Insights into Amaechi: His feats, inspirational, revolutionary leadership style and its impact in Rivers State, Nigeria (Pt 2)                            

Posted by News Express | 16 September 2021 | 979 times

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•Transportation Minister Amaechi and Eze C. Eze

 

 

By EZE CHUKWUEMEKA EZE

Factors of my encounter and relationship with Amaechi

MY POLITICAL LIFE, THE BASICS AND FOUNDATION OF THE RELATIONSHIP

Before I delve into the basics and foundation of my relationship with Rt Hon Dr Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi on whom this book is focused, let me give a brief account of my politics right from my days as a student in the famous Christ the King College (CKC) Onitsha, Anabmbra State, and at the University of Calabar (UNICAL) in Cross Rivers State. This will enable readers to understand the spirit behind writing of this book.

MY FEATS AT CKC AND UNICAL

My political activities can be traced to my days in the famous Christ the King College Onitsha, Anambra State, when I gained admission into the College in 1974, when the then dreaded Principal of CKC, Rev Nicholas C. Tagbo, held sway. He was an exceptional leader who stood as one of the best principals in Nigeria. He decided in his wisdom to appoint me the Team Manager (A post normally reserved for a staff of the school) of CKC.

For record purposes, this was the school that became the first team from any black nation in the world to win a world football tournament when the school in Dublin, Ireland, in 1977, conquered the world.

I was to manage the team even as a student to defend the World Cup the school won in 1977, but due to some dirty politics in the old Anambara State, this dream was aborted.

This setback notwithstanding, I can proudly state that I was able under my team management, to produce seasoned footballers who represented the country as members of Super Eagles and was able to captain Rangers International FC, Enugu, Julius Berger FC, Lagos, through Christian Isidinso and Sabinus Nweje.

With my exploits in CKC, I gained admission to read Philosophy in the University of Calabar in 1985 where I became one of the first students in the annals of Nigeria to be elected as the Students Director of Sports unopposed. Most importantly, I became the first Nigerian to be appointed a Football Team Manager of any University in Nigeria even as a first year student; a position I used to pilot the university to win the NFA/PEPSI Cola Football Tournament in 1986, a trophy which earned most members of the team a foreign tour to Belgium and Denmark with some scholarship slots. The UNICAL FB Team was the first club from Cross River State to win a national competition that caused the then state government to host both the officials and players of the university team.

It is also on record and with the grace of God that I was able to expose Celestine Ndukwe to the Super Eagles and one of Nigeria’s best midfielders: late John Okon Ene, who not only was a key and influential player in the U-20 national football team but later graduated into the Super Eagles.

While I held sway as the University Director of Sports I organised the first Sports Honours Nite where the sports giants then like, Alhaji GNA Hamaza, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, were honoured.

It is also on record that based on my memo to the then vice chancellor, late Ntuefam Prof Charles Effiong and with the University's Senate approval, the present Physical and Curriculum Education Department was introduced and established in the University.

Under my office as the director of sports, the university got the hosting right of NUGA to host all the universities in 1991.

As the Faculty of Arts Sports Coordinator, I led the faculty to win the 1987 Inter-faculty Games with my then fiancée (now wife), Miss Chioma Henrietta Ada Nwaorgu, declared the best female athlete in the university.

My exploits at Defunct Gongola State and graduation at Atiku's political school

By 1989, after my graduation from University of Calabar, as a sort of punishment in the hands of the then Students Affairs Officer, Mr. P. Olowajabi, I was posted to the then Gongola State to serve as a punishment for daring to challenge the Students Affairs Officer in regard to the welfare of students.

After due consultation with and consolation from my God, I took a bus from Onitsha to Yola five days before the formal opening of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Camp for Orientation for the 1989/90 NYSC Service Year. At the end of the orientation, I was declared the Best Corps Member and subsequently appointed as the Corps Liaison Officer (CLO) for the defunct Yola Local Government and the coordinating chairman of all CLOs of the defunct Gongola State, comprising the present day Adamawa and Taraba states.

With my position as the number one corps member in the state, I formed the Gongola State Corps Members Association through which I appointed the then Chief of Naval of Staff, Admiral Murtala Nyako who later was elected the governor of Adamawa State on two occasions, Hajiya Fatima Balla Abubakar, Alhaji Gambo Jimeta (then Inspector-General of Police, IGP) and other great sons of Adamawa State as patrons and matrons of the association.

