Amaechi and Rivers Resources: Eze Laughs at Abe Supporters to Scorn
… Says no Need for Panic Over Supreme Court Ruling Asking RSG to Proceed with Probe of Amaechi Over N78Bn Assets of Rivers State
Chieftain of the All Progressives Congress and erstwhile National Publicity Secretary of the defunct New Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP), Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, has said those clinging glasses over the Supreme Court ruling which mandated the Rivers State Government to proceed with the probe of former Rivers Governor and leading APC Presidential aspirant, Chibuike Amaechi over proceeds from sales of the owned assets, will be shamed at the outcome of the investigation.
In a statement made available to media houses in Port Harcourt, Chief Eze said he woke up to a floodgate of text messages and several ridiculous cartoon parody from misguided allies of Senator Magnus Abe, mocking him and making caricature of the former Minister over what they have concluded to be the downfall of Rt. Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi.
Describing the propagators of the ridiculous misadventure as ignorant and mischievous Eze said the purveyors are merely in a hurry to buy into whatever that is within reach to disgrace Amaechi and probably spoil his ongoing 57th birthday celebration and his likely election as the APC Presidential Flag-Bearer come 30th May 2022.
“I wish to urge Nigerians not to panic over this for any reason as Amaechi is in high spirits celebrating his birthday and his clearance to contest the APC Presidential primaries by the party’s Screening Committee because he is aware that this latest plot by Governor Nyesom Wike is the last kick of a dying horse as his previous efforts in a plot to stop the screening of Amaechi by the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria failed like a pack of cards.
In a matter of clarity, Eze highlighted that the Supreme Court today affirmed that Amaechi was never on trial before the Commission of inquiry set up by the Rivers State Government or any court.
The Supreme Court has further settled that the decisions and recommendations of a Commission of Inquiry is not a conviction or indictment.
The Apex Court held that the Judicial Commission of Inquiry was a mere investigative body, that neither Rotimi Amaechi nor anybody was on trial before the panel set up by the Rivers State Government.
Eze said Nigerians should be more concerned about Governor Nyesom Wike who has stated that EFCC has no right to probe Rivers State Government or arrest his Accountant-General who is alleged to be involved in connivance with others in the disappearance of Rivers State Government’s over N435BN misappropriated by Wike’s Government.
Celebrating over Wike’s right to probe Amaechi over funds duly accounted for in the Budget of 2014 of Rivers State is hypocritical and idiotic.
Throwing more light on the hypocrisy of Wike, Eze said it is not fair and equity for Governor Nyesom Wike to probe his predecessor and benefactor Amaechi while frustrating EFCC from probing his government over alleged N435BN LOOT as according to him, EFCC has no powers to probe accounts of Rivers State.
From the report before the public domain, “The Rivers State Governor, Nyesome Wike, said on Thursday the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has no powers to investigate the financial dealings of any state in the country.
The governor was reacting to the commission’s decision to declare the Rivers State Accountant-General, Fubara Siminalaye, and 58 other persons wanted for alleged N435 billion fraud”
Let me use this opportunity to congratulate Amaechi on his clearance to contest the APC Presidents Primaries by the party’s Screening Committee and to wish him success at the end of the primaries
This is a period of politics, so no one should be shocked over this type of fruitless efforts to malign the best Nigeria President to be elected come 2023.
I advise citizens to rather read full account of Amaechi and Rivers State finance as captured in Chapter Eight of my new book on Amaechi titled: “Amaechi: His feats, inspirational and
Amaechi: His feats, inspirational and
Amaechi: Rivers State’s foremost resources manager
Nyesom Wike’s desperation since 2015 to drag Amaechi, his kinsman, benefactor, and predecessor in
office, in the mud in order to ruin and cast aspersions on his political future, is no longer in doubt to observers of Rivers State politics. In any human calculation, Wike has exceeded every norm in
propaganda warfare and strategies in striving to achieve his objective in that regard. Though I have made some efforts in chronicling most of Wike’s efforts in disparaging Amaechi’s person and personality in several of my past articles but permit me, for the avoidance of doubt, to recall some ugly events in Wike’s sole agenda of destroying Amaechi since he(Wike) assumed office as Governor of Rivers State. He has devoted so much energy, time and resources to this singular objective that
analysts could not help but settle that Wike’s major project is ‘Operation Destroy Amaechi’. They may be unaware that Wike is very much abreast of the fact that as long as Amaechi, his benefactor, was in power, he (Wike) would continue to live in perpetual anxiety because Amaechi knows how he(Wike) germinated in power.
