How the rivalry between Amaechi and Wike could have led to the disappearance of a Rivers plane
The story of how Governor Nyesom Wike recovered an aircraft bought by the Peter Odili administration, which was not properly accounted for, is making the rounds at this time.
The aeroplane, property of the Rivers State Government, was reportedly forgotten in Europe (precisely in Germany) under the Amaechi administration which was in power for eight years.
Wike had served in the Amaechi administration for four years as the Governor’s Chief of Staff.
Along the line, major differences arose between the two, peaking uncontrollably after Wike became Minister under the Jonathan era and indicated interest to contest the governorship of his home state.
While Amaechi moved out of the PDP to join forces with the APC, Wike who remained in the PDP took over the structure of the party.
The fight between Wike and Amaechi which escalated afterwards turned both men into dreaded opponents instead of good friends.
As a result of the rivalry between supporters of Amaechi and Wike which led to tension and a trail of violence, the Rivers State earned the sobriquet, “Rivers of Blood”.
Amaechi was physically absent on handover day in 2015 after his preferred candidate, Dakuku Peterside lost to Wike in a keenly contested election.
There are indications that his absence at the swearing in ceremony, government sources in Port Harcourt insist, may have made a proper and official handover of government assets and liabilities impossible.
The Wike administration has succeeded in tracking the whereabouts of the abandoned aircraft, a Legacy 600 series airplane that Odili acquired.
Wike in Germany accompanied by the Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly
Wike is however saying publicly that the incumbent government in the State did not enjoy the benefit of an appropriate documentation of all the facts pertaining to the whereabouts of the aircraft.
Public opinion is intensely focused on events that are playing out in Rivers State, following the revelation by the Rivers State Government that it has found one of its aircrafts that seemingly disappeared 10 years ago.
In the past 10 years, Legacy has been sitting on a parking lot on German soil – abandoned, unmanned and unsold.
Why the Amaechi administration possibly treated the aircraft purchased by Governor Odili like a wasted asset or abandoned property remains quite unclear.
Governor Wike who spoke to the media volunteered information that the plane may have gone to Germany for routine checks.
But he hinted that the aircraft, last seen during the tenure of Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, ought to have gone through routine checks within a period of not more than six months before returning to Nigeria.
Addressing the press, the Rivers Governor admitted there were however handover issues and the absence of the kind of documentation that could have been of great help in easily locating the aircraft.
Amaechi, rumoured to be a presidential hopeful in the APC is yet to respond directly to what the Rivers State Government obviously describes as the discovery of the plane which left for Europe under his watch and never returned.
Chris Finebone, spokesman for the APC, has come forth with an explanation which suggests there is nothing new in the story.
Finebone recalled Wike had spoken long ago about the presence of two aircrafts in the Rivers fleet.
He also recalled that the Rivers Governor had said at the time that he had obtained intelligence suggesting the aircraft in question was in Germany.
Meanwhile, a former Chief of Staff to Governor Amaechi, Tony Okocha has said he had no knowledge of the removal of the Legacy 600 aircraft to Germany.
He said in a statement that when he noticed the disappearance of the plane from its usual parking slot, he raised a memo to Governor Amaechi.
Okocha who affirmed that the supervision of of the aircrafts was transferred to the Office of the Chief of Staff from the Ministry of Transport said that although he has a strong feeling that the memo was treated, it was never minuted back to him.
According to him, “The disappearance of the Aircraft was uncovered and officially communicated to my boss with no Feed back, of course, the buck in decision~making in Government, doesn’t stop on my table.
“I wasn’t in the picture neither in knowledge of the movement of the Aircraft to Germany for any reason whatsoever. Needless therefore to say that the recovery of the Aircraft in Germany, is stunning/jolting News to me.”
Wike may have spoken, perhaps about an issue bordering on public accountability.
He may have shed light on how he went about tracking the aeroplane to the place in Munich where it was purportedly abandoned.
But in Rivers State where both men come from, there are persons who are likely to see the governor’s comment as an affront possibly a non issue, and a continuation of the rivalry between the two men.
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