Don’t be deceived by the antics of the fallen political godfather. 2019 in Rivers State will not be determined by the “follow-follow” use of ill-gotten state funds to coerce a few lieutenants into accepting a pliant godson.
This was tried in 2015 with the unilateral introduction of Dakuku Peterside against the wishes of Rivers people who needed a performer to clean up the mess of Rotimi Amaechi who owed four months salary arrears and six months pension arrears including countless abandoned projects.
It was on that premise that Rivers people preferred the politics of unity, recovery and development, to that of zoning/upland and riverine dichotomy.
It is very important to recall that as an outgoing governor cum godfather, Rotimi Amaechi printed just one APC Governorship Form which was sold to Dakuku Peterside. This act of dictatorship buried the aspiration of Senator Magnus Abe and others who indicated interest in seeking that office.
The reason for nominating Dakuku Peterside was simple. He had been a failed commissioner of works, with obvious reasons to protect Amaechi who awarded contracts , paid monies and abandoned them. In other words, he would cover Amaechi’s tracks.
Fast Forward to 2018, the fallen godfather, I am informed, has dropped Dakuku Peterside in favour of another godson. The reason for the swap is similar to that of 2014. It is all about protecting the godfather’s economic interests. That is why a Rivers APC faction settled for the person touted in their respective social media platforms.
The preferred godson is Amaechi’s business partner who bought the state’s power plants. It is known to the public that the funds that accrued from the sale of Rivers Assets to Sahara Energy were diverted for the alleged sponsorship of APC National Campaign in 2014/2015.
The sum of $302,960.000.00 was paid for the acquisition of the Omoku (150 megawatts), Trans Amadi (136 megawatts), Afam (180 megawatts) and Eleme (75 megawatts) gas turbines by NG Power HPS Limited, an affiliate of Sahara Energy Resources Limited. The failed Amaechi administration before Governor Wike took over the leadership of the state withdrew the entire funds for personal reasons.
Worried by the diversion of Rivers funds, the State Government set up the Justice George Omereji- led Rivers State Judicial Commission of Inquiry, established to investigate the sale of state assets. The commission indicted the former Rivers State Governor and other close associates.
The former Rivers State Governor challenged the setting up of the commission at the High Court and Court of Appeal. He lost. He is now at the Supreme Court.
Since then, the Rivers State Government has issued a white paper on the findings of the Justice George Omereji Judicial Commission of Inquiry.
“The commission finds as a fact that the sale of 70 percent equity from the First Independent Power Limited in Omoku gas turbine, Trans-Amadi gas turbine, Afam Phase I gas turbine and Eleme gas turbine, have been very difficult to justify. They have therefoe recommended the review of sale of the power assets and the government of Rivers State has accepted that recommendation.
“Refund of proceeds by Rotimi Amaechi, Chamberlain Peterside, and Augustine Nwokocha. In furtherance of these findings that the sale of the four gas turbines was unjustifiable and against the interest of the government and people of Rivers State.
“The commission recommends that the former governor of Rivers State, Rt. Hon Rotimi Amaechi, along with his former Commissioners for Finance and Power , Dr Chamberlain Peterside and Augustine Nwokocha, respectively, should be held to account for their roles in the sales of the power generation assets of First Independent Power Limited and the disbursement of the proceeds there from.
“Government accepts this recommendation and directs the Office of the Honorable Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, to promptly set in motion the appropriate machinery for the recovery of the proceeds of the sale of the gas turbines from the former governor, Rotimi Amaechi, and every other person implicated in the commission’s report,” the Rivers State Government declared in a white paper .Issues related to the arrest and prosecution of the former Rivers State Governor have been stalled by legal bottlenecks. But the former Rivers State Governor is fighting hard to extricate himself from the logjam through the sponsorship of an involved political godson.
If the posts and tweets of Amaechi’s in-house factional supporters are true on his choice of his Sahara Energy business associate, then, one is safe to declare that it is all about self preservation.
Preservation from prosecution and preservation from being swindled of funds invested in anti-Rivers transactions. Which ever way he goes, this permutation will fail like it did in 2015. Rivers people will not be swayed by the gospel of dichotomy being preached by a godfather to save himself from self-inflicted economic and political woes.
