Amaechi Reveals More on Feud with First Lady, President
Governor of Rivers State and Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), Rotimi Amaechi of at the weekend delved deeper into the causes of his disagreements with President Goodluck Jonatha; his wife, Dame Patience; and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), from which he has now defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Speaking during an interactive session with reporters in Port Harcourt, capital of the state on Friday night, Amaechi accused the first lady, Patience Jonathan of attempting to run the state on his behalf. According to the governor, the president's wife wanted to 'macro-manage governance in Rivers State' but he resisted, since he, as the elected officer, would be branded a failure if the people are dissatisfied - not the first lady who wanted to gatecrash on the process of governance.
'The wife of the president was not elected the Governor of Rivers State. I was elected. I am not in any way the wife of the president. I am the governor of Rivers State, married to Judith Amaechi', he said.
'I am telling you why they want to crucify me. This fight is about change. It is about good governance. It is about accountability. They do not like Rivers State. They hate us. We are losing. Tell me one thing that Rivers State has gained from being part of the South-South under Goodluck Jonathan's Presidency'.
Ameachi also accused Patience of reviving militancy and kidnapping in the state, twin crimes that his administration was on the verge of exterminating.
'By the time the wife of President Jonathan brought out the militants, we had almost got to zero point of no kidnapping in Port Harcourt. Where we were witnessing kidnapping were villages near Bayelsa and Abia States. We were thinking of how to go there with military surge, to chase the criminals back to their bases,' he said.
'She also held a Security Council meeting with them in Otuoke, declaring that they would use federal mighty [sic].But we have God Almighty. Is there any governor that has passed through what I passed through that is still alive? I am still talking as the Governor of Rivers State because there is God. They can use their federal mighty [sic] but I depend on the Almighty God'.
Moving on to the president, Amaechi alleged that there was an unstated plan to under-develop Rivers State at the expense of the president's home state, Bayelsa, as evidenced by the Zonal Air Force originally earmarked for Rivers by late President Umaru Yar'Adua but moved to Bayelsa by Jonathan. He also alleged the same scenario for the Soku oil wells.
'The Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas Company [in Rivers State] is even the worst. The members of the board and management of the NLNG came to me and pleaded with me to speak with the NNPC to allow them to do Train Seven in Bonny, that will employ 10,000 Rivers people', he said.
'I approached the NNPC and I went to the Petroleum Ministry. I do not want to call names, because most of them are my friends. They told me no. I thought it was a joke. That time, there was no quarrel between me and President Jonathan, because we had just finished elections (2011) and we were still chummy-chummy.
'I met with President Jonathan to kindly speak with officials of the NNPC and the Petroleum Ministry to allow NLNG to build Train Seven. President Jonathan said he wanted them to finish Brass LNG in his Bayelsa State, before they could build Bonny NLNG's Train Seven. Mr. President said no and that he directed the officials of the NNPC and the Petroleum Ministry to say what they said.
'Mr. President said right from when he was the Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, he had been trying to get the Brass LNG and wants to get it now that he is the President. You cannot force investors. So, we must wait for Bayelsa State before Rivers State can grow.
'The implication is that Rivers State will not grow until Goodluck Jonathan finishes his Presidency. Is that a good government? Is that a good party? Should I remain there? If I was lying, they would have replied me. What is South-South President? There is only one thing in politics, which is interest. You cannot play politics of Nigeria with religion or ethnicity
'They took Soku oil wells from us and they took 41 oil wells from Etche to Abia State. Should I remain in that kind of party that is denying Rivers State its resources? When I said they could not account for N2.3 trillion for oil subsidy, they said what is your source? I was in a meeting with President Jonathan. Nigerians never knew that governors went on strike for three months. We refused to collect our monthly allocations, because we told President Jonathan that under Yar'Adua late Umaru under Gen. Obasanjo (former President Olusegun), the total oil subsidy was N300 billion'.
However, he recalled that during the first year of the Presidency of Goodluck Jonathan in 2011, oil subsidy became N2.3 trillion. 'Did we buy more machines, more human beings in Nigeria?' he queried. 'We had 24 hours power supply; things have changed in Nigeria, that we now consume N2.3 trillion from N300 billion'.
He refuted claims that he is determined to ruin the slot of a fellow south-southerner as President of the country, saying a south-south president, as far as he is concerned, is the man who feels for him and cares.
'For them to be doing the East-West Road [ runningfrom Oron in Akwa Ibom State, through Ogoniland in Rivers State to Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Ondo and Ogun States, terminating in Lagos State], I had to fight the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs.
'They said they would borrow money. They borrowed money and are now doing the East-West Road. The South-South President should have borrowed the money since 2011 that he came in and completed the East-West Road.
'Unfortunately, Yar'Adua is not alive to speak for himself. I was part of the people who sat down with Yar'Adua to start the designing of coastal rail from Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Ondo and Ogun States, up to Lagos State. Have you heard of it again?
'I recall a meeting with late President Yar'Adua who asked what the Federal Government could do for Rivers State to stem militancy. I suggested the provision of a skills' acquisition centre and the then President proceeded to award contracts for the project to prominent Rivers people only for President Jonathan, on replacing Yar'Adua, to sack the contractors. The contracts were then re-awarded to other people.
'For four years, the Federal Government's skills' acquisition centre is yet to be completed. It is not about the contractor not working. They are not funding the contractor, because the project is in Rivers State'.
He also spoke on PDP and APC ahead of the 2015 general elections, saying that by March 2014, APC would have become the majority party in the Senate.
'We are gradually forming government. We have taken over the House of Representatives. Before March, we will take over the Senate. Just watch out.
'The pressure will mount so much that the senators will move from the PDP into APC. For now, it is narrowing down closely everyday and we are counting. Watch out before March, if we will not have the number we are looking for'.
On the Grassroots Development Initiative (GDI) spearheaded by Nyesom Wike, he said: 'I do not talk about those people who call themselves GDI. For me, they are not important, because that is not the fight. Those people do not even have the same agenda as the President. Their agenda is they cannot survive poverty.
'What they are trying to do is how to win Rivers State and share the money. They are not fighting for President Jonathan. What is driving them mad about Obio/Akpor LG Council? I did not know that individuals working in my government were sharing Obio/Akpor LG council's money and they were not ashamed'.
He also denied reports of ditching his wife, Judith, for another woman, saying: 'I read a story that I impregnated Prof. Wole Soyinka's daughter. That she is living in my house and my wife has run away. The story was bad. I had to call back my wife, so that they would know that she had not divorced me. She was not planning to do Christmas in Nigeria.
'She is back to see her husband, spend time with the husband, do some of her functions as wife of the governor, so that they will know that I am still married. Not just that I am still married, I am a Catholic.
'My marriage is as solid as a Catholic marriage. There is absolutely no room for divorce. What you have is room for annulment. There is only one ground for annulment of marriage in Catholic Church that is the marriage never took place. That means the woman either deceived him to marry her or the man deceived her into marrying him. Any other thing is called for better, for worse'.