, of being a front for Governor Amaechi; and promptly appealed to the Court of Appeal to make him a party to the suit, to enable him appeal the judgment.
Through his lawyer, Lateef Fagbemi, Mr. Amaechi kicked against the appeal arguing that Mr. Omehia had nothing from start to do with the case Omehia however responded that since he was a party in the Supreme Court judgment that had given the governorship to Mr. Amaechi, he was affected by the new decision and deserved to be heard.
He also told the court that as a prospective governorship candidate in future election in the state, he had a stake in the matter. The Appeal Court agreed, while Mr. Amaechi appealed to the Supreme Court. In its ruling, the Supreme Court upheld Amaechi’s appeal and declared that Omehia had no case on the matter. The judge that read the ruling, Mr. Muntaka-Coomassie, said Omehia should not have been joined in the suit since he was not a party to the initial suit that culminated in an appeal. Omehia’s Counsel, James Ezike, expressed his dissatisfaction with the ruling, and insisted that under Section 243 of the 1999 Constitution as amended; his client was an interested party in the suit. Mr. Omehia, he said, was “a person, who is affected or likely to be affected by the outcome of any proceedings at the apex court’’.
The Rivers Government, however, said it was pleased with the outcome.
“As a government, we believe that the court remains the last hope that we can go to. We thank God for the Supreme Court of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” the state commissioner of information, Ibim Semenitari, said. Also, the state chapter of the All Progressives Congress, APC, which Mr. Amaechi now belongs, said the ruling “should serve as a warning to all those who insist on the way of the moving train known as Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi.”
Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, continued to soar in victory as he once more floored his arch-rival, Sir Celestine Omehia, at the Nigerian apex court in Abuja. Of more importance is the fact that these judgements helped to broaden the principles of law. They also made the PDP and other political parties to sit up, realizing that impunity is bad and could be overthrown in court. So, it can be said that Amaechi singly sanitized the PDP and brought some level of saneness into the polity.
(vi)The Thoughts of Key Legal Minds on the Supreme Court Judgement
In an article titled ‘What Supreme Court Got Wrong On Amaechi’, a seasoned constitutional Lawyer, Prof Ben Nwabueze, stated and I quote; “I join others in applauding the Supreme Court for nullifying the return of Celestine Omehia as duly elected Governor of Rivers State on account of the arbitrary, highhanded and illegal manner he was substituted for Rotimi Amaechi as candidate for the governorship election in the State by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The court has again demonstrated, to the joy of Nigerians, its determination to stand up resolutely against the regime of illegality, autocracy, injustice and inhumanity of the past eight years before 29 May, 2007. At the same time, I am compelled to condemn, as a violation of the Rule of Law and Democracy, the aspect of the Court’s decision in the case that declared, as the Governor of the State, a man, Rotimi Amaechi, who never stood and was never voted for as a candidate in the election. That aspect of the decision violates the Constitution and Democracy in a triple sense, and is fraught with danger far more terrible than the evil of arbitrary and illegal replacement of a duly nominated candidate.
The late radical and erudite lawyer Chief Gani Fawehinmi, in his reaction in a letter titled ‘Amaechi: Why I Disagree With Supreme Court’ stated thus, “In accordance with the letter and spirit of the 1999 Constitution, Amaechi could not be validly made the beneficiary of an election in which he was not a candidate; even as I have no quarrel with the decision of the Supreme Court in so far as it nullified the election of Celestine Omehia, on the grounds that he was not the appropriate candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). I disagreed with the apex court judgment (but) it is the order it made that Rotimi Amaechi who never contested the governorship election should be sworn-in as governor of Rivers State.
“I consider the assumption of office by Rotimi Amaechi as a judicial imposition on the electorate of Rivers State, who when they were voting on the 14th April, 2007, did not have in view or consideration of Rotimi Amaechi who was not a candidate in the eyes, in the minds and in the hearts of the electorate of Rivers State. The essence of democratic elections is that the electorate should decide who should be their leaders.”