At the time Amaechi was nominated by President Muhammadu Buhari as a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Wike sold all decency in public office and embarked upon vendetta unknown to the history of politics in Nigeria. This was only to ensure that Amaechi became a public odium and
ridicule. Even the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria played along by postponing on several occasions the screening and confirmation of this innocent man. This was a man whose only crime was his audacity in ensuring that a corrupt political system under the watch of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan was duly voted out of power by Nigerians through the 2015 presidential election.
(ii) Some of Wike’s anti-Amaechi efforts
In his efforts to achieve his aim of reducing Amaechi to nothing and impugning his character before
Nigerians, Wike spent billions of Rivers State funds to assemble and sponsor a satanic documentary on Amaechi, aired on Africa Independent Television (AIT), well-noted for this type of job. This
satanic documentary, for which he earmarked billions of naira, was one of his plots to destroy and decimate the person and character of Amaechi. Other propaganda tools planned and deployed during this period, in the war against Amaechi, included sponsored publications such as advertorials,
columns, editorials and Op-Ed articles in major international, national and local print media; sponsored personality discussion programmes in the electronic media and sponsored special documentaries on television and radio through independent groups and organisations, just to ruin and destroy a man without whom, he (Wike) may have ended up probably as a farmer or a big-time car dealer..
That insidious plot by Wike included commissioning a team made up of persons within and outside Rivers State to ‘initiate, formulate and contrive’ false and damaging reports bordering on alleged corrupt practices by Amaechi. These were circulated to individuals and institutions within Nigeria and abroad, with a view to damaging the incorruptible character and rising profile of Hon. Amaechi,
in order to blackmail and put pressure on President Buhari not to appoint him into his government.Wike did not stop at these, but went further to set up Justice George Omereji’s panel to investigate the administration of Hon. Amaechi. Though the panel did not find any wrong-dealing or corrupt practices by Amaechi, Wike went ahead to issue a white paper indicting him of embezzling the sum
of N53 billion. How on earth can someone in his right senses describe funds withdrawn with the approval of the legislature and spent as prescribed by the state budget to be missing? Wike, in his desperation to stop Amaechi’s appointment as a Minister, resorted to dancing naked in the market place
Wike has not stopped his war against Amaechi, and will not relent until probably God calls him to order. At this juncture, let me state that my main aim of writing this treatise is to, once again, present Amaechi’s financial scorecard when he held power as the governor of Rivers State, and leave you, the
reader, to pass your own judgment.
(ii) Amaechi and the resources of Rivers State: An insider’s testimony
Having been privileged to study, monitor, and work with both Amaechi as Governor of Rivers State and Wike as former Chief of Staff to the Government of Amaechi, as well as Wike’s period as
Minister of State for Education, I owe the world a duty to put the records straight
A look at the financial allegations against Amaechi
The allegation of using Rivers funds to fund the APC presidential election
Reacting to the ceaseless insinuations and allegations that Rt. Hon. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi used Rivers State funds towards the 2015 presidential election of President Muhammad Buhari, Amaechi said and I quote, “I didn’t fund the APC. Rivers State government has no money to fund the APC. They have been accusing me of using Rivers’ money to fund the APC. The APC is a big party, so it can fund its activities. I do not fund the APC with Rivers’ money. I challenge all those who have been accusing me of funding the APC to show just one account through which I fund the APC with monies belonging to Rivers State?”
Funny enough, Wike and those behind this falsehood, not minding that all the accounts under the watch of Amaechi then as Rivers State Governor are now with Governor Wike, have failed to produce any single Rivers State financial record, where Amaechi (used) state funds to sponsor the Presidential campaign of the APC. Nobody till date has produced the bank account where APC campaigns were sponsored by Amaechi or the Rivers State Government.
The other three key allegations against Amaechi that have become a recurring decimal which Wike and his cohorts have continued to package and repackage in their efforts to run down and present him in black robe with the sole motive of rubbishing his political career, is the alleged fraudulent sale of
Rivers State power assets and conversion of proceeds allegedly amounting to N60.48Bn; unlawful
payment to and criminal conversion of N6,633,440,000 by Clinoriv Specialist Hospital; and unlawful enrichment of Messrs Collect Solutions (Nig) Limited with public funds to the tune of S1,
505,895, 698.70 (one billion, five hundred and five million, eight hundred and ninety five thousand, six hundred and ninety-eight naira, seventy kobo).