I used this office to construct and donate the first Bus-stop in Yola town, and donated a police traffic stand to the Gongola Police Headquarters, thus becoming the first and only corps member in Nigeria to have served Nigeria without collecting a dime as an allowance. I used all my allowances then to plough back to my host community through donation of books, mats, chasbi, etc, to schools and the Muslim community in Yola.

At the end of my Youth Service, based on the advice of the late Lamido of Adamawa, His Royal Highness, Aliyu Mustapha, to the then Chiroma Adamawa who is the present Lamido, I was engaged temporarily by the Gongola State Sports Council where I resigned after few months to set up the Eze Continental Sports outfit, which later was upgraded to Eze Continental Investment Ltd. With this business outfit, I was able to sponsor various sports competitions within both Adamawa and Taraba States. The records show that I was one of the most outstanding philanthropists within that region during my over 20 years stay in that golden state.

It was during this period that I met Atiku Abubakar formally and that was immediately after his retirement from the Customs, during the Inter-house Sports Competition of the Federal Government College, Yola, in which he was invited as the special guest of honour in 1988, after donating some sporting kits to the school in his honour.

During the 1999 general elections, I was one of the major instruments that God used to elect Atiku as the governor of Adamawa State as I mobilised both the Igbo and South-south people under the platforms of Igbo Crusaders Political Platform and South East/South-South Amalgamated Movement (SESSAM) of which I was the founder and president.

During one of his campaign meetings in Yola, I donated sports equipment and a cheque to assist him in the election.

NATIONAL POLITICS

With the elevation of Atiku Abubakar from a duly-elected governor of Adamawa State to the office of the vice-president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the need of formation of some national pressure groups became imperative. I was thus duly appointed as the spokesperson for the most organised and dreaded Turaki Vanguard, a post I used to strengthen the politics of the then Turaki Adamawa and ensured with other patriotic Nigerians to scuttle the third term agenda of the former president, Gen Olusegun Obasanjo.

One account that interests me so much during my tenure as the national director in charge of publicity and public administration of Turaki Vanguard was when President Olusegun Obasanjo threatened to sack Atiku as his vice-president. I issued a statement while in Lagos to exchange ideas with the Lagos press with Alhaji Lai Mohammed (present Minister of Information) who was in charge of publicity of the then Action Congress (AC), threatening to mobilise 500,000  Nigerian youths to Abuja to occupy Aso Rock. Based on this, Obasanjo called for an emergency Security Council meeting to deliberate on this threat, knowing how Turaki Vanguard was dreaded at that period.

When I arrived Abuja and visited the Abuja residence (Aso Rock Villa) of Atiku, the whole place was very calm and unusual silence enveloped the house. I tried to inquire what the cause was and Atiku's CSO, Mal. Mahmud, asked if I am not aware that the president has called for an emergency Security Council meeting that was currently holding and nobody knew if Atiku would be forcefully removed from office. I laughed and told him why the Security Council meeting was being held; that it was based on the statement I issued threatening to mobilise Nigerian youths to occupy Aso Rock. Immediately, CSO Mahmud left to tell Oga (Atiku) that the emergency Security Council meeting was being held because of the madness of Chief Eze. It was then Atiku came out from his office and left for a meeting outside the Villa.

While, I was being searched for by the security agencies at my Yola residence, I was in the Villa with them without them knowing actually who this Chief Eze was.

I was the darling of most of Nigerian newspapers then.

MOVEMENT TO RIVERS STATE

My first contact with this great state that shaped my late political life was in 1975 when I visited an uncle during the long vacation as a student. My second stay in the state was in 1980 when I came for an interview for a job with the Nigerian Railway Corporation at its headquarters in Port Harcourt.

My third visit was when my company, I. C. Ekwengo Ltd, sent me in 1983 to supervise the transportation of fertiliser from Port Harcourt port through train services to Sokoto River Basin Authority.

My fourth visit was when as Director of Sports of UNICAL, I, alongside other officials of the university led the university team to UNIPORT for the 1988 NUGA Games hosted by the university. The same year, I visited Port Harcourt as a member of UNICAL five-man team sent out to solicit for funds from notable Nigerians in Rivers and Imo states to enable us embark upon the construction of the present sports complex in the university to be used for the 1991 NUGA Games, which was to be hosted by the university.

