The Minister of Transportation and leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi, is locked in a battle with the Rivers South-East senator, Magnus Abe, over who emerges as the governorship candidate of the party in the 2019 elections.
Abe wants to be the candidate, but Amaechi opposes his ambition. In 2015, Amaechi chose Dakuku Peterside to become the APC candidate over Abe, but with Peterside’s loss, Abe feels he stands a stronger chance.
Over the weekend, Abe held a thanksgiving event in Port Harcourt, the Rivers capital, which brought several senators, lawmakers, governors and ministers. However Amaechi stayed away from the event, launching a Free Rivers Initiative in Abe’s Khana constituency in Ogoni land instead.
That’s politics and it’s fair. However in a meeting with Ikwerre Chiefs and Elders’ Forum at the weekend, Amaechi said something which summarises his approach to politics.
“There is no fight in the APC. I am not in any way stopping Abe from running for the governorship (position ), but what I know is that I will not support him. Abe is daring me, an Ikwerre son. He is abusing me every day. I will ensure I use Ikwerre vote on him.”
Two problematic issues with that quote:
- First, Amaechi’s problem with Abe is that the senator is “daring” him. Not that the senator is unqualified or incompetent or has character flaws. (That’s not to say the senator is not any of those things, but Amaechi does not mention them). His grouse is that Abe is “daring” and “abusing” him. Politics, for the transport minister, is about his feelings.
- Second, “Abe is daring me, an Ikwerre son“. In Amaechi’s view Abe can dare others but definitely not an Ikwerre son like him. Ethnocentrism is the last resort of a weak politician. Amaechi bragged that the Ikwerre ethnic group has 1.1 million votes out of 2.5 million in Rivers state, as though the ethnic group is a monolithic bloc that sways to his direction (PS: The current Rivers governor Nyesom Wike is also Ikwerre).