• Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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Why Wike will always defeat Amaechi – Tony Okocha

Tony Okocha

The victory of Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) seems to have lifted the lid in an aspect of political mines in Rivers State, with the man who seems to know everything, Tony Okocha, opening up on things many never knew about Governor Nyesom Wike and Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi.

Okocha, now the arrowhead of the Tinubu political family in the state, was special assistant to Wike as Obio/Akpor local council chairman and later Chief of Staff to then Governor Amaechi. From these positions, he says he knows both men up to the bedroom.

In an exclusive interview with BusinessDay at the Hotel Presidential on Friday, March 3, 2023, Okocha, a national director of the Tinubu/Shettima Grassroots Independent Campaign Council (TSGICC), ICC for short.

I never saw Amaechi going far.

The man believed to enjoy the trust and confidence of Governor Wike though in different political parties sensationally barred his mind about the political future of Amaechi, immediate past transportation minister, saying he never believed right in the beginning that his former boss would go far to the point of becoming the next president.

He said this while trying to show that he never expected to be nominated by Rivers APC led by Amaechi’s loyalists into national body in charge of the Tinubu campaigns, the ICC and PCC. He said he was seen as a thorn in Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi flesh.

He stated: “I never supported him. Yes, he was my boss, but I didn’t see him going far. He wasn’t within my radar of contemplation to be president of Nigeria because I know that he does not have the serenity of mind to be president. I was his Chief of Staff and I can tell you categorically that he doesn’t have it.

“I was his chief of staff and I emphasise it. I need a better Nigeria and a better Nigeria would not be found in his hands. (In my opinion), he is not mentally fit but he could be physically fit. We do not want somebody in the system that is erratic, somebody who is an absolutist. We need somebody who is a pure democrat, who has a vision and gets people to go and drive the vision and get results.”

He recalled his days of striving against his former boss in the APC and said he has been a pain in their ass.

“Recall, I don’t know any radio station in Port Harcourt I didn’t go to, either by invitation or on payment basis, all to canvass support for Tinubu. I was taunted with different names; how can you be a betrayer, you are an ingrate, etc. All those rubbish were hauled at me, but it didn’t make any meaning to me.

“We moved on because I didn’t also believe in their philosophy then: Amaechi kept telling them that President Muhammadu Buhari was going to anoint him, that after Buhari he was going to be the next president. And I knew of his fraternity with state house cabal and the promises that were made to him,” he said.

How Wike consistently defeated us

Okocha addressed a press conference where he and others in the ICC appreciated groups that helped to make Tinubu win. He singled out Gov Wike of the PDP and thus urged his group to help Wike’s governorship choice, Sim Fubara of the PDP. This didn’t seem to go down well with the state coordinator of the ICC, Augustine Wokocha, who addressed a counter press conference to condemn Okocha.

Responding to this, Okocha pointed to the significance of the Wike support in the Tinubu victory. “In 2015, Wike defeated us, all of us put together: Amaechi was governor, I was chief of staff, Abe was senator. We were in government and in unity and in one block. Wike was leading his team of small groups he harvested together. But on Election Day, PDP defeated APC in Rivers State. We didn’t even score up to five per cent. Our vote was around 69,000 against over two million Goodluck Jonathan got. Yes, they said Jonathan used power, but Amaechi was also in power as state governor.

“Now, we lost spectacularly. It was worse in 2019, by then Wike had taken power and used it to win again. If he could defeat us when he was minister, you can see.”

Read also: Wike-backed APC faction says will work for PDP governorship victory

He said the victory of Tinubu in Rivers State came about because they in the PCC/ICC had made request to the G-5 (Governors) to consider joining them in APC to deliver their candidate, Tinubu. “Now, Wike heeded to our call, just like the others did. You know that in these five states, PDP did not win any, even though APC won in three (Rivers, Oyo and Benue), Abia and Enugu were lost to LP. That’s it.”

How we lost Rivers in 2015

He said the Amaechi group (where he belonged by 2015) did a postmortem on why they lost in 2015. “The loss was largely caused by him. Yes! Largely! First, his decision to pick Dakuku Peterside over Magnus Abe who was more acceptable to the group. He foisted Dakuku on his group. At the meeting where the decision was taken was never a meeting to take decision. Amaechi turned into meeting of crème de la crème. He gave me a list of those to invite. It was when they gathered that the name was dropped for them. This was over and above Magnus Abe, Tele Ikuru, Sampson Parker, even our SSG then, George Feyii, was remotely lobbying. So, Amaechi was the reason why we lost.”

