* Many point to Agric projects, others want roads and some want Trans-Kalabari Road
The APC seems most excited over the N78.9Bn windfall coming to Rivers State as refund of projects executed for the centre by the state government. This is because most of the projects were executed under then governor, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, now Minister of Transportation.
The news of the approval of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) to refund N79.9Bn to Rivers State for federal projects executed in the past by the state government seems to elicit huge excitement.
No statement has come from the state government to gauge the level of excitement in government but the people of the state have shown overwhelming reactions and as usual, it is taking partisan lines. The All Progressives Congress (APC) sympathizers are hailing former governor, Chibuike Rotmi Amaechi, who executed the projects that yielded the refund.
Some other Amaechi followers recall that it was fellow Niger Delta brother (Goodluck Jonathan as president) that sat on the request for refund until President Muhammadu Buhari has come to do it. In saying this, they tried to insinuate the present governor, Nyesom Wike, was complicit in the refusal to refund the funds.
While handing over in 2015, Amaechi had put down the debt (N105Bn) as cash he handed over. The FG set up a panel in 2016 to evaluate the claims of the 36 states for refunds but they said the claims from Rivers and four other states did not meet verifications in terms of documentation.
According to the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, who spoke after the FEC virtual meeting on Wednesday, June 3, 2020, a fresh panel was set up to revisit the remaining states: Rivers, Bayelsa, Cross River, Osun and Ondo. This time, the states got N148Bn refund, thus: Rivers N78.9Bn; Bayelsa N38.Bn, Cross River N18.4Bn, Ondo N7.8Bn, and Osun N2.5Bn.
Public analysts have pointed to Agricultural projects as the only way to wisely deploy the huge funds, mentioning the nearly completed Cassava Processing Plant (the largest in West Africa) that can employ 4,700 persons. They also pointed at the abandoned Rivers State Sustainable Development Agency (RSSDA) with the biggest Songhai Model Farm project in Africa at Tai to bounce back, as well as the much-talked about School-To-Land Project mooted by Gov Nyesom Wike, the abandoned fish projects expected to make Rivers a fish hub, the Etche Farm project that was to be done with Israelis, etc.
Some have suggested a N100m project in each of 319 wards in the state (N39Bn), while a few persons have pointed to the long-mentioned Trans-Kalabari Highway project.
Reacting, an APC stalwart, Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, who hailed Buhari for doing he said Jonathan could not do, advised Gov Wike to make peace with Amaechi on the score of the windfall and work together.
He pointed to where the funds should go to thus: “Reinvest the money into reviving the over 300 model primary health centres, 350 model primary schools and 24 international standard secondary schools built by Amaechi as well as most of the roads scattered all over the State screaming for attention. He should use part of the funds to pay pensioners their dues which he has refused to pay for reasons only known to him. Salaries of civil servants in the State should be settled within the next one week”.
Eze’s full reaction
The announcement of the refund of a whooping N78.9 billion to the Rivers State government by the President Mohammadu Buhari led Federal Government has continued to attract sharp misgivings and commendations from people of goodwill.
Reacting to the development, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress and former National Publicity Secretary of the defunct New People’s Democratic Party (nPDP), Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze described the refund as a sincere and patriotic display, evidencing the undisputed commitment of President Mohammadu Buhari and the APC towards the development of states’ economies.
In a statement made available to media houses, the party chief said the fund was released as a reimbursement for several federal road projects executed by the Transportation Minister, Rt. Hon. Dr. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, when he held sway as the executive governor of the South-South state.
Commending the President for his magnanimity and kind gesture, Chief Eze accused former President Goodluck Jonathan of defiling and frustrating all efforts by the then Chibuike Amaechi led state government to get a refund for all FG projects executed in the state under his watch.
Had former Gov. Amaechi got a refund then, Eze said it would have translated into further development in other critical sectors of the state’s economy.
“This was the fund Amaechi sought for approval from the then administration of Dr. Jonathan Goodluck, a son of Niger Delta, but was denied through the very satanic influence of a misguided Nyesom Wike, then Junior Minster of Education and to the detriment of Rivers people”.
Eze recalled with nostalgia the wicked conditions that the erstwhile President, Dr. Jonathan Goodluck gave to Amaechi if he is to release the funds, “Jonathan asked Amaechi to work with him in 2015 and in return Amaechi will get this refund and he will give him the freedom to choose his successor but Amaechi refused which resulted to him been hoarded like an animal by their misguided gang.
