Ogoni elders move against Senator Maeba’s return
Senator Lee Maeba
This may not be the best of times for two-term senator representing Rivers South-east district in the National Assembly, Lee Maeba, as political and traditional leaders in Ogoniland have begun moves to stop the lawmaker from seeking a third term in the Senate.
The elders have sealed plans to advise the state governor, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, to shelve any idea of supporting their senator for re-election. They have reportedly decided to cast protest votes should the governor support Maeba, who heads the senate committee on petroleum resources (upstream), to clinch the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ticket.
Top on the list of the elders' grouse, Pointblanknews.com gathered, is what they described as Senator's Maeba's arrogance, his refusal to identify with “the people he claims to represent,” and his “one-man opposition to Amaechi” which they said was inimical to Ogoni interests.
A prominent Ogoni chief told Pointblanknews.com that the elders were already consulting and would come up soon with a position on whom to support to replace Senator Maeba, stressing that it was only proper that they make their position known to the governor whom he described as “the first true friend of Ogoni.”
He said: “Since the creation of Nigeria, Bori has never had a meter of tarred road. Today, not only has Amaechi tarred all the roads in Bori, but has ensured that Ogoni top the list of his rural roads' project in the State.
“He has built tens of brand new state-of-the art primary schools, two new secondary schools in Ogoni, and given us brand new health centres, not to talk of the several appointments he gave our sons and daughters. It will only be natural for us to tell him how we feel about Senator Maeba, just in case he is toying with the idea of supporting this ingrate for a third term,” remarked the chief.
On why they imagined Amaechi might want to support a candidate they claim is working against him, the chief returned: “We are not bothered by whether or not Amaechi knows what Maeba is doing behind his back, running him down. Besides, you know that unlike former Governor Odili, Amaechi is a very forgiving person.
“What are we saying? Is it not this same Lee Maeba that wrote the EFCC petition they used to stop Amaechi from flying the PDP flag in 2007? What did Amaechi do to Maeba after the Supreme Court reinstated his mandate? Didn't he give the senator a 400 or 500 million naira contract which has not been executed till date? When we visit Amaechi, we are going to impress it upon him to recover the money, even though we know him as a man who won't allow anybody pocket a penny belonging to tax payers,” he noted.
Another Ogoni elder, a Second Republic lawmaker, told Pointblanknews.com that their opposition to Maeba's third term bid was “borne out of the fact that he has not justified his eight-year representation of the Rivers south-east senatorial district,” adding, “all he has done in the last eight years is to use take all of Rivers south east senatorial district for a ride.
He said: “Lee (Maeba) claims to have a degree in petroleum engineering. Of course, we know how he got the school certificate he used to gain the Oluwole admission, even though that is beside the point. We have sufficient proof that all he uses the senate committee on petroleum do is to feather his nest. When Maeba talks about oversight functions of his committee, that is euphemism for blackmailing petroleum ministers under his watch and extort money from oil companies.
“Last year, when a particular newspaper carried a report on alleged sleazy deals by former petroleum minister Rilwanu Lukman, our senator offered the reporter mouth watering sums to hand him the documents to, in his words, “nail Lukman” whom he said is not in the habit of “shaking body” (offering bribes) since he was appointed petroleum minister,” he claimed.
The former lawmaker regretted that, rather than support Amaechi's programmes in Ogoni such as the Songhai farms, the 10,000 brand new oil palm plantation, and the over N20 billion unity road linking Opobo and Andoni to Ogoni mainland, Senator Maeba had busied himself with a self-serving campaign for the creation of Bori State and as the “ Goodluck Jonathan campaign manager.”
He said: “At no point was it decided that state creation or the emergence of Goodluck Jonathan in 2011 was the major problem confronting Ogoni. As a senator, you failed to site any constituency project. All your constituency businesses are in Abuja, Port Harcourt and Lagos. You now abuse the privilege of being in the constitution review committee of the National Assembly to make an infantile clamour for the creation of Bori State, of which you hope to be the first governor,” the former lawmaker remarked.
He continued: “Is it the same Senator Maeba that tried to blackmail the former GMD of NNPC, Dr. Sanusi Barkindo, by claiming that the corporation printed fake copies of the Petroleum Industry Bill? Of course, he attacked the GMD because of his vested interests in the bill, given the oil servicing firms he owns. He claims to be a very rich man before he became senator. Hogwash! But for former Governor Odili, such characters wouldn't have made it to the Senate.”
While Maeba would not respond to enquiries by Pointblanknew.com, a close friend offered that the senator was unduly attacked because of his rising political profile. “They are jealous of the young man because he has made a mark; not only in Rivers State, but in the Nigerian Senate,” stated the friend, adding, “whenever the history of the Nigerian petroleum industry is written, distinguished Senator Lee Maeba would sure stand out.”