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Abe’s Uncalculated Risk By Olawale Olaleye


Senator Magnus Abe’s resolve to stand in opposition against his party, the All Progressives Congress in Rivers State, is a highway to nowhere, writes Olawale Olaleye of Thisday Newspaper


He who blinded by ambition, raises himself to a position whence he cannot mount higher, must fall with the greatest loss.
– Niccolò Machiavelli

When Senator Magnus Abe, the lawmaker representing Rivers South East senatorial district, some weeks back said he was former governor Rotimi Amaechi’s biggest achievement in politics, those words of his were apparently lost on critics, while the truth in it failed the cynics. But Abe and those, who were privy to Amaechi’s sincere magnanimity and widely acclaimed selfless leadership, knew exactly what he had said, regardless of where they all stand today.

“I am the biggest investment in the politics of Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi in Nigeria. And I stand to say that I am not leaving the APC. APC is my party,” Abe said in an attempt to dismiss certain insinuations or realities as the case was.

With how Amaechi made sure Abe made it to the cabinet of Dr. Peter Odili as Commissioner for Information, the first open shot was fired by the Rivers State former governor in staunch defence of friendship, particularly the idea of raising a succeeding generation of leaders in the state. It might be needless now to debate whether or not Abe stood any chance at all at the time, what is instructive is that Amaechi made sure that against all odds, Abe was counted worthy amongst the rest of the team.

Quick to trusting, Amaechi would further cement this budding relationship, when he made Abe the Secretary to the Government of the state. This was when he too had emerged governor in October of 2007. The issue of whether or not other qualified materials for the same office were available is ever present; that Aamechi, against these other extrapolations still conceded that office to him automatically settles that needless debate.
To increase Abe’s political resume, Amaechi thought sending him to the Senate, albeit against popular view, was a product of good thinking, more so that such empowerment and seeming call to service was meant to rub off on the entire membership of the Amaechi political family and in the final analysis, the people of the state.

Although Abe’s second coming to the Senate was a very rough, tough and tasking challenge for Amaechi and his team, however, with what many observers would later identify as grand and staggering mobilisation of both human and material resources, Amaechi pulled it off and alas, Abe is still in the Senate, courtesy of this rare benevolence.
The fact about Abe having his eye on the governorship of the state is common knowledge. But in the many sculpting of people’s aspirations within the Amaechi camp, Abe had been sufficiently sorted out at the expense of others, bearing in mind certain political considerations like demographics, acceptability for balancing purposes and especially, the need to let it go round.

But the truth is that whilst the APC might have feigned going into the 2015 elections as one big political family, the seed of the now prevailing malcontent in the Amaechi camp had been sown with the outcome of the governorship primary, which produced Dr. Dakuku Peterside with consensus arrangement. This is because while others played along in common interest, Abe didn’t let go as he wanted to be on the ticket, regardless.

The interesting thing, however, was that Amaechi was not oblivious of this even though he pretended not to. He was interested more in the unity of his camp than the unbridled ambition of anyone member. And when the elections went the way they did in 2015, the first thing Amaechi did was to settle the dust that was raised by the theatrics and intrigues that manifested in the lead up to the elections.

To achieve this, he mooted the idea that everyone should come together, put away their personal ambitions and converge as a family to confront the challenges that were to come post the elections. He had thought that asking all to shelve personal ambitions and being sincerely neutral would foster better unity in the administration of the party and increase the trust level, moving forward.

But Abe, of all, was said not to have believed in the mindset. He thought it was a ploy to weaken and make him more vulnerable while at the same time positioning Peterside. As far as he was concerned, Amaechi still had a thing for Peterside and might have resolved to field him again in 2019. Unfortunately, it was an erroneous position as Amaechi, other members of the camp noted, had decided that when the time comes, he would ask everyone to go and pursue their ambitions, so that the best candidate and the most preferred could emerge.

While this was ongoing and to prove he was not out to favour anyone, Amaechi started positioning his people in the new administration at the federal level for fear of the unknown, with Abe as a major beneficiary of both empowerment and vantage placement within the government and party.

