Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State Friday night told reporters that Mrs. Jonathan wanted to dictate to him how to run the affairs of the state but that he refused to dance to her tunes.
He said at an interactive session in Port Harcourt: “The wife of the President wanted to macro-manage governance in Rivers State and I said no, you cannot. I was elected. If I fail, they will not say the wife of the President failed; they will say Governor Amaechi failed. I am accountable to God, men and women of Rivers State.
“The wife of the President was not elected the Governor of Rivers State. I was elected. I am not in any way the wife of the President. I am the Governor of Rivers State, married to Judith Amaechi.
“I am telling you why they want to crucify me. This fight is about change. It is about good governance. It is about accountability. They do not like Rivers State. They hate us. We are losing. Tell me one thing that Rivers State has gained from being part of the South South under Goodluck Jonathan’s Presidency.”
The governor, who was elected on the ticket of the PDP but defected along with four other governors to the All Progressives Congress (APC) recently also blamed Mrs. Jonathan for resuscitating militancy and kidnapping in the state.
“By the time the wife of President Jonathan brought out the militants, we had almost got to zero point of no kidnapping in Port Harcourt. Where we were witnessing kidnapping were villages near Bayelsa and Abia States. We were thinking of how to go there with military surge, to chase the criminals back to their bases,” he said.
He said his principled stand has earned him scorn from the First lady who, according to him, is bent on removing him from office using government power.
“She also held a Security Council meeting with them in Otuoke (President Jonathan’s hometown in Ogbia LGA of Bayelsa State), declaring that they would use federal ‘mighty’ (instead of might).But we have God Almighty.
“Is there any governor that has passed through what I passed through that is still alive? I am still talking as the Governor of Rivers State because there is God. They can use their federal ‘mighty,’ but I depend on the Almighty God.”
He said that President Jonathan has not helped matters by trying to under-develop Rivers at the expense of his (Jonathan’s) home state of Bayelsa.
He cited the Zonal Air Force originally earmarked for Rivers by the late President Umaru Yar’Adua but which was relocated to Bayelsa and the transfer of Soku oil wells to Bayelsa.
“The Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas Company (on Bonny Island in Rivers State) is even the worst. The members of the board and management of the NLNG came to me and pleaded with me to speak with the NNPC (Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation) to allow them to do Train Seven in Bonny, that will employ 10,000 Rivers people,” he said.
“I approached the NNPC and I went to the Petroleum Ministry. I do not want to call names, because most of them are my friends. They told me no. I thought it was a joke. That time, there was no quarrel between me and President Jonathan, because we had just finished elections (2011) and we were still chummy-chummy.
“I met with President Jonathan to kindly speak with officials of the NNPC and the Petroleum Ministry to allow NLNG to build Train Seven. President Jonathan said he wanted them to finish Brass LNG in his Bayelsa State, before they could build Bonny NLNG’s Train Seven. Mr. President said no and that he directed the officials of the NNPC and the Petroleum Ministry to say what they said.
“Mr. President said right from when he was the Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, he had been trying to get the Brass LNG and wants to get it now that he is the President. You cannot force investors. So, we must wait for Bayelsa State before Rivers State can grow.
“The implication is that Rivers State will not grow until Goodluck Jonathan finishes his Presidency. Is that a good government? Is that a good party? Should I remain there? If I was lying, they would have replied me. What is Southsouth President? There is only one thing in politics, which is interest. You cannot play politics of Nigeria with religion or ethnicity.”
He added: “They took Soku oil wells from us and they took 41 oil wells from Etche to Abia State. Should I remain in that kind of party that is denying Rivers State its resources?
“When I said they could not account for N2.3 trillion for oil subsidy, they said what is your source? I was in a meeting with President Jonathan. Nigerians never knew that governors went on strike for three months. We refused to collect our monthly allocations, because we told President Jonathan that under Yar’Adua late Umaru under Gen. Obasanjo (former President Olusegun), the total oil subsidy was N300 billion.
“The first year of President Goodluck Jonathan, in 2011, oil subsidy became N2.3 trillion. Did we buy more machines, more human beings in Nigeria, we had 24 hours power supply, things have changed in Nigeria, that we now consume N2.3 trillion from N300 billion?”
He also denied subverting the administration of a fellow Southsoutherner.
His words: “Who is a South South President? For me, a Southsouth President is the man who feels for me and cares.