Eze recalled that Wike on assumption of office as governor, shouted himself hoarse that he met an empty treasury not minding the billions of Naira Amaechi left before leaving office, and in order for Wike to justify his one item agenda which was “destroy Amaechi” and make him ineligible for any political office in Nigeria, he set up the Justice Omereji Panel of Inquiry to probe the administration of Amaechi with a predetermined agenda, “Find Amaechi Guilty”, but the God of Amaechi disgraced them as the Panel couldn’t find Amaechi culpable.
The fund that was declared missing according to Wike, is the same fund that Rt. Hon. Amaechi, as a member of the Federal Executive Council has sanctioned to be released to the coffers of the Rivers State Government.
Recall that Chibuike Amaechi was part of the inter ministerial committee set up to investigate the authenticity of claims of executed FG projects for which refunds were sought.
Eze said Rivers people and Nigerians can now see for themselves who is a better leader between Wike, who frustrated the refund and Rotimi Amaechi, who aided the reimbursement.
Eze counselled Governor Nyesom Wike and erstwhile President of Nigeria, Dr. Jonathan Goodluck, to formally apologise to Amaechi, who they humiliated and abused because of his commitment to the best interest of Rivers people.
The party chief commended President Muhmmadu Buhari for the timely reimbursement regardless of Gov. Wike’s serial insults on the APC led Federal Government and humiliation of APC members in this State.
By this singular act, Chief Eze said the President has shown maturity as a statesman and a true leader of a united Nigeria.
While urging the governor not to see the fund as an a avenue for reckless spending as his custom is, he counselled Wike to reinvest the money into reviving the over 300 model primary health centres, 350 model state of the arts Primary schools and 24 international standard secondary schools built by Amaechi as well as most of the roads scattered all over the State screaming for attention. He should use part of the funds to pay Pensioners their dues which he has refused to pay for reasons only known to him. Salaries of Civil Servants in the State should be settled within the next one week, Eze reiterated.
He equally tasked the governor to be weary of the huge number of job loss his clueless administration has caused Rivers people and tasked him to seek counsel on job creation. He said a reasonable percentage of the refund should be channeled to building factories, mills and industries, stressing that thousands of jobs can be created from such initiative.
Eze counselled Wike to go back to his mentor and benefactor, Chibuike Amaechi, and learn a little bit of arts of governance to avoid further embarrassing excuses for failing to deliver on his duties, averring that with a whooping N78.9b, Rivers people will no longer entertain any flimsy excuses to justify his failures.
Eze further averred that some of the projects executed by the Odili’s and Amaechi’s administrations inspected were:
- The over 41.26 kilometre dualisation of the Airport-Isiokpo-Elele/Omerelu road
- The reconstruction of Ikwerre Road from Education to Agip flyover Junction
- Construction of flyover at Agip-Rumueme-Abacha Roundabout
- The construction of flyover on East-West Road at Obiri-Ikwerre, with rotary turning and service lanes
- Eleme Junction Flyover and interchange
- Ada George Road phases one and two.
The party chief said three roads and three flyover bridges including the beautiful Obiri-Ikwerre Boulevard constructed by Rotimi Amaechi were the six projects that attracted the refund.
Eze appealed to members of the APC who have suffered humiliation and neglect this past five years not to see the gesture by the Buhari-led administration that we collectively suffered to install as a means of empowering a man whose destructive character has harmed and caused us pains through injuries, loss of limbs and even lives of loved ones, but a means through which the Federal Government has vindicated our leader. It should be seen that he never embezzled Rivers funds as alleged by Wike who tried in vain to paint him black and to rub him in the mud.
“We should also see this action as a demonstration by this administration of her commitment towards the rapid development of our dear State. I am convinced that within the next few months, President Muhammadu Buhari will consider alleviating our sufferings and appreciate us for the huge risk and humiliation we have suffered in enthroning his administration and so I plead with us all to be a bit more patient. God will not allow our sufferings to continue unattended”.
Eze maintained that the efforts to erase the uncommon feats of Amaechi in the construction of modern Rivers State notwithstanding, Amaechi has remained a hero so far as governance is concerned in Rivers State and Nigeria at large
He said his legacies span across all sectors including Transportation – first monorail project in the sub-saharan Africa. There is also the building of a new city – the Greater Port Harcourt City – which houses several key projects. The over 40, 000 capacity Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium is part of the facilities in the ultra modern games village, second to none in the whole of Africa.
Amaechi is an enigma; he is a hero that will surely be celebrated one of these days no matter the odds and efforts of some undemocratic elements in Nigeria, Eze concluded.