Rift Deepens As Amaechi Reacts To Wike’s Allegations

Nyesom Wike, Chibuike Amaechi, Rives RerunRift between the former Governor of Rivers State, Mr Chibuike Amaechi and his successor, Mr Nyesom Wike, is deepening, even as the electoral body tries to conclude legislative elections in some local councils.

Both Amaechi and Wike have traded blames and have made daunting allegations against each other, which critics said were capable of heating up the polity at a time of election.

Mr Amaechi, who is now the Minister of Transport in oil rich Nigeria, on Sunday reacted to allegations by Governor Wike that his political party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), was using delayed tactics to tamper with the results in areas where candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (Wike’s political party) were in the clear lead.

In a statement Amaechi’s spokesman, said that apart from the fact that  was not aware of what the governor of rivers state is talking about,

It says Governor Wike must allow the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to collate and announce results of the rerun elections.

“As governor, Wike cannot be INEC or dictate to INEC how and when to announce election results. It is sad that Wike is desecrating the office of the governor with all his spurious allegations,” the statement further read.

Governor Wike had earlier expressed dissatisfaction with with the conduct of the legislative re-run election.

He told Channels Television that the collated results were being manipulated in favour of the opposition political party.

He had claimed that strong effort was made to upturn the results already won by candidates of the PDP.

He expressed worry over Rivers East, Rivers West, Andoni and Opobo Nkoru Federal Constituencies, where he said his party’s candidates were set to sweep the polls.

Although the army has since denied involvement in the process, the governor insisted there were video evidences.

Rift between the former Governor and his successor was also seen few days ago when Mr Amaechi accused Governor Wike and his political party, the PDP, of being behind killings in Rivers State.

Mr Amaechi claims that Mr Wike could not deny his involvement and sponsorship of the killing of innocent Rivers people and stalwarts of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2015 general elections and the March 19 re-run elections in the state.

Cache Of Arms And Ammunitions

The former governor made the allegations while addressing reporters at the Port Harcourt International Airport on arrival in the State for Saturday’s re-run legislative elections.

He said the cache of arms and ammunitions Mr Wike recovered from cultists during the first phase of the Rivers State Amnesty Programme was evidences to buttress his allegations.

“Wike has not denied he did not kill people. He sponsored those who carried arms in the 2