Not a few people were shocked when the news filtered out recently that a truce was brokered between two former South-South governors, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi and Senator Godwill Akpabio. Truce? Were they at loggerheads with each other, many wondered?
Unknown to them, the two former governors had engaged in a quiet but bruising battle for supremacy. The war predates the APC. When both Amaechi and Akpabio held sway as the governors of Rivers and Akwa Ibom states respectively, there existed between them a bitter rivalry as to who was in charge of the South-South geo-political zone and could be deferred to as the leader of the region the way Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is regarded in Lagos and the South West.
The rivalry was fueled more by cash than any special consideration for the development of the region. Whereas Akwa lbom, prior to 2015, would collect about N30 billion monthly from Abuja, Rivers would collect about N28 billion. They each flaunted the buoyancy of their states and saw this as conferring them with the Eze 1 (king) of the region.
Other governors, particularly Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State, distanced themselves from the battle for supremacy. In terms of economic power, Edo State could well be a local government in either state.
The rivalry was taken to the last elections in which both politicians were worsted by their opponents. While Akpabio lost his bid to return to the Senate on the platform of the All Progressives Congress and possibly aim at becoming the Senate President, Amaechi’s candidate in the Rivers governorship election was trounced by Governor Nyesom Wike.
Both are currently on what can be described as ‘zero level’ whereas their party is moving to ‘next level.’ Realising that the acrimony could lead to both of them becoming irrelevant, they initiated a truce, though report said that it was brokered by a third party.
At a meeting in Abuja last week, both political juggernauts acted a well-crafted script. They resolved to sheath the sword, and work together in the interest of the SouthSouth and the nation. An observer told Sentry: “Is it not better they are friends in the present circumstance, lending each other a helping hand to move from zero level to next level, than continue as bitter rivals and end up losing all?”
The observer called the move by the ex-rivals as ‘strategic’ in these uncertain times when President Muhammadu Buhari is compiling his list of ministers post-May 29