States Bankruptcy & Amaechi's N115billion Story
Year in year out, every successive government in Nigeria claims it is constructing roads, building schools, health centers and so on. There is no end. What have been missing on the leaders menu are the building of industries, rehabilitating the existing ones and developing human resources. Nigerians in the Northern part of the country are running helter-skelter today because of insurgencies. Had it been that the Northern people who ruled Nigeria for close to forty years had developed the human power in the North, such economic sabotaging organization like Boko Haram would not have come up. There is no ruling out the fact that dastardly organizations recently arose in the South, but they were not as inimical as the Boko Haram, which has remained faceless, but fearless. This has continued to corkscrew Nigeria downhill in all facets of development. Especially, the governors under the umbrella of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) behave like people who lack the genuine ideas to develop their states because of their quest for more economy.
Most of them didn't even prepare to come to lead their states. This could be the reason they hit their chest and say, they are building white elephant structures such as monorail and other frivolities. They hardly engage in projects that could yield revenue continuously for their states. They boast that they pay salaries to the tone of billions of naira, but how many of them can show how much in revenue the job of the workers in their states generate for Nigeria. They build health centres, whereas there is hardly any genuine industry in Nigeria that produces a common panadol. They also import drugs that are used in these health centres, just as the Federal Government continued to import petroleum products.
It is laughable when they open their mouths and talk of reviewing the revenue sharing formula because they still use the money to glorify the products from industries established by governors in other countries where democracy is well understood and practiced. In these countries, most of the governors hardly make the money that these governors here are loathing. Take a perfunctory look at the states, virtually nothing is working. Just political wrangling! Nigeria by now is supposed to have states that could boast of manufacturing at least pencil and books that should be used in the schools that they 'continue' to build. They are hardly planning for tomorrow. They feel that the Federal Revenue Allocation should dictate the ability of a state to fruition.
It is worth understanding that rather than this Federal Revenue Allocation should be the capital with which the states develop, it is supposed to be additional excess revenue to boost development in the states. And any governor laying his ineptitude on the revenue for his state's development mishap is just being greedy and lacks the dexterity on governance and economic development.
The states cannot be clamouring for more funds to develop who knows where and what. The taste of the pudding is in the eating. We lost NAFCON, NITEL; NNPC and the refineries are all in oblivion. Sustainability has been a very big problem in Nigeria. Hardly is there anything like Public Corporation. The ones that have not gone oblivion changed their names. It is no longer news that all that government managed corporations are maximum charade. Are the governors talking based on political and selfish interests or the interest of the people?
How true is the story that with the removal of oil subsidy that the economy will burgeon to another level? The campaign we had expected was for the betterment of the general masses. The idea of minimum wage has turned Shylockical the governors want to take a pound of flesh. The country is facing untold inflation and the citizens are experiencing abject hardship. The Peoples Democratic Party-led (PDP) government has not really helped this country. The legacy it wanted to leave was to rule Nigeria for sixty years when there were no functional refineries. What the PDP government has actually done in this country is motivating political brouhahas within states and among individuals.
On Tuesday, October 2008, Amaechi who is today crying about that the “state has no money, but not broke”, while on the opening ceremony of a six days conference on Sustainable Development, organized by the Rivers State Sustainable Development Agency (RSSDA) in conjunction with Southern field Development Partners, boasted of how Rivers State's N115Billion savings attracted what he called treasury looters. To make the unsuspecting masses to love him much, the governor said that he was under deep pressure from some Rivers individuals, outside the Government, to share the this money for their personal use. He coined it: “N115 billion public funds.” But that he wouldn't succumb to their pressure. He even said that he was ready to resign as governor.
Hear him: “We are not sharing any money to anybody no matter the pressure, I am prepared to resign as governor and leave N115billion for Rivers people in the account than share the money on 40 percent 60 percent basis, to any individual, to call me a good governor. When I assumed office I told you that the money I was holding is your money, it is common wealth, it is therefore not money to be shared to anybody including the N115 billion we have saved so far for development projects are attracting a lot of people who want to bring down the government to enable them spend the money.”
The question today is, is this the same Amaechi who said that he would resign instead he would share the 'saved' money? Now that the money has finished and the state is borrowing to the extent of going bankrupt, what is he still doing in office? It is a simple logic: He didn't share the money he said that he was saving for the state and the money could not be found anywhere in the coffers of the state, so where is the money? If he could not give an answer it then means that his urging the people to emphasize their temerity and go for war against “the selfish persons” he said were after the N115billion, is ripe. This is why we are asking him. If the conscience of the people were not mortgaged by the state's sudden bankruptcy, what else? Where is the promise that he would abide by the oath of office to serve the people if the state's finance has diminished?
The people feel betrayed by the news of Rivers State's sudden bankruptcy because Amaechi had incessantly given the story of his early life describing it as humble, saying that his “conscience would not allow him to betray the people of the state and would therefore not be corrupt.” This is the time that the state needs genuine auditing unlike during the period in quote Amaechi travelled overseas and said that it “was to engage a reputable audit firm to audit the state finances.” But double spoke that he “regretted that the secretary to the state government who was mandated to go EFCC to explain the absence of key officials that flew out with him became a victim of the commission's excesses, as he was detained for nothing.” Hmmmmm!
The Chairman of the Rivers State Sustainable Development Agency (RSSDA), Mr. Bolaji Ogunseyi, reportedly said that the conference would be annual ritual because, according to him, it is the only uniform method of uniting the communities together for development in the state. He also promised the forum of being “a way of mediating in the developmental processes that would build local economies and enhance discussions among drivers of community development. The Executive Director of Southern Field Development Partners, Mr. Kuromiema Miabiye also reportedly added that the forum was a platform for the development of ideas. But has this Rivers State Sustainable Development Agency (RSSDA) not gone immediately it was launched?
One is wondering what could have happened to any person that perhaps succeeded Amaechi if he was not declared winner in the April 2011 elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) because barely five months in office, the state is in a real financial flu. It means that the state was since financially feeble. Not the water that he boasted would be provided publicly in the state and that his administration has taken hardnosed steps to redress the situation, that we can see. What is the gain in his government highlighting its achievements recorded by the government since assumption of office when the money that he said he was saving is no more?
There is no better way to make the states work other than to take the advise many of the dignitaries who graced the (RSSDA) occasion reportedly offered as follows:
Rawlings reportedly said that sustainable development would be achieved if the poverty steering on the peoples face is addressed, as against local and international investors accumulate wealth at the expense of the rural people. Again, he said that leaders at various levels should be truthful, because the people deserve to know where they are going.
Prof. Pat Utomi said the people would appreciate better if contributions on how to develop their communities involves them, he identified various economic variables that would accentuate the pace of development in the rural areas, and urged leaders to preside over the people by example.
Prof. Akpezi Ogbuigwe, said the transformation of rural communities is possible if the people are determined to develop their areas through practical designed long term measures... the people cannot achieve sustainability in the development of the communities if accountability is not enshrined in the moral fabric of the people...what happens in the environment influences development pattern of the people.
However, if Rawlings, Utomi, Ogbuigwe who attended the occasion and expressed satisfaction hear that the Rivers State they fervently praised is bankrupt, they might cover their faces in shame.
Odimegwu Onwumere is the Coordinator, Concerned Non-Indigenes In Rivers State (CONIRIV). Mobile: +2348032552855 (or) +2348057778358. Email: [email protected]