Dakuku Peterside may be having a quiet chuckle. Accused many years ago of plotting to betray Rotimi Amaechi, Nigeria’s serving Minister of Transportation, Dakuku has remained a loyalist.
On the contrary, most of those who accused the Opobo – born politician of the tendency of betrayal have themselves betrayed.
The list of such men, close friends and associates as they would appear to be, is endless.
Some are still politically relevant to this day. Some are gone, swept aside by the tide of time, but the world goes on.
It is a new decade, a new decade of great dreams and ambition, a new decade of hope, and a new decade of intense political activity.
In Rivers State, Rivers people are becoming increasingly used to the word betrayal. It is a product of interests and ambition.
What looked like a political family continues to sub divide. There seems to be no end. Somehow, of all those who have played the political game in Rivers State, one man appears to have suffered fits of betrayal most.
That man, it would seem, is Rotimi Amaechi. As governor of Rivers State, Amaechi had insisted years ago that he has never betrayed.
It may have been due to allegations at the time that he betrayed, Dr Peter Odili, a man he admits to this day was his political father and mentor.
It may even have been a response to accusations that he betrayed the Ikwerre cause in the early days.
Many, nonetheless, agree that Amaechi’s politics has been largely more pan Rivers than it has been selfish.
Whatever anyone says, Amaechi continues to be the issue in Rivers and Nigerian politics, attracting several admirers to himself and haters too who see him as a stumbling bloc.
Like all mortals, Amaechi is unable to see through the eyes of those who surround him, who swarm around him and enchant his ears with tales of their undying support.
These men have gotten everything – recognition, trust, exposure, office, influence, power and money to the detriment of those who believe, love and adore him.
It is such an irony that he has most of the time fallen for false claims of loyalty, and fallen victim of dangerous back stabbing.
In this special report, the Telegraph x-rays the faces of men who have allegedly betrayed Rotimi Amaechi:
Igo Aguma :
Igo Aguma, a former Commissioner of Sports and an ex-national lawmaker is seen as the latest betrayer by members of Amaechi’s support base.
Just as a high court dismissed a court action brought by Senator Magnus Abe, and APC members in Rivers State warmed up to the idea of holding a congress, Igo headed to court.
The action was totally unexpected. Igo was obviously one of the front benches in Amaechi’s circle.
He hasn’t always been part of the Amaechi team.
He had thrown his weight behind Sir Austin Opara who contested against Amaechi in the Governorship race in the PDP.
Igo however made a miraculous comeback to the Amaechi family in the APC.
He was obviously visible and at the center of so many things relating to the welfare of membership that were happening.
That the APC is without party officials today in Rivers State is the handwork of the PHALGA politician who some say is showing his true colors.
Igo has since switched loyalty.
Olaka Nwogu was probably the most visible of all members of the House of Representatives from Rivers State when “Tiger” was shoved aside as Deputy Speaker. Tiger was the code name of Rt. Hon. Chibudum Nwuche.
Opara was purportedly close to “The Ninja” as Amaechi was known in high up political circles in Rivers State.
Against advice by strategists and leaders who included Governor Peter Odili, Amaechi who was eyeing the governorship position yielded support to Opara.
Opara’s emergence as Deputy Speaker at a time that the Ikwerre’s were scheming for power was supposed to be a plus.
They [the Ikwerre] had produced a Speaker, secured a State Chief Judge and a Secretary to Government.
Thus, filling the office of the Deputy Speaker with an ethnic Ikwerre was seen as another step forward in the Ikwerre quest to occupy Brick House.
That calculation however turned out to be a colossal error on the part of Amaechi and his friends. Opara not only turned coat, he teamed up with the likes of Dr Abiye Sekibo, Prince Uche Secondus , Celestine Omehia, Glory Emeh, David Briggs, Pa Wariso and a host of other party members to fight Amaechi’s ambition.
In no time, Opara fell out with his supposed backer and became a major front runner in the race, who would reject appeals to step down until the very end.
Opara is currently part of a group of “Cardinals” who surround Governor Nyesom Wike. He is believed to be a possible aspirant for the office of governor.
Wike has risen to be the Governor of Rivers State and a very bitter opponent of Rotimi Amaechi. Only yesterday, he was Amaechi’s Chief of Staff and a trusted aide.
Many who are close to the two men say Wike was never really loyal to Amaechi. Amaechi was rather a means to an end.
