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Amaechi offers olive branch

Posted by By Henry Chuwkura (Port Harcourt); LUCKY NWANKWERE & Francis Awowole-Browne (Abuja); and Patrick Asonye (Lagos) on 2007/10/31 | Views: 705 |

Amaechi offers olive branch

Horse-trading intensified weekend in Abuja and Port Harcourt following the Supreme Court ruling Thursday which ousted Sir Celestine Omehia and installed Mr Rotimi Amaechi as governor of Rivers State.

•Set to reconcile with Odili, Omehia
•Says it’s battle between cousins
•Promises new begining

Horse-trading intensified weekend in Abuja and Port Harcourt following the Supreme Court ruling Thursday which ousted Sir Celestine Omehia and installed Mr Rotimi Amaechi as governor of Rivers State.

This is even as Amaechi in his madien broadcast last night said his was not a continuation of any past administration in the state.

He said that some inherited policies and programmes from his predecessor would be reviewed. “This administration is not a continuation of any past administration. God has given us a great opportunity for a new beginning, and we accept it,” he said.

He told the people of the state that his administration has no link with any previous regime.
Also, the descretionary powers of the governor would be reduced, he said.
Governor Amaechi also announced the suspension of the proposed demolition of the waterfronts in Port Harcourt by the sacked Omehia regime.
However, Sunday Sun gathered that political strategists in Amaechi’s camp had since the ruling busied themselves working out what an insider described as “reconciliation formula” to pave the way for reconciliation between the new governor and his estranged political family led by former governor, Dr. Peter Odili.
In furtherance of his earlier pledge to run an all inclusive government as part of the healing process, Amaechi, who was sworn-in at about 7.45pm on Friday by Chief Justice Iche Ndu, retained Tele Ikuru as his deputy.
Ikuru, who was originally designated to be Amaechi’s running mate before the former Rivers State Speaker was dropped for Omehia by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as its candidate, had been Omehia’s deputy since May 29, 2007.
Also, the appointment of Magnus Abe, Odili’s Information Commissioner as the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) by Amaechi, is thougth to be another step in that direction.
Shortly after the apex court’s pronouncement Thursday, President Umaru Yar’Adua had reportedly despatched a presidential jet to pick the former Rivers State Speaker from London to Abuja.
Before then, precisely on the eve of the Supreme Court judgement, President Yar’Adua, it was further learnt, held a meeting with some PDP governors on the issue. Ironically, Omehia was also present at Aso Rock when the president began to “speak in parables”.
In what suggests that the President, perhaps had prior knowledge of the Supreme Court ruling before it was delivered, he and the PDP governors were said to have discussed the wider implications of the ruling.
Taking the cue from the president’s “parables”, panic was said to have gripped many of the governors who still have cases pending at the election tribunal against them.

Walking the mine-field
Before returning to Port Harcourt Friday for his swearing in, Amaechi, it was learnt, spent the better part of the day consulting with bigwigs within his camp, apparently to work out modalities on how to thaw the ice between him and the PDP.
He was earlier expelled by the party following his recourse to the court to seek redress over his substitution at the primaries. Until the party readmits him, he is technically “party-less” for now.
Amaechi’s strategists, Sunday Sun learnt, are of the thinking that it was in his interest to seek rapproachment with the PDP given that the Action Congress (AC), one of the opposition parties, was still at the Election Petitions Tribunal challenging the April 14 governorship results.
Their thinking, Sunday Sun further learnt, was that it would be politically suicidal not to work with the party hierrarchy both in Abuja and Port Harcourt in view of the AC challenge at the tribunal.
The fear is that, in the event that Amaechi failed to return to the PDP, he might be vulnerable, and possibly risk a gang-up between PDP and AC against his position.
Although it was not clear the exact areas his camp had agreed to make concessions to the PDP on one hand, and Omehia on the other, feelers, however, indicated that their first move in the entire permutation is to get Governor Amaechi re-admitted into the PDP.
Rising from that meeting, the new Rivers State governor decleared that there was no bitterness between him and the ousted governor, describing what transpired in the past few months as a contest between two blood cousins.
However, despite a tumultuous reception accorded Amaechi in Port Harcourt Friday, the Action Congress (AC) is calling for fresh governorship polls in the state.
Chairman of the party in neighbouring South-South state of Cross River, Mr Cletus Obun, said: “If Amaechi was not included in the ballot, it means he was excluded. And bye-election should be ordered and not a swearing-in ceremony.
“If the PDP did not submit Amaechi, then PDP must lose the governorship of Rivers State. The people voted Omehia, not Amaechi. Even if PDP was the platform, an individual does not dissolve into a corporate entity. The matters in the tribunal have both Omehia and PDP.
“Can Amaechi substitute Omehia at the tribunal? Was there a valid contest in the first place? These are questions beging for answers.”