Rivers State is bigger than an annointing meeting in the parlour of a failed godfather. The state is way beyond the private decision of a politician who believes that his personal interest supercedes that of the state.
In 2019, the people of Rivers State will make a choice on who will lead them till 2023. That decision is not to be made by one man, neither would it be made by one ethnic nationality or a section of the non-indigenes living in the state. Like in 2015, it would be a collective decision.
The people jettisoned Amaechi in 2015 because he thought that he could impose just anybody on them after mis-managing and embezzling state funds. He imagined that he would intimidate the people with his choice after betraying them.
Three years after, the story has not changed. As a Minister of the Federal Republic, Amaechi has failed Rivers people. He has refused to attract a single project to the state. He has taken sides with other regions and de-marketed Rivers State. But with the election circle round the corner, Amaechi brings out his annointing oil. Expectedly, he annoints his business partner.
As we await the two factions of Rivers APC to present their candidate for the 2019 governorship elections, it is right to state unequivocally that Rivers State remains PDP, with the people totally in support of their workaholic governor, the nation’s Mr Projects and the leader of pro-people governance.
The march towards political greatness for Rivers State started in 2015 and it will be consolidated in 2019. Power belongs to the people and the people from all the 23 LGAs have endorsed Governor Wike. Remember, the voice of the people is the voice of God.
However, this is democracy. The micro-minority will still have their say, in the form of Amaechi’s sitting room annointing, but Rivers people will have their way by re-electing Governor Wike. This is not a time to allow traders to sell the blessing of Rivers State the way they sold Rivers assets and pocketed the proceeds.
Nwakaudu is Special Assistant to Rivers State Governor on Electronic Media
GoG: Nigerian, Ghanaian Navies Meet On Joint Operations
Against the backdrop of renewed piracy and hostage-taking incidents in the Gulf of Guinea, Nigeria’s Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo and his Ghanaian counterpart, Rear Admiral Issah Adam Yakubu, have commenced a security engagement aimed at joint security initiatives to tackle the situation.
Speaking during the meeting held at Naval headquarters, Abuja, Vice Admiral Gambo said, “The Gulf of Guinea is currently bedevilled by the activities of criminal elements who take advantage of limited capability of the navies in the region to adequately secure the area.
“The threat posed by the activities of these criminal elements constitute a major challenge not only to the littoral states but equally undermines regional development and global trade.
“Notably, the trans-boundary and trans-national nature of maritime crime makes the security of the maritime domain a task beyond the capacity of any country acting alone.
“It is against this backdrop that this bilateral engagement was convened at the instance of the Heads of Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Republic of Ghana towards addressing the maritime security challenges within the region”.
Vice Admiral Gambo expressed belief that “the engagement would foster greater collaboration and burden sharing that is hinged on cooperative maritime security framework as envisioned in the 2013 Yaoundé Protocol to arrive at strategies that would help address the maritime insecurity for enhanced economic prosperity in the region”.
Declaring the technical session open, the CNS said, “In deliberations, please consider amongst others: maritime area of interest covering Zone E and integration of the capabilities of the countries in Zone E, emplacing a robust intelligence sharing mechanism and collaboration with international partners”.
On relations between both countries, Gambo said, “This good relation is equally manifest in the several interactions between the Nigerian Navy and Ghana Navy. I must not fail to mention the remarkable contributions of the Ghana Navy-CNS to manpower development during his tour of duty at the prestigious AFCSC, Jaji as a member of the Directing Staff. I have no doubt that this engagement would further strengthen the existing cordial bilateral relations between Nigeria and Ghana navies.
In his address, Chief of Naval Staff of Ghana, Rear Admiral Issah Yakubu, noted that he and his delegation were in Nigeria at the behest of President Nana Akufo Ado to engage the Nigerian Navy and come out with collective strategies to tackle insecurity which is in the ascendancy in recent times in the Gulf of Guinea.
“We hope our navies will buy into this engagement to improve security in the Gulf of Guinea. We know our big brother Nigeria has bigger capacity to chart the way forward”.
