Rivers State Governor, Chibuike Amaechi
Governor disrespectful, says minister
RLB: East-West Road Controversy
By Segun James in Yanagoa and Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
Rivers State Governor, Chibuike Amaechi, yesterday chided the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Elder Godsday Orubebe, over the latter’s criticism of his position on the troubled East-West Road project.
Orubebe had on Thursday during a tour of the project rebuked Amaechi for suggesting that the governments of the South-south states be allowed to take over and complete the construction of the road.
The minister said: "I am particularly piqued by the disrespectful behaviour of Amaechi to the person and office of President Goodluck Jonathan which will no longer be tolerated. Amaechi should mind the business of governing Rivers State whose capital city, Port Harcourt, has degenerated since the governor took over."
But in a swift reaction yesterday, through his Chief Press secretary, David Iyofor, Amaechi described Orubebe’s comments as "imprudent and reckless attack on the person of Governor Amaechi".
Said the statement from Iyofor: "It is a dubious but obvious attempt by the minister to divert attention from his ineptitude and abysmal failure to deliver on the East- West road. This callous attempt to drag the President’s name into it is what is most disrespectful and irresponsible.
"Contrary to his madcap vituperations, Amaechi has tremendous respect for the office of the President of Nigeria and President Goodluck Jonathan. The office of the President of Nigeria is a big institution that deserves utmost respect and it would be grossly irresponsible for anyone to disrespect Mr. President, which unfortunately Minister Orubebe is doing by dragging the President’s name into his inability to deliver on the East –West Road.
"Orubebe seems to suffer from a severe form of selective amnesia as he conveniently forgets that the same Amaechi he (Orubebe) now contemptuously and insolently disparages and flippantly accuses of not respecting Mr. President, led Rivers people to overwhelming vote for and gave Jonathan the highest votes by any state in the country at the last elections. Minister Orubebe should please tell us, what respect, regard and show of love is bigger than that?
Amaechi challenged the minister to show the world projects he started and completed in the Niger-Delta as Minister of Niger-Delta affairs. He also challenged Orubebe "to show the world one project he started and completed in Rivers State with the huge resources allocated to his ministry."
Orubebe also accused Amaechi of non-performance in his years as governor of Rivers State: "He (Amaechi) was saying that the governors of the Niger Delta want to take over the East-West Road. The resources of Rivers State are so enormous, but I can tell you that there are so many villages in Rivers State that have not been connected by road.
"Port Harcourt used to be the Garden City of this country. Today, Port Harcourt is a slum. You cannot move in Port Harcourt. I think that he should concern himself with utilizing the resources that are in there to develop Rivers State and the people of Rivers State."
But Amaechi replied through Iyofor: "I challenge Minister Orubebe to come to Rivers State at anytime of his choice and since he has become too blind to see Governor Amaechi’s monumental developmental strides and projects in the state.
"I will be most delighted to show him the kilometres upon kilometres of brand new roads and bridges, the world-class new hospitals and health centres scattered all over the state, the exquisite primary and secondary schools that has become the model for many, the robust urban renewal programme, and many more developmental projects of the Amaechi administration.
"I will advise him to make sure he brings the press along as well; so when he suffers from his selective amnesia again, the media will be quick to remind him that they saw the projects with him. What an irony, for an appointed minister who has failed woefully, who has been unable to complete one single road, to cast aspersions on an elected governor who is judiciously using the resources of his people to better their lives and develop their State.
"What a shame! This is indeed most ridiculous and laughable. It’s no longer in doubt that Minister Orubebe does not like Rivers State. Minister Orubebe should please face the simple task of completing one road, just one road, the East- West road, as this dubious diversionary attempt to attack Governor Amaechi will not complete the road that is most dear to the hearts and lives of Niger-Deltans." a