By Akanimo Sampson
The war of attrition between Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and Transportation Minister, Chibuike Amaechi, does not appear to be in a hurry to end.
The two prominent Ikwerre political leaders have been locked in a bitter politics since the electioneering campaigns of 2015, and in the process kicking dust and fueling unease in the state, the oil and gas capital of Nigeria.
At a time political watchers were expecting a ceasefire following Wike’s defeat of Amaechi again in the power contest for the soul of Rivers in 2019, the COVID-19 crisis appears to provide the two political foes another opportunity to aim dangerously at each other.
This is playing out as the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) says the country on Sunday recorded 170 new confirmed cases of coronavirus and two deaths, and that no new state reported a case in the last 24 hours.
Amaechi’s loyalists are firing at Wike over an alleged discriminatory manner his administration is handling the distribution of COVID-19 palliatives in the state. They want the administration to learn from how the Green Nigeria Foundation Project, is sharing-out of the largesse from Amaechi.
Meanwhile, the Amaechi camp is lashing out at Wike for allegedly giving out “a cup of garri, few grains of rice and a sachet or two of noodles. This is awfully insignificant and terribly poor for a Rivers family and is not commensurate with the N2 billion taxpayers’ money earmarked for the project.’’
A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Eze Chukwueneka Eze, says Amaechi doled out over 12,000 bags of rice to Rivers people through the civic group supervising the sharing and distribution of the donation in the best manner possible to strike down favoritism and discrimination on grounds of party affiliation which is the core inclination and leaning of the Desmond Akawo-led Rivers State Government Palliative Committee.
While commending the minister for his kind gesture, Eze says the intervention became expedient following the untold hardship occasioned by the total lockdown of the state and the attendant hunger striking and ravaging poor homes.
“Amaechi’s intervention has really allayed the quantum of challenges faced by poor families abandoned to their fate by the state government in the midst of the pandemic and lockdown which has crushed sources of livelihood and offered an invitation to hunger.
“Results from the field indicate that Amaechi’s palliative which was concluded last Wednesday with the Bonny Local Government Area has helped a lot of families and even commanded wider circulation than the state government’s which has been caught in the web of discrimination and massive diversion and has been described by citizens as a mere scam’’, Eze said.
Most of the beneficiaries, according to the APC chief, say the food items will help in sustaining their families during this stay at home occasioned by the global pandemic caused by the coronavirus.
President of the Green Nigeria Foundation Project, Warigbani Ezekiel, says the food items were the gesture of Amaechi, his friends and associates to encourage the people to continue to adhere to precautionary measures by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Federal Government to avoid the spread of the deadly virus.