It is pathetic that the ability of my Rivers people to recall past incidents is very poor because everybody prefers to live in the now.
It is an established fact that any person that is heavily drunk will always tell the truth on almost everything not because he prefers to but because under the influence of kai kai, the part of the brain that engineers lies usually gets totally incapacitated. However, many people are ignorant of the fact that inordinate ambition intoxicates even more than grade one ogogoro. Is this not clear from the running exchanges between the Rivers state governor, Chibuike Amaechi and his estranged right hand man who was also his erstwhile Chief of Staff, the current minister of state for Education, Nyesom Wike?
It is not true that the face-off between Amaechi and his former Chief of Staff (both Ikwerre) was as a result of Wike’s ambition to become governor or Amaechi’s statement that no Ikwerre man would succeed him in 2015. Both men will still need to disclose the truth about their disagreement. Can these two men be said to be “simply hungry for power and do not know how to go about it, except with money”?
During a recent tour of Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers state, the home LGA of the minister, Governor Amaechi accused Wike of diverting over N2 billion meant for the building of 14 model primary schools in the area during his saty at the Government House as the chief of staff to the governor. He also accused Wike of depriving Rivers people of good governance.
His words: “What I did when I assumed office as governor in 2007 was think of how to put food on the table of our people as an alternative to militancy. I built economic infrastructure and you can see it yourselves. In every model school we built, we employed 50 persons and we have built about 500 model primary schools. For every health centre we built, we employed a minimum of 50 persons and we have built 140 model primary health centres. When we came, hospitals had only 200 doctors. We employed 200 more to make it 400. We knew 400 will not be enough and we employed 200 more to make it 600 doctors. With these plans, we were able to reduce poverty and unemployment.”
In his response while hosting the people of Evo Kingdom, Obio/Akpo Council in Port Harcourt, Wike not only denied the allegations but also accused Amaechi of diverting over N3 billion meant for the landscaping of Port Harcourt “through his friends in Ghana” amongst other allegations including alleged disappearance of the N7.5 billion for the construction of the 1,000-bed Adolphus Karibi-Whyte Specialist Hospital at the Greater Port Harcourt City.
His words: “Amaechi has never given me any money to build a school. Let him mention those schools and communities. Assuming he gave me 14 schools, am I the commissioner for Education? If he gave me the contract and the job was not done, why didn’t he arrest me? If he gave me the job and I refused to do it, why did he recommend me to be appointed as a minister?
“Amaechi should account for the N7.5 billion ($50 million) contract for the construction of the 1,000-bed Adolphus Karibi-Whyte Specialist Hospital. The $50 million was released to the Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Sampson Parker, without due approval. I wonder why the hospital has not been built, despite demolishing the old one that was in good use. Where is that money and where is the 1,000-bed hospital?
“In Amaechi’s government, a Ghanaian contractor was hired for the landscaping of Port Harcourt City for about N3 billion, which was abandoned and the contractor fled. On the fumigation of Port Harcourt City against mosquitoes, over N3 billion was paid to Cuban contractors but the job was not done and the money is yet to be recovered. Are you not seeing mosquitoes where you live?
“How I wish that truly he gave me, I will be very happy. You never can tell, maybe he is mistaking me for the whole jobs his wives and concubines took away.”
Sure, this uprising will bring out the good for the terribly robbed Rivers people but that would depend on whether they can come out from their present docility to demand answers to some of these corruption cases either by themselves or through the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
It would have been better for Tony Okocha, Chief of Staff, Government House Port Harcourt to be taciturn on these corruption allegations by the two people that ran the state even when he was not too relevant in the scheme of things rather than making statements that could best be described as half-wise.
Hear Okocha: “I am surprised that Wike is displaying ignorance. He ought to know that Amaechi does not award contracts. The governor is the chairman of the State Executive Council. Contracts of up to N50 million are presented at SEC meetings and the contractors would be invited to defend the contract, while the line commissioner would liaise with the contractor. “Wike is concocting lies to disparage Amaechi. Wike is unnecessarily ambitious.” Other things he said could best be described as childish, so we restrict the public to the crux of the matter- stealing of billions of naira belonging to the Rivers people.
According to Okocha, “Amaechi could not have taken a decision to landscape Rivers state without bringing it to the table and a decision was reached, O.K Chinda (the then commissioner for Environment) was to supervise it.” Haba chief of staff! Are you saying that the alleged over N3 billion landscaping contract was discussed “on the table” but the N2 billion for model schools in Obio/Akpo was not? So the governor simply doled out the money to Wike who quietly strolled away. How does this add up?
Why did the Rivers state Governor make this same Wike the Director General of his governorship re-election in 2011 despite his alleged corrupt tendencies including the established pocketing of over N2 billion allocated for model schools in Obio/Akpo? What does this say about Amaechi himself?
From Okocha’s comment on the exchanges between the two erstwhile allies, if at all the governor gave Wike 14 schools to build, how did he do it? Did the governor give him the money when he was neither a contractor nor the Commissioner for Education? Was Wike asked to bring a contractor for the job?
Let’s look at it: You gave me a contract and I took the complete money without doing the job and you refused to report to anybody or arrest me. At the same time, you made me the director general of your re-election campaign and sent me to go and win for you. After winning, the same man who refused to build 14 schools after collecting the complete money was forwarded to be appointed as a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Haba Yewali checkam naah!
It would have been very clear to Okocha that he only succeeded in indicting his boss because whichever way you look at it, Amaechi is the major if not the only culprit and this is the truth. Was Wike the executive governor at any time? Who had the final approval on contracts and release of funds for such jobs- was it Wike or Governor Amaechi?
This is what you get when over-zealous politicians think they are more loyal to their boss than any other person. Okocha who has more pressing administrative issues to handle as the chief of staff to the governor chose to grab the assigned functions of the State Government’s information managers. Should Okocha be speaking for the Rivers state government when there is a commissioner for information and even a chief press secretary who know what to say or otherwise? A house divided among itself, how can it stand? Without doubt, the Rivers state commissioner for Information would have done a far better job at this rather than allowing the chief staff to expose his boss to more ridicule.
It is pathetic that the ability of my Rivers people to recall past incidents is very poor because everybody prefers to live in the now. I still remember some of us staked our necks to defend Amaechi, as the then Speaker of the State House of Assembly when the EFCC arrested him for monies allegedly stolen or misappropriated by Peter Odili who was the then governor. The argument was why harass Amaechi when the governor who did all the things alleged was left alone for whatever reasons at least as at the time. Now Okocha wants the Rivers people to believe that Wike as the chief of staff was very corrupt and his boss who signed and released all the monies was not. How does it add up?
IFEANYI IZEZE is an Abuja-based Consultant and can be reached