Rivers : Wike may not have served as Amaechi’s Chief of Staff if…
… How a non-indigene changed the cause of Rivers history
Barrister Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, Governor of Rivers State would probably not reveal how he turned out to be the number one pick for the office of the Chief of Staff to Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, originally elected as a Governor on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
But a timeous decision, influenced by a non indigene just as Governor Rotimi Amaechi was about to make some critical appointments, possibly altered the path of Rivers history and changed Wike’s whole life.
Being the Chief of Staff to the Governor of a State, from what we have found out, was not something that Wike, a former Council Chairman of Obio/Akpor Local Government Area was thinking of in 2007.
Fred Alasia a.k.a Prof had been named as the first Chief of Staff under the Odili administration.
As Chief of Staff, Alasia operated along William Jumbo Street, a few blocks outside Government House, Port Harcourt.
But not many in the Odili era saw the newly created office of Chief of Staff as something big.
Thus, being appointed as part of the State Executive Council was considered more dignifying and significant.
Wike from what we have heard was actively lobbying to occupy the office of the Commissioner for Finance.
Late Mayor of Port Harcourt, Chief Nnamdi Wokekoro was indeed one of those being considered for the office of Chief of Staff.
We have heard there were earlier discussions in the UK which allegedly considered the possibility of nominating Nnamdi for the job.
If Wike had propably served as Commissioner for Finance, it is very doubtful he may have been able to secure a ministerial appointment and later become governor.
At best, one insider observed, “he would have ended up with some money as Commissioner for Finance through tips and deals and possibly, financial scams, if he chose to.”
Another credible source who spoke under conditions of anonymity disclosed, “certain developments; certain new twists; changed the entire course of Rivers history.
“The Rumueprikom – born politician was scheming to be Amaechi’s first Commissioner for Finance. That was what he really wanted.
“People were getting used to the idea too. Nobody wanted a go at whatever Wike was eyeing.
“The former local government council chairman who was almost tossed out of office while scheming for a second tenure at Obio/Akpor was already powerful by virtue of his assumed closeness to Amaechi.
“From the blues, Wike started to lobby for the position of Chief of Staff which was almost going the way of Nnamdi Wokekoro.”
What could have led to the sudden change of heart?
Apparently, Wike had received a position paper prepared by a lawyer, Chuma Chinye, a non-indigene who nonetheless fought on the side of Amaechi.
Chuma presented an executive summary which analyzed all of the available offices in the cabinet and the adviser cadre, and concluded that if Wike wanted to emerge as a strong player, or come anywhere near the kind of influence that the office of the Secretary to Government could wield under Magnus Abe, the office of the Chief of Staff might be the best place to be.
“Chuma was able to make Wike and a small team of inner friends that was working with him at the time to understand that as Chief of Staff, leveraging on the trust he would enjoy from the Governor, he would have a measure of control over Government House”, an insider revealed.
“Chuma opened the eyes of Wike to the kind of power that he could muster within the administration simply by hanging around Amaechi on a 24-hour basis; the kind of cash that he could see or control by serving the Governor from the inside as personal aide; and the enormous influence that he would exert on other officers of state as Chief of Staff.”
Although Wike was not a member of the State Executive Council when he was named Chief of Staff, Governor Rotimi Amaechi convinced cabinet to allow his top aide sit in its midst.
A seat was eventually established for the Chief of Staff at the head of the pack, next to the Secretary to the State Government.
That move, noted a Commissioner who served at the time, consolidated Wike’s grip and somehow, cleared the path for the dream of a later day “Ikwerre South” governor.
Given the bad blood which now exists, Wike has struggled these past few years to reconstruct some of the roles which he played prior to the 2007 Supreme Court victory, at least to secure for himself, a place in history as the major ‘dramatis personae” in the fight to regain the mandate that brought Amaechi back from Ghana.
Wike claims Amaechi who saved his second tenure bid as Council Chairman as Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly would have rotted away in Ghana if he had not led the fight.
Telegraph’s investigation reveals this may not be true. What is true is that the political future of those who committed to the governorship project of Amaechi was at puerile if the bid to restore the mandate failed.
While Amaechi was in Ghana and the battle to restore his mandate raged on at home, the record shows neither Nyesom Wike nor Magnus Abe knew where the incoming governor was actually residing in that West African country.
The issue of the exact place of residence of Amaechi was kept top secret.
There were people, the Telegraph has learnt, who could have betrayed him if they got the opportunity, particularly after the relationship between the former two-term Speaker and his political godfather went sour.
It was thus agreed among Amaechi’s security advisers that the exact whereabouts of the future governor of Rivers State in Ghana should never be disclosed.
From his hideout in exile, Amaechi as the leader reportedly conducted the battle, coordinating the course of the war and issuing necessary instructions to those who were holding fort on ground.
Telegraph’s Editor-in-chief, Rt. Hon Ogbonna Nwuke who later emerged as Spokesman of Amaechi’s team was reached on phone by the leader to take up the responsibility in that era.
That order did not come either from Wike or Abe. Nwuke was rather asked to liaise with them.
Chuma Chinye, the architect of Wike’s decision to go for the position of Chief of Staff would later serve as a Commissioner of Commerce and Industry in an APC administration in Rivers State after Wike eloped with President Goodluck Jonathan.
Thereafter, Chuma migrated to the PDP, emerging as a top aide of the National Chairman.
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