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The Intriguing Blame Game in Rivers'

How the power play and intrigues that have characterised ‎the state of affairs in Rivers State will end is of utmost interest to the public, Shola Oyeyipo writes.

The River State Governor, Mr. Nyesom Wike has taken on his predecessor, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi in many ways since assumption of office. He has carried on as if the Amaechi group is not capable of raising allegations against him governor and his administration too.
While efforts by the Wike-led government to castigate ‎Amaechi gained momentary grounds, some concerned people are already unearthing allegations of graft against the governor during his tenure as
the Minister of State for Education under the immediate past administration of former president Goodluck Jonathan and in other areas of his public endeavours.
‎First, in what was considered a ploy toblackmail the Amaechi administration; an SUV being used by the former Commissioner for Information, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari was forcefully recovered from her residence in an unruly manner that attracted avoidable media attention.
Also, despite a court pronouncement to the effect that Chief Celestine Omehia was never a governor in Rivers State, no sooner had Wike became governor than he hung Omehia’s picture in the Government House as among ex-governors.
As the rivalry between the parties persisted, the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State raised the alarm over a grand plan by the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state to roll out orchestrated corruption charges against Amaechi to demean his person and achievements whilst in office.
Thus, on Thursday, July 30, the APC ‎Publicity Secretary, Mr. Chris Finebone, hinted on the plan and implored the people to disregard such reports when they eventually hit the media.
‎”The plan of Governor Nyesom Wike and some elements within the PDP, is to blackmail Amaechi and portray him as corrupt as well as put him in bad light before the public,”‎ he claimed, maintaining that the yet-to-be-released report was “cooked’ and aimed at damaging “the rising profile of Amaechi and his incorruptible record so as to diminish him in the eye of Nigerians and abroad.”
‎Three days after Finebone made the allegation public, Amaechi also confirmed the position of the APC at a public event, where he specifically named the Chief of Staff, Government House, Mr. Emeka Nwoke as one of the arrowheads of the plot.‎
‎Though Governor Wike denied the allegation, a day after the denial, August 3 to be precise, the former governor soon became subject of various allegations bothering on corruption.‎
Relying on a 2-page deposed to by one Livingstone Wechie, who is the Media/Publicity Director of Integrity Group, which is accusing Amaechi of various corrupt practices, some of the national dailies published allegations of graft leveled against Amaechi while he was governor.
Some of the unconfirmed allegations were that Amaechi, siphoned N70bn Rivers State fund, $50million for 1,000 bed hospital projects, invested $30million into APC presidential election campaign, sold off Electricity Gas Urban: Trans-Amadi Gas Turbine, Omoukwu Gas Turbine and Afam Gas Turbine for $356m and paid N1.5bn twice to Messrs Collect Solutions, which is regarded as an unqualified revenue contractor.
“There are glaring cases of corruption, unlawful enrichment and conversion of public funds amounting to N70bn between October 2007 and May 28, 2015 by the former Governor while in office,” the group alleged.
Earlier, Wike had accused his predecessor of looting and making away with properties belonging to the Government House. He claimed the vandalism took place in order to make his administration uncomfortable.
In what is indicative of the fact that the battle is not abating any time soon, Wike has just inaugurated a seven-man Judicial Commission of Inquiry to investigate the Amaechi administration. The commission was given one month to conclude its assignment and submit its report to the governor.
He charged the commission to; ascertain the sale of valued assets of Rivers and other related matters with a view to finding out the legality of such transactions, to investigate the sale of Omoku 150 MW Gas Turbine; Afam 360 MW Gas Turbine; Trans-Amadi 136 Gas Turbine and Eleme 75 MW gas Turbine, investigate the withdrawal and expenditure of the accrued N96bn from the Rivers Reserve Fund without compliance with Rivers State Reserve Fund Law N0. 2 of 2008 and investigate the non-execution of some contracts, part of which had been allegedly paid for.