He disclosed that, “Since year 2020, the situation has bot been good in the Gulf of Guinea”, noting that “Last May, two Ghanian vessels were attacked and 10 persons were abducted with investigations still ongoing”.
Consequently, the Ghanian Navy Chief said, “We are proposing an ECOWAS naval task force and joint maritime security architecture to checkmate these threats, adding that this was done in the past successfully during ECOMOG operations without problems with inter-operability and doctrinal issues.
Furthermore, he proposed the setting up of a ‘transit corridors’ where ships from fellow West African countries can go to anchor for assistance and joint naval assets will conduct regular patrols especially for protection of commercial fishing vessels.
Wike Orders Destruction Of Criminal Hideouts In Rivers
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has ordered the destruction of all criminal hideouts in Ahoada, Elele, Eleme and Onne to prevent attempt to undermine security of the state.
The governor said criminals were already coming to terms with the reality that Rivers State was too hot for them to invade at will and detonate their foolish attacks on targeted security posts and personnel.
Wike, who made this assertion in a state broadcast, last Friday, disclosed that the state government has identified the hideouts, safe houses and secret places that provide both cover and comfort for the hoodlums to plan, execute and return to after operations.
“This was the reason we ordered the destruction of all the shanties and makeshift structures located along Elele to Ahoada expanse of the East–West Road to deny the criminals the opportunity to continue to undermine our security from these hideouts.
“We have equally decided to destroy all the shanties, illegal shops and mechanic sheds along the Eleme to Onne stretch of the East-West Road having discovered these places also as hideouts and operational bases for criminals and criminal activities in the state.
“Consequently, I hereby direct owners of such shanties and illegal structures along the Eleme – Onne axis of the East-West Road to vacate the area within two weeks from June 11, 2021, as the state government will go ahead to destroy these structures without any further notice.”
Wike said the government was not unmindful of the economic effect these measures would have or may have had on residents carrying out businesses in the affected areas.
He, however, stressed that government was merely discharging its constitutional responsibility to advance the collective security of all with no ethnic targets in mind or attachment to political sentiments.
He explained that the existing curfew in Rivers State will not last one day beyond necessary, and pleaded with all residents to endure the temporary inconveniences in the interest of the state and collective wellbeing of all.
“We will continue to take the war on criminality and insecurity to the den of the criminals and we will neither yield nor lower the tempo of our assault until they are comprehensively neutralized. As a matter of fact, they want us to prematurely terminate the state wide night time curfew in order for them to have the leeway to operate again and roll back the gains of the last few weeks.”
Wike said he has received reports about the excesses of the State Task Force on Illegal Trading and Parks, especially the alleged shooting of motorists, extortions and abuse of the human rights of citizens.
He assured that government would not hesitate to bring the full weight of the law on any member of the task force who crosses the boundaries of the law and rational behaviour.
The governor, who appealed to motorists and residents to be responsible road users by complying with the clear regulations against illegal trading, indiscriminate parking and irresponsible driving, noted that the situation where some motorists would have the effrontery to compete for traffic space with or even attempt to block his official vehicular convoy leaves much to be desired.
He has meanwhile, directed the management of the Rivers State Waste Management Authority to clear the state of filthiness within one week or be disbanded without any further notice.
Army Begins Shooting Exercises In Rivers
The Nigerian Army, 6 Division, has announced that it would commence its annual range classification exercise from yesterday to Sunday, June 27.
The division’s spokesman, Lt.-Col. Charles Ekeocha, said in a statement in Port Harcourt, that the exercise aimed at ascertaining the professional competence of troops on the use of firearms.
He said troops from the division and its affiliated formations and units would conduct the exercise at the Army Shooting Range in Igwuruta and Elele Barracks, both in Ikwerre Local Government Area of the state.
“The shooting exercise is a routine activity in the Nigerian Army which involves the firing of various calibre live ammunitions.
“Members of the public, especially residents of Igwuruta and Elele, as well as its environs, are advised to keep away from the general shooting area,” he stated.
The Army spokesman also advised the public not to panic over the movement of troops, military hardware and sound of gunshots.
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