Erstwhile National Publicity Secretary of the defunct New People’s Democratic Party (nPDP), Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze says the PDP administration in Rivers State is stocked with men of poor pedigree whose deducible moral bankruptcy and typical characteristic inconsistencies remain unamenable to rehabilitation and excite public distaste to a condemnable proportion.
Sharply rebuffing comments credited to the Rivers State Government in response to the justifiable proposal put forward by the Rivers APC Governorship Candidate, Pst. Tonye Cole, for the declaration of a state of emergency in Rivers State, Eze said the pervading insecurity, financial sleaze, manifest corruption and deplorable state of public infrastructure in health, education and other critical sectors coupled with the embarrassing status of Rivers State as the capital of poverty and unemployment in Nigeria call for a rapid intervention, such that only emergency rule can afford, given the exigency of time.
The State Commissioner for Information, Alabo Chris Finebone, on behalf of the state government, had in a response to the call, issued a shallow mockumentary on January 26, 2023, where he veered off the subject matter and embarked on a fruitless voyage; digging up the most unbefitting and demeaning adjectives from his grammatical archives to describe former Governor Chibuike Amaechi and Rivers APC governorship Candidate, Pst. Tonye Cole. Chris Finebone importunately deviated to the extent of putting a question tag on the status of Tonye Cole as a Pastor.
One would have loved to see the Commissioner address the very pertinent issues raised by Pst. Tonye Cole, which are crucial to Rivers people, that necessitated the call for an emergency rule. But in an obvious effort to live-up to his new status as Gov. Wike’s Political bulwark and writing-mudslinger, Finebone needlessly resorted to personal attacks, accusing the Rivers APC Governorship Candidate of conniving with former Governor Chibuike Amaechi, to transfer state-owned assets to Sahara Energy, a global oil and gas conglomerate and brainchild of the APC Candidate, under controversial circumstances shrouded in illegality.
Excerpts from the Information Commissioner’s statement reads “Again, government is not surprised that the call for a state of emergency is coming from someone standing trial as the prime suspect in a grand state capture scheme planned and executed between him and his friend who was governor of Rivers State. The result of that plot was the underhand and highly dubious transfer of state assets (Omoku Gas Turbine, Afam Gas Turbine, Trans Amadi Gas Turbine, Eleme Gas Turbine, Olympia Hotel, etc.) to a company – Sahara Energy Ltd – partly owned by Tonye Cole for about $308 million out of which only $208,000 was paid into the state coffers while the rest of the proceeds vanished into thin air to this day.
As the campaigns unfold, the Rivers State Government has continued to exercise the highest level of restrain concerning most of the individuals who claim to be contesting the governorship election in the State – from notorious gamblers to ‘bogey-bogey’ people whose motives revolve around carting away whatever is left of the people’s common patrimony. The present Rivers State Government believes in the rule of law and prefers Tonye Cole and other masterminds in the grand heist of over N96 billion to face the due diligence of trial in court or regurgitate the commonwealth of Rivers people they most ignominiously cornered and transferred to themselves.”
Same Chris Finebone, it was, who berated Gov. Wike over same allegation of illegal sale of state-owned assets and diversion of proceeds by former Gov. Rotimi Amaechi and tagged it a ploy to blackmail the Buhari administration in a bid to deny Amaechi his due in the Buhari administration which he fought hard to install.
Excerpts from the said statement made in 2015 is captured below:
“…The APC believes that just as the blackmail against Buhari was ignored by Nigerians and they massively voted for him, so President Buhari having himself been a victim of PDP and AIT documentary terrorism will discountenance the dirt the PDP and AIT are trying so hard to pour on a honest, sincere and courageous Rotimi Amaechi…” Culled from Vanguard News Sept 7 2015.
With the weird twist of opinion on same subject within a short space of time, Chief Eze said Chris Finebone seems to have lost cognitive orientation and has succeeded to earn himself a place in the comity of unconscious and conscienceless mortals under this administration who would be requiring special rehabilitation before reintegration into society after May 29, 2023 when the Wike/PDP era would have been consigned to history.
The above notwithstanding, Eze further postulated that the ceaseless recycling of the 96billion Rivers State assets sale against Amaechi and Tonye Cole since 2015 till date has made Wike and his government showcase their level of ignorance but for avoidance of doubt, Eze picked up the facts once again from Chapter Eight of his book on Amaechi that dealt with how Amaechi utilized the finances of Rivers State during his tenure as the Governor of Rivers State.
