Saturday, the thirteenth day of January 2018 is one day that will remain indelible in the minds of residents of Isiokpo town and its environs. A deluge of people had poured in from everywhere creating a massive sea of human heads at Isiokpo.
Ikwerre Youth Movement (IYM), the apex socio-political organization of young people drawn from the four Ikwerre speaking local government areas of Rivers state (Ikwerre, Emohua, Port Harcourt and Obio-Akpor) had mobilized to honour the Honourable Minister of Transportation and former Governor of Rivers State, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi.
The President General of IYM and Member representing Ikwerre Constituency in the Rivers State House of Assembly, Chikere Azubuike Wanjoku while addressing the mammoth crowd recalled how Amaechi helped to “pull Ikwerre Ethnic Nationality out of the rubble of bad political mathematics and confusion” by strategically positioning several of its men and women.
Wanjokwu said, Amaechi who is also the grand patron of IYM was “instrumental to the appointment of a plethora of sons and daughters of Ikwerre ethnic nationality to several positions of trust such as Late Ambassador Ignatius Ajuru, (the first Ikwerre man to be an Ambassador); Rt.Hon. Austin Opara (the first Ikwerre man to become Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives); Barr. Nyesom Wike (the Second Ikwerre man to be a junior Education Minister); Professor Achinewhu (first Ikwerre Vice Chancellor of the Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt); Dame Aleruchi Cookey-Gam (First Female Secretary to the State Government, Rivers State; and First female Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Rivers State)”.
He said the IYM had gathered to celebrate Amaechi whose achievements are worthy of emulation, especially his eight years as governor of Rivers where he pursued “development without bloodshed, without violence, without bitterness, with mutual respect, understanding and co-operation of one another”. The Ikwerre legislator called on Rivers people to unite and save the state from “thraldom of hate, intolerance, prejudice, violence, murder and economic stagnation” which he said has now characterized the state in the last three years.
“This jubilation today is a framework for the mobilization of other ethnic groups in Rivers State towards the emancipation of Rivers State from the wave of crime (cultism, kidnap, murder and beheading) and underdevelopment”, he said.
“This event should serve as a clarion call for unity of the entire people of Rivers State. Rivers People have suffered from a hurricane of bloodletting these past 3 years with politically motivated deaths spanning from Omoku in the Orashi area where thousands have lost their lives; through Egbeda in Emohua area where hundreds were slaughtered without reason down to Omerelu, Apani, Ubima, Omademe, Etche, Rumuosi, Ogbum nu abali crisscrossing into the Ogoni /Andoni axis stretching forth into the Kalabari and other riverine communities.”
“The deaths of 31st December 2017 and the other deaths these past few days at Egbeda and Ajakaja (Andoni) has reinforced our resolution that FSARS and other security agencies are necessary for the continued existence of persons within our geographical spread despite the stand of the present administration.”
Wanjokwu called on the Minister of Transportation to plead with President Buhari that Rivers people seek “an opportunity to live, farm, fish and work like other Nigerians. Rivers State needs help and the time is now.”
Responding, the visibly excited Amaechi expressed his appreciation to the IYM and Ikwerre ethnic nation for honouring him. He said: “If anybody on earth says I have sat with him at any meeting to plan how to kill someone, that person should step forward. I swear before God and those of you here, 90% of those who benefitted from Scholarships under me, I never knew them.
Amaechi advised members of Ikwerre Youth Movement (IYM) Worldwide to start by mobilising en masse for the on-going Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Voter’s Registration exercise as the number of voters registered in the on-going exercise, especially in Ikwerre Local Government Area was not impressive.
“President Muhammadu Buhari has agreed that there should be electronic voting, so your votes will count, all you need do is to mobilise our people to go and register so that they can vote.
“I enjoin you not to take a bribe, just go and mobilise our people to register because this is our last battle; if we win, we take over and if we lose we go home,” he said.
“So, IYM, especially Ikwerre LGA, go and sensitise people to come out and register, to increase your voting strength,” added.
Amaechi said the 2019 general election will be the last battle of the All Progressivs Congress in Rivers State adding that there would no imposition of candidates by the APC during its primaries.
“The 2019 elections, especially the governorship, are our last battle. If we win, we will take over Rivers State. If we lose in the election, we will go home and rest,” Amaechi said.
“We will not impose any candidate. Anybody who will go for any position, like chairmanship, should go for primaries. Anybody who wins will be the party’s candidate.