These two great learned gentlemen stand simply means that though they don’t support how Amaechi was illegally replaced by PDP in favour of Sir Celestine Omehia, they likewise do not support the ruling of the Supreme Court declaring Amaechi as Governor in an election he did not physically present himself. Reuben Abati, the spokesperson of President Goodluck Jonathan then as a staff of the Guardian Newspapers, described this issue in this language, “The Supreme Court ruling yesterday in the case of Amaechi vs Omehia has finally laid to rest, to the great relief of interested parties, the confusion and politicking which threatened to turn the case into a big, judicial embarrassment. It is a personal victory for Rotimi Amaechi, who has fought long and doggedly to get justice. The ruling further re-affirms the significance of the judiciary as the last hope of the aggrieved common man. The Supreme Court Justices have helped to affirm the integrity of the courts, especially against the background of the curious conduct of the Court of Appeal in the matter”.
If Gani Fawehinmi and Ben Nwabueze would agree that removing Amaechi and replacing him with Omehia was wrong in the eye of the law, how would they not see with the eye of the same Supreme Court that returning Amaechi was the only logical thing to do to ensure that justice is manifestly seen to be done? You either see with the apex court to the end or you don’t stand with them at all from the onset. The positions of Nwabueze and Fawehinmi are neither here nor there.
Another logic is that primary election is known to law, and is one upon which the main election stands, and without which the main election is a nullity therefore, if PDP was the major political party in the state at that time, and members had come out to vote Amaechi as their choice, it simply means that majority of the electorates were in support of Amaechi and wanted him to be their Governor. In other words, the Supreme Court judgment merely implemented the wish of the electorates which was clearly reflected in the primary election. If any displacement was done, it was done by those who replaced Amaechi with Omehia, those who subverted the will of majority of the people of Rivers State.This is what the apex court sought to repair, and they were logically right. Asking the people to vote again in an election already won by the PDP would be a fatal error, setting a wrong precedent in our jurisprudence. The apex court had made it clear that it is party, not candidate that contested the election and owned the results because names of candidates were not on the ballot. It is party and its logo that are on the ballot. Why is it then difficult to understand it this way?
General Olusegun Obasanjo (Rtd,) Visits Rivers State to Commission 16 World-Class Projects in Reminiscence of 25th October, 2007 Supreme Court Judgement
On 17th and 18th February, 2014, seven (7) years into the administration of Amaechi, the world was taken aback when General Olusegun Obasanjo (Rtd.), the proponent of the K-leg saga, visited Rivers State to commission 16 completed world-class projects initiated by Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi.
The projects commissioned include the G.U. Ake Road at Eliozu; Okporo Road connecting Artillery and the East-West Road; Elekahia-Rumuomasi Road; Ken Saro-Wiwa Road; Ambassador Nne Kurubo Model Secondary School at Ebube, Eleme; a Health Centre at Akpajo; Songhai Farm, Bunu Tai off Afam Road; Tai Model Primary School; and Banana Plantation Project, Afam Power Station, 2×60 MV/132/33 KVA – Elelenwo Sub-Injection Station. Others include No. 1 Field (Mini Football Stadium); No. 2 Field (Basketball Indoor Hall and Athletes Hostel); No. 5 Field (Tennis Court/Volleyball Court and Spectators Stands); St. Andrew’s Primary School, Mile 1, Diobu; Prof. Kelsey Harrison Hospital, Emenike Street, Mile 1, Diobu; and Buguma Modern Fish Farm, Asari Toru LGA.
Hailing Governor Amaechi for his administration’s developmental strides, Olusegun Obasanjo stated and I quote: “I came to see developments and I have seen developments and I will confess developments! What I have seen is worth declaring! The area of Health, Education, Agriculture, Sports and Road Infrastructure are worth declaring. When I see development I earmark, eye mark and mouthmark.”
With this historical visit the challenge of Amaechi’s K-Leg was finally straightened. This was a visit dubbed “concerted efforts” by the then Supervising Minister of Education, Chief Nyesom Wike, and some other ill-intended members of his party, PDP, to discourage Obasanjo from going ahead with such laudable objectives. “This act proves contrary to Chief Nyesom Wike’s assertion that all the projects executed by Gov. Amaechi were sited only in Port Harcourt to the detriment of other local government areas as 75 per cent of the projects commissioned by Obasanjo were located in other LGAs of the State outside Port Harcourt. Commissioning of these high-class and people-oriented projects executed by the Chibuike Amaechi administration put his critics, who had been accusing him of under-performance and favouritism to shame. This is why I can comfortably declare Amaechi as “Rivers State Emancipator and DevelopmentPillar.” While to Chief Oby Ndukwe, a Media guru based in Port Harcourt, this should be termed as Amaechi, “Mr Legacy and His Legacies”
25 Significances of the 25th october, 2017 sc judgment (part one)
This historical judgment brought up the revolutionary Amaechi who within eight years rebuilt Rivers State to the envy of the entire world and opened up Rivers State as Investors’ haven.