Back in the days when Amaechi was Speaker for instance, Wike as a first time local government Chairman sought refuge under him. He had fallen out with his political godfather, Senator, John Mbata on the way to a second tenure.
To save him, Amaechi the indisputable leader of the Ikwerre under the Odili administration had Wike’s deputy impeached in his capacity as Speaker. He later doused the tension arising from the Evo – Epara internal politics to pave way for Wike.
Thereafter, Wike rode on the back of Amaechi to the office of Chief of Staff and later Minister of State in the Ministry of Education.
As Chief of Staff, Wike was Amaechi’s pick for the Senate on the platform of the PDP to confront Senator George Sekibo, but pressure from President Goodluck Jonathan changed all that.
With the return of Senator Wilson Ake in the Rivers West, the selection of Magnus Abe in the Rivers South East, the emergence of Wike in the Rivers East would have excluded a Riverine representation.
Amaechi bowed to superior reasoning but Wike did not like that. It was construed to mean in some circles that Amaechi had plans to run for the Senate after serving as governor.
To this day, Amaechi has never indicated interest in running for the Senate. It is doubtful he ever will.
Despite Jonathan’s refusal to accept Wike as a ministerial nominee, Amaechi persisted until his supposed loyalist was sworn in. On getting there, Wike dumped Amaechi and joined Jonathan to edge his leader out of the PDP and seize control of the apparatus of leadership.
Tele Ikuru would not qualify as one of those who would lay claim to being part of the political family of Amaechi, but fate put both men together.
Following the emergence of Amaechi as the gubernatorial candidate of the PDP and the horse-trading that went on thereafter, Secondus as State PDP Chairman secured the right to nominate the deputy.
He nominated Ikuru.
In the wake of the ‘k-leg’ saga, Tele emerged as Celestine Omehia’s deputy.
There are strong indications that after the Supreme Court victory, there were pressures to impeach Ikuru.
The Telegraph has learnt that Amaechi refused to play along. As Deputy Governor, Tele was given every latitude to perform in office.
Tele had acknowledged that fact publicly.
After crossing over to the APC with his principal, lobbying to be Amaechi’s successor, Ikuru as Deputy Governor dumped Amaechi in the midst of battle and returned to the PDP.
Insiders say Amaechi invested so much confidence in Ikuru against the thinking of his surrogates who included Wike at the time.
But when it mattered most, Ikuru simply walked away.
Prince Uche Secondus:
During the Odili era, Secondus was one of those who engaged Amaechi in a political dog-fight. Given this background, it would be wrong to categorize the Total Chair as he was dubbed as one of those who betrayed Amaechi. But something happened.
Two things influenced his return to Amaechi.
First was the position zoned to the Rivers PDP. Secondus had been nominated as the Assistant National Organizing Secretary.
Not only did Amaechi uphold that understanding, he fought for an upgrade of the Rivers position.
This is how Secondus became the National Organizing Secretary.
The second possible may lie in the protection of Ikuru as Deputy Governor. Secondus swore that Amaechi was the best and described him as the real “Ogbu Agu” at a public gathering.
Recall that the title of Ogbu Agu belongs to Odili. Amaechi would have none of it.
He publicly denounced the attempt and reiterated that Odili was, and still is, his father.
Secondus, it is believed, contrived to work closely with Chief Ake who was the State PDP Chairman and allegedly came up with a plot to keep an eye on the Abuja group who was fiercely opposed to the Amaechi government.
He was allegedly installed in a high brow suite at the Hilton
Secondus despite the massive patronage he purportedly got from a perceived enemy did not hesitate to turn his back when the time came.
He simply stepped aside.
Today, on account of the support he gained in 2007 which exposed him at the national level, Secondus has occupied the position of Acting National Chairman and is currently the National Chairman of the PDP with the support of Nyesom Wike, another Ikwerre man.
Ambition is made of sterner stuff. So wrote William Shakespeare in one of his works which have remained evergreen to this day.
Abe may qualify as one among men whose ambition to govern Rivers State has brought him to staggering heights, and pitched him against a long standing friend.
Records show that the friendship of both men became intense at the Rivers State House of Assembly in 1999. Abe had been elected to the House on the platform of the APP.
Contrary to his expectation, he was not the one nominated as the Minority Leader. That position belonged to another, but his collaboration with Amaechi would change the cause of history.
Abe may not agree. After all, he won the position on the floor of the House. But there are many, most of them lawmakers at the time, who recall that there was no way, he could have pulled it off without Amaechi.
