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Politicians want Rivers’ N115bn shared, Amaechi alleges

Posted by By Ibanga Isine, Port Harcourt on 2008/10/13 | Views: 1580 |

Politicians want Rivers’ N115bn shared, Amaechi alleges


Rivers State Governor, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, on Monday alleged that some “political gladiators” wanted him to share N115bn currently in the state’s treasury.

Rivers State Governor, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, on Monday alleged that some “political gladiators” wanted him to share N115bn currently in the state’s treasury.

Amaechi, also disclosed that the “political gladiators,” who had laid some complaints against him before President Umaru Yar’Adua, were bent on “bringing down” his administration in order to spend the money.

The governor, who spoke at the Stakeholders’ Conference for Sustainable Development organised by the state’s Sustainable Development Agency in Port Harcourt, did not name the “political gladiators,” whom, according to him, had in the past, cheated the people.

He swore to an oath at the conference and vowed to resign instead of committing crimes against his people.

The governor said, “I want to announce to you (participants) that as at today (Monday), we have a total of N115bn in our account waiting for you. That money is attracting a lot of people. They want to spend it, and therefore, they want to bring down the government to enable them spend it.

“We will not allow them to spend it but I don’t have the power to stop them. You must begin to assert yourselves, assert your authority. The power comes from you.

“I will not be a good governor if I bring the N115bn and share 40 per cent to the men and keep 60 per cent. But I will keep the money for the people for the infrastructure they need.

“Shouldn’t we be asking ourselves this question, ‘Why is it that many years after the creation of our state that we have no water to drink?, Why is it that after so many years of our existence, we do not have good primary schools we can be very proud of ?”

He expressed surprise that those who cheated the people had the courage to report him to the President.

The governor said, “What baffles me about Nigerians is that when they are cheating you, they are courageous enough to continue to tell you stories.

“If they have no shame, I have shame. I have pride and I have a conscience. I would rather resign as the governor than betray you. Rivers people are more important to me. I want them to believe, and I swear to an oath, that the projects that I will initiate are for them. I will do the best I can to deliver them.”

Referring to the arraignment of his Chief of Staff, Wike, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for allegedly laundering N5bn belonging to the state, Amaechi said he would allow the rule of law to take its course.

He, therefore, urged the people to wait for the outcome of the case before they could form an opinion on it.

Former Ghanaian President Jerry Rawlings, who delivered the keynote address at the conference, blamed the Niger Delta crisis on poor leadership in the country.

He advocated transformational leadership which, according to him, inspires and allows people to take charge of their destinies rather than hold on to power forever.

Speaking on the theme, “Leadership for Sustainable Development in Africa,” the former president said that for centuries, the Niger Delta was a backwater of small subsistence communities.

For instance, he said Port Harcourt began by exporting slaves and later, palm oil.

The discovery of crude oil, he noted, tremendously unsettled the economic balance of the area as the people on whose land oil was exploited were deprived of the opportunity in the new industry.

He said the deprivation was due to a lopsided educational system that did not give them technical skills to fit into the new industry (oil).

Rawlings said, “As farmers and fishermen, their lands were polluted and rendered useless. Poverty increased and with it, anger increased.

“The people of the land saw some people becoming very, very rich; they could perhaps swallow the facts that foreign-based oil companies were getting rich. After all, this people invested some money and deserved some return.

“But when they saw some of their own draining-off oil profits and obscene display of wealth, they became angry. But as soon as they became angry, they were identified as terrorists, as obstacle in the way of prosperity. And so they were hunted down.

“Since then the international television stations have documented impoverished peasants, trying in desperation to tap into oil pipelines, only to become incinerated corpses.”

He said people of the region had reasons to be angry having seen poor leadership and exploitation and having seen foreign and local interests accumulating wealth while their basic livelihood were undermined.

Rawlings argued that sustainable development was a complex contact between people seeking to transform their lives and livelihoods with a stable and renewable environment, with respect to the sanctity of rivers, lands and natural resources.

The former President said sustainable development can only be driven by those who are sensitive to the needs of the people, abhor corruption and waste and are accountable to the people.

In promoting such a leadership, he argued that inspiration rather than instruction; learning rather than teaching; nurturing new leadership rather than perpetuating old leadership, would be the most sustainable attributes.

He said, “Development is about the perpetual improvement of life, livelihood and the human condition in harmony with nature and the environment.

“Contrary to the elementary views espoused by Western economics, development is not simply about economic growth, it may not even be about growth.

“What is the meaning of growth if that growth simply results in shameful consumption and wastes by a small minority while the majority languish in poverty and deprivation.

“He said sustainable development may occur if we address the issue of equity and fairness in the distribution of global wealth and nature‘s endowments without substantial economic growth.

“I am no economist, but everyone can now see what is happening to the Western economies as they crumble in the face of unsustainable development driven by money, greed, sophisticated prescriptions and imminent collapse.”

He further argued that sustainable development could only be attained when people see some lasting improvement in their quality of life.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.