Rivers @ 50: Amaechi Rejects Award

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By Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt

Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, has announced his rejection of an award proposed for him by the Rivers State Government as part of activities for the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the creation of the state.

 But the state Government in a swift reaction welcomed the reaction, stating that it was indeed a relief as the state was battling with the burden of awarding him the honour. 

A statement issued by the Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi Media Office yesterday called the award a “poisoned chalice” and called on Governor Nyesom Wike to tell the world that he lied against Amaechi in the accusation that he owned the $43 million recovered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from an Ikoyi residence.

 Amaechi also said he had not received any official communication from the state government about the award except a publication indicating his name as one of many persons to be honoured by Wike. 

“Be that as it may, we want to state categorically that whatever Wike claims to be giving to Amaechi is a poisoned chalice that has been unequivocally rejected by the minister,” the statement said. 

The statement continued: “Firstly, the purported award itself is a contradiction of monumental proportions, a contradiction that can only come from a warped and perverted mind. From day one as governor, Wike has made it his sole, one-point agenda to attack, abuse, insult and falsely denigrate Amaechi, his immediate predecessor and erstwhile benefactor. Since he became governor, Wike spends most of his time making reckless, deeply irresponsible malicious, false allegations against Amaechi, as he attempts, albeit fruitlessly, to malign and destroy the outstandingly superb performance and legacy of Amaechi in Rivers State. So, what is the bases (Sic) or criteria for Wike to give an award/honour to a man he (Wike) has rashly attacked and called all sorts of unprintable names in the past two years? For Wike to do a 360 and give an award to a predecessor, he (Wike) has consistently but misleadingly and deceitfully called Satan, Judas, non-performer, thief and only this week a sponsor of cultists, shows evidently that Wike suffers from a grave but rare form of psychosomatic malady.

 

“Secondly, what will Amaechi tell Rivers People when he goes to collect an award from that man-child who sits in Government House that is directly or indirectly responsible for the present deplorable state of sufferings, economic and infrastructural decay, violence, crime, insecurity, kidnappings and killings in Rivers State? Amaechi will not accept any award from a petty lowlife conman, who rode to power on the blood of Rivers people.

 

“Thirdly, the office of governor of any state is a prestigious, very dignified office and the occupant of that office who holds it in trust for his people is expected to act, talk and behave responsibly and decorously. When the governor talks, he should talk with facts and must be able to prove his claims. Most unfortunately for Rivers State, Wike possess none of these qualities. Wike is everything a governor should not be, with virtually no redeeming qualities.”

 

The statement urged Wike to go to court to reclaim the Ikoyi loot allegedly stolen from the state by Amaechi to prove his claims.

 

“The only other alternative is for him to publicly apologise and tell us that he wickedly and maliciously lied when he had that disgraceful, middle of the night press conference to push the false narrative that Amaechi owns the money and apartment,” it said.

 

But in a swift reaction, the state Commissioner for Information and Communication, Dr. Austin Tam-George, said the state never set out to give any special award to Amaechi for a meritorious service. 

 

In a statement issued in Port Harcourt yesterday, Tam-George said, “There is a category in the award structure for former governors of the State.  As a former governor, Mr. Amaechi fell automatically in that category. 

 

“The award was never meant as a validation of Mr Amaechi’s horrendous administration. Mr. Amaechi was personally indicted for stealing billions of public funds, by a court-approved panel of inquiry set up by the state government.

 

“The State government is about to begin a prosecutorial process against him in multiple jurisdictions, in Nigeria and abroad. And no award would have stopped that process.”

 

He stated that Amaechi’s refusal of the award was a relief.

 

“We must confess that as a government we wrestled with the moral horror of giving any kind of award to a man whose government was no more than a criminal syndicate. But it was an automatic category. 

 

“His rejection of the award is therefore a huge moral relief for the administration, and the people of the state,” he said.

 

Meanwhile, Wike has declared that his administration would recover the state funds found at an Ikoyi residence despite the antics of the Federal Government. 

 

Speaking during a special appearance on Channels Television Sunrise Programme, Wike reiterated that the money stashed at the Ikoyi residence  belongs to the people of Rivers State. 

 

He said the state team of lawyers are already working to ensure that Rivers State got back her funds which were proceeds from the sale of the assets of the state. 

 

“We will follow due process of the law to get back Rivers State money found at the Ikoyi residence. This money belongs to the Rivers State people. We have conducted out checks.

 

“We will stun Nigeria with this matter. We will come out with our evidence at the appropriate time,” Wike said.

 

The governor said the state government would not reveal its strategy to recover the state because of the games being played by the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government. 

 

He said the politicisation of the entire issue of the Rivers State fund discovered at the Ikoyi residence indicated that the Federal Government had something to hide.

 

On developments in the Niger Delta, Wike stated that the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) was working at cross purposes with the region.

 

He said that the NDDC politicised the process of its execution of projects which were usually abandoned. He added that the agency deliberately refused to liaise with the states before projects were initiated.

 

On the PDP crisis, Wike stated that he was supporting Makarfi and that he would wait for the Supreme Court to state its position. The governor declared that it was very much unlikely that he would work with Senator Ali Modu Sheriff.

 

He said: “It is very much unlikely that I will work with Ali Modu Sheriff. It is not possible for me to stay with Sheriff.”

 

The governor explained that Sheriff had no love for the PDP  as he had continued to work against the party, in liaison  with the APC. The governor alleged that in Benue and Jigawa States he was working with APC Government to frustrate the PDP  in upcoming Local Government elections. 

 

On developments in Rivers State, the governor noted that his administration  had entrenched state-wide execution of projects.  He said projects had been initiated and executed in 22 out of the 23 Local Government Areas  of the state. Wike said that only local government area, Omuma, yet to have a project, now had a major road contract awarded in the area.

 

He said that his administration  was developing  Rivers State  as a tourism destination of the country. He said the construction  of the Port Harcourt Pleasure Park was a deliberate action  to promote tourism.