‘No victor, no vanquished’
Notwithstanding the position of the opposition, a grateful and joyous Amaechi Friday asked his people during a visit to Yar’Adua at the presidential villa to expect a lot from him as the new governor of
Rivers State.
Expressing gratitude to God for Thursday’s victory at the Supreme Court which he said was in the interest of justice and fairness in the country’s electoral process, he pledged to do whatever it would require to meet the expectations of the people of him.
“You will expect a lot, quite a lot. I tell people that the expectations are quite high, very very high, and we will have to struggle, very slowly and steadily to ensure that we meet the expectations of the people. But that is all I can tell you now. I have to go and verify what is on the ground, and then begin to see how I will marry it to my programmes. But certainly I will do my best,” he stated.
Looking smart in his suit, the former speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly told State House correspondents that he was not surprised at the verdict of the apex court because he knew all along that he had a good case, and also, that the Supreme Court would do justice to it.
He, however, declared the legal battle which he painstaking fought to ensure justice in the electoral process as a fight between brothers, restating that there was no victor and no vanquished.
Said he:“No victor, no vanquished. When I was fighting this struggle for justice I said it was just a struggle for justice. It was just to make sure that the right thing is done by the country so that tomorrow the poor man does not suffer. It was just to make sure that the poor man has the opportunity of righting wrongs through the judicial process.”
Amaechi said there was no bitterness between him and Celestine Omehia whom he described as his blood cousin, pointing out that both of them would at the end of the day meet at their family meeting to smoothen whatever rough edge that might appear to be in the relationship.
Said he:“Don’t forget that Mr. Celestine Omehia is my blood cousin. We are from the same family. We will meet at the family meeting. Nothing happens rather than the fact that we will meet at the family meeting. We are blood cousins, I say that.”
Asked what party he presently belongs to, he replied: “Don’t forget that the Supreme Court did say that that action was subjudice and asked the Appeal Court to hear my matter. So I must assume that I am still a member of PDP.”
On his mission in the villa, the governor said “I came to see the president and to pledge my loyalty; he is the leader of the party, the leader of the country. I just came to say, ‘Look Mr. President, I am loyal’. And I am going back to the state to take charge.”
Meanwhile, Omehia, Sunday Sun checks revealed, has relocated his private residence in Port Harcourt. He evacuated the State House Thursday.

In the beginning
Although the story that Amaechi would be dropped as the candidate of the PDP was everywhere, it was confirmed by then President Olusegun Obasanjo at the South-South presidential campaign rally in Port Harcourt in March.
Speaking to thousands of party members that thronged the Liberation Stadium, Port Harcourt, Obasanjo, informed the curious crowd that Amaechi was not given the party’s flag because his nomination “get small k-leg.”
The PDP was to deny Amaechi, who was the Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly for eight years its ticket, despite having earlier been declared winner.
It was held that the PDP’s decision was based on the strength of series of petitions allegedly written against Amaechi by those who did not want him to emerge governor. Other contestants had kicked that he was the anointed of the then out-going gover, Dr. Peter Odili.
Amaechi’s arch rival in the race for the party ticket then was the former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Austin Opara.
Incidentally, the new Rivers State governor had played a pivotal role in the election of Opara into the House of Representatives and subsequent emergence as deputy Speaker.
As a fall-out of the face between Odili and Prince Chibudom Nwuche, former deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, it was Amaechi, who reportedly introduced Opara to Odili as the man who should replace Nwuche in the lower chamber of the National Assembly.
It is understood that an agreement was reached that to be made the deputy Speaker, Opara would not harbour any gubernatorial ambition, a condition Opara reportedly agreed to.
However, he was to go back on this by nursing the ambition to challenge for the office of governor to the dislike of Amaechi. Events then went into a tailspin, resulting in Amaechi being hounded by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and subsequent denial of ticket by the PDP. The conclusion of Amaechi supporters then was that the Opara camp knew about the petitions that flooded EFCC.

NLC hails judgement
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has hailed the Supreme Court judgment nullifying the election of Omehia, pledging that the workers would cooperate with the new administration.
In a statement at the weekend, the acting presidnet of NLC, Mrs. Ladi Illiya, noted that the judgement had done justice without any ambiguity, hence calling on workers to ensure smooth take-off of the government.
“This judgement is one more nail into the coffin of arbitrariness and impunity which had seized our body polity. We are particularly grateful to the Supreme Court which in this landlark judgement decided to do substantial justice without regards to technicalities,” NLC noted.
Consequently, the labour called on those aggrieved or short-changed in the flawed 2007 elections to remain steadfast in their pursuit of justice.
Besides, NLC commended the resilience of the new governor in his search for justice, asking him to bring to bear in his administraion, the hope and quality displayed in his journey to victory.
NLC said that the Supreme Court judgment confirmed the “ignoble role” played by the Prof. Iwu-led Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), warning that INEC as presently constituted cannot guaranty free and fair elections.

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Comments (3)

Okfold(Sobe, Edo, Nigeria)says...

I want the meaning of female owan name Ekeke (Edo state)

Toluwalase Samuel Olufemi(Ijebu, Ogun, Nigeria)says...

Authority belongs to God, once He decrees it is final and binding

Ikponmwosa Osamede(Edo, Nigeria)says...

Your meaning of Osamede is wrong. Osamede means God has given me a crown