Addressing some of these bogus and unfounded allegations, George DN Feyi, former Secretary to the Rivers State Government, and Chamberlain S. Peterside, former commissioner for finance, wrote to President Muhammadu Buhari with attached bank statement and relevant documents
debunking the allegations of corruption, and rendering the allegations baseless.
The ex-state officials informed Buhari that the decision to sell 70 percent of the state’s equity in the power assets of the state was arrived at after an extensive deliberation by the Rivers State Executive Council on 15th and 16th August, 2012.
The letter listed the reasons behind the sale and the leasing and concessioning of entities such as Risonpalm, Supabod and Olympia Hotel. “These entities were
leased/concessioned and NOT sold as being mischievously and erroneously peddled by some individuals in Rivers State. At the end of the lease/concession period, these revived assets will revert to the State Government.”
Feyii and Peterside added that payments from proceeds of the transactions were lodged in the Rivers State Power Assets Sale Account with Access Bank, as well as the Rivers State Revenue Account at Zenith Bank. They also stated: “The companies that were erroneously portrayed as fronts for looting of funds were actually those that bought the USD and made remittances of naira equivalent into the Rivers State Revenue Account with Zenith Bank.” A table of the companies was also included in the
letter to the president.
On the alleged unlawful payment to and criminal conversion of N4,633,440,00.00 by Clinoriv Specialist Hospital, the two officials also explained in details the efforts made by the Amaechi Government on the matter to convince Buhari that Amaechi “did not maintain ‘a studied silence for seven years without making any efforts’ as claimed by the petitioners, and he is also not involved in
any unlawful enrichment and criminal conspiracy to convert public funds to private use.”
The duo also dismissed the issue of alleged unlawful enrichment of Messrs Collect Solutions (Nig) Limited as bunkum. They concluded that the allegations of fraud and wrongdoing against Amaechi were baseless. “The authors of the petition are either ignorant of the true facts or deliberately
misrepresented and twisted the facts in order to tarnish the image of former governor Amaechi and his administration for the purpose of achieving some heinous political agenda”, the ex-SSG and
former finance commissioner said in the rejoinder to Buhari.Amaechi and Rivers’ finances
To demonstrate the seriousness of Amaechi’s careful management of the resources of Rivers State, he
immediately on assuming office in 2007, constituted his cabinet with men and women of integrity, and seeing the decay in infrastructure in the state commenced his task by initiating and signing into
law, Road Maintenance and Rehabilitation Agency Bill No. 3 of 2008;
Amendment Bill No. 1 of 2008;
Procurement Public Bill, Saving Public Fund Bill, and even a bill
excluding the office of the governor from signing and awarding of contracts.
The fact remains that no other state in Nigeria has such laws in operation, excluding the governor from interfering and awarding of contracts and saving part of its revenue for the proverbial rainy day.
With the enactment of these bills, the governor demonstrated early enough the type of governance he intended to
bequeath to the state – governance premised on accountability, service delivery and people-oriented for the greater good of Rivers people.
According to Amaechi, “In order to lay a strong foundation for positive change in governance in the State, the administration has taken it upon itself to initiate very critical bills on fiscal responsibility to the State House of Assembly and virtually all of which have been passed into law and assented to by me.
The Executive arm of government so far has credit for having at least 60 per cent of all bills passed by the House of Assembly. Virtually all the bills were designed to deal with the age long
problem of financial irresponsibility and rascality and as far as the existing laws on fiscal responsibility are concerned, anyone in government who tries to have an over sight of the due process
mechanism in the state would surely run into problems.”