“The President said that there would be no rigging during the 2019 elections. It is to our advantage.
“Go and register to be eligible to vote and to put the candidates of your choice in power.
“As Ikwerre people, we must give out the power to other ethnic nationalities. But we will be in a position to take it back at any time. Your future is in your hands.
The party in a press statement circulated on Monday by Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze the SSA Media and Public Affairs Consultant to the APC Rivers State Chairman, Dr Ibiamu Davies Ikanya further described Chief Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi the Eze Ochi Aliri 1 of Ikwerre land as a breaker of records stating that the Holy Bible as reflected in the gospel of Mark 6:4, “A prophet is honoured everywhere except in his own hometown and among his relatives and his own family” (New Living Translation) but Amaechi with the event of today have dusted this truism with the millions of Ikwerre sons and daughters his brethren agreeing as one people to honour him for his sterling and outstanding inputs towards the emancipation of the Ikwerre people and for becoming a great Iroko and one of the pillars through which the politics of Nigeria currently rotates. With this title and recognition Amaechi becomes the most influential Ikwerre man on planet earth. The party further stated that Chief Amaechi stands out as the only Nigerian that was a Speaker of a State House of Assembly for eight years, Chairman of the Speakers’ Forum of Nigeria, Governor of Rivers State for eight years and two term Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum and most historically led an opposition political party to unseat a sitting President in Nigeria. The party explained that, today, Chief Amaechi is not only changing the face of Transportation in Nigeria as the Minister of Transportation but stands out as one of the key and influential member of President Buhari’ s political Team. Refers in some quarters as the Lion of Niger Delta Politics, this great son of Rivers State has being reappointed to lead APC to victory come 2019 as the Director General of the Presidential Campaign Council. No son of Rivers State has achieved such feats to warrant his ethnic tribe to have so honoured him in this manner. Not minding that the incumbent Governor of Rivers State, Chief Nyesom Ezebunwo Wike is of the Ikwerre extraction but the Ikwerre people in the event pleaded with the Eze Ochi Aliri 1 of Ikwerre to “please, introduce the APC candidate for the 2019 gubernatorial election and 2019 shall be a walk over as Wike has proved what it means not to be a Governor”. Overwhelmed with the mammoth crowd that attended the event coupled with the resolution by the Ikwerre people to honour Amaechi and to elect an APC candidate by 2019, Governor Wike was so irked to a boiling point that he immediately ordered the sack of three of the caretaker Committee Chairmen of Ikwerre extraction for not scuttling the reception. The unfortunate sacked Chairmen that earned the wrath of Gov. Wike were that of Obio-Akpor, Port Harcourt and Ikwerre. The Emouha Chairman was spared the sack hammer as he made attempt to scuttle the event but his attempt could not make any impact as the reception was held without any hitch. It is based on this development that the party blasted Gov Wike for this childish move of sacking these men forgotten that 75% of those in his cabinet were all Amaechi’s product including himself as sacking them will not save him from the woes that await him come 2019. Without mincing words, the party highlighted that Ikwerre ethnic group comprising of Port Harcourt and three other Local Government Areas of the State is the largest ethnic group in Rivers State and most importantly one of the major deciding factors on who becomes the River State Governor come 2019. The party expressed their unflinching gratitude to all Rivers State people that attended the event including the amiable State Chairman, Chief Dr Davies Ibiamu Ikanya, Senator Andrew Uchendu, Dr Dakuku Peterside the Director General of NIMASA and gubernatorial candidate of the party in 2015 with his running mate, Hon. Honourable Asita. Chief Victor Giadom, Engr. Ngerebara Sampson, Lauretta Onochie, SA to President Muhammadu Buhari, Hon Leyii Kwanee former Deputy Speaker of Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon Fred Mbombo Igwe, Hon. Tolofari George former Commissioner for Transport in Rivers State, the hard working Party Secretary , Chief Emeka Bekee, AkpoBari Celestine one of the best brains from Ogoni, Chief Oby Ndukwe and countless other leaders that witnessed the event.
Campaigns for the 2019 election have not yet been officially allowed by the Independent Electoral Commission, however the massive turnout of party faithfuls and supporters to Isiokpo, the headquarters of Ikwerre local government of Rivers State to honour their leader and former governor at the instance of IYM shows that the Amaechi support base has not waned since leaving the BrickHouse and despite losing the governorship to his former Chief of Staff in 2015.