by Stanley Azuakola
If there’s one thing Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State is known for, it is this: He does not shy away from a fight. Never.
In the war of words and abuses between the governor and the Niger Delta minister, it was Amaechi who had the last word. But apparently that wasn’t enough, so he decided to have another last word on the matter.
Considering how messy the exchanges between Gov. Amaechi and Elder Orubebe have been, it was ironic that Amaechi chose America, the country of refined speeches and dignified rebuttals to perform his latest verbal lashing of Orubebe.
“My advice to him is that he should face his work, I think my spokesman has replied him appropriately, if you ask me as a minister for Niger Delta, am sure they should have asked Late President Musa Yaradua before he died what was his mission for the establishment of the ministry of Niger Delta. I want to assume that I know Yar’adua sufficiently enough to know the reason why he established the ministry. He believed that that place has not been properly developed,” Amaechi said in a town-hall meeting on Monday with indigenes of Rivers state living in the United States,US.
He described Orubebe’s tirade against him as a distraction strategy, a mask to shield the minister’s incompetence. He said: “as far as I am concerned it is a strategy to distract Nigerians and the Niger Delta people. Because basically everybody in the future will answer the question to his people –What have I done the number of months or years that I held a particular public office entrusted to me? And Orubebe has been entrusted with that position to superintend over my state and eight other states in terms of development and I have not seen one in my state, I doubt if any of my colleagues has told me that he has seen one. And I have told him to tell us how far he had gone and who are the contractors, what is the process by which the contractors were chosen?”
Amaechi expressed willingness to confront the minister in a public debate, where he would tell Orubebe that “for every project that he shows me that he has completed, I will show him 10 projects in Rivers State that Rivers State Government has constructed.
“So if Orubebe wants us to go public anyday, I usually tell them that the problem with me is that I am not an old man, I am equal to the task of confronting any of his subordinate who confront me on issues that are mundane.”
Of course, as has come to be expected of politicians, Amaechi claimed there was absolutely no problem between him and President Jonathan whom he described as a “very good person” and one who he owes “a lot of respect and regard.” He said: “I have told him personally that for him, I see him as a very good person, the problem I have is that some of his lieutenants need to able to account for what they are doing in different ministries.”
In a nation where it looks like every leader got into power accidentally, it was perhaps fitting that Amaechi shared his views on ‘accidental presidency’, its history in the country and his own place in the scheme of things, using it to emphasise that he wasn’t interested in aspiring for higher office.
“And those who talk about the presidency, this will be the last time I will talk about it, I said it earlier — let’s assume I want to be president, why wouldn’t I look at the history of presidents in Nigeria. Shehu Shagari wanted to be senator, Obasanjo was in prison he never dreamt to become president, Yar’adua never dreamt of becoming president, Goodluck Jonathan never wanted to be vice president, he then became vice and later president. Nigeria has never produced a president that has fought and prepared to be president, there has always been accidental presidency. The only two persons that had held that position that were prepared are Babanginda and Abacha. Every other persons in the history of Nigeria has always been accidental.
“The assignment I have for now is to govern Rivers State and that is it. If any other person thinks this man has ambitious, it is that person’s business. The constitution of Nigeria stipulates on what qualifies anybody to have ambitions. So if that is the reason for which Rivers State is being denied everything, too bad. I have said it they don’t like Rivers State. If they like Rivers State, they should show us evidence that they like Rivers State. Everything that comes to Rivers State they have taken away…. Even ordinary waivers for security helicopters, agricultural materials, they wouldn’t grant the state. Anything we applied for they will never approve. There is nothing we applied for that we have successfully gotten, absolutely nothing. It is not that the president is bad, the president is absolutely a good man, but those people around the president, continue to give that impression, they fan the ember of hatred and dislike because that is how they will succeed and make their money, that is how they will be relevant and unfortunately the president has not seen that. He needs to see that.”
Responding to allegations that he is being confrontational to President Jonathan, Amaechi said “ For any man to ascend to that office he must have passed through a lot of challenges, for him to overcome those challenges and become president, it makes him qualified . I do respect the president and I challenge anybody that say I disrespect the president to show me evidence of disrespect. I don’t think having a contrary view amounts to disrespect. So the president as a father must be ready to accept contrary view.”