Amaechi believes in transparency and accountability. He was the first governor in this country to begin a Stewardship Account. He was the first governor to publicly and periodically summon town
hall meeting and say to people, this is what we have received, this is what we have spent; this is where we have spent it. He was the first governor in this country to take over the payment of primary school teachers, which is a local government function, at a time when other governors were hijacking
allocations meant for local council authorities. Rivers State under Amaechi was the first state to have its own Procurement Act. The World Bank not only commended, but asked other states to go and see the Implementation of the Due Process regime in Rivers State and adopt the great works of Amaechi, accordingly. He was the first governor to pass the Fiscal Responsibility Law to check government officials and exclude himself from award of contracts throughout his tenure as Rivers State Governor
According to Dr. Peterside, the former Commissioner of Finance, since they assumed office, efforts were relentlessly made to modernise the public finance architecture in the state to improve how they accounted for revenues and reported their expenditure. He stated; “It is on record that Rivers State remains the first and only state that maintains a dual international credit rating from Fitch and Standard and Poor’s under Amaechi’s watch. This is no mean feat considering the rigorous process of not only obtaining the ratings but constantly sustaining and improving them. Compared to several other states in Nigeria or sovereign entities around the world, as can be attested to by these ratings, the state maintained an enviable record of accountability, financial prudence, and full disclosure.
Our records are therefore verifiable and open from the regular rating reports and annual audited financial statements. One of the key pillars of transformation and modernisation of policies in the state is the enactment and operation of a transparent public procurement process that creates a level�playing field to all potential vendors and contractors in the state.”
Other ingenious steps by Amaechi in managing the resources of Rivers State.
Apart from initiating critical bills for the economic revolution in the state, Amaechi inaugurated a high-powered Economic Advisory Council comprising the best brains in Rivers State that included Prof. Nimi Briggs as Chairman with Prof. Tam David West, Engr. Tonye Princewill, Barr. Ledum Mitee, Dr. Chamberlain Peterside, amongst others, as members. Speaking while inaugurating the Council, Amaechi said the task before the team was to make recommendations that would attract new investors and make old ones more profitable.
The governor said the responsibility of the state government was to abide by the blueprint for economic development of the state because government alone could be the sole producer of funds
and employment. He noted that the prevailing security challenges in the Niger Delta could not be an excuse for mass poverty in the state. He explained that the economic position of Rivers State was worrisome because a lot of companies had down-sized their operations while others had closed down completely.
He said ECA membership was chosen strictly on merit, as no consideration was given to where the person came from, adding that the challenges of the assignment which was remuneration-free, was enormous but that God had given the state competent, knowledgeable, and capable persons.
Prof. Briggs, the Chairman of the Economic Team, assured that they would examine every issue brought to them seriously and would proffer solutions that would move the state move forward while congratulating the governor on the decision to find solutions to the state’s economic challenges.
Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi also set up the Bureau on Public Procurement alias ‘Due Process’ with the highly respected Barr. Franklyn Acho Nlerum, a UNN-trained guru of the Nigerian Law School,
as its Director-General. This is a man who due to his sterling and uncompromising attitude to corruption was hated by many of the government officials and contractors who saw him as an enemy of the system but most certainly loved by Gov. Amaechi, who saw in him the key to stopping corrupt
practices in the state. This Commission was to monitor projects, ensure proper valuation and costing of contract in line with the market value thereby reducing corruption and inflation in the system and ensuring that credible and capable contractors executed government projects in the state.
He thus declared: “The policy thrust of the present leadership of Rivers State under the watch of Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi is to maintain a robust public financial management structure that could bring about efficiency and effectiveness. The position of government on prudent management
and accountability were responsible for the successful execution of various ongoing projects in the State and the administrative policy of instilling financial discipline is appropriate and timely”
How Amaechi used Rivers’ resources
That the administration of former Governor Amaechi had embarked upon many unprecedented projects, including setting up of the Songhai Farms and the N20 billion Agric Scheme that
revolutionised agriculture in the state; starting off of the multi-billion naira Greater Port Harcourt City to decongest the present Port Harcourt City, and construction of one of the best stadia that hosted a national Sports Festival; building and equipping 160 health centres across the state; constructing
many roads and schools; embarking on a mono-rail, first of its kind in Nigeria, which first two phases were completed by 2014. Upon completion, the monorail would transport about 40,000 passengers daily, but Wike has sat on its completion for reasons only he shall explain one day.
Others include offer of scholarships to over 2,000 students in Nigerian institutions of higher learning
and spending of about N5 billion for students in foreign institutions. Building a world-class university intended to produce world best (which was at its completion stage before Amaechi left
office) to produce graduates that were to hold their own in any field; building in Rivers State University of Science and Technology a hostel that was to accommodate about 6,000 students and accommodation for all the lecturers of the university. The university was to be fully ICT-compliant.
