By Dapo Akinrefon & Chris Onuoha
LAGOS — ALL Progressives Congress, APC, leader Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, yesterday, attributed the defeat of President Goodluck Jonathan in the last presidential election to a commonsense revolution anchored on a rebellion against the excesses of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
He spoke at a book launch in Lagos where Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka extolled him, and Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State as the drivers of the uprising, which he said, was fast-tracked by President Jonathan’s mishandling of the Nigerian Governors Forum, NGF crisis.
The public presentation of the book “Dynamics of Change: The Amaechi Years”, was witnessed by a cross section of the political class and civil society including governors, former governors, senators among others.
Justice Adolphus Karibi-Whyte, who was chairman of the occasion, said the book only offered a glimpse into the vision that stimulated the infrastructure and developments during the Amaechi years in Rivers State.
Amaechi on his part gave a peep into his political challenges, noting how even when he got Tinubu angry before the APC convention, both men set aside their issues for the common goal of achieving victory in the elections that were yet to be held at that time.
Tinubu, who was guest of honour at the presentation of the book written by Dr. Yemi Ogunbiyi and Dr. Chidi Amuta in his comments said: “Amaechi is an example of common sense revolution. In the course of the historic campaigns for the 2015 Presidential Election, I was emphatic that the election itself was a great opportunity to popularise and test the noble idea of a Common Sense Revolution in Nigeria. Soon enough, we found in the resonance of the APC Change mantra with the electorate a confirmation that Nigeria needed a Common Sense Revolution that is non-violent.
“Indeed there is a publication with that title authored by me in which I argued that Nigeria was ripe for a change of leadership and Nigerians must act in a Common Sense and rational way in choosing their leaders. The results of the March Presidential elections and that of April have demonstrated clearly the desire by Nigerians for change.”
The APC national leader, however, urged the new crop of leaders to embark on policies that will alleviate the plight of Nigerians.”
Continuing, he said: “Elections over, both the leaders and citizens must brace up to meet the challenges required to build a better, more prosperous nation. Indeed, even as we subscribe to the tenets of Common Sense Revolution, we must retool ourselves, the new leadership must embark on policies that will improve the general well-being of the mass of our people.
“It is a positive one to rescue, repair and restructure the nation and its institutions in ways that further collective prosperity and well-being. The only violence that is to be done is to violence, injustice and poverty themselves. At its essence, a common sense revolution is a call to return to a level of decency in the relationship between government and the governed, between each one of us and his neighbour.
“In my view, our gathering to celebrate the landmark achievements of my brother, Governor Rotimi Amaechi, in Rivers State in the last eight years is also another justifiable celebration of idea of Common Sense Revolution for development. The publication of the book, Dynamics of Change: The Amaechi Years is a timely service to history.”
Governors’ Forum crisis
Lauding Amaechi’s leadership of the NGF, the former Lagos State governor said “this occasion is all the more remarkable because of the huge challenges Amaechi has been facing especially in his second term from an extremely hostile federal government. His role as the chairman of the Governors’ Forum invariably brought him into a bitter collision with President Jonathan.
“Governor Amaechi and most of the governors want a properly defined federalist relationship with the government at the centre. The President would have none of that as in the notable example of the management of the federation account. This is, therefore, another great opportunity to salute Amaechi’s rare courage of conviction and sense of purpose. The APC has every cause to be proud of him,” Tinubu said.
Amaechi took a risky decision—Soyinka
In his comment, Prof. Soyinka commended Amaechi for standing up to President Jonathan during the NGF crisis. He identified Tinubu and Amaechi as the two main agents who brought down the PDP.
“The political atmosphere today, whatever you call it, change or hope or cautious hope and naked hope or careless hope, I recognise two personalities, in particular, who led the chant of change. One of them, I call him the architect of the process, the architect, in fact, that houses the essence of hope. That is Ahmed Bola Tinubu. The other person was unconsciously, perhaps, the arrow head of that charge that led to the change and that is the man that we gather here to celebrate.”
Soyinka said Amaechi took a risky decision during the NGF crisis that inevitably exposed him to the wrath of the presidency.
“He (Amaechi) was the one who said no, we cannot turn the clock backwards. Nothing about the philosophy of the clock runs against what we were hoping for. It was a very unpopular and risky decision to take. But it exposed to us the basic arithmetic fallacy of governance in demonstrating that when 16 is said to be higher than 19, something is fundamentally wrong and the same kind of arithmetic leads to the cooking of figures in governance. And it was within that nexus that he stood up and challenged even his own colleagues, and said let’s change the mentality of the stock, let us re-orientate it towards the people and towards the nation and the electorate.
“I remember someone very close to me that said I hear you are close to Rotimi Amaechi, tell that young man that he is going to destroy himself, and I said, you know something, you have been in a position where I have had the opportunity of being your teacher and your mentor and you mean to say you never learnt from me that it is better to be destroyed on the basis of what you really live for? And you want me to deliver such a message? That person who is in Aso Rock wanted me to tell Amaechi to back off, to slow down and that he is playing with fire and playing with a catapult against big guns. I never delivered that message. All I did was to study him more closely and wait to see.”
Karibi-Whyte commends Amaechi
Justice Karibi-Whyte commended Amaechi for embarking on developmental projects that were beneficial to the people of Rivers State, saying it was only a peep into the successful adventure of Amaechi in the state. “From my observation, I believe those who have written, wrote from the position which they thought but they did not to a large extent, look behind the facade of the motivating factors because I believe that he had been pained that nobody had seen the problems which he was foreseeing when he brought about schools, health centres in every local government, roads, education.”
I was determined to effect change—Amaechi
Giving the background of the challenges he faced after joining the APC, Governor Amaechi noted the sacrifice he and other leaders made for the eventual victory that was realised with the victory over the PDP in the presidential election last March.
“I am determined that there should be a change because if there’s no change, things will not move. Even before the party convention, I got Asiwaju Tinubu angry. I went to him and implored that we should not fight or disagree over issues. I told him that the important thing was for us to win first and after which, we can disagree. I believe that we must win and make a change, for anything that will not bring that change; I am ready to make a sacrifice.
I am proud to be a part of the change process. I am not stubborn but principled. I speak the truth and abide by the rules.”
On the crisis that engulfed the NGF, Amaechi, who is the chairman of the forum, accused the president of instigating the crisis.
He said: “In the Governors’ Forum, we set up a mechanism where we go from state to state to see how the governors were faring. Unfortunately, the President scattered the Governors’ Forum”.
Extolling Soyinka’s virtues, he said he is the only person whose bag he has ever carried because of the respect he has for him.
Governor Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers), Governor Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), Governor Abdulaziz Yari (Zamfara), Justice Adolphus Karibi-Whyte, Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, Bishop of Sokoto, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah; Chief John Oyegun-APC National Chairman; Asiwaju Bola Tinubu—former Lagos State governor; Chief Bisi Akande, Engineer Segun Oni, Dr Kayode Fayemi—former governor of Ekiti State; Otunba Niyi Adebayo— former governor of Ekiti State; Business mogul, Alhaji Aliko Dangote; Jim Ovia—former CEO of Zenith Bank; Akinwumi Ambode—Lagos State governor-elect; Mallam Nasir El-Rufai-Kaduna State governor-elect; Mr Samuel Nanlong—Plateau State governor-elect; Mr Sam Amuka, Publisher, Vanguard Newspapers; Senator Magnus Abe, Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora, Senator Daisy Danjuma and Alabo Graham Douglas.