Ogoni Misfortunes And Amaechi's Decamp To APC: A Parallax
By: Ifeanyi Izeze
How else could anyone have described the statement by the Rivers State Governor, Chibuike Amaechi that the failure of the People's Democratic Party (PDP) -led Federal Government to implement the United Nations Environmental Protection Agency (UNEP) report on Ogoniland remediation was part of the reasons why he left the party, if not to say that that declaration was very unfortunate? Above all, he chose no other place but the heart of Ogoniland to say that.
It was on Sunday 13 July, 2014 at the thanksgiving celebration of former Council Chairman of Khana Local Government Area, Gregory Nwidam at St. Dominic's Catholic Church, Bane, that Governor Amaechi reportedly said “the PDP -led Federal Government lacks the political will to implement the UNEP report to make the environment habitable for the people of Ogoni, including the provision of water and other infrastructural development.”
His words: “After the verification and recommendation by the Agency to the Federal Government, they have refused to release the sum of One billion dollars for the clean-up and development of the area. As I am talking to you today, the Federal Government is doing nothing about the UNEP report. One billion dollars is about 160 billion naira, but the Federal Government has been spending billions in other places. But, you need to ask yourselves one question, what did Ogoni do against the federal government that they cannot release 160 billion naira to save your environment?
“That is the reason I left PDP for APC, because, our interest is not protected in PDP. So, when they cannot give the people of Ogoni 160 billion naira, which is not even enough for their kids to travel around America and London, if they cannot give to Ogoni people, why should you vote them?
“What you should do is to punish them with your votes by voting them out in 2015. When you vote, you are not fighting for me, you are fighting for yourselves because, I have served as a Speaker for 8 years and also Governor for 8 years, what I need from God is long life. You need to fight for yourselves and save Rivers State as well.”
Governor Amaechi's claim that he left PDP for APC over the federal government's delayed implementation of the UNEP Ogoni remediation Report, was an outrageous lie that could best be described as an outright leadership irresponsibility and inane insensitivity to the misfortunes of the Ogoni people. What can Amaechi as governor of that area for eight years say he has marvelously done as development in the entire Ogoniland aside going to Mexico to buy banana and plantain for Ogoni people as development project?
It is unfortunate that Amaechi can turn the Ogoni misfortune to explain away his (maybe now clear) rashness in jumping political boat. Everybody knows that the estranged governor did not decamp because of Ogoni. Not even Senator Magnus Abe whose house in Gokhana is a trekking distance to the sour point of oil devastation at Bodo town, can feign he left PDP to APC because of delayed implementation of the UNEP Report. Ofcourse, the Senator is more discreet in his actions and words than the oga -at -the –top.
It was the same PDP-led federal government that gave him scores of oil wells from Akwa Ibom state. That time he did not decamp but only said “God has punished Akwa Ibom.” Haba bros!
Is it not curious that of the five governors or so that walked out on President Jonathan and the PDP at the Eagle Square Abuja rally, it's only Amaechi who has been struggling to adduce and broadcast the reasons for his action? Not even the embattled and badly-treated former Bayelsa governor, Sylva has undertaken such childish adventure. Has anybody ever asked Amaechi why he joined APC and ofcourse who is even interested. The other day, it was because he was fighting Jonathan that was why Rivers (Kalabari) oil wells were snatched from him and given to Bayelsa state even though, that particular case preceded his administration and ofcourse Odili maturely handled it without much noise.
There was nothing wrong in the governor canvassing for Ogoni support in the forthcoming governorship election in the state but using the people's misfortunes as a platform is ourtrightly unacceptable because it is not decent in the sight of God and man. So it's only now that Amaechi wants the Ogoni people to register and vote APC into power come 2015 that he realized the area has been marginalized by successive governments- federal and Rivers state? Haba yewali!
Hear the Rivers state governor: “What has Federal Government done for the people of Ogoni. If I have not done anything, I have built Roads, Primary and Secondary Schools as well as Health Centres in Ogoni land. There are two areas I have focused since I became governor, Ogoni and Etche Local Government areas. I have also taken development to other parts of the State. In Ogoni, I started with rural road construction including agricultural investment to employ Ogoni people.
“So, when former Senator Lee Maebe said, are Ogoni people monkeys? I asked him to go back to school. This is because, the reason for establishing that farm in Tai LGA, even after we paid the owners of the land, was to create employment opportunities for the Ogoni people who work and get their daily living from that source. That farm is 2,000 hectares of land while the one we got from Etche was 5,000 hectares of land. This is a way of improving the living standard of the people in these areas. And, until I leave office, I will continue to drive development in the state.” This is pure banana idea, period!
Amaechi's problem is that he is a very selfish politician who does not give a dam about how most of his rash actions and pronouncements would affect those who believed and had followed him with cult-like loyalty. How would his Ogoni loyalists look in the sight of the kiths and kins back home?
The Ogonis would have been more convinced to hear exactly what the governor did or could not do to mediate between the people of the area and Shell in the present deadlock and more importantly what he did as governor of Ogoni Rivers to engage the central government to be more serious in addressing the Ogoni misfortunes. Abi!
(IFEANYI IZEZE is an Abuja-based Consultant and can be reached on: [email protected] ; 234-8033043009)
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