It’s important to point out here that the Rivers State Government was among the few states in Nigeria that offered free education and free health delivery to its people, but stood apart as the only state that offered free education, free sandals, free books and free uniforms in Nigeria. About 500 primary schools were built in 200 communities, a feat that no other state governor had yet to accomplish in a first term.
Sadly, Wike has rubbished all these educational feats by turning most of these schools into hide-outs for
The Rivers State Government invested over N100 billion per year from 2008 to 2011 in provision of roads, bridges and social amenities. In this regard, the government engaged in the construction of 800 km roads with most of them completed. Ten major bridges under construction, with three already
completed; 20 minor bridges under construction, with four completed; two flyover/interchange under construction; six land reclamation/shore protection projects at Andoni, Opobo, Buguma,
Abalama, Olombie-Owukiri Island, Oba Ama and Okrika, with 1,1400,000 km, with two completed;
two major markets and a shopping mall under construction. Phase 1 of Mile 1 market housing 960 Shops and two banking halls was also completed.
Apart from all these, the Rivers State Government, under Amaechi, built three power stations at Omoku (150 megawatts), Trans-Amadi (130 megawatts), and Eleme (75 megawatts). By June, 2011, Capacity was increased to 500 megawatts under the $195 million dollars 180mw gas turbine awarded
to Saipem. Seven transmission stations (132/33 kilo volts) and seven distribution injection sub�stations 33/11 kilo volts built were equally built. The security and freedom the people of Rivers State
enjoyed under the watch of Amaechi could only be appreciated if the scenario and state of Rivers State before Amaechi assumed office can still be remembered by our people.
International awards for Rivers State based on Amaechi’s frugality
It is on record that Rivers State was again affirmed a ‘B’ international rating by leading international financial analysis agency, Standard and Poor’s (S & P), in a report released those days. The long-term outlook for the state was revised upwards from the previous year’s rating of ‘Stable’ to ‘Positive’, on the strength of significant then ongoing infrastructure investments (in roads, ICT, health care,
education and urban renewal), and relentless efforts to transform the public finance framework. All this were to lift the state’s social and economic status in the long-run. The agency in its 2010 credit analysis report on Rivers State, noted that the state had a high credit quality, owing to its strong cash
holdings, low debt and a healthy operating balance.
More importantly, the state’s efforts towards modernising public sector administration, which included information technology upgrade and an improved transparency and accountability in administration, was a plus to the administration. Standard and Poor’s also noted that Rivers had a
strong liquidity base with no substantial debt burden. According to S & P, as of July 2010, Rivers continued to enjoy a very comfortable liquidity position. It had N43.9 billion in local currency and
$11 million in (foreign currency). By this overview, cash holdings in the state at the end of 2010 was expected to be around N50 billion, based on Standard and Poor’s assumption of N200 billion.”
In appreciation of all these feats\Amaechi, was conferred with the prestigious “SERA’s” award for
his contributions towards the social development of Rivers State, in line with the objectives of the
Millennium Development Goals (MDG), especially in the areas of Health and Education.
Further proof of Amaechi’s prudence in public finance: Saves N134.4bn for Nigeria in rail contract re-negotiation
As Minister of Transportation, Amaechi has again demonstrated his sagacity and prudence in management of public finance by saving a whopping N134.4 billion for the nation (using N168 to $1
as it was in 2014, when the contract was first signed), by negotiating downwards the planned
1,402km coastal rail-line project already approved by the administration of Dr. Jonathan at a huge cost. Amaechi, by this singular act, demonstrated to the entire world that he utilised the resources of Rivers State prudently and wisely during his tenure as the governor of Rivers State.
Apart from the above feat, Amaechi has instilled financial discipline in the Ministry of Transportation and its agencies and provided safety measures at the nation’s airports.
To Dr. Chamberlain Peterside, “Amaechi was a stickler to due process, transparency and accountability. He took us to task a lot of times to ensure financial transactions were properly
documented and our accounting practices were above board. That was reflected in the various reforms and automation projects in the public finance sector (ministry of finance and Bureau of Internal Revenue, BIR). His masterstroke was the monthly reserve fund savings programme. Without that to fall back on, the state would have got into real hard times from mid 2014 and things might have been even worse today.”
In conclusion, with all these feats as listed above one need not worry as the latest plot by Wike and his cohorts will surely fail as was the case in the past..
Happy birthday Amaechi and may God not only grant you your wishes and heart desires but bless your new age