Opinion: Rotimi Amaechi needs to stop talking

by Wilfred Okiche

Rivers State Governor Amaechi speaks

By the end of the week, the ebullient governor of Rivers state Rotimi Amaechi is likely to have fired another verbal salvo at any one- or all- of the following; president Goodluck Jonathan, the federal government, the ruling PDP (of which he was once a member) and a cabinet minister that catches his fancy. He is also most likely to sing to high heavens, the praises of the All Progressive Congress (APC), his current party and regale the common folk with details of his uncommon sacrifices to free the South-South region from the chains of marginalization.

It is the classic Rotimi Amaechi approach to staying above water in the face of mounting political pressure, as he wages battle both from within his state and outside. It is also tiresome.

Sure the governor is likely to win a number of sympathisers who have been bludgeoned into thinking big government is the enemy but his act of aligning with the people and positioning himself as one of the oppressed is getting old. Fast.

Denied victory at the PDP primaries in 2007 on account of trumped up charges of corruption, Amaechi identified early on as a man of the people. He would rally with all kinds of folk, mounting extreme pressure until the Supreme court caved in and handed him victory.

He would go on to become one of the forward thinking governors, launching immediate large scale infrastructure development. From exploits in the education sector where he set up model academies to ongoing power projects across the state, Rivers state is working, seems to be the general consensus.

But of late the governor has been doing more talking than working. Whenever he finds himself an audience- and there is no shortage of people awaiting soundbites from one of the most colourful characters in this political dispensation- he grabs the mic and does not pass it.

From his appearance at The Future Awards Africa finale in Port Harcourt, to another at a Nelson Mandela tribute event (where he said government officials steal because the people let them), a radio station appearance to his numerous political rallies, this governor does not quite know when to let up. His flippant remarks, troublesome in the least to the presidency and bordering on treason at worst have now coalesced into the same repetitive heckling; Amaechi as public enemy number one, Rivers state as desolate waste land despite a South-South leadership

To be fair some of his accusations seem genuine in light of recent developments but it is difficult to take a man with Amaechi’s record seriously. Someone who is quiet and complicit in times of favour but gushes forth whenever the tide turns simply cannot be trusted. His frankness may endure him to some people but it is also offensive to those who have watched him speak from both sides of his mouth.

His numerous battles with the presidency, the first lady, Nyesom Wike the supervising minister for education, the Rivers state police commissioner and his fellow governors must demand a whole lot of time and resources, even as Rivers state battles with the major problems of security of lives and kidnappings where ransom payments have exceeded 100million dollars of recent. Surprisingly Amaechi prefers to be quiet about the kidnappings. Perhaps until he finds a way to blame them on his political detractors.

Amaechi has been known to reel out conditions to be met before his return to the PDP so it stands to reason that he is a man open to negotiating. He should consider opening talks with his people in the PDP and the presidency. Politics has never been a game of permanent friends or enemies but of permanent interests, something Amaechi knows all too well. Putting the needs of the people of Rivers state at the top of his list of interests, he should explore more effective ways of solving his current political happenstance, avenues more interesting than this unfortunate verbal onslaught.

Because frankly, all this talk is starting to grate.

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