In 2007, I was among the Action Congress presidential campaign team that visited Port Harcourt to campaign for the gubernatorial election of Prince Tonye Princewill of Action Congress at Isaac Boro Park, Port Harcourt.

It was after the campaign that the presidential campaign committee was formally dissolved and members were asked to move to their states to campaign further.

MEETING WITH PRINCE TONYE PRINCEWILL

Immediately the Action Congress presidential campaign committee was disbanded, the then National Secretary of Turaki Vanguard, Lanre Fayemi, visited Port Harcourt to monitor how the camping team of Prince Tonye Princewill was being managed. After observing them for some days, he confided in the Prince that with what his team was doing, that the party had no chance of defeating PDP in Rivers State; that the party needed a true political mobiliser to change the fortunes of the party in the State and that fellow is a son of Atiku Abubakar, by name Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze. He told the prince that Eze was the only Nigerian that would step into Port Harcourt and turn the heat on the PDP.

The next day, Prince Tonye Princewill flew to Abuja to meet with Atiku on the issue of releasing one Chief Eze to him. Atiku laughed at him and asked him if he had handled fire before; because the man he was requesting for was a moving fire. Tonye reassured him that he would do his best. After this, Atiku sent for me and asked me to move to Port Harcourt. That was in 2007.

I sent my then personal assistant media, Mr Paschal Njoku, a reputed and respected journalist to move ahead of me to Port Harcourt and after some days I joined the campaign team.

The major town we went to was Buguma, Headquarters of Asari-Toru Local Government Area and the Kalabari Kingdom. After the campaign came a report that militants had blocked the road and we couldn’t move outside the town. Later, after communication with the Prince, we were given a passageway to pass. When we got to Port Harcourt, I put on the television only to see in the news that 10 lives were wasted on the road we just passed through.

The next day my PA came to me that he is sorry that he would no longer stay as he is the only son of his mother and he didn’t want to die this early. I discharged him and stayed alone until this day.

What I achieved while working with Tonye need not be overemphasized. I told the then Governor of Rivers State, Sir Celestine Omehia, that he needed not change the curtains in the Government House as he had just few months to stay. At this period, I was the only Nigeria media chief that issued five press statements daily on various issues.

I changed the name of Prince Tonye Princewill as the Prince of Kalabari Kingdom to Prince of Niger Delta Politics. In less than two weeks I wrote the book, “Prince Tonye Princewill, the Golden Prince of Niger Delta.” Everybody wanted to know who this Chief Eze was. I move out to the streets at times with slippers and nobody could actually say that this was Chief Eze with heavy beard covering my face.

BEGINNING OF MY UNDILUTED RELATIONSHIP WITH AMAECHI

This was the period Port Harcourt was a jungle and Amaechi was monitoring my activities through Dr Mrs Doris Fisher and Dr Sampson Parker, from faraway Ghana. It was said that he had confided in them that he could not understand where Tonye and this his man Eze got their confidence from and that if they succeeded to unseat the PDP government that he would like to work with us and that if he (Amaechi) succeeded, he would like to work with us. This was the beginning of my relationship with the principal character of this book.

What many do not know is that it was Parker’s political calculation that birthed the relationship between Prince Tonye Princewill and Chibuike Amaechi. Parker was among the intelligentsia handling Amaechis’s political machine in Rivers State when he was on self-exile in Ghana. He had directed Parker to keep a tab on us, that he could not understand the force behind our confidence in handling Omehia and his ill-fated administration at that time. He said if we could handle such a government, knowing the volatile situation in Rivers State, that we were definitely a force he would like to work with if either he or we succeeded to unseat the Omehia administration. Till date, people do not know the magic why Prince Tonye Princewill abandoned a case that would have made him the governor of Rivers State, a case stronger than that which made comrade the governor of Edo State. The person that made it possible is no other person than Dr. Parker who likes to act from behind the scene than making noise like most others on daily basis.

I left to Yola to see my family that I left for over ten months. While in Yola, the Supreme Court came out with the historical judgment of November 27, 2007, declaring Amaechi as the authentic governor of Rivers State. I was asked to relocate to Port Harcourt.

After a few days in Port Harcourt, I took ill and left to University College Hospital, Ibadan, for a major surgery. A day after my surgery, Prince Tonye Princewill called me to inquire about the surgery and told me that Amaechi will be hosting our team in the Government House later that evening. I told him that the plaster, bandage and other materials used for the surgery were still very fresh and it would be risky to travel under that condition. He insisted that there was no way they would visit Gov Amaechi when I was not around. So, I left Ibadan for Lagos straight to the Government House to join them.