This judgment re-secured Port Harcourt that was hitherto described by the Human Resources Unit of New York-based Marsh & McLennan Cos. as a war zone and jungle before Amaechi came on board. It sounds pretty surprising but not unexpected that the city of Port Harcourt, a once very glamorous city, was ranked among the three most dangerous cities in the world by then after Baghdad, Yemen’s capital of Sana’a and Khartoum in Sudan. Going by the ranking published by Bloomberg before Amaechi assumed office, Port Harcourt ranked with Baghdad as one of the world’s most dangerous cities for foreign workers as criminal gangs and militia groups seeking greater control of energy revenue step up attacks.
This epochal judgment brought up Amaechi whose policies in Education, Health, Security, Urban Renewal, Agriculture, Transportation and Infrastructural revolution in Rivers State became the envy of other State Governments in Nigeria.
04.This judgment succeeded in making Port Harcourt the Book Festival and UNESCO World Book capital City for the year 2014, making her the 14th city in the world to be selected as World Book Capital and the first in Black Africa beating 10 other great cities that include Oxford in England and Moscow in Russia.
05.This judgment succeeded to expose Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, former President of Nigeria as an autocratic and undemocratic fellow capable of declaring that 16 is superior to 19 votes and could cede the oil wells of Rivers State to his home State, Bayelsa, without following due process.
06. This judgment threw up Amaechi to spearhead the ouster of a sitting President (Dr. Jonathan) in a very powerful political party like PDP touted to be secretly positionedto rule Nigeria for 60 good years.
07. This great day created and granted Amaechi the ability to challenge the decision of one of Africa’s most powerful Heads of State, General Olusegun Obasanjo, who stated that his election has K-leg.
08. This judgment inspired and prepared Amaechi to plot the victory of General Muhammadu Buhari who had run for elections four times without succeeding in becoming the first opposition political leader to be elected President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
09.This judgment motivated Amaechi to initiate the construction of Monorail project in Rivers State, the first of such a model in Nigeria, which he has now reproduced and is replicating at the Federal level that have culminated in the current railway revolution in Nigeria with plot to link all the States in Nigeria through Rail Lines.
10. This judgment prepared Amaechi in such a way to be able to survive the type of media warfare, propaganda, animosity, and onslaught launched against him and still succeeded to be screened by the Senate and sworn in as a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, a feat that is seen by many analysts as uncommon.
11.This judgment prepared Amaechi and granted him the sagacity to recommend Chief Nyesom Ezebunwo Wike to be appointed a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, an office which he used to seek the destruction of his benefactor and to scheme himself to become the Governor of Rivers State.
12. This judgment gave Amaechi the platform to make Magnus Abe the Secretary to the Rivers State Government and later two-time ranking Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
13. This judgment three up Dr. Dakuku Peterside to a national heavyweight which enabled the nation to discover an ingenious enigma. His sagacity brought up the turning of NIAMSA to an outstanding Institution that is capable of remitting a whopping sum of N21.805bn to the Federation Account in less than two years in office. He was also discovered by the international community and this made him become the first Nigerian to be elected the Chairman and President of the Association of African Maritime Administrations (AAMA).
14. This judgment exposed Amaechi as an exemplary democrat who could allow the scion of the Kalabari Kingdom, Prince Tonye Princewill that contested election against PDP to head the Forum of Organised Opposition Political Parties (FOOPP), the umbrella body of all the opposition political parties in Rivers State. This permitted the Prince to nominate two Commissioners of high repute into the Rivers State Executive Council (Barr Osima Ginah for Urban Development and Dr Ibiamu Ikanya as Commissioner for Special Duties). This feat is unprecedented in Nigeria where opposition or opposing views are not encouraged or supported.
15. This judgment granted unmerited privilege to Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze to suggest to a sitting Governor as powerful as Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi that Dr. Davies Ibiamu Ikanya, one of the opposition political leaders then, to be reappointed into the Rivers State Executive Council and got it through.
16. Please, don’t be offended, permit me to ask this question; if not for this judgment, which Governor in Nigeria would have had the gut to mobilise other six Governors to challenge a sitting President and appoint one Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze to be the National Publicity Secretary of the then New PDP that collaborated with other groups to give birth to the APC that dislodged PDP from the centre?