“For them to be doing the East-West Road (from Oron in Akwa Ibom State, through Ogoniland in Rivers State to Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Ondo and Ogun States, terminating in Lagos State), I had to fight the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs (Elder Godsday Orubebe).
“They said they would borrow money. They borrowed money and are now doing the East-West Road. The Southsouth President should have borrowed the money since 2011 that he came in and completed the East-West Road.
“Unfortunately, Yar’Adua is not alive to speak for himself. I was part of the people who sat down with Yar’Adua to start the designing of coastal rail from Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Ondo and Ogun States, up to Lagos State. Have you heard of it again?”
He recalled a meeting he had with the late President Yar’Adua who, he said, asked what the Federal Government could do for Rivers State to stem militancy.
Amaechi said he suggested the provision of a skills’ acquisition centre and the then President proceeded to award contracts for the project to ‘prominent Rivers people’ only for President Jonathan, on replacing Yar’Adua, to sack the contractors.
The contracts, he added, were then re-awarded to other people.
“For four years, the Federal Government’s skills’ acquisition centre is yet to be completed. It is not about the contractor not working. They are not funding the contractor, because the project is in Rivers State,” he said.
Amaechi said that the PDP is fast drowning ahead of the 2015 elections.
According to him, more of PDP governors will defect to the APC and that the PDP could only win in 2015 by rigging.
He described the APC as the change agent Nigeria needs at this point in its history.
He said that by March 2014 the APC would have become the majority party in the Senate.
“Amaechi said, We are gradually forming government. We have taken over the House of Representatives. Before March (2014), we will take over the Senate. Just watch out.
“The pressure will mount so much that they (Senators) will move from the PDP into APC. For now, it is narrowing down closely everyday and we are counting. Watch out before March, if we will not have the number we are looking for.”
He dismissed the Nyesom Wike-led Grassroots Development Initiative (GDI) in the state as irrelevant and its members as hungry people.
Wike, the Supervising Minister of Education is the arrowhead of the opposition to Amaechi.
Amaechi said of the group: “I do not talk about those people who call themselves GDI. For me, they are not important, because that is not the fight. Those people do not even have the same agenda as the President. Their agenda is they cannot survive poverty.
“What they (GDI members) are trying to do is how to win Rivers State and share the money. They are not fighting for President Jonathan. What is driving them mad about Obio/Akpor LG Council? I did not know that individuals working in my government were sharing Obio/Akpor LG council’s money and they were not ashamed.”
He debunked reports that he had abandoned his wife, Judith, for another woman, saying: “I read a story that I impregnated Prof. Wole Soyinka’s (Nobel laureate’s) daughter. That she is living in my house and my wife ran away. The story was bad. I had to call back my wife, so that they would know that she had not divorced me. She was not planning to do Christmas in Nigeria.
“She (Judith Amaechi) is back to see her husband, spend time with the husband, do some of her functions as wife of the governor, so that they will know that I am still married. Not just that I am still married, I am a Catholic.
“My marriage is as solid as a Catholic marriage. There is absolutely no room for divorce. What you have is room for annulment. There is only one ground for annulment of marriage in Catholic Church that is the marriage never took place. That means the woman either deceived him to marry her or the man deceived her into marrying him. Any other thing is called for better, for worse.”
The political camp of the Supervising Minister of Education, Chief Nyesom Wike, Grassroots Development Initiative (GDI), said yesterday that it was wrong of Amaechi to refer to its members as hungry people.
Speaking on telephone from Lagos, the Secretary-General of the group, Mr. Samuel Nwanosike, who doubles as the Rivers Publicity Secretary of the PDP, said the governor is confused and incapable of delivering the State to the APC in 2015.
He said: “It is not new to us that Amaechi is saying GDI members are hungry. Amaechi’s father was not the Managing Director of Shell or Agip or owner of any bank in Nigeria or West Africa. He is of a humble beginning.
“It baffles me whenever Amaechi says GDI members are hungry. It is unbecoming of a governor.
“Amaechi has lost control of Rivers State. It is unfortunate that Amaechi could describe PDP as chop-I-chop party. PDP made him Speaker of Rivers State House of Assembly and Rivers Governor. He is an ingrate. He is involved in anti-party activities.
“PDP is not a drowning party. Amaechi, now a member of the APC, cannot win any election in his Ubima Ward 8 (Ikwerre LGA). Amaechi is involved in a show of shame. Amaechi cannot deceive Rivers people.”
He said that Rivers State would never belong to the opposition, stressing that the PDP would continue to win the Niger Delta State.
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