Later, we were escorted to the main chamber of the Brick House and, Amaechi, after few minutes arrived. I was asked to anchor the meeting. I started to introduce most of our key members in the meeting that included Prince Tonye Princewill, the leader of our team, his deputy, Chief Williams Igwe, Barr Osima Ginah,  Alabo Diamond Tobin-West the Moving Train, Suage Badey the State chairman of Action Congress, etc.

When I concluded the introduction, His Excellency, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, asked: But, who are you? I told him, “Sir, I am Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze!” Amaechi jumped up from his seat and yelled, GOC! GOC!! GOC!!! (General Officer Commanding). This was to the shock of everyone in the meeting. The actual GOC calling another person GOC!

I told him, “Your Excellency, your brother Tonye is a terrible fellow for forcing me out from the hospital after major surgery to attend this meeting.” It was during this meeting that the marriage between PDP and the opposition political parties in Rivers State was formalised and solemnised.

We were given two slots in the Rivers State Executive Council where Osima Ginah became the shining star as the Commissioner for Urban Development and Engr. Davies Ikanya Ibiamu as the Commissioner for Special Duties. Chief Igwe Williams was given the post as Special Adviser on political matters while the State Chairman of the party, Hon. Suage Badey, was made a member of the Rivers State University of Science and Technology Governing Council. Prince Tonye Prince will was appointed as a member of the Economic Council of the State where he played a crucial role in most of the economic policies of Amaechi’s administration.

When Amaechi decided to dissolve his cabinet after some years in his first tenure, we decided to visit him again to review our relationship with his government. Then, Ibiamu was not reappointed and it was very clear that the system then had concluded that he would not be reappointed. By the time the governor responded to almost all the issues we tabled before him, he tactically jumped that of reappointment of Ibiamu into his cabinet and was about leaving the chamber. I don't know where I got the strength to state, "Your Excellency Sir, you have not addressed the issue of the reappointment of Dr Ibiamu." The governor then responded that if we wanted Ibiamu to be reappointed, he would do so and we all chorused yes, yes; and that is how Dr. Ibiamu was reappointed and I am still suffering that boldness in some quarters till date. My offence was who gave me the audacity to challenge what had already been concluded.

One other major encounter I had with Amaechi was when my wife was seriously sick in June 2010 and I had no fund for her treatment. I still didn't have his mobile number so I hinted his Commissioner for Information, Mrs. Ibim Sementari, who sent a mail to him.

He called me by 8 am the following day while I was driving my wife for further scanning to ascertain what was actually wrong with her and asked me to come to the Government House and meet with his ADC, Debawari, who gave me a huge envelope and directed that I should take my wife to any hospital I desired and should the fund fall short of the medical bill, I should alert him accordingly.

From then onwards, every issue affecting me, both the burials of my mother, brother, etc, his presence was felt.

One other major encounter with Amaechi was one early morning by 6 am, sometime in 2014. The Commissioner for Information, Mrs Sementari, called me and said that Oga wants to speak with me. He picked up the phone and asked me that he wanted to give me an assignment; but he was afraid if Tonye Princewill or Atiku asked me to withdraw if I will disappoint him. I told him that I am of age to determine what was good for me or otherwise. He then told me that he had submitted my name as the national publicity secretary of the then New Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP) to the chagrin of most of his colleagues who questioned my capacity to handle such a sensitive office involving about seven fire breathing governors coupled with the fact that a former governor from the East was desperate to handle the office. Amaechi stood his ground and assured them I was the only Nigerian that could make the vision and mission of the group very visible within this short period we had.

That was how I accepted to do this risky and serious national assignment and by the time I rounded up, most of my colleagues including my national chairman, Alhaji Abubakar Baraje, the national secretary, Prince Oyinlola visited Amaechi and asked him where exactly did he pick this man from? Truly, nobody could have his level of audacity in this task that even the former president, Ibrahim Babangida pleaded that he should slow down.

Thereafter, I have been involved in one political issue or the other involving Amaechi; and I was among the few privileged fellows based on security challenges to live in the Brick House for about two years before we left the Government House in 2015.