17. This judgment made Senator Andrew Uchendu to be elected a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria against all odds to the chagrin of a man (Wike) that termed himself as the High-Tension Wire of Rivers State.
18. My good friend, Chief Uche Secondus, the ‘Total Chair’, described Amaechi as the ‘Nebuchadnezzar’ when he was on exile but because of this judgment, Amaechi told him you can no longer be a junior officer in the National PDP Executive Council and by the time he could say My Governor, he was announced as the National Organising Secretary of PDP which made him to call Amaechi, Ogbuagu! Ogbuagu!! (This means Killer of Tiger). Amaechi was to counsel him that he can’t bear the same title with his master, Dr. Peter Odili, who holds the traditional title of Ogbuagu in the State.
19. This judgment made it possible for my own very brother, the amiable and gentle but fearless giant, H. E. Oji N. Ngofa, the Bulldozer of Rivers State politics, to be appointed the Ambassador to the Netherlands.
20. If not for this date, tell me who would have conceived the idea that Ibim Sementari will one day be appointed to head an Organisation like NDDC, in addition to an opportunity to serve as information commissioner in Rivers State?
21. This judgment created the opportunity for Amaechi to send out thousands of Rivers State children to study abroad through the Scholarship Scheme he instituted. Sadly, some of these students who are now at their final year are wandering like fugitives because Wike, who took over from the Lion of Niger Delta, doesn’t know the importance of education or the need of these students to have sound education. He stopped the Scheme without even allowing those already in the scheme to graduate.
22. This judgment granted Amaechi the favour, sagacity, God’s grace, and humility to accomplish some seemingly impossible tasks. If not, somebody should tell me how Amaechi could have survived the onslaught of the Ex- First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, with her ‘attack dog’, AIG Joseph Mbu, who was determined to truncate the destiny of Amaechi not knowing that he who is with God is mightier than mere mortals with evil minds.
If not for this date, tell me how Amaechi could have survived the plot
to unseat him using five law makers in a Rivers State House of Assembly made up of 32 Legislators? This reminds me of the risky parts played by Dr. Chidi Llyod and Mr. Debiwari, to secure the nation’s democracy. I wonder what would have been the fate of some of us by now if these two great gentlemen did not do the needful to save our democracy from the hands of undemocratic and evil-minded fellows that were determined to impeach and disgrace Amaechi out of office.
24. If not for this date, somebody should tell me how Amaechi could have survived the Ekiti attack when his plane was hijacked on the order of the Federal Government or the Kano attack when he had to abandon his plane and drove himself in the night to Abuja to avoid the plot to arrest him for visiting the incumbent Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.
25. The importance of this date can’t be overemphasised but if I have the powers, I will declare this day a public holiday every year in Rivers State.
Whose Benefit therefore is the Supreme Court Judgement and the k-leg epsiode – Omehia, Amaechi, or Rivers State People?
This brings us to the main thrust of this attempt. Regardless of the series of articles and write-ups on this subject matter, let me attempt to unveil the Institutions and individuals that have benefitted from this landmark judgment and the most inglorious act of the K-leg episode by General Olusegun Obasanjo.
Rivers State and her People?
Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi was eight years Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly and a kitchen member of the Sir Peter Odili’s inner ruler-ship team and the choice of the powers that were then as the PDP Flag-bearer in Rivers State for the 2007 gubernatorial election. Regardless of the good intentions of Sir Peter Odili towards building an ideal Rivers State, the fact remains that his administration is better known as a ‘Donatus’ administration where most of the resources of the common patrimony of the Rivers State were shared among individuals and Institutions. Sir Odili had in his own wisdom thought that he had built an empire for himself, constructed the Presidential Lounge at the Government House Port Harcourt, where he and his family stayed throughout the five months illegal rule of Sir Celestine Omehia, until the emergency declaration of the Supreme Court installing Amaechi as the Governor of Rivers State. After this, Sir Omehia and his cohorts at that time took flight to take refuge in Abuja until Amaechi restored peace and security to the State and paving the way for most of the Abuja ‘refugees’ at the time to start coming back to Port Harcourt.
