by Ebubedike Akabuwa
Larry Page and Sergey Brin were students at Stanford University. They got working on the Stanford Digital library project (SDLP) with a goal to develop the enabling technology for a single, integrated and universal digital library. The research project was later titled “Back Rub”. Back Rub laid the foundation for today’s most widely used search engine, “GOOGLE”.
Every Internet user must be familiar with Google. It is a web based search engine that enables you find other sites on the web, based on keyword searches. It is well known for providing relevant search results with a clean interface. Put succinctly, Google knows it all on the web.
If there’s anybody that needs the services of Google urgently, it is the Executive Governor of Rivers State, Chibuike Amaechi. The ebullient governor needs to consult Google immediately for a bad name that will usher FG to the gulag. You would recall the idiomatic expression that holds that giving a dog a bad name is a step towards hanging it. Amaechi has tried, though unsuccessfully, to fetch a bad name, in order to send the Federal Government to the guillotine.
The history of Amaechi’s search for a bad name dates back to September 2013 when he convened the inaugural meeting of his own faction of Nigerian Governors Forum. At the end of the meeting, which held at the Rivers state lodge in Asokoro, Gov. Amaechi read out a five point communique which, inter alia, asked the Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo Iweala to resign for alleged breach of the 2013 Appropriation Act and mismanagement of the economy.
Typical of every bad news, the communique made headlines and trotted halfway into the social media world before the truth and facts about the Nigerian economy came to light. I recall offering a measured response to Gov Amaechi via Twitter wherein I reminded him that the National Economic Summit Group had just met and did not share his views on the economy. I also advised the Minister of Finance not to dignify a communique drafted by politicians with her response. As if she read my tweet, she came up with a press briefing few a days after with the cliche – “I dey kampe”.
It is not in doubt that our economy under the watch of Dr Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, Minister of Finance and coordinating Minister of the economy really “dey kampe”. What is however in doubt is the ability of Governor Amaechi to read the indicators accurately without bias given his involvement in G7 petty politics. It is not easy to shuttle between Otta and Minna for political consultations on 2015 and still retain a proper understanding and grasp of the workings of the economy.
Expectedly, Amaechi’s call for resignation paled into oblivion when confronted with the facts and figures of our economy. All the indices on agriculture, power, infrastructure, petroleum resources management and job creation are positive. GDP stood at 6.18% thus making it the world’s fastest growing economy. Foreign reserves had hit $45b. Other macro economic indicators shows that inflation had dropped from 12.9% in June 2012 to 11.7% in August 2013. We had positive growth ratings from Fitch and S&P rating agencies, Nigeria was also included in the JP Morgan Emerging Markets Bond Index, signifying increasing investor confidence in our economy. In addition, the World Economic Forum upgraded our ranking from 127 to 115 in the global competitiveness index.
Not done, Governor Amaechi has resurfaced with another attack on the Federal Government. This time he chose the occasion of a factional NGF retreat in Sokoto to launch a diatribe about the Excess Crude Account (ECA). The Rivers State Governor said, “The Excess Crude Account in January was N9billion. That account belongs to the Federal, States and Local governments. Today it is N4billion. We don’t know who took the N5billion.” (sic)
In his desperation to demonise the Federal Government, Governor Amaechi has developed selective amnesia and cannot recall when in January 2013 he mounted a spirited battle for the release of funds from the excess crude account. He cannot also remember how he has managed to squander billions of Naira released to his state from the same excess crude Account.
Fortunately, Gov Amaechi’s amnesia has been cured with a dose of press statements issued by the ministry of Finance. The statement reads in part:
“The $5 billion in the ECA which Governor Amaechi referred to in his statement has been shared to the three tiers of government to make up for the revenue shortfalls during the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee processes. Part of this fund also went for SURE-P payments and the balance for subsidy payments to oil marketers.
“As the table showed, Rivers State received N56.2 billion, the second highest share among the states, for January to September 2013 from the Excess Crude Account. This amount included N43 billion for shortfalls plus N12 billion released for SURE-P.
“In fact, earlier this month (November 2013) Rivers State along with other states, benefited from the sharing of $1 billion from the ECA to augment the allocations. It is therefore curious that Governor Amaechi seems not to know the whereabouts of the N56.2 billion which Rivers State received.”
Once again, Governor Amaechi has seen another attempt to blame the “$5B ECA allegedly missing funds” on the President Jonathan led Federal Government. The big question then is, what other bad name will suffice to hang this dog? As usual, I will offer my unsolicited advice to the Rivers state Governor in very polite terms- GOVERNOR AMAECHI, ASK GOOGLE
– Ebubedike Akabuwa is an Abuja-Based Legal practitioner and commentator on National issues. Follow this writer on Twitter: @akaebube