He went on profiling the former governor: “He is also impatient for details. That is why Wike will defeat him 50 times over. My own advantage: I have the privilege of working with Wike inside his bedroom and Amaechi inside his bedroom. When Wike was the chairman of Obio/Akpor, I was his executive assistant and I worked with him in his bedroom. I know him like the back of my hand. I was Amaechi’s chief of staff and I worked with him inside his bedroom. I know him. I know their strengths and weaknesses.

“On politics, Wike is 10 times more experienced, more patient for details. Amaechi would howl at you; very aggressive. He doesn’t want to listen to information. Wike, if you give him information, he would howl a bit but will go back, synthesize what you have said, remove the shaft from the grains. But Amaechi would dismiss you with a wave of the hand. So, enemies knew this weakness.”

He said the reason why most of his allies left was not because of money.

On why he too is totally against Amaechi, he said it was out of principled stand. “On principle, a lot of things exist. I am a democrat. If in a democracy, you introduce dictatorship or autocracy, then we are miles apart. Amaechi became a totalitarian. You can ask anybody.’

Why former aides left Amaechi in droves

Many former aides have left the Amaechi camp. Okocha gives some insight. “If you get close to him, you will find that he is unnecessarily overbearing. He is draconian in his decision-making. We are in this thing together.”

How I prosecuted the Mbu Mbu war

Okocha revealed that he was the engine room for the war the Amaechi camp waged against a commissioner of police that was seen as sent to destroy the then governor’s political base, if not getting him out of power.

“I was his chief of staff, not an indolent one. I prosecuted the Mbu War. Many people were dodging. No executive council member, no cabinet member supported, they supported from a distance. It was me and the LGA chairmen that fought the battles, and I did it without one kobo from Amaechi or anybody as fund to do it. But, I saw it as a task on my table. And I did everything within my table. I committed LGA chairmen, because how would you prosecute a thing without support,” he said.

He said each time Mbu wanted to do anything, he would run into a crowd. “The LGA people would be in my house before 7am every morning. The ones that lived far slept in my house while those near would arrive by 7am.

“To do that, I needed to have a central command, and this was in my house. They ate from morning till 9pm when they will disperse and return the next morning. So, if we have anything, they would be the ones calling their people to bring in people. That was how we prosecuted Mbu matter. No more, no less.”

He said Amaechi was still running around Lagos and Abuja doing his Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) business and always out of the country. “He did not care. For me, it was my task, it was on my desk. I managed it and survived it.”

Okocha vs Wokocha: Crisis in Tinubu support group:

Some crisis has reared up within the group. The state coordinator is Augustine Wokocha while the national director is Tony Okocha.

Before now, there was a period Tinubu was merely an aspirant. Okocha said he was the coordinator of one of the most potent, very vibrant support groups; in fact, about the only one in Rivers State that spoke up, the Bola Ahmed Tinubu Support Vanguard. “I was the state coordinator. What we did here merited or rather gave me another opportunity as chairman of south-south coordinators of the group.”

He said he was shocked to hear that Wokocha said he Okocha was not authorised to convene the press conference; that his own group would vote for Abe, and that he (Wokocha) did not see any money from Governor Wike to make Tinubu win.

Reacting, Okocha said: “I am shocked! I say this with all sense of responsibility and purpose. I have been the anchor point in the Tinubu support activity and campaign in Rivers State. All meetings were hosted by me. I provided all the funds. There was nothing about the PCC that showed we wanted Tinubu to be president.”

He said he took actions that turned things around. Now, Tinubu won in the state and in Nigeria.

He also explained how he singlehandedly secured approval for venue of the Tinubu rally and secured the funding of repairs and mobilization.

“I have been in government and I was chief of staff and I know the impact of the media in wars like that. So, those wars, media wars, forced them (Amaechi team) out on the matter of the rally. I had the letter and they had nothing. The state governor had no intention to approve another venue for the party on the same day.

