After a brief interregnum, former Governor of Rivers State Chibuike Amaechi has emerged from his hiatus to reveal that his conscience did not allow him to join those who may have soiled their hands in the N1.9 trillion oil subsidy scam allegedly committed during the President Goodluck Jonathan administration.
Speaking during a Sunday night dinner held in honour of members of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Amaechi, who had a running battle with the former president, added that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-led government in Rivers State was jittery of his being considered for political appointment under President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
Amaechi, who served as the Director-General of the Buhari Campaign Organisation during the 2015 presidential election, said contrary to the notion held in certain quarters, he was not disposed to the pursuit of self-aggrandisement to the detriment of the wellbeing of the people of Rivers State.
“When the trouble between me and the former president started, as chairman of the governors’ forum, the oil subsidy was N300 billion under (former) President Obasanjo, it remained the same under Yar’Adua.
“But in six months of President Goodluck Jonathan, the oil subsidy rose to N1.9 trillion. Was it that the country had doubled its population or bought more machines or started manufacturing?
“There was a time I walked into a meeting with the president (Jonathan) and in the meeting, the argument was that they wanted more money for oil subsidy. But as chairman of the governors’ forum, I stood my ground and told the president I was not going to support that.
“He asked me why and I explained that we were already in court with the federal government on the issue of fuel subsidy, so the president abused the hell out of my life.
“I have huge respect for the president, but the only thing that made me disagree with him was on the issue of the management of the country’s treasury.
“I told the president then that those who were accusing me of being anti-South-south to come out and tell the world his achievements in the South-south under his presidency. And the president confirmed it himself during the campaigns that he had done nothing for the region,” he said.
He said his quarrel with Jonathan should not be misconstrued to mean that he was antagonistic to the progress of the South-south geopolitical zone, adding that the axe he had to grind with Jonathan began after Rivers State’s income from the Federation Account was cut to N6 billion as against N20 billion that was due to the state.
“Some people will say I betrayed the South-south, but I have no word for betrayal. Let no one under any circumstance tell people yes when your yes is no,” he added.
Focusing on his successor, Nyesom Wike, Amaechi said: “May God not give the ambition of the current governor of Rivers State, as he can sell anyone. God should rather put me to death than give me the ambition to sell this country.”
Amaechi challenged the people of Rivers State to stand up and defend him by telling the world the “truth” for what he stood for. He said it would be too much to ascribe the APC’s victory to him but that the victory of the party was engineered by God.
“The current governor of Rivers State and PDP are afraid of me getting an appointment at the national level, because that will determine the politics of Rivers State.
“They know that the current president abhors corruption and the only way to stop me from being appointed is to paint that picture of corruption.
“I’m not angry with the people who have come out to blackmail me. My anger is with Rivers people who know I don’t like money and I expect them to get up and defend me that this is not Ameachi’s character, that’s my anger. The Rivers people should stand up and tell this man to stop painting Amaechi black,” he said.
Continuing, the former Rivers governor, added: “I heard they (PDP) want to address a press conference to tell the president not to give me an appointment, that I am corrupt but they don’t know that the appointment is not everything – if God is happy with me, I’m happy with my life.”
Amaechi said his sin against many people in the South-south and the former president stemmed from his support for a Muslim candidate from the north, adding that “the stealing the current president is fighting today cut across the whole nation”.
“Our offence was supporting a Muslim; not only that, our offence was supporting a northerner. What they fail to realise is that money does not know ethnic groups, the stealing the current president is fighting cuts across the whole nation.
“It is not the South-south people that stole the money, every part of the country stole that money but it was under the supervision of a South-south president and we are watching,” he noted.
Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, who was the special guest at the dinner, said there was one thing no one can deny about Amaechi, “and that is his tremendous courage”.
“Amaechi is also a man of big ideas and very insightful, he understands how to live long in the hearts of men. His education policies in Rivers State and all of those children he gave real hope and opportunity to will always be remembered long after he has left this earth,” he said.
In his remarks, the APC National Chairman, Chief John Oyegun, gave Amaechi credit for bringing fire and vibrancy to the party.
He said having tasted power before, Amaechi brought passion and energy to the APC and to a great extent made the party’s victory possible.
The wife of the president Aisha Buhari described Amaechi as perhaps one of the most courageous politicians that has come out from the South-south zone.
Chairman of the occasion and Kaduna State Governor Nasir el-Rufai, who paid tributes to Amaechi, added that the PDP’s defeat became apparent the moment the ex-Rivers governor left along with the four other PDP governors to the APC.
He said if Amaechi had not joined the other four governors to defect to APC, it would have been regarded as northern gang-up, adding that the former president did everything possible to make sure that Amaechi and APC lost the election in Rivers State to spite Amaechi.
Courtesy of This Day