By Simeon Nwakaudu
Don't be deceived by the antics of the fallen political godfather, 2019 in Rivers State will not be determined by the "follow-follow" use of ill-gotten state funds to coerce a few lieutenants into accepting a pliant godson.
This was tried in 2015 with the unilateral introduction of Dakuku Peterside against the wishes of Rivers people who needed a performer to clean up the mess of Rotimi Amaechi who owed four months salary arrears and six months pension arrears including countless abandoned projects.
It was on that premise that Rivers people preferred the politics of unity, recovery and development, to that of zoning/upland and riverine dichotomy.
It is very important to recall that as an outgoing governor cum godfather, Rotimi Amaechi printed just one APC Governorship Form which was sold to Dakuku Peterside. This act of dictatorship buried the aspiration of Senator Magnus Abe and others who indicated interest in seeking that office.
The reason for nominating Dakuku Peterside was simple. He had been a failed commissioner of works, with obvious reasons to protect Amaechi who awarded contracts , paid monies and abandoned them. In other words, he would cover Amaechi's tracks.
Fast Forward to 2018, the fallen godfather I am informed has dropped Dakuku Peterside in favour of another godson. The reason for the swap is similar to that of 2014. It is all about protecting the godfather's economic interests. That is why a Rivers APC Faction settled for the person touted in their respective social media platforms.
The preferred godson is Amaechi's business partner who bought the state's power plants. It is known to the public that the funds that accrued from the sale of Rivers Assets to Sahara Energy were diverted for the alleged sponsorship of APC National Campaign in 2014/2015.
The sum of $302,960.000.00 was paid for the acquisition of the Omoku (150 megawatts), Trans Amadi (136 megawatts), Afam (180 megawatts) and Eleme (75 megawatts) gas turbines by NG Power HPS Limited, an affiliate of Sahara Energy Resources Limited. The failed Amaechi administration before Governor Wike took over the leadership of the state withdrew the entire funds for personal reasons.
Worried by the diversion of Rivers funds, the State Government set up the Justice George Omeregi led Rivers State Judicial Commission of Inquiry, established to investigate the sale of state assets. The commission indicted the Former Rivers State Governor and other close associates.
The Former Rivers State Governor challenged the setting up of Commission at the High Court and Court of Appeal. He lost. He is now at the Supreme Court.
Since then, the Rivers State Government has issued a white paper on the findings of the Justice George Omereji Judicial Commission of Inquiry.
“The commission finds as a fact that the sale of 70% equity from the First Independent Power Limited in Omoku gas turbine, Trans-Amadi gas turbine, Afam Phase I gas turbine and Eleme gas turbine, have been very difficult to justify. They have therefoe recommended the review of sale of the power assets and the government of Rivers State has accepted that recommendation.
“Refund of proceeds by Rotimi Amaechi, Chamberlain Peterside, and Augustine Nwokocha. In furtherance of this findings that the sale of the four gas turbines was unjustifiable and against the interest of the government and people of Rivers State.
“The commission recommends that the former governor of Rivers State, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, along with his former commissioners for Finance and Power , Dr. Chamberlain Peterside and Augustine Nwokocha, respectively, should be held to account for their roles in the sales of the power generation assets of First Independent Power Limited and the disbursement of the proceeds there from.
“Government accepts this recommendation and directs the office of the Honorable Attorney-General and commissioner for Justice, to promptly set in motion the appropriate machinery for the recovery of the proceeds of the sale of the gas turbines from the former governor, Rotimi Amaechi, and every other persons implicated in the commission's report,” the Rivers State Government declared in a white paper .
Issues related to the arrest and prosecution of the Former Rivers State Governor have been stalled by legal bottlenecks. But the Former Rivers State Governor is fighting hard to extricate himself from the logjam through the sponsorship of an involved political godson.
If the posts and tweets of Amaechi's in-house factional supporters are true on his choice of his Sahara Energy business associate, then one is safe to declare that it is all about self preservation.
Preservation from prosecution and preservation from being swindled of funds invested in anti-Rivers transactions. Whichever he goes, this permutation will fail like it did in 2015. Rivers people will not be swayed by the gospel of dichotomy being preached by a godfather to save himself from self-inflicted economic and political woes.
Rivers State is bigger than an annointing meeting in the parlour of a failed godfather. The state is way beyond the private decision of a politician who believes that his personal interest supercedes that of the state.
In 2019, the people of Rivers State will make a choice on who will lead them till 2023. That decision is not to be made by one man, neither would it be made by one ethnic nationality or a section of the non-indigenes living in the state. Like in 2015, it would be a collective decision.
The people jettisoned Amaechi in 2015 because he thought that he could impose just anybody on them after mis-managing and embezzling state funds. He imagined that he would intimidate the people with his choice after betraying them.
Three years after, the story has not changed. As a Minister of the Federal Republic, Amaechi has failed Rivers people. He has refused to attract a single project to the state. He has taken sides with other regions and de-marketed Rivers State. But with the election circle round the corner, Amaechi brings out his annointing oil. Expectedly, he annoints his business partner.
As we await the two factions of Rivers APC to present their candidate for the 2019 Governorship Election, it is right to state unequivocally that Rivers State remains PDP, with the people totally in support of their workaholic governor. The nation's Mr Projects and the leader of pro-people governance.
The march towards political greatness for Rivers State started in 2015 and it will be consolidated in 2019. Power belongs to the people and the people from all the 23 LGAs have endorsed Governor Wike. Remember, the voice of the people is the voice of God.
However, this is democracy. The micro-minority will still have their say, in the form of Amaechi's sitting room annointing, but Rivers people will have their way by re-electing Governor Wike. This is not a time to allow traders to sell the blessing of Rivers State the way they sold Rivers assets and pocketed the proceeds.