The Director-General of Buhari/Osinbajo Re-election Campaign Organisation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, said yesterday that some Nigerians are opposed to the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019, because he will not agree to share public funds for personal use.
But he was confident that given the President’s “impressive performance” in the last three and a half years, the majority of the electorate would vote for him next year, in order to continue with his developmental strides and empowerment of the people.
Amaechi, who is also the Minister for Transportation and leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers state and the Southsouth zone, insisted that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had not rejected the list of APC’s candidates from Rivers state for 2019 polls.
Only the court can do that, he said while presenting a book: “The Niger Delta Paradox: Impoverished in the Midst of Abundance,” written by Monsignor John Wangbu, a Catholic Priest.
The well-attended event, which was chaired by the immediate Rivers Chairman of APC, Chief Davies Ikanya; also had in attendance the deputy governorship candidate of APC in Rivers, Chief Victor Giadom; the Chief Medical Director (CMD) of University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH), Prof Henry Ugboma; a member of Rivers House of Assembly, Dr. Innocent Barikor; and Prof. Walter Ihejirika of UNIPORT, among other eminent personalities.
The transportation minister, when accosted by reporters after the book presentation to comment on the latest developments in Rivers chapter of APC and the way forward, decided to be circumspect.
His exchange with reporters went thus:
What is the way forward for Rivers APC?
Amaechi: “I am not the Chairman of APC.”
What of INEC’s rejection of the list of candidates of Rivers APC for 2019 general elections?
“I am not INEC, but does INEC have that power? It is only the court that can say that and there is nothing like that before INEC.
What is your reaction to the directive of APC’s National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, that fresh congresses be conducted in Rivers State?
“I do not know what you are taLking about. I have to see the chairman (of APC).”
The transportation minister, during the book presentation, said that the problem of Nigeria was not leadership, but followership, stressing that Nigerians must produce what they eat.
He stated that emphasis must be placed on accountability and consequences for actions taken/punishment for wrongdoings, in order to sanitise the system and have the hope of a better Nigeria.
Amaechi said: “Why some persons are saying they will not vote for President Buhari next year is because the money available, instead of sharing it, we are working with it for development across Nigeria. If you see a disciplined person like President Buhari, who is saying we cannot continue like this and be sharing money, we need to support him.
“We need to produce what we eat. Imagine Nigeria importing tomatoes and meat. Before, Nigeria was importing 500,000 eggs per day from South Africa. We are now producing our tomatoes and rice. We have reduced the importation of chicken and eggs.
“Niger Deltans are impoverished by themselves. The Ogoni man who broke crude oil pipe, is he not aware that there will be environmental crisis? The Ikwerre man who stops the man who is producing crude oil in one of Ikwerre communities, did he remember how much it costs the Federal Government and the Nigerian nation and the loss incurred for the number of days of stoppage of oil production?
“The private individual in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area of Rivers State, who went to the Nigerian Agip Oil Company to collect money. Did he think that the money he collected belonged to Agip? If the money belonged to Agip, he would not be given. The money he collected actually belonged to the Niger Delta. Our agitation is in private pockets.
“Calculate how much has come to Rivers State, including my administration, and look at the volume of development that has come out of the money, and see whether we are making progress. I am not saying the Federal Government is treating us in the Niger Delta well, but the funds that we have managed to get, what have we done with them? Do not blame politicians, blame yourselves too. The problem is not leadership, but followership. We must ask the right questions. It should not be a land of anything goes.
“A friend of mine was made the Minister for Environment and she wanted to take up the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) for clean-up of the polluted Ogoni environment. She came to me and asked what she should do. In the Niger Delta, most people do not like development projects, but to share the money. I told her the first thing she would experience would be requests to share the money. I told her that if she smiled or laughed with the people, she would be in trouble. The first day she arrived, the people started demanding money, but she ignored them and she was successful.
“The current people (in HYPREP) are having problems, because they are listening to the people. Me, I will not listen, but I will do what is in my mind. I only want to be judged by God and the society. I want to live, knowing that my conscience is clear and I have satisfied myself that I have done the right things. So that I can sleep freely. My conscience worries me a lot.”
The transportation minister also said that his successor, Governor Nyesom Wike, of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), initially made little efforts to fight kidnappings and killings in Rivers, when he (Wike) observed that President Buhari might declare a state of emergency in the state, in view of the criminal activities, which he said had continued till date and now taking a dangerous dimension.
He noted that when he was Rivers governor, while people of the state would be sleeping at night, he and the then army commander in Bori Camp, Port Harcourt would be awake, driving round the state’s capital and chasing criminals in bulletproof cars
He said his wife, Judith, was always complaining about his not sleeping in the night, but he one day decided to ask the then First Lady to join him for the night patrol and she saw criminals trying to shoot at them, she became scared and had to return home.