Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, minister of petroleum resources, on Monday, June 13 in Uyo demonstrated to Rotimi Amaechi, minister for transportation on how to be a statesman and not a partisan crusader in political office.
At a federal government town hall meeting in Akwa Ibom State, Amaechi tried to justify why he scrapped the Maritime University located in Okerenkoko, Delta State and Kachikwu demonstrated class and leadership by telling him he was dead wrong to stop a government project just because he felt the project was over-valued.
The town hall meeting was organised by the federal ministry for information and it was the first held in the oil-rich South South region of the country.
Amaechi, in his usual attack-and-blame-Jonathan mode, said that the previous administration had paid too much to acquire a site for the university thus, he, Amaechi, had announced the scrapping of the university. The project was to be financed by the Nigerian Maritime and Safety Administration Agency, a parastatal under the transportation ministry.
Amaechi claimed that the land was bought by the federal government for N9 billion which was too much and he had ordered that “they go and bring me the money”. That if “they bring me N6 billion from that N9 billion, I will build the school”. His use of “me” and “I” is a clear sign of an ego-driven government official.
“I am not against the University. I hope you people appreciate that. My argument about Okerenkoko [the Maritime University] is that the land alone is N13 billion,” Amaechi, who is the only minister in Buhari’s cabinet to be indicted of corruption by a judicial panel of inquiry, said.
“If you give me N13 billion I will buy half of Lagos. That N13 billion has built the university already so there is no need to spend more money. Let EFCC retrieve the money from them and then release them and we would build the University.
“I believe the Federal government has no money to continue. When we have money we would continue,” the former Rivers State governor said.
Harvard trained Ph.D, Ibe Kachikwu, during his time to speak, disagreed with Amaechi on his stance on the development of the Maritime University saying that any government project in the South South region should be developed.
“First, let me say on Okerenkoko University, I disagree with the Minister of Transport,” Kachikwu said, attracting a loud applause from the audience.
“Any facility that is located in the South South we should work close to developing it. I don’t care the circumstances under which you are placed.
“It’s not in my position to determine whether land was valued at 3 billion or 10 billion. The appropriate institution which is at the cost system will determine that. That has nothing to do with development of infrastructure. And as far as I know, so much has already gone into the university,” Kachikwu said.
“That has nothing to do with development of infrastructure. So much fiscal assets are being developed. We are not going to throw away the baby with bath water.
“We deal with the issues but the university will be developed. If he (Amaechi) does not want it in Maritime, I will take it in petroleum,” he said.
Kachikwu also disagreed with Amaechi’s militant approach to the matter of renewed militancy in the South South region where new militant group, Niger Delta Avengers has been waging a campaign against oil production in the country.
“On the issue of negotiations, again I disagree with him. There’s no theatre in the world where conflicts are being resolved through battle. It doesn’t matter who’s right, who’s wrong.
“I have so many objectives; present production, generate the revenue, because if we don’t, all the things we are talking about here is just a joke.
“I will explore, and this is not weakness; the military strength of this country is not in doubt, and I think if anybody doubts that, just see what has happened to Boko Haram. We will first discuss, we will first negotiate, if it doesn’t work, we would know what to do,” Kachikwu said as any responsible leader would do.
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