The commission, chaired by Justice George Emereji is also to investigate the non-execution of the contract for the construction of Justice Adolphus Karibi-Whyte Specialist Hospital after the payment of $39,200,000 to the contractor.
But the APC has been largely unperturbed by Governor Wike’s actions. The APC chairman, Dr. Davies Ibiamu Ikanya, said Amaechi has been vindicated in the corruption allegation brought against him by the Rivers State Government. He dismissed as “spurious,” the allegations that have been refuted by Amaechi through past Rivers State Government functionaries, who served under Amaechi.
“Immediate past Secretary to the Rivers State Government, George Feyi, and the Commissioner for Finance, Dr. Chamberlain Peterside, in a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari did not only dismiss the allegations as a figment of the imagination of Wike and his cohorts but also provided concrete proof that Amaechi ran the affairs of Rivers State using transparent financial procedures that cannot be faulted by any well-meaning person or organisation,” Rivers APC said in the statement issued by Ikanya in Port Harcourt.
“As Messrs Feyi and Peterside made clear in their letter to President Buhari, these fabricated allegations against Amaechi, sponsored by Chief Wike and spread through the State Chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and such amorphous groups as The Integrity Group are borne out of malice, with the sole aim to malign the integrity of Amaechi and his administration so as to poison President Buhari’s mind and discourage him from appointing Amaechi into his cabinet,” he added.
Speaking against the background that the attack on Amaechi was an attempt to disqualify him from getting any tangible appointment in the Buhari administration, Ikanya said: “With the refutation of the satanic allegations by Messrs Feyi and Peterside, it is now very clear to both President Buhari and Nigerians that Amaechi is just one of our few leaders that ran a corruption-free and transparent administration during his tenure as the governor of Rivers State.
“Thus, Chief Wike has failed woefully in his desperate bid to tarnish the good image of Amaechi. Surely, President Buhari cannot be deceived by the antics of Wike and his cohorts seeking to stop him from making Amaechi part of his administration in recognition of his well-known managerial acumen and the role he played as Director General of the Muhammadu Buhari Presidential Campaign Organisation in mobilising Nigerians to cast their ballots for the APC Presidential Candidate during the March 28 presidential polls.”
Aside making a call on President Buhari to also focus its anti-corruption searchlight on the activities of Governor Wike while at the helms of affairs at the Federal Ministry of Education as part of the drive to recover Nigeria’s looted funds, Amaechi’s loyalists are also said to be compiling evidences against the governor.
Some of the issues being raise against the governor are; the Almajiri school scheme, the Universal Basic Education and the Tertiary Education Trust Fund and the N87bn approved for the ministry that was allegedly not utilised, the whereabouts of the 15 UBEC Toyota Hilux buses that Chief Wike commandeered for his governorship election campaign, which he was said not have returned to the Ministry of Education, the over N180bn UBEC funds for the supply of textbooks to higher institutions and the sum of N20bn released for the purchase of books for federal government institutions.
There is also the issue of over N3.5bn paid to the former minister to fulfill his obligations in the state but which was purportedly not expended on the execution of the contracts, a set of classroom blocks and a road in Rivers State.
“My administration gave Nyesom Wike, the contract worth N2 billion to construct Eneka road and he disappeared with the funds. I even awarded 14 classroom blocks to Nyesom Wike at the cost of N112m each. But, as you can see, he has not built even a building – Wike disappeared with the money without constructing the road,” Amaechi said.
Another allegation that is likely to come up against Governor Wike among others is that despite allegedly getting about 80 per cent mobilisation for the landscaping of the games village, he did not embark on the project.
If the opposition's plan is anything to go by, Wike truly has some explanations to do about his role or otherwise in some corruption related issues soon, especially as the Chief of Staff to Amaechi. Although Amaechi is not a saint and certainly not infallible, a majority of the people who dealt with the state government in his days affirmed the fact that he was a very honest governor, who stayed above board in the administration of the state and held firm where others stumbled. It is for this reason that the salvos allegedly being served by Wike and others come with careful political readings that share no bearing with an honest evaluation of the past.