When the time came to dump the APP, Amaechi was again in the forefront. That move would result in Abe’s elevation to the position of the Honorable Commissioner for Information.
The fight to recover the stolen mandate which was fought all the way to the Supreme Court came along. At the end of it, Abe became the Secretary to Government.
There are people who argue that Abe was imposed on the Ogoni by Amaechi. They may be right. They may equally be wrong. While the friendship lasted, nobody had the final say on Ogoni matters other than Abe.
Abe nursed the ambition to be a Senator of the Federal Republic. He got there with the backing of his friend.
By 2015, Abe’s intention to be governor rose to the zenith. That desire to govern would eventually lead to a fight with Dakuku Peterside.
But for the record, Amaechi was not prepared to be involved in the choice of who would be his successor.
The Telegraph has learnt that a committee of 14 persons, 7 from Abe’s camp and 7 from Dakuku’s were confined to a hotel somewhere along the way to Oyigbo.
For days, there was a political deadlock as none of the groups agreed to yield. Thereafter, another meeting of leaders to whom Amaechi threw the matter to decide was held at the residence of the Chief of Staff, Tony Okocha.
Again, that meeting threw the matter back to the governor, saying whosoever was chosen by the Leader would have their support.
It will not appear to be true, going by events which played out and which the Telegraph is privy to, that Amaechi imposed Dakuku’s aspiration on the party as many contemporary commentators have tried to allude.
Given 16 years of Upland rule, there was a strong trend which tended to support the need to give the Riverine people a chance.
Besides, imminent elders of the State who were invited by the Governor as he then was to express their views before a final position was taken appeared to have given it to Dakuku.
Magnus returned to the Senate. He however did not forget his prime ambition to be governor. Close supporters of Abe claim that Amaechi had promised the Ogoni the slot in 2019. Could it be that if Dakuku won, he would not have been entitled to a second tenure?
As 2019 approached, Abe contemplated the unthinkable.
He went all out to engage his bosom friend and soul mate, Amaechi, in a shouting match. He also built alliances outside a friend who had supported him all along and began flexing muscles as he would deem fit.
Abe had described himself as Amaechi’s greatest political investment when anger had nothing to do with his temperament.
Despite getting all that he set his heart to – the appointment of Derek Mene into the NDDC as EDF, the nomination of Victor Giadom as the Director General of the Greater Together Campaign Organization in 2015, the position of serving Senator, exclusive control of Ogoni matters in addition to being a strong and respectable voice in Amaechi’s circle – the Ogoni strongman went to court.
Abe’s wish to serve as governor may be the only wish that was never satisfied by Amaechi in all the years that they were friends.
Perhaps, the urge to balance power and the determination by most in the APC to give the Riverine people a foothold in Government House conclusively set Abe against Amaechi.
It is said that Abe connived with Wike to rob the Rivers APC of the chance to field candidates in 2019.
Abe vigorously denies working with Wike. Wike has equally denied the allegation that he acted in cahoots with Abe to snatch victory through the courts.
Somehow, long after the Supreme Court ruling which effectively threw out all candidates and all party structures, the fight between both men is yet to abate.
Abe claims he is still in the APC.
In truth he has not engaged in any declaration which suggests otherwise.
Of late, Abe is investing more time in a campaign he hopes would restore peace to the APC in Rivers State.
While some of Amaechi’s sympathizers think this may be a positive move, others who are victims of too many political snake bites say it is only a ploy to fulfill a hate driven ambition to destroy what is left of Amaechi’s rising star and his efforts to rebuild the party.
Marcus Nle Eji:
It is difficult to say when the rift between Amaechi and Marcus Nle Eji turned into a festering sour.
But Nle Eji prior to 2007 was one of those who could be dubbed an unrepentant ally of Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi.
The friendship between both men flourished all the more while they served as members of the Rivers State House of Assembly.
All through their years in the Assembly, Marcus was a member of Amaechi’s inner caucus.
When Amaechi became governor, Marcus who hails from Eleme was a natural pick as the Commissioner for Arts and Culture.
It was under him that the government’s plan to resuscitate Carniriv and turn it into a major brand for the promotion of Rivers culture was initiated.
A major crack appeared mid way into Amaechi’s tenure when Marcus repeatedly traveled overseas with out permission.
The situation forced the governor as he then was to invoke disciplinary measures. There were other issues as well.
For years, Nle Eji and his supporters had a political wrangle with Orji Ngofa and his associates.
