Wednesday’s savage attack on Rotimi Amaechi by his immediate successor, Nyesom Wike was arguably the most brutal public attack by a sitting governor on a predecessor. Alcohol, remarkably, was a trigger.
Wike spoke at the commissioning of Omuihuechi – Omuoko – Omokiri – Link Road within Amaechi’s Local Government Area. So, the attack would have been brought more home.
A speech to celebrate one of the numerous infrastructure deliveries by Governor Wike was turned into a brutal assault by Wike on his former boss, turned rival and political shadow.
Egged on by a partisan crowd and drumbeaters who easily forsook the fact that Amaechi was a local boy. Remarkably, the governor did not once mention Amaechi by name in the about 15 minute savagery.
The attack was prompted by Amaechi’s assertions earlier in the day on AIT’s breakfast programme, Kaakaki.
The minister was asked to respond to accusations by Wike that the Bonny Seaport and the Port-Harcourt to Maiduguri rail line were political antics meant to deceive the populace.
The basis of the accusations was that there was not enough time for Amaechi to deliver the projects having in the opinion of Wike, stayed five years earlier delivering the Lagos-Ibadan rail project and fast-tracking the rail project from Katsina to Niger Republic and then forgetting his base.
Responding to the assertion, Amaechi had said that before he became a Governor, that he was taught that Governors do not speak carelessly, and that they speak with facts and figures.
” I am not garrulous in that nature. I speak intelligently knowing that when I speak it matters. I don’t drink alcohol so I don’t speak out of my sense,” he said
Asked by his AIT interviewers if he was referring to Wike as being garrulous or a drunk, Amaechi waved it aside and poohpoohed all questions referring to Wike.
And so, when it came for the commissioning, later that Wednesday Wike opened up on Amaechi. He referred to their growing up saying that he was brought up by his father in one roof while someone else was brought up in several homes.
He also referred to someone pursing a law degree for 16 years from the United Kingdom to Baze University and so many personal savages. There were also allegations of corruption raised against his foe.
“This morning I was watching Kaakaki and I heard somebody who is a minister and saying that he does not drink. Who told you to drink? A minister of the Federal Republic! If the way you are behaving then you drink?
After drawing allusions from the late Chuba Okadigbo, Wike said:
“A man drinks and comes out with First Class and a man does not drink and comes out with Pass, ‘who would you choose?’ he asked his audience.
“A man drinks, he does not destroy peoples homes, a man does not drink he destroys peoples homes. Which one do you prefer?”
“If you are my friend, please drink so that you won’t destroy peoples homes. If you are my friend please drink so that you will come out tops in your class.”
“People should stop talking, people should stop talking. You are a minister, you have been this, you have been this and you don’t know how to talk.”
“I stayed in my father’s house up till the time I married, I didn’t stay in 20 peoples houses,” the governor said as he continued his personal attacks to the cheer of his hearers.
“If you don’t keep quiet we will come and tell the world, if you don’t this is what I call introduction,” Wike had reiterated.
Despite the governor’s warning that people (that is Amaechi) should stop talking, the former governor the following day, Thursday showed up on Arise but took a different approach.
Responding to the issues raised against him, the minister of transportation drew back from hitting back at Wike saying only that he never referred to Wike as a drunk.
Amaechi said he had made his point and moved on and won’t bring himself low to Wike’s level, who he said was his staff when he was the governor of Rivers state.
He said, “I don’t think I want to address the issue of the governor, I have made my point, I have moved on. He was my staff, I can’t bring myself low. I was a governor, I was also a speaker, I’m a minister. I was two-term chairman of governors’ forum. The same when I was a speaker. Why should I be discussing about him (Wike)?” Amaechi asked.
Ameachi, however, denied calling Wike a “drunk”, stating that will be disrespectful of a governor.
He said, “I didn’t say that, that will be disrespectful of a governor; I only say that I don’t make statements under the influence of alcohol. Some people are attaching meaning to what I say.”
As at Thursday evening, Wike was yet to respond to Amaechi’s violation of his threat not to talk.
The development underlines what is bound to be one of the most titanic political battles of 2023 as Wike and his predecessor contest for supremacy over the future of Rivers State.
Remarkably, the first trigger of the contest has been pushed by alcohol. However, one prayer is that given the violence that has recently marred the political battles in the state that shedding of blood would not become an issue in the supremacy battle.