Now that Amaechi, Akpabio are friends again
By Emmanuel Aziken
It was bound to happen that Senator Godswill Akpbabio and Rt. Hon. Chibuke Amaechi would become friends again. After all, some observe that they have nothing to fight for again. That is after the recent poor outings by their camps in Akwa Ibom and Rivers States.
About this time six years ago, at the apogee of their grip on the ship of state, both men trudged the polity with bravado that left many ordinary mortals in awe. It was at that time that the country was shaken with the political postulation of the superiority of 16 to 19 votes in the Nigerian Governors Forum, NGF election where Akpabio and Amaechi represented divergent interests.
Akpbabio was at the head of the camp that was out to decimate Amaechi for whatever treachery against Mama Peace, that is Mrs. Patience Jonathan.
However, besides ego issues at home in the Niger Delta, another cause of the crisis was a fight among two powerful in-laws in Adamawa State.
The Jonathans had following the 2011 re-election fetched the septuagenarian billionaire, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur from retirement to become chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. To assert his authority, Tukur sought to rein in his brother-in-law, Governor Murtala Nyako who had the ambition of putting his son as his successor as governor of Adamawa State.
Tukur, on the other hand, wanted his son, the polished and debonair Awaal as governor. In the clash of interest, Tukur as national chairman took the PDP structure from Nyako.
Amaechi as chairman of the NGF, was livid and initially rallied the majority of PDP governors to Tukur’s side. Meanwhile, at that time, Amaechi had seen his relationship with Jonathan plummet from being the president’s best friend in the South-South to a political pariah. Indeed, before the 2011 General Election, the gist was that Jonathan amid his troubles with the Yar‘Adua cabal would resort to Port-Harcourt without reaching his native Bayelsa State where Governor Timipire Sylva in league with the Yar‘Adua cabal held sway.
So as the Tukur – Nyako crisis widened, it became the defining point for the allegiance of loyalties. Amaechi as NGF chairman stuck with his fellow governor, Nyako.
It is alleged that Akpabio for whatever reason saw the opportunity to assert superiority over Amaechi.
Akpabio was to emerge as the chairman of the PDP Governors Forum, a body that was created to undermine the NGF. It was on that platform that he became the chief promoter of the official PDP candidate for chairman of the NGF, Governor Jonah Jang of Plateau State.
Having gotten pledges from the majority of PDP governors, Akpabio led his troops to the NGF election in the Rivers State Governors’ Lodge on May 24, 2013. To his surprise, three or so governors became turncoats and voted for Amaechi leading to his re-election by 19 votes to 16 votes.
So dazed were the supporters of Jonathan that they claimed to the shock of the nation that the 16 votes of Jang were superior to Amaechi’s 19 votes.
In apparent retribution, three days after the election, Amaechi was suspended from the PDP. Governor Aliyu Wamakko of Sokoto State was about the same time also suspended for allegedly failing to pick the phone call of the national chairman, Tukur!
By August of the same year, Amaechi became the first sitting governor of the PDP to be expelled from the party.
By that time positions were already being taken for 2015. Amaechi moved towards the All Progressives Congress, APC, while Akpabio took the position of tormentor-in-chief of the new party.
Remarkably, less than a year ago, Akpabio defected from the PDP to the APC. His bid to win re-election to the Senate was stopped by his PDP challenger backed by Governor Udom Emmanuel.
Amaechi may not have been a candidate in the last General Election, but had a sworn determination to stop his former aide and successor from a second term. Amaechi, however, proved not to be as skillful in the art of brinkmanship as his successor, Nyesom Wike.
Amaechi’s plans to feed Wike with the same dose of federal might as Wike did to him in 2015 failed in part because of internal issues within the APC itself. It is now alleged that many in the APC leadership and presidency also worked to frustrate Amaechi in the grudge match.
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Though the two of them, Amaechi and Akpabio are now in the APC, strategists within the party were not oblivious of the fact that the bitterness from the power shows in the PDP had not completely healed.
With both men now in the valley, it was not difficult for a close associate of President Muhammadu Buhari to bring them together for an embrace. When they faced each other last Sunday, there was no fear of either of them getting injured from a fall. After all, he that is down needs fear no fall!