By happenchance, just as the investigative panel set up by the governor of Rivers state, Nyesom Wike was rounding –off its cult sitting in Port Harcourt, the name of his erstwhile boss and former governor of the state, Chibuike Amaechi [pictured above] was submitted to the Senate for screening as a ministerial nominee of President Muhammadu Buhari. And the two scenes, as if planned together, had since let-off an armada of drama and naked dances in the open market.
The intrigues expected to follow the announcement of President Buhari’s ministerial nominees began immediately with a Senator opposing the nomination of former Rivers Governor, Rotimi Amaechi. Three senators from Rivers State – George Thompson Sekibo (Rivers East), Olaka Nwogu (Rivers South-East) and Osinakachukwu Ideazu (Rivers West) – submitted an 88-page petition to the Senate against the nomination and confirmation of Amaechi as minister.
Written by a hitherto unknown Non-Governmental Organisation, “The Integrity Group”, based in Port Harcourt, the petition titled: “Petition against ministerial nominee: Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi: Demand to withdraw and reject his nomination and appointment on the ground of corruption, criminal breach of trust, unlawful enrichment and conversion of over N70 billion Rivers peoples’ monies by the former governor of Rivers State,” was submitted to the Senate by Sekibo on behalf of the other senators.
As said by Senator Sekibo, “I am informed that this petition was forwarded to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) a month or two ago and I am also informed that the EFCC is also commencing to carry out investigation.
“So, why not allow this period to go over and allow them to do their investigation and come out with the result?
“It may be mere allegation but assuming they are true, as a serving minister with a very big portfolio and EFCC is investigating you, can they get the result of what they are looking for? We are not stopping Mr. President from appointing a Rivers man to be a minister; we will welcome it. There are many APC members who were not indicted or accused of such similar issues.”
It is unbelievable how the minds of our people work .If as said by Sekibo that this same petition was forwarded to all anti-graft agencies and the Presidency some two months ago, does it not occur to him and the other protesters that if Buhari still went ahead to nominate Amaechi, it must be that the so called petition is not worth the paper it is written on?
How does Buhari’s nomination of Amaechi negate the president’s voiced anti- corruption stance? Submission of allegations two months ago to the President sounds to me that he must have done his background check to really confirm those allegations and might have established the baselessness and political mischief in all of it. And this verification of not only allegations against Amaechi but every other nominee facing accusation of corruption from their various constituencies may have been one of the reasons for the delay in announcing the ministerial list.
Let’s even look at the allegation from the Port Harcourt-based integrity group. “They went into a research and discovered that over N70 billion (different from the earlier $757 million which they claimed was exposed by CNN’s Amanpour) were transferred from hard currency account to places outside the country including the Bancorp Bank of Minnesota USA.” The panel set up by Wike said the immediate past governor spent N53 billion out of the N55 billion in the reserve funds. The question is: Who should we believe now?
How do you reconcile this contradiction? The panel set up by the state governor concluded that Amaechi stole or misappropriated N53 billion, a faceless political conscription wearing integrity and anti-corruption uniform is accusing the former governor of stealing $757 million and over N70 billion based on the same account statement from the Government House, Port Harcourt. Now, is this ‘integrity group’ telling us the Rivers State government under Wike does not have the comprehensive and accurate information of the state’s account at its disposal?
Wallahi, it is becoming clearer by the day that all the allegations against Amaechi are mere bloated political jives targeted at preventing him from being made anything in the Buhari government. In any case, it is the prerogative of Mr. President to pick people who in his opinion, can work effectively with him to achieve the goals of his administration and until this man Amaechi is established guilty of corruption/misappropriation, he remains innocent whether anybody likes it or not.
If the Wike-led Rivers state government actually meant to probe Amaechi’s management of the state funds in truth and sincerity, it would not have started by dangling mind-blowing figures of stolen monies even before inaugurating the panel to look into the account books of the state. Now the problem the government and its people are having is reconciling all the alleged figures which they have publicly accused Amaechi of stealing or misappropriating. It will be interesting to see how all these will end in the court.
Amaechi had severally challenged Wike to publish the detailed account of the state and the reasons why this has not been done till today are at best blurred and at worst obscured. Amaechi’s successor has all the details of the account of the state and they should release it to the public if for nothing to at least strengthen their smear campaign against the former governor. Abi, no be so?
Can those sponsoring the allegations or rather smear campaigns against Amaechi actually say they are doing it because they are interested in the fight against corruption in Rivers state or because they are on a vendetta and don’t want him to be politically relevant in this dispensation?
In fact, Amaechi himself should actually be ready with the statement of the accounts of Rivers state under his watch as the governor because the way his accusers are progressing, there is definitely going to be a need for him to submit to the court or publish that information and then let his enemies contest it.
As said by Amaechi that he is waiting to meet Wike at the court, it’s a good thing Wike himself has already asked the state Attorney General to commence the process of prosecuting the immediate past governor and some officers that served under him based on the submissions of the investigative panel that probe the his predecessor.
Rotimi’s name was verified by both the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) before taken to the Department of State Security (DSS) and now with the Senate for confirmation. Anybody who thinks Amaechi has not been cleared by EFCC, ICPC and DSS before being nominated and sent to the Senate for confirmation should actually have his head examined.
(Ifeanyi Izeze: firstname.lastname@example.org; 234-8033043009)