This is just my brief account of my encounter with this man of the future

What Rivers State political leaders feel about my type of politics

The circumstances that brought me to Rivers State and the kind of tasks I have executed could not have gone without ripples, good or bad. Below are some 20 bullets for a start:

*I don’t know what APC Rivers would have done if we didn't have you? – Comrade Celestine Akpobari

*My dear chief, God will embarrass you very soon with favour for all you do in this battle to liberate Rivers State from the misrule it currently suffers. From the bottom of my heart, I say thank you – Dr Lebatam Ndegwe of Nonwa, Tai.

*Chief Eze, the fact remains that what a man sows he reaps. You have been the mouthpiece and a great defender of our great party, APC. You have received several bullets both from the main opposition party and those who live in the hallucinating and pretentious world of belonging to our dear party. My father once told us that a tree does not dry the very day it was cut. At God's own time you will reap what you have severally sown. My gratitude goes to our Creator first, then to our indefatigable leader HE, Rt Hon CRA, and to our ever loyal and committed party faithful. I assure you, Sir, that I will represent Rivers State and the South-South effectively and prudently both at Birnin Kebbi and Ok”- Dr Lawrence Chuku.

*Someone told me ‘Eze is a loose cannon.’ I must confess, Eze: you’ve rattled the PDP and all Amaechi enemies within and outside Rivers State. You’re really doing a good work and must be encouraged by all loyalists of Amaechi -- Chisom Dike.

*Chief Eze the bomb, you're too much. Congratulations for your dogged belief in the cause that Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi represents. You were consistent and undeterred in the pursuit of your convictions, regardless of the copious insults thrown at you by untutored minds for exercising your constitutional right to freely express your opinion or associate with whom you choose. Those insults, however, rather than dampen your morale and getting you distracted, became the elixir to push down the walls of untruths, grand falsehoods and propaganda of those who threw them at you to their eternal pain and chagrin. On this score, I think we are the same. We soldier on with the scars of any battle in unimpeachable gallantry, once we are convinced about any cause, belief or struggle we subscribe to.

Chief Eze, you steered the course until justice was done by the Supreme Court on Friday, March 5, 2021. That justice, for the records, has not only calmed the rough waters and steadied the APC ship in Rivers State; it left the homestead of the rebels in absolute tatters.

Take a bow, Sir. You are General of Truth and enjoy the unusual honour only knights of epic dedication are worthy of. Take note also that you have earned a grand presence whenever the roll shall be called of those who stood behind this political revolution to the very end - Barr Eli Sogbeye.

*Your impact in political discourse is unparalleled. You have distinguished yourself as an advocate of political truth and progressive values. We are extremely proud of you. My fervent wish is for God to preserve you in good health, happiness and peace of mind - Amb Ngofa.

*Chief, while others are growing old, you are growing younger and stronger and making even more of an impact than you have done before. If that is even possible, keep the fire burning, resist the temptation to slow down and know that those who start the year set the pace. Lead on! - Prince Tonye Princewill

*A celebrated peace-maker and intellectual paragon; a quintessential patriot and a resilient global citizen. I wish you many more years of good health and impact. May the forces of progress and prosperity engulf you in 2021 and beyond - Dr Uche Igwe.

*Chief Eze C. Eze is a political sledgehammer, a catalyst for positive change, a dogged fighter, a warlord - not with guns or other physical armoury but with brain and pen - a  defender of true justice/cause but, most importantly, a media backbone to the performing Minister of Transportation, the Rt Hon CRA's political institution -  Princewill Azubuike.

*Chief, you could be described as one man squad who has succeeded in using your pen and brain to dislodge, disorganise and confuse battalion of detractor's camp, antics and tricks. I am proud of you, sir – Azubuike.

*Chief Chukwuemeka Eze is a fantastic writer and one of the frontline creative and visionary minds behind media politicking in Nigeria. You constantly exceed my expectations; you are indeed a priceless jewel in this esteemed media community - Prince Obarinee Wai-Ogosu.

*Happy birthday to a renowned media guru in Nigeria, the Brig-Gen of Media Force in Nigeria, a national figure, a media guru and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress in Nigeria. An Amaechified and dogged fighter to the core political bulldozer.

May God reward your efforts and support given to our leader,  Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, CON; APC Rivers State, and Nigeria at large in Jesus Christ name! Amen - Isaac Princewill.

•ezemediaconcept2020@gmail.com; 08022049770


Source: News Express

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