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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Rivers Award: Amaechi’s Rejection, A ‘Smart’ Move To Avoid Impending Retrieval

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[dropcap]G[/dropcap]overnor Nyesom Wike must be commended for his statesmanship in not exercising his executive powers to disapprove the inclusion of the name Rt. Hon. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi from the list of recipients for State honours extended to the past governors of Rivers State, as done by the Rivers State Golden Jubilee Awards Committee, in spite of the monumental sleaze that characterised much of his administration.

The fact is true, as Dr. Austin Tam-George, the Rivers State commissioner for information, has rightly captured in his response, that Mr. Amaechi is morally unqualified for an award on the basis of presiding over the most monumental governmental fraud in the history of the state, as the records show.

However, the same is also true, that as at today, the slowly grinding wheel of justice against Amaechi’s atrocious reign, as the Awards Committee also knows, is truly grinding, but yet to grind his cause to fine finality. As such, given Amaechi’s presumed innocence in the eyes of the law, in spite of the monumental body of evidence against him, he is qualified, even if momentarily, for the highest honour a State can bestow on her governors as provided by law.

Amaechi, who is currently fighting the battle of his life in court against findings of the Rivers State Judicial Commission of Inquiry into his administration, and has recently lost at the Court of Appeal, also knows he cannot enjoy his presumed innocence in perpetuity since the wheel of Justice is closer than ever to finalizing​ the case against him.

Amaechi knows the consequence and futility of receiving an award he cannot keep for life, given that an impending conviction will not only neutralise the worth of such an honour but completely obliterate his right to it. This is the smart act that the former Governor must have taken to avoid its eventual retrieval that could have been instigated by peeved citizens, like me, who would have seen his honour as a desecration of the cherished values of our people. Amaechi has saved us the moral burden of living with that reality and history.

Amaechi’s reference to the award as being a poisoned chalice and a contradiction are merely whimsical excuses. If there was poison, he primed it. If there was any contradiction, he concocted it as a face saving excuse. The facts are true before all. The findings of the Judicial Commission on some actions of his government are incontrovertible and have not even been challenged by him. So one wonders why he challenges the right of the Commission to examine the actions of his government and not their findings? Why is he fixated on neutralizing the Commission of Inquiry, rather than defending himself? Where are the contradictions? Why did he refuse to appear before the Commission of Inquiry if he was guiltless? Your​ guess is as good as mine.

In announcing his rejection of the award, he accused the Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, of calling him unprintable names, by himself describing Governor Wike with unprintable adjectives. What a contradiction. One would have thought that he would have shown the leadership and respect he so desired of the Governor to accord him and his office. But what has Governor Wike even said that is not justified and supported by facts?

Who is Satan, if not the one who comes to steal, kill and destroy? Who is Judas if not the one who betrays his people for pittance? Who is a thief if not the one who steals from others? What is the greatest legacy of Amaechi’s nonperformance if not the monumental waste called monorail? What are we talking about?

David Iyofor’s poorly written unsigned press statement also grapples with what “Amaechi [would] tell Rivers People when he goes to collect an award from that man-child who sits in Government House that is directly or indirectly responsible for the present deplorable state of sufferings, economic and infrastructural decay, violence, crime, insecurity, kidnappings and killings in Rivers State. Amaechi will not accept any award from a petty lowlife conman, who rode to power on the blood of Rivers people.”

For the avoidance of doubt, if Rivers State suffers insecurity, it is on account of Amaechi’s direct interferences with the security system of the State. The entire country cannot forget in a hurry, how Amaechi used the security agencies like a criminal syndicate to unleash terror and horror on Rivers people just for the sake of securing electoral victories. Not even Police officers who refused to do his bidding were spared. Rivers people from across political lines have been victims on account of Amaechi’s refusal to allow the rule of law prevail. His allusion to infrastructural decay in Rivers State is at best laughable and deserves no response.

Has anyone even wondered why his very Community, Ubima, and the axis around it, is a notorious den of kidnappers? Are all the apprehended kingpins and warlords of criminal syndicates not linked to him? What is he saying? Is he not the same person who vowed at the twilight of his administration that Rivers would not make progress under Wike? What are we even saying? Has Wike not proved him wrong? Has he not dwarfed his 8 years of scandalous waste with people oriented projects across the State? Is Rivers State not making progress now?

Amaechi says the office of Governor is prestigious and should be dignified by Governor Wike. The same Amaechi who as Governor framed his political opponents as cultists, humiliated traditional rulers and carried on with a riotous mien embarking on demonstrations in which he threatened forming a parallel government if the APC lost? My God!

In fact, an editorial wrote this of him, “On Wednesday, 19th November, 2014 the Governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi made a few comments about the forthcoming general elections, which bother on INCITEMENT, TREASON and GROSS RASCALITY. Mr. Amaechi who became Governor of Rivers State in 2007 consequent upon a court judgment, said at a street rally organized by the All Progressive Congress…”

This is the same man who talks about prestige and dignity? The very same aberration that shamed Rivers State during his term? Wonders, as they say, will never end.

Amaechi has saved himself impending future disgrace by disqualifying himself from receiving an honour he knows he is not qualified for, although from a State he governed which made him but got decimated by him.

Governor Wike has exhibited the highest form of neutrality and statesmanship in not interfering with the decision of the Golden Jubilee Awards Committee. If he had done otherwise, he’d have been accused of witch-hunt. The award is from Rivers State and not Governor Wike as Amaechi would want the world to think. It is being bestowed pursuant to provisions of the Rivers State Honours Law, 2017. Something he, Amaechi, could not be visionary enough to initiate or replicate from the existing national model.

Amaechi must know that Rivers State doesn’t revolve around him, and that it is, in fact, bigger and more important than him and his acrimony. He must also know that his latter-day hero, President Buhari, in spite of his legendary differences with President Goodluck Jonathan and almost every good thing in Nigeria, demonstrated Statesmanship in receiving a Centenary Award from him, just like other past leaders of the country. It is this Statesmanship that Amaechi clearly lacks in addition to that of a clear conscience.

Finally, one must say that it is a daylight shame that in this season of Jubilee, Amaechi has failed to seize the moment to work on genuine reconciliation. As usual, he has allowed himself to be driven by infantile neophytes who have no sense of history, worthy causes or have their lives moderated by sound principles. Amaechi has lost an opportunity to redeem himself.

Rivers State will move forward.

Oraye St. Franklyn is a barrister-at-law. He is senior special assistant to Governor Nyesom Wike on Social Media. He is a strategic communicator and good governance advocate, writes from Port Harcourt, Rivers State. He tweets from @RealOraye. He is also on Facebook.

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.

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