Rivers State is one state that had her resources recklessly plundered by officials and friends of the immediate past administration of Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi to the extent that no funds were left for the then incoming Nyesom-Wike led administration to effectively take off.
To cover up this ungodly deliberate squandering of State resources, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi refused to write a handover note. He chose to play the Ostrich.
However, Amaechi gave Nigerians an insight into the ugly financial condition of Rivers State on May 18, 2015 during a post election meeting.
Amaechi said : ” I’m not joking, we have no money anywhere. In Rivers State, no money. I think Nyesom Wike is coming, we are waiting. He will look for money for salary; there is none… we will see if any of them…can build the schools, the roads, even to get a loan”.
After getting over N3trillion during his eight years in government, Amaechi failed to leave funds for the development of the state. Rather, he crippled the financial base of the state in pursuit of unnecessary political goals.
Despite wasting the resources of the state, former Governor Rotimi Amaechi went ahead to sell valuable assets of the state to friends and cronies. Resources that accrued from the sale of these resources ended up in private accounts.
Several petitions by concerned groups have been written to the anti-corruption agencies and the National Assembly on the unfortunate looting of Rivers State resources by officials of the Amaechi administration. The agencies are yet to act.
On his own, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike set up the Judicial Commission of Inquiry for the investigation of the administration of Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi on the sale of valued assets of Rivers State and other related matters under the chairmanship of Justice George Omereji.
The judicial commission of Inquiry met legal obstacles as Mr Amaechi approached the courts. His objection to the sitting of the commission was set aside. The Commission sat publicly and released its report. The report has since been backed by a white paper issued by the Rivers State Government.
The former Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi and some of his former Commissioners were indicted by the commission for alleged diversion of State funds. These indictments were accepted by the White Paper Committee, which also clearly accepted the relevant recommendations of the Justice Omereji Judicial Commission of Inquiry.
It is necessary to point out a few of these indictments as contained in the report of the Justice Omereji Judicial Commission of Inquiry and the White Paper released by the Rivers State Government.
On the sale of the power assets, the Judicial Commission of Inquiry indicted Former Governor Rotimi Amaechi along with his former commissioners of finance and power, Dr Chamberlain Peterside and Sir Augustine Wokocha respectively for allegedly engaging in defective share sales contract. The office of the Attorney-General of the state was directed to take measures to recover proceeds of the sale of the power assets.
On the Monorail Project, the Justice Omereji Judicial Commission of Inquiry recommended the following in its report which was accepted by the Rivers State Government : “The commission recommends the recovery of the total sum of N35,108,316,295.65 from Brigadier-General Anthony Ukpo, TSI Limited, Former Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and George Tolofari for being the masterminds behind the failed monorail project. “
On the failed non-existent Karibi-Whyte Specialist Hospital, the Judicial Commission of Inquiry indicted former Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, his then Health Commissioner Dr Sampson Parker and Clinotech Company. The State Attorney-General was directed to recover N4.6bn from them.
Former Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi was also indicted by the Judicial Commission of Inquiry for the misappropriation of N3billion CBN agriculture loan which was diverted to the funding of the prosecution of the 2015 general elections. The said money was shared to former local government council chairmen and political associates instead being disbursed to farmers.
One of the most unpatriotic actions was the misuse of the State Reserve fund by the Amaechi administration. This fund was saved at the height of the excess crude proceeds. The State lost over N40 billion due to illegal withdrawals not backed by due process.
While indicting Amaechi for this disservice to the people of the state, the Judicial Commission of Inquiry wrote: “considering the illegality surrounding the withdrawals, the former Governor of Rivers State, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi should be held to account “.
The National Assembly refused to deliberate on the report of its Ethics and Privileges Committee on petitions written against the former Governor. They allowed political consideration to becloud overriding National Interest. The Report of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry and the White Paper issued by the Rivers State Government are with the EFCC and the ICPC, but like the National Assembly, political interest rather than National Interest has prevailed.
The APC National Secretariat is aware of this unfortunate circle of fraud, but nobody expects them to raise any questions because they are the biggest beneficiaries of this proven fraud and rape of the finances of Rivers State. After all, majority of them confessed on national television during the ill-fated reception for Amaechi at the International Conference Centre.
Amaechi had the privilege of running Rivers State at her most financially solvent era. He had N3trillion at his disposal for eight years , but chose to abuse the trust bestowed on him. He preferred the mismanagement of resources to the deployment of same for the development of the state. He expended huge resources on propaganda and politics while the Rivers people remained impoverished.
Rather than build on the foundations laid by his predecessors, Amaechi used the proverbial bulldozer to pull down all structures within sight.
If Amaechi had worked, there wouldn’t have been any reason for Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike to be tackling the basics of development at this time. This is why more than ever before, Governor Wike needs to be fully supported by all to further concentrate on building a new Rivers State. The work has started and there is no stopping the train till it gets to 2019 in the first instance.
All these distracting noises sponsored by Amaechi will only serve as comic relief and nothing more. The people of the state know Amaechi and his handbag very well. They can never be allowed to have their sticky fingers on the resource base of the state.
Simeon Nwakaudu is the Special Assistant on Electronic Media to Governor Nyesom Wike