Claims in some quarters that the former Governor of Rivers State, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi had nothing to do with the recent plan by the Federal Government to pay back funds expended on federal projects within the States have been debunked by former Lagos Governor and Nigeria’s Works and Housing Minister, Babatunde Raji Fashola.
Fashola made the clarification during the commissioning of an overhead bridge, built by the Rivers State Government in Rebis, Port Harcourt and his position seems to have laid to rest all speculations and uncertainties about the roles played by the Transportation Minister and erstwhile Rivers Governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi, in the FG refund of monies expended on federal projects executed by state governments in their various domains especially, Rivers State.
Reacting to Fashola’s remark, former National Publicity Secretary of the defunct New Peoples Democratic Party and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, said the revelation has vindicated and added credence to his long-held position that Rt. Hon. Amaechi engineered the reimbursement of funds to Rivers and other states in Nigeria, an act which has been described by many as practical fairness.
Excerpts from a reported statement of the ex Lagos Governor during the flag-off in Port Harcourt reads: “… some of you may have heard stories. Let me say it without favor that the person who championed the refund of monies spent on federal roads in Rivers State is Rotimi Amaechi, the Minister of Transportation.”
Describing the statement as not only encouraging and heartwarming, Eze said it is an eye-opener and deep revelation, particularly to those who may have been ‘cowed into believing the calumnious campaign and unwarranted propaganda orchestrated by Governor Nyesom Wike in his sheer determination to pulling down and decimating his mentor and all-time benefactors, Rt. Hon. Dr. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi’.
Eze said it is now public knowledge that the Minister of Transportation was the arrowhead of the demand on the floor of the Federal Executive Council to persuade the Federal Government to pay the outstanding funds to the States.
According to the party chief, Fashola disclosed how Amaechi put up a case for Rivers State by remarking thus;
“Let me also say now that Governor Wike has come out into the open about this, some of you would have also heard stories that Governor Rotimi Amaechi, my colleague in the Federal Executive Council was somehow not happy.
“Nothing can be farther from the truth. The champion for the refund among the ministers was Rotimi Amaechi himself.”
He recalled that as Governor of Lagos State, he, like Amaechi, invested in federal projects. The Minister revealed that PDP states received even more of the refund made available by the apex government. He explained that Ministers have been directed to support the developmental initiative and aspiration of every state in the country.
This approach to the execution of federal policy, the Minister acknowledged, informed the initiative to refund money spent on federal roads to States.
According to him, the first tranche of refund was about N577 Billion, while the second tranche, for which, Rivers State is a beneficiary, is N148 Billion.
“In the second tranche it was five states. Out of those five states, I think only two were APC states and it was a total of N148 Billion and Governor Nyesom Wike and Rivers State got lion share. He got N78 Billion. Don’t sit here and think he has received N78 billion, he still has to go to the National Assembly because of this part of Nigeria’s borrowing plan” the Minister remarked.
Eze said the Rivers State Government is in possession of what is known among economists and those in banking circles as promissory notes.
While Rivers people have a better view of how the refund occurred, it is evident the Rivers Government would have to await the seal of the National Assembly which is responsible for appropriation.
Meanwhile, Governor Wike has lauded the Minister of Works for the enormous role he played in course of the refund of the sum of N78 billion.
Eze commended Fashola for demonstrating that he fears God by confronting Wike in his domain and ‘telling him the truth of the efforts that Amaechi made in the refund of N78b to Rivers State on the roads done by Amaechi’s Administration which Wike as a Minister of Education ensured with the convivial of those in power then that Rivers State was never developed and got back over 130billion Naira spent on making Federal Roads motorable’.
The party bigwig opined that with the revelation, Governor Wike must have to apologize to the world particularly to the good people of Rivers State ‘for attempting to destroy and make nonsense of the hard-earned reputation of one of the greatest sons of Rivers State, in the person of Rt. Hon. Amaechi and stop forthwith any further attack on the personality of a man whose love for Rivers State and her people is infectious’.
By the singular act of championing the course of ensuring that all states get the refund due them, Eze said Amaechi has distinguished himself as not only a patriotic Nigerian but one who is committed to dealing fairly with all Nigerians in all concerns regardless of ethnicity and other differences.
Furthermore, the party stalwart expressed disappointment that over seven weeks after he rolled out 13 projects attracted to Rivers State and Niger Delta by the Transportation Minister, Gov. Wike is yet to resign as Rivers Governor to make good his pledge.
Recall that Wike had earlier on, threw a challenge at the Transportation Minister that should he name one project in Rivers State influenced by him as a federal cabinet member, he will resign as Rivers Governor.
Following the challenge, Eze addressed Wike’s ‘sudden ignorance with over 13 viable projects attracted to the state by the Transportation Minister and reworded that Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi has impacted on the state and her people as Minister far more than Wike has done as Governor, notwithstanding the fact that he controls the finances of the oil-rich state’.
He counselled members of the public ‘to get themselves preoccupied with more fruitful engagements rather than bore themselves with the odoriferous balderdash that oozes from the Governor who has prioritized wide publicity to attract attention and gain popularity at the detriment of the public for whom he was made Governor, reiterating that his rantings are mere destitute of reality that only merit the rubbish bin’.
Eze maintained that in addition to the 13 projects earlier mentioned that were attracted to Rivers State by Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi influenced the approvals by President Mohammadu Buhari, of award of contracts for the construction of the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri (Eastern) rail line, a deep seaport in Bonny and an industrial park in Port Harcourt, coupled with the construction of a Transportation University in Rivers State which will go a long way in making Port Harcourt an emerging commercial hub for the African continent.
Describing the Minister as a competent workman, worthy patriot and seasoned public servant, the party chief said the approved Bonny deep seaport and the eastern rail line remain very viable and crucial projects that possess the potential of launching the country into a new dimension of economic growth and development.