My argument, therefore, is that considering the tutelage, pedigree and antecedents of Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi as the Speaker Rivers State for eight years under Sir Odili’s administration as the Governor of Rivers State and given the fact that Amaechi was more or less an Odili of boy, the fact is that the Amaechi that became the Governor of Rivers State was totally different from the Amaechi that was an Odili boy! If this is the case, Rivers State and her people were saved from a likely squandermania linage that was characteristic of both Sir Odili and Sir Omehia’s administrations. It was possible that out of pressure, Amaechi would have continued with this had there been no K-leg episode and the subsequent Supreme Court judgment that brought out the type of leader that God desired for his people in Rivers State. This enabled Amaechi to break away from the curse of having much fund without anything to show for it. By reforming the Amaechi we knew to the Amaechi the revolutionary that came out from his sojourn in Ghana to embark upon the magic that is Rivers State today.
In summary, without the K-leg episode and the Supreme Court judgment only God knows what the State of affairs in Rivers State would have been today. Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi attested to this when he stated and I quote, “When we took over the reins of governance in the State, we met a situation where people were being given cash, but we decided to take the extreme position of not giving money to people, but doing projects that would impact positively on the lives of the majority of our people”.
Apart from saving the State from the waste of the past, Rivers State benefitted from this experience.
Amaechi has proved that he is a cat with nine lives and sadly those that ought to know him better have resolved to gang up to castigate and describe him as a nobody who shouldn’t have any say in who should fly the flag of APC come 2019 in Rivers State, a party that we all know that he used his blood to establish in Rivers State. I laugh at their hallucination and wonder how these men who benefitted so much from him and prevented othersfrom getting close to him may have forgotten not only the parts he played in their lives or that their enemies just want to truncate their political lives in Rivers State without their knowledge. The future will tell.
My happiness is that Chibuike means ‘God is all Powerful’ and Rotimi, an abridged version of Oluwadurotimi, means ‘the Lord stands by me’, while Amaechi means ‘who knows tomorrow? So let those who think that they can run down Amaechi continue with their illusionary dreams.
Kudos must go to all members of Rivers Success Movement (RSM) which was the official voice of the Believers in 2007. This was the political movement coordinating the validation of Amaechi’s mandate then. This was piloted by the never-say-die Azubuike Chikere Nwanjoku (Byke) that hosted the first meeting in his house. Ordinance Emeji, who was sleeping in the church to ensure the success of this struggle needs commendation. Dr Sampson Parker, a gentle man who did all within his powers to keep this struggle alive, recommended us (Tonye Princewill’s Political Family) to Amaechi while he (Amaechi) was on exile. He, it was that told Amaechi that he needed to collaborate with us after watching our zeal, resoluteness, and bravery against the injustice meted out to Amaechi during this period. Another great person though unsung in this struggle that needs to be mentioned is Chief Oby Ndukwe who turned down a tempting offer from the Omehia camp to ditch the struggle but preferred to stick with the movement not minding the odds.
It wouldn’t be possible to recall all the key people that played one part or the other to actualise the feat of 25th October, 2007, for special commendation but I am convinced that something is being done to do a book that will articulate and capture some of the personalities and events that actualised this change agent in the political life of Nigeria for posterity. Let me mention few names like George Tolofari, the unsung leader, who led his colleagues in the RSHA to sustain the struggle and ensured that the manoeuvre to impeach Amaechi in order to nullify the struggle did not see the light of day.
He was the one that stopped Amaechi from going to the stadium to raise Omehia’s hand during the PDP Flag-off of its State-wide campaign for the 2007 general elections which if he had done would have put paid to the 25th October Supreme Court judgment and the Amaechi we know today may have been an illusion.
Let me formally conclude this treatise by quoting the Principal Actor in this saga, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, during the tenth anniversary of the celebration of this day thus, “Ten years today, God answered our prayers. Ten years today, God installed us as Government of Rivers State. God answered mightily today, ten years ago. God refused to put us to shame and showed our betrayers and traducers that He was with us. Ten years today, God showed to the world that He is God and that man is not God. He answered in such a way that we overcame all the challenges that confronted us in government. I hear that they say God has abandoned us, the last I knew about them I know that they are not God. The bible says faith without works is dead. We must gird our loins and put our knees to the ground and call upon that same God not to glorify betrayal. He will answer and answer mightily”.
No matter the position or stand of most political leaders today about the inputs of Amaechi towards the growth of jurisprudence and politics in Nigeria, the fact remains that nobody can wish off the inputs that he has made to the growth of this country politically.
Eze Chukwuemeka Eze is a Media Consultant based in Port Harcourt and can be reached thru email@example.com or 08022049770