In this chapter titled, “Amaechi and the resources of Rivers State: An insider’s testimony, Eze highlighted that addressing some of these bogus and unfounded allegations, George DN Feyi, former Secretary to the Rivers State Government, and Chamberlain S. Peterside, former commissioner for finance, wrote to President Muhammadu Buhari with attached bank statement and relevant documents debunking the allegations of corruption, and rendering the allegations baseless.
The ex-state officials informed Buhari that the decision to sell 70 percent of the state’s equity in the power assets of the state was arrived at after an extensive deliberation by the Rivers State Executive Council on 15th and 16th August, 2012. The letter listed the reasons behind the sale and the leasing and concessioning of entities such as Risonpalm, Supabod and Olympia Hotel. “These entities were leased/concessioned and NOT sold as being mischievously and erroneously peddled by some individuals in Rivers State. At the end of the lease/concession period, these revived assets will revert to the State Government.”
Feyii and Peterside added that payments from proceeds of the transactions were lodged in the Rivers State Power Assets Sale Account with Access Bank, as well as the Rivers State Revenue Account at Zenith Bank. They also stated: “The companies that were erroneously portrayed as fronts for looting of funds were actually those that bought the USD and made remittances of naira equivalent into the Rivers State Revenue Account with Zenith Bank.” A table of the companies was also included in the letter to the president.
Eze counselled that Wike and his misguided cohorts should stop distrubing Nigerians with all these distractions and face the reality that he has only few months to vacate the Rivers State Government House and prepare himself for what is ahead of him outside government
Chris Finebone and the State Government should quickly regurgitate the fact that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is still on the trail of its much sought-after customer and governorship candidate of the Wike’s faction of PDP, Siminialayi Fubara, who was caught in the multiple webs of financial crime involving billions of Rivers money and whose only defense is a perpetual Court Injunction restraining the EFCC or any agency of the Federal Government from investigating the accounts and finances of Rivers State and its officials.
It will be fair to hear the Information Commissioner comment on the fact that officials at the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) are yet to recover from the wave of shock that struck them after they discovered the plethora of fraud perpetrated by same Rivers PDP governorship candidate, Siminialayi Fubara, in his asset declaration forms. He has turned down several invitations from the commission to offer explanations on the cascading corruption hanging on his neck.
Assuring that Rt. Hon. Amaechi and Pst. Tonye Cole will emerge from the trial unscathed, the party Chief reminded the state government that the sale of state-owned asset and all matters connected therewith is before the court and it would be unjust for Chris Finebone to begin to engage in unnecessary pretrial publicity that may be extremely prejudicial to the defendant’s right to fair trial.
Given the wide support the APC currently enjoys in Rivers State especially in the ranks of the electorates, Eze said the Court was set in motion against Amaechi and Cole to throw panic and palpable gloom of apprehension into their fold and put them in disarray ahead of the elections while pursuing the sinister motive of impugning the character of the former Transportation Minister and the party’s governorship candidate. He however assured that Rivers people understand the gimmicks of evil schemers and are ready to deploy their ballots to take back their state by May 29.
Chief Eze challenged Gov. Wike to allow his protege and Rivers PDP governorship candidate, Mr. Fubara to subject himself to the EFCC and CCB investigations to prove his innocence to the world before soliciting for the support of Rivers people as such reckless engagement is disdainful of recognized standards of civilized behaviors, ethics and decorum.
He noted that Rivers people will not vote to consolidate corruption, maladministration, laziness, poverty, insecurity, joblessness, nepotism and highhandedness but will vote Tonye Cole and other candidates of the APC to return the state on the path of progress and even development.
Justifying the call for an emergency rule, Eze appealed to President Buhari to expedite action in that regard, stressing that the rule of law and democracy have been stifled and those who society consider as law keepers have been swayed by money and turned law breakers at the glare of the world, bowing to the whims and caprices of Gov. Wike, a bribery lord, and doing his biddings.
With the help of the Police which has been annexed to the Governor’s office, Wike has turned his misery into a daily distraction to other political parties in Rivers State. He is kneeling on the neck of opposition political parties in the state through obnoxious orders and prohibitions which clearly contravene provisions of the Electoral Act and more particularly, the Constitution of the federal Republic of Nigeria.
Eze said the state is ran like a banana island with the Governor glaringly usurping federal laws and evidently suppressing perceived political opponents in the pursuit of his selfish private vendetta. As at today, Rivers State is sitting on a keg of gunpowder. The atmosphere is pregnant and if the call for an emergency rule is not heeded, it may be delivered of a crisis capable of culminating this encasement called Rivers.