Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, is a former National Director of Publicity and Public Affairs of the Turaki Vanguard. He was also the National Publicity Secretary of the New PDP (nPDP). Chief Eze is currently the Spokesman of Rivers State APC Chairman, Dr. Davies Ibiamu Ikanya. He recently spoke with select group of journalists on burning issues pertaining to the politics of Rivers State. Our Rivers State Correspondent, Tony Ita Etim, was there. Excerpts.
What is your relationship with the immediate past Governor of Rivers State, Rt. H on. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, and the incumbent Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike I think the best approach to your question is to give a little background information of both Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and Governor Nyesom Wike. Principally, both are of Nkwerre extraction in Rivers State.
From 1999 to 2007 Rt. Hon. Amaechi was the Speaker of Rivers State House of Assembly, Chief Nyesom Wike as twoterm Executive Chairman of Obio-Akpor Local Government Council, one of the richest Local Government Areas in Nigeria. While Amaechi was the Chairman of the Council of Speakers’ Forum, Wike was the Chairman of the Local Government Councils’ Chairmen’s Forum in Nigeria.
From 2007 to 2015, Amaechi was the Governor of Rivers State with Chief Wike as his Chief of Staff from 2007 to 2011. Apart from all these, Chief Wike was the Director General of the Re-election Campaign Organisation of the then Governor Amaechi, which he executed satisfactorily, which made Amaechi to nominate him as a Minister to represent Rivers State in the then Federal Cabinet of President Goodluck Jonathan. I am very close to two of them if. I am to answer your question direct.
During the 2011 general elections with Chief Wike as the Director General of our Campaign Team, I was in the Media Team, which Chief Wike wanted me to head. On Amaechi, apart from the fact that he is my political leader, I am and will always be loyal to him as far as he maintains his stoic stand against evil, undemocratic elements and unprincipled actions of some of our leaders. He was the person that nominated me as the National Publicity Secretary of the defunct New PDP to the other six Governors and leaders that made up the New PDP. After that national assignment, he drafted me back to Rivers State as the Spokesman of the APC State Chairman. He is a brother in the true meaning of the word.
Who is Amaechi?
Amaechi, apart from what we all know about him politically, is the proper definition of what humility is all about. However, to some people who don’t know him very well he is an arrogant fellow who must be destroyed. Amaechi is an enigma that defies description. A trusted friend and ally, a man who stands by his friends and confidants, both in good times and in times of difficulties and challenges. A man of conscience who does not hide under the veil of circumstances to betray his friends and allies; a compassionate leader whose love for the development of the state and its people has no parallel Amaechi.
Who is Wike?
Chief Wike is a fellow who if he pursues a goal nobody or force – even if you are his benefactor – can dissuade him from achieving it. Whatever he needs to do to reach his goal he does it. He is a philanthropist par excellence and kind to a fault and someone who is ready to sell his last property to get you to his side if need be.
He also values friendship. Is the current face-off between Amaechi and Wike necessary? It is not necessary as both of them are assets to Rivers State but to those fanning the embers of the war within the various camps the fight must continue for their selfish goals to be realised . Wike alleged that Amaechi looted the Government House before leaving office.
What is your response? Actually, there was no looting of any form in the Government House. I was one of the very few that left the Government House after Amaechi departed Rivers State to Abuja on 28th May, 2015 and I can confirm that there was no looting. Besides, from the little I have come to know about Amaechi, he detests materialism. Check his record from his university days and you will come to appreciate this man as a unique leader.
Some have argued that probe and accountability should be part of the change that APC preached during the 2015 electioneering campaigns. Do you support the probe panel set up by Wike investigate Amaechi administration? Contrary to what Wike is saying, I wish to make it clear that the panel was principally set up to witchhunt, tarnish the image and malign the hard-earned reputation of former Governor Amaechi. My happiness is that no Rivers man can be deceived by the antics of Chief Wike in this regard as they are fully aware of what Chief Wike and Rt. Hon Amaechi individually stands for.
Wike affirmed my position when he stated and I quote: “Don’t forget that Amaechi likes pointing fingers at others; calling them names and claiming to be a man of integrity and a man who is not corrupt. As a governor then, he probed his predecessor and he did not see it then as a vendetta. So, let him help the public to know, between him and Rivers State Government, who is right or wrong.” It is, therefore, evident that the main aim of this probe panel is to indict Amaechi as a corrupt leader so as to soil his good name. If Chief Wike is truly serious about probe, he should extend it to the period when he was the Chief of Staff to Amaechi from 2007 to 2011 – when he was in charge of most of the activities of government. During that time most of the contracts Chief Wike awarded to himself and his cronies were either executed poorly or abandoned while pocketing all the billions of naira. To me, Chief Wike is just playing politics with the probe issue His thinking and that of those promoting him is to present Amaechi as a very corrupt person whose candidate for the imminent fresh election should not be elected Why has Amaechi refused to hand over to Wike since May 29? I don’t need to waste much time on this. Let me quote Amaechi on this: “There was no truth in this as all commissioners and heads of MDAs submitted their handover notes to the Secretary to State Government, who forwarded same to the Head of the State Civil Service as is appropriate. Furthermore, I directed the then Deputy Governor of the State, Mr. Tele Ikuru, to be the liaison between the outgoing administration and the incoming one.”
So who is saying that Amaechi did not hand over? Amaechi administration has been accused of leaving behind a huge debt allegedly worth over N400 billion. How does Rivers APC feel about this? Whoever that made such an allegation is not fair to Amaechi as he ensured that Rivers State was the least indebted State in Nigeria. According to Amaechi in his farewell address to the people of the State, “Today, Rivers State is the least indebted state with a loan portfolio of N17.7 billion to banks owed as follows: agriculture loan from the Central Bank of Nigeria – N2 billion; Zenith Bank Plc – N15.7 billion.” On the N15 billion owed to Zenith Bank, Amaechi noted that the repayment for the loan was via an irrevocable standing order, so it would have reduced as at today.
On the N150 billion owed the Ministry of Works’ contractors, Amaechi has explained that he inherited a State that was comatose and in dire need of infrastructure due to years of militancy and criminality that had forced government and business in Rivers State to a standstill. As he made clear, by the time he was leaving office, he had completed 90 per cent of the Phase 1A of the Rivers State Monorail, completed two major interchanges, two flyovers, 25 bridges, and five shore protection projects and equally completed 890 kilometres of the on-going 1,424 kilometres of road projects across the state.
In addition, there are over six land reclamation/ shore protection projects at Andoni, Opobo, Buguma, Abalama, Olumbie/Owukiri Island, and Oba-Ama-Okrika with over 1,140,000kilometres completed. Out of the roads completed, some of these were federal roads for which the Rivers State Government was owed N108 billion. As at when Governor Amaechi was leaving office, the debts owed the contractors in the Ministry of Works, which were for ongoing road projects totalled N44,942,354,44.10.
So who ever that gave the figure of N400B is a joker Under Wike, the courts have resumed operations after more than two years of being shut under Amaechi and APCs watch. How does the party feel about this? Go and investigate why the courts were closed. Wike was part of it when they plotted to impose Justice Daisy Okocha as the Chief Judge of Rivers against the spirit and principles of the Constitution of the Federal republic of Nigeria and when they were bombing our courts left, right and centre, thus forcing the Judicial Council in the State to close the courts for the safety of our citizens. Now that they have taken over and reopened the courts, have you heard of any court being bombed?