In plotting the way forward for Eleme, Nle Eji commendably sold the idea of bringing Ngofa on board.
Ngofa eventually became local government council chairman. Under the Ameachi era, Ngofa emerged as one of the best performing council chairmen in the entire State.
His knack for credible performance endeared Ngofa increasingly to Amaechi who began to place more responsibility on his shoulders.
We cannot confirm if the ascension of Ngofa’s influence in Eleme had anything to do with it, but there are indications that Nle Eji became increasingly withdrawn.
But he kept a close knit relationship with two men in the Amaechi administration, the one he called “Gburugburu” as well as the Secretary to Government, Magnus Abe.
By the way Gburugburu was Nyesom Wike, the Chief of Staff.
When Wike pulled out of the political family to pursue his dream, Marcus remained in the Amaechi family but did not close the door in the face of Wike.
As 2019 drew close, Nle Eji put a weight behind the quest by Magnus Abe to run for the governorship of Rivers State.
In doing so, it was doubtful that he ever consulted his bosom friend. There are claims that Marcus provided the cover for the Abe group and Wike to cement their ties under the guise of a ceremony in honour of his new born child.
Abe’s inability to secure the ticket appears to have been the final straw which broke the carmel’s back.
Of all the persons accused of betraying Rotimi Amaechi, Chidi Wihioka would probably qualify as one of the closest.
Both hail from the Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State where he was the leader of the LGA.
Both men have been in the trenches on the same side through years of political struggle. Both men have run things together.
Known in Rivers political circles as Elder, Chidi Wihioka was a classroom teacher at the College of Arts and Science, now Elechi Amadi Polytechnic.
On the contrary, Amaechi took a plunge into politics after graduation from the University of Port Harcourt.
Growing up politically, Amaechi and Wihioka struck a rather symbiotic relationship. While Amaechi kept his eyes on matters of State, Wihioka kept the home front together.
So, Chidi over the years built the reputation of the rugged sweeper who prevented goals in the defense from entering the net; the grassroots maestro who had a finger in every pie; and the commander of the troops who must be obeyed.
Such was the authority vested in Wihioka that he determined who got what and how in Ikwerre. Perhaps, the only one that he needed to be on his side in running Ikwerre affairs as he deemed fit was Amaechi himself.
Their relationship blossomed as Amaechi grew and Wihioka benefited from patronage befitting of the leader of the Leader.
Records show that Wihioka served for instance, as a Resident Electoral Commissioner during the Odili era when Amaechi enjoyed considerable leverage.
He would later serve as Chairman of the newly created Rivers State Road Maintenance Agency under the Amaechi administration.
While serving as chairman of the maintenance agency, something happened.
Amaechi complained publicly about Wihioka’s handling of the agency.
A rift eventually developed between both men. Nyesom Wike saw an opportunity to emerge as the beneficiary and took it.
When Wike broke out of the Amaechi family to pursue his dream under the Jonathan era, Wihioka pulled back from the brink and walked into the warm arms of his brother.
Both men reconciled, but Elder as his fans call him did not appear to forget the friendly reprimand.
Over the years, there were men such as Chief Mike Elechi, a one-time Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Works from Elele and Engineer Apollos Amadi, a former member of the House of Representatives from Aluu. These men at different times did not think Wihioka should continue to run the show in Ikwerre.
They were not alone. Younger politicians were similarly of the same view.
These groups accused Elder of strangulating the interests of close associates of the Minister.
Amaechi stood with Wihioka no matter what the pressure was and insisted Wihioka was the undisputed leader of the area.
While some persons left angrily, others stayed on because of their love for Amaechi and what they saw as his ability to offer them protection from the alleged torment of Elder.
A move which sought to turn elders into members of an advisory council and youths into drivers of LGA politics did not go down well with Elder.
There were heated arguments over the issue. Elder, according to sources, saw the move as a ploy to weaken his grasp; to reduce the relevance that he enjoyed.
Despite getting the nod to represent the area at the National Assembly, it does not appear that Wihioka was happy.
The opportunity to part ways came when Abe stepped into the roped square.
Wihioka stood with Abe and turned his back to his brother and ally.
Four men appear to have been close to the heart of Amaechi. They were Magnus Abe, Chidi Wihioka, Nyesom Wike and Allwell Onyeso
Onyeso who insists he was never Amaechi’s boy served in the Executive arm under Governor Peter Odili when Amaechi was Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly.