Curiously, while others were busy working as a team and helping to make APC maintain a competitive edge in the annals of the state’s body polity, Abe had started to position himself, discussing his governorship ambition with party members at various levels, setting up groups and structures, thereby causing disaffection and discontent in the party. This move was seen by all as creating distraction in Rivers APC as well as discouraging others to concentrate on the shared interest.

And since this was in obvious defiance of the initial understanding to shelve ambitions and build the party first, Amaechi had to step in, first by cutting Abe to size and by so doing, sending a subliminal message to others, who were either goading him on or fully active in their collective resolve to unsettle the party.

It was, therefore, against this backdrop that it was seen as being within Amaechi’s right and powers to dissolve a caucus he set up as part of the initiatives designed to keep the party together since it has been subjected to abuse at the individual level. But the spin that he unilaterally dissolved the party at the ward level was an idea that was being sold to make him look differently and justify why they had to disregard a collective decision in personal interest.

To now assume that Amaechi was playing God, because he aired a personal view about a man, who had more than anyone else, benefitted from his benevolent leadership and personal generosity is to say the least, unfair and ungodly as well. The belief by the others is that if truly, Amaechi had been instrumental to Abe’s political rise without being seen as doing anything wrong, then, it still could be seen as being within such a right to help him draw the line in the event that he was oblivious of the red marks.

It also stands to reason that at those times when Amaechi was instrumental to the Abe’s political trajectory, he might have also played God with the ambitions of other people he probably had told to wait for Abe to take the turn he took then. Sadly, at such times, he was not seen as suffering God’s complex, because the narrative was convenient for those who stood to reap from it.

From all indications, it is clear that Abe hasn’t calculated this particular risk well enough before plunging into the arena. The names they choose to call Amaechi or the image of him they sell is not all that matters. What truly does is who Amaechi is. Amaechi may be pervicacious as he appears so, he is certainly not pugnacious and that is the distinguishing reality between who he is and who they try hard to sell.

On the contrary, the actions of Abe are seen more by others in the political camp as the height of betrayal, especially with the level of trust Amaechi had put in him and given all that they had shared time and time again. It is bad enough that he is about plunging the party into crisis on account of his ambition, attempt to blacklist and give Amaechi a bad name in order to hang him is an unfortunate way to repay a genuine benefactor.

But the good news is that Abe’s ambition hasn’t completely disconnected him from realising that Amaechi remains the undisputed leader of the party in the state.

“Let me use the opportunity of this visit to address some issues in our great party, the APC in Rivers State and to say clearly for the record that there are no members of the party, including myself, that is disputing the leadership of my friend, the Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi. We are not disputing with him, who is the leader of the party. He is the leader and will continue to be the leader of our party in Rivers State,” he said.

All said, it is sad that in spite of all Amaechi had done for him and others, who now gang up against him, both individually and as a team, they could still under misguided pretext conceive the idea of running him down. Indeed, Amaechi’s problem is largely believed to be that he is too plain and honest for some to deal with. He does not politicise issues and would rather deal straight, devoid of any diplomacy. If this is being considered playing or acting God, then, it is disturbing that literally everyone, who has walked with him has benefitted from his alleged God tendency.

Like a former United States President, Barack Obama, once said, “If somebody is different from you, that’s not something you criticise; that’s something that you appreciate.” Amaechi is no doubt different from a majority of them and understandably the reason they cannot deal or relate. But rather than run him down, isn’t it better they run their own race, even after being the greatest beneficiaries of his touted God complex?

Whichever way Abe chooses to fight this battle, it doesn’t look good for him and the earlier he retraces his step and embraces reason, the better for him and his cahoots. Instigating an insurrection, not because you have been unfairly treated but because you wanted more than you currently have or should have is nothing but sheer ingratitude and that is what makes Abe’s political plunge highly uncalculated and poorly conceived.

Quote: Instigating an insurrection, not because you have been unfairly treated but because you wanted more than you currently have or should have is nothing but sheer ingratitude and that is what makes Abe’s political plunge highly uncalculated and poorly conceived