“I funded all activities 100 per cent. Apart from funding, the PCC/ICC members ate and they all drink anything they wanted. So, for Wokocha to say this, it is laughable.

“Let me tell you the whole thing. It is not about saying we want to support Sim Fubara (PDP governorship candidate) or not. There is nowhere there that we overtly said we are going to support Sim.”

Money

“Their only problem is, why do I have to mention Governor Wike. Anyone of you even as pressmen know that even in the world’s biggest democracies, there is no way you can say that money doesn’t play a role. Now, we had an APC convention. There was campaign. How did we raise the money for it?”

Wokocha

He went on: “I will reply Wokocha. His statement is very watery. I have result from his own ward. He is chairman of Magnus Abe’s Committee on Finance (SDP). He is SDP, not APC. He is a card-carrying member of SDP. He was made ICC member when all of us were in APC, when Magnus hadn’t left APC. So, he joined Magnus to defect to the SDP. As we speak today, he is chairman of finance committee of Magnus Campaign Committee.

“These persons talking are not even APC but SDP members. So, those who called today’s press briefing are nothing but full members of the SDP, not APC. I will bring the evidence. They want media war? I will show you all the documents and evidences.

“Their anger is that Abe disappeared into thin air, but it was not my making. Abe was the leader of the Tinubu family in Rivers State. He defected to SDP, but I didn’t leave. When he left, I took charge. There is nobody in this state that did not know that Tony Okocha was in charge of Tinubu family. And out of nothing, I worked.”

How I became leader of Rivers APC

He admitted that Abe moving to SDP and leaving him behind in the APC was an understanding. “If I wasn’t there, the Amaechi group would have taken over everything. It is my stay there and the strength that I could muster that chased them away.”

On what makes him the APC leader in the state, Okocha stated thus: “We had two factions and Magnus was leader of one faction and I was member of that faction. We were in court and we challenged all the processes because our people were unlawfully excluded.”

He said when Abe left and he (Okocha) took over, he then became the new leader. Now that Abe has contested in SDP, he cannot lead APC and SDP at same time.

How Magnus Abe betrayed me

Okocha went to disclose he said Magnus Abe betrayed him.

“Our people paid for forms in banks as the party stipulated, got their tellers to go and collect forms. They said they would not give them forms and would not refund their money. The Electoral Law frowned at it because it unlawful deprivation and there is no remedy. That was also the case in 2022. So, another case (George Olua vs APC Rivers). We won at the lower they went to the Court of Appeal and did what they did. We lost. We went to the Supreme Court. It was same Magnus that went behind me to go withdraw the case.”

Wike, the political leader

Okocha said Wike is now the undisputed political leader of Rivers State, having delivered Tinubu in the state and also controls the PDP in the state. “He decides where our people will follow. Remember that he had warned that Rivers people would only vote for a person who would remember them when he wins. That was his own sentiment.”

Amaechi was for Atiku

Okocha said in politics winner takes it all. “It was clear that a day before the February 25 election Amaechi had called his supporters to say, vote for Atiku. He did Atiku. So, he can’t possibly harvest where he did not sow.”

Tinubu lost in Abe’s ward

He went on: “Magnus wants to eat his cake and have it. He has left APC and left Tinubu. Ask him whether there was any day in his campaigns he mentioned himself and mentioned Tinubu. He went his way. Tinubu lost in his ward. SDP lost won in his ward. Go and verify Bera Ward 16, Gokana. APC came second in his ward. The votes came from Victor Giadom. Abe’s supporters voted for SDP. I will show everything. I am fully loaded.So what would be his moral justification to claim to be for Tinubu.”

Sim will not be rubber stamp

Okocha can’t understand why people were saying Sim Fubara, Wike’s choice as next governor, would be a rubber stamp. He said history does not support the fear going by precedence.

Rather, he said Fubara would likely face areas Wike did not do because no one government can do all things. “If Sim says he wants to continue in the gains of Wike’s administration and pushes in the weak areas, human capital development, he will make a good governor.”

Okocha also explained why Obio’Akpor’s result came a bit late due to vast areas to cover.

Conclusion

This may just be the beginning of the Tinubu camp wars in Rivers State as realignments begin.