Although Onyeso may not acknowledge whatever modest role Amaechi played in his political life, Amaechi had on one occasion said it would be difficult to write pages of Allwell’s political history without his name on them.
That was during a meeting which took place at the Port Harcourt residence of the Etche political warlord.
A close political associate of Onyeso recalls how Onyeso and he used to hang out at a burka close to Amaechi’s residence in Borokiri in the early days of the Odili administration while waiting to lobby Amaechi for a slot in the State Executive Council.
There is however no independent confirmation of this assertion, but many insiders in the Peter Odili administration claim Amaechi helped Onyeso when the State Governor made up his mind to fire him.
Amaechi is believed to have traveled all night to France on that occasion to persuade Governor Odili to have a change of heart.
Sources say Onyeso was very passionate about Rotimi Amaechi, describing him as one of his closest allies in politics.
While serving as Governor Amaechi appointed Onyeso as Chairman of the Post Primary Schools Board and ensured that it was properly funded.
It is difficult to say at what point water got under the bridge, but the immediate and remote cause associated with the separation may not be unconnected with Abe’s second quest for the governorship ticket.
Onyeso had worked in the campaign office in 2015 when Dakuku Peterside was positioned to run the governorship.
In 2019, Onyeso chose to pitch tent with Magnus Abe when the initial calculation by some pundits favoured the thinking that Dakuku may stage a comeback.
Dakuku did not run and there is no evidence that he had a right of first refusal. Again, Dakuku stayed on. The choice of Tonye Cole, considered an outsider by some, as the gubernatorial candidate was perhaps designed to achieve two goals.
The first reason, persons with deep knowledge of the events have disclosed, was to end the polarization in the party caused by the ambitions of Abe and Peterside.
The second reason, it would appear, was to pursue the agenda that would enable the Riverine people after several years of democracy to govern the State.
The emergence of Cole, coupled with other personal reasons further pushed Onyeso father away from Amaechi, and set him on a collision course with his friend.
On the 26th of this month, Onyeso is expected to declare publicly for the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Close associates claim that he has all along been sympathetic to the PDP despite his insistence to the contrary. Said someone close, “What he is doing is to declare publicly. He has been in the PDP for a very long time.”
Boms wasn’t a politician when he first got the role of the Attorney General and Honourable Commissioner for Justice. But he was a widely respected lawyer who came to the table after Ken Chikere left for the National Assembly with bright ideas.
Boms is fingered as one of those from the Ikwerre ethnic extraction who allegedly betrayed Rotimi Amaechi.
Somehow, the former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice has clearly shown preference for the emergence of Senator Abe as governorship candidate, and worked tirelessly to ensure that happens.
He is believed to be one of those who have benefited immensely from their relationship with Amaechi. Unlike most who have drifted from Amaechi, he has been less abusive of his former boss.
There is no indication that he is planning to leave the APC, but most Abe sympathizers like Nle Eji, Wihioka and Onyeso have covertly joined the ranks and file of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, which is presently in power in Rivers State.
Tony Okocha was apparently one of those in Obio/Akpor who was never in the good books of Nyesom Wike, Chief of Staff to the Governor of Rivers State. Men like Tony were seen as opponents right from Wike’s days as council chairman.
So, when Okocha’s name crept up as a his replacement when he left for Abuja to be Minister, Wike is believed to have persuaded Amaechi not to go along with the appointment of Okocha, especially if his replacement in office was supposed to come from Obio/Akpor.
Wike’s arguments didn’t fly. Whatever the reasons may have been, Amaechi effectively appointed Okocha as his Chief of Staff based on recommendations that came from the area. Observers who kept close watch over Government House say he may not have been as powerful as Wike in his capacity as Chief of Staff. This tendency may not have arisen as a result of his lack of effectiveness. It may have rather arisen as a result of the use or misuse of power by his predecessor which resulted in a deliberate effort to whittle down some of the enormous influences of that office.
As Chief of Staff, Okocha was in the middle of most political maneuvers, certain highbrow and sensitive meetings held to find the way forward, facilitate the operations of Government House and efforts to coordinate the activities of his principal, etc.
Like his predecessor, Okocha has apparently fallen out of favour with his boss. Incidentally, Okocha has been accused by core Amaechi loyalists of betraying the man who trusted him so much and gave him a role to play as a highly placed personal aide.
We cannot confirm if Okocha has returned to work with Governor Wike, but the last time we checked, he was one of those driving the Abe hunt for the governorship ticket on the platform of the APC.
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