Return Rivers oil wells ceded to Bayelsa State and I will return to the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, is the one condition Governor Rotimi Amaechi has given President Goodluck Jonathan.
Amaechi, who is Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum and one of the five PDP governors that recently defected to All Progressives Congress, APC, said he was willing to retrace his steps back to the ruling party only if the disputed oil wells allegedly belonging to his state but was dubiously ceded to neighboring Bayelsa – the president’s home state – are returned.
The governor also lent credence to an allegation leveled against President Goodluck Jonathan in a letter by one of his predecessors – Chief Olusegun Obasanjo – that the present administration is training snipers and had placed about 1,000 Nigerians on a political watch list ahead of the 2015 elections, saying he was number one target on the purported list.
“I’m number one on the list. They want to kill me”, Amaechi said.
Speaking during a rally organised by the Save Rivers Movement – a political machinery backing Amaechi’s stand on the state’s political future at the Liberation Stadium in Port Harcourt, the Rivers state capital on Monday, Amaechi said despite the 2.1 million votes Mr. Jonathan received in the state during the 2011 general elections, the Federal Government had not executed any project in Rivers.
He also dismissed claims that the ceding of Rivers oil wells in Soku to Bayelsa State was carried out during the tenure of former Governor Rufus Ada George.
Amaechi said, “Today (yesterday), I am not declaring. I said I would declare at the new stadium. The reason for gathering today is to remind Nigerians that the current Federal Government is carrying on with impunity. There is no rule of law in Nigeria. They are using police to molest us. Where police fail to molest us, they are using thugs to shoot dynamites and guns against innocent people.
“I read the President’s (Jonathan’s) letter and he said ex-President Obasanjo should prove the 1,000 names on the watch list. I am number one on the list. They want to kill me, but they have no God. The God we worship will protect me. Before the end of the year, I will address the state.
“They will shoot you. They have no fear for your blood. They want the position at all costs. Whether you all die, they do not mind governing just the land. You must know that if you read the story of revolution, you must sacrifice. Somebody said my son should come to the front. If you want my son tomorrow, I will produce him.
“If I have surrendered myself and I am ready to be in front, let them shoot. Anytime you start a street march and you do not see me in the front, you must know something must be wrong and you must know that they have arrested me. I am not a big man governor. I am a governor that is on the streets with his people.
“One other thing that is bothering me is that all those who are on the other side, saying they want Southsouth President, I agree with them, they want Southsouth President. In politics, you are not here today (yesterday) because you like Amaechi; you are here because of your own political interest. If a Southsouth President refused to give you water, you will push him out.
“We gave the President (Jonathan in 2011) nearly two million votes; let him tell us one project he has done for us. I have challenged the President that I belong to the APC. If he wants Rivers people to vote for him, let him give Kalabari people back their oil wells and I will come back (to the PDP). He cannot. The President cannot. Instead, he will take more”.
Amaechi also enjoined the people, especially his teeming supporters, to be prepared for the struggle ahead, stating that on elections’ days, the “oppressors” would come with tanks and policemen, but chrged them to stand and watch their votes.
The Rivers governor said: “They said Buhari is not a Christian. Buhari is a Muslim. We are not preaching religious politics. Everybody in Nigeria has the right to worship where he wants to worship. I am a Catholic and I will worship Christ. I will die a Christian, but do not bring politics into good governance.
“It is only when there is bad governance that they begin to look for who is an Ikwerre man, who is an Ijaw man, who is an Hausa man, who is a Yoruba man. If there is good governance, you will be talking about schools. Have I told you I am an Ikwerre man? I told you I have done schools, health centres and roads. I am facing power. They should tell us what they are doing. We are prepared for a debate with them.
“In Etche, they have taken our 41 oil wells across (to Abia State). They are denying us our rights. We have suffered enough. I was a students’ leader. I learnt in the University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT) that nobody should trample on your rights. If I did not fight for my rights, I would not have been governor. I suffered and my children suffered, but today we are in government.
“If you listen to them closely, our brothers, who are on the other side, they are hungry. They have been out of power for nearly eight years. If you vote them into power, what will happen? They will steal all the money. They are broke. The ones that are not broke, that are in government, they are busy stealing and building mansions everywhere. They have no fear. I have never seen corruption like this in Nigeria before.
“President Jonathan said in his letter that former President Obasanjo should apologise on the issue of $49.8 billion. Right on television, a debate between the Minister of Finance (Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala) and the CBN (Central Bank of Nigeria) Governor (Sanusi Lamido Sanusi). The CBN Governor said they had reconciled, but they had not found $12 billion, but the Minister for Finance said it was $10.8 billion. Even if it is $1 billion, it is stealing. $1 billion is N170 billion. There are some states that their budget (annually) is N130 billion. Bring our money. I have never seen corruption like this.
“They are busy pursuing us with the EFCC (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission), they have never pursed any federal agency with EFCC. I will quote the Governor of Edo State (Comrade Adams Oshiomhole); he said if you write examination and you score 26 per cent, have you passed? If you score 52 per cent, have you not passed? The Federal Government is holding 52 per cent of our money. EFCC should pursue the 52 per cent and leave 26 per cent. If EFCC succeeds in doing that, have we not succeeded?”
Amaechi also stated that President Jonathan, in his reply of ex-President Obasanjo’s letter said the African Development Bank (AFDB) was carrying out the process of giving Rivers peoples water, a claim the governor disputed.
He said: “Tell Mr. President that World Bank, not AFDB. Two banks are involved. One is AfDB’ the other is World Bank. We were told by the staff of the World Bank that they are ready. Tell the President (Jonathan) to give us our water.
“If it is the President, I can understand, because the President has not served in any international organisation, but what about the woman (Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala), whose job it is to sign off, to give the water project.
“The Minister of Finance has refused to sign off, despite the fact that she served in the World Bank. She wants you (Rivers people) to die of water-borne diseases, in the name of politics. Holy Ghost fire!”, he shouted.
He added: “They are quarrelling with Amaechi and they want you (Rivers people) to die the death of Amaechi. I will not die. I drink bottled water. You do not drink bottled water. So, the best I can do for you and the best that the President can do for you, because he is your President, is to ask the World Bank, we hereby sign this document, that in 40 years, Rivers State will pay you your money, but they have refused to sign, just because of politics.
“If they tell us that it is AFDB, tell them I said it is both AFDB and the World Bank and we have completed everything we need to complete. All parties are ready, including the AFDB and the World Bank. They do not want to sign. They want you to die of water-borne diseases”.
The Rivers governor spoke also of the metaphor of the broom, the APC’s symbol, stressing that the broom would sweep out dirt, but while sweeping, the sweeper must bend down.
He noted that the sweeper must suffer a bit and in suffering, the broom would be sweeping, but at the end, the house would be clean. He urged his teeming supporters to prepare to suffer under the current government, but assured them that come 2015, things would get better.
Amaechi said: “One of our sons, a Kalabari son, said that the oil wells were taken under Rufus Ada-George (former Rivers governor, from Okrika). Tell him I said he is lying. He has never been in government.
“I served in Rufus Ada-George’s government. There was no oil well taken from Rivers State. I served in Dr. Peter Odili’s government. The oil wells were taken in 2006. They put the money in an escrow account.
“By 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010, they took all the money from the escrow account and gave to our brothers (in Bayelsa State) and they converted Soku to Bayelsa. My friend and brother in Bayelsa (Governor) said we do not want Soku, we just want the oil wells”.
The Rivers governor also restated his determination to continue to develop the state, adding that truth would prevail at the end.