By Our Correspondent
Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has set up a judicial commission of inquiry to investigate the immediate past administration of Mr. Rotimi Amaechi over the alleged sale of valued assets belonging to the state. The powers to set up such commission of inquiry was conferred on the governor under Section 2 (1) of the Commissions of Inquiry Law of Rivers State (Cap 30 Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria, 1999) and all other powers enabling me in that behalf”.
The Judicial Commission of Inquiry was inaugurated at the Government House in Port Harcourt on Friday, 19 June 2015, has Justice George Omereji as its chairman and four other members, which include Dr. Edith Chukwu, Chief Monday Ekekenta, Rev. Canon Alex Usifo and Elder Ignatius Piegbara. Mrs. Florence Fiberesima is to serve as secretary while Dr. Zacheaus Adango serves as the counsel to the commission. The commission has 23 terms of reference guiding it.
The commission is to investigate:
• The sale of the 150 Megawatts gas turbine in Omoku.
• Adam 360 MW Gas Turbine
• Trans-Amadi 136 MW gas turbine and
• The 75 MW gas turbine in Eleme.
• The monorail project and the sale of the Olympia Hotel by the
• The non-execution of the contract for the construction of the
Justice Karibi Whyte Hospital after the Amaechi administration paid
$250m to the contractor.
• The withdrawal and expenditure of the accrued N96bn from the Rivers
State Reserve Fund without compliance with the extant law.
• Illegally withdrawn from the State’s Reserve Fund and the N2bn
illegally disbursed under the Agriculture Credit Scheme,
The governor urged the Judicial Commission of Inquiry to make appropriate recommendations that would assist the state government recover proceeds from the gas turbines sold by the Amaechi
Governor Wike gave the judicial commission of inquiry one month to submit its report to the state government.The Chairman of the Commission, Justice Omereji noted that, the people of the state would be happy with the report of the commission, adding that the body would work hard to complete its work within the time frame.
The 2014 approval granted by the state House of Assembly for $280 million concessionary loan to be taken from the World Bank and the Africa Development Bank for the purpose of providing water and
sanitation in the state, has thrown the state deeper into debt. Since 2008, Rivers State has experienced a steady rise in the amount it owes external creditors. In 2008, Rivers State owed $32.3 million which increased to $33.7 million in 2009. By 2010, it rose to $35.5 million and decrease¬d to $33.8 million in 2011, only to rise again to $36.6 million in 2012 and $42.6 million as at the end of 2013. The current external debt figure places Rivers State in the 20th position on the external debtor list.
If the Rivers State government proceeds to borrow the $280 million approved by the House of Assembly, the external debt profile of the state will increase to $322 million, making it the second most indebted state in Nigeria, behind Lagos State. This is without the addition of a significantly large domestic debt amount which stood at N81.4billion and represented 5.2% of the total domestic debt of 36 states as at the end of 2012.
The budget of Rivers State indicates that the burden of debt service payment is already taking its toll on the finances of the state. Between 2010 and 2011, there was an increase of 2,500% in debt
servicing re-payment. The amount of money which the Rivers State government sets aside for the repayment of debts, increased from N250 million to N6.250 billion. This trend resulted in the reduced capacity of the government to pursue infrastructural development.
The genesis of the conflict started between ex-governor Amechi and the former First Lady Dame Patience Jonathan over the exercise of political power and influence in the state. The First lady felt she is in control of the state by virtue of the powers conferred on her husband, while on the otherside Amechi felt he is the number one citizen in River state, he felt it will amount to cowardice if he live
the state political apparatus in the hands of the first lady.
Political career-threatening plot is building up against Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State ahead of the just concluded 2015 presidential race. At least two of his counterparts in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and some ministers are coordinating the plot aimed at checking what a party source yesterday called his “excesses and political rascality.”
At a oint in time, the governor widely believed to have been penciled down as the running mate to overnor Sule Lamido of Jigawa State in the 2015 race. Another sin committed by Amaechi is alleged meddling in Bayelsa State politics in 2012 when he backed ex-Governor Timpreye Sylva against Governor Seriake Dickson, the anointed candidate of the President.
While fence-mending was being done, he accused presidency of ceding some oil wells belonging to Rivers to Bayelsa State. Jonathan and his strategists felt bad that the image of the presidency was dragged into it.
“The President was personally touched by the press war such that he had to issue a statement absolving himself of any complicity in the Soku Oil wells. But Amaechi appeared to have had an upper hand in the media.
Amaechi and the Minister of the Niger Delta, Elder Godsday Orubebe, once locked in a dirty war of words over the governor’s perceived ambition and the threat it portends for the second term bid of
President Goodluck Jonathan. Orubebe lashed out at Amaechi for allegedly spending the resources of the people of Rivers State on extraneous things and at the expense of those who elected him into
Amaechi’s insubordination and disrespect for President Jonathan, a cold war with the President on boundary demarcation and oil wells between Rivers and Bayelsa States, undermining the South-South agenda to retain the presidency in 2015, and instigating the Nigerian Governors Forum, of which he is Chairman, against the presidency on the Excess Crude Account and Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) which has not taken-off effectively, and sponsoring of crisis within the National
Working Committee (NWC) of PDP with a view to hijacking the party’s structure ahead of 2015.
A four-dimensional strategy has been put in place by some PDP hawks to deal with Amaechi including demystifying him through impeachment by the House of Assembly; sponsoring of revolt within the NGF; suspension of the governor from PDP for alleged anti-party activities; and
outright distraction of his administration through internal crisis within the Rivers State Executive Council.
President Buhari is known to be a honest and credible leader, majority believe he will not allow his personal interest to be in conflict with the interest of the majority. The commission of inquiry must look
beyond politics and do the right thing for the benefit of the people and for the principle of justice, honesty and good conduct to prevail in the democratic system. If all the findings are real, honest and
free from prejudice, Ex-governor Amechi will surly face the wrath of the law. But if otherwise he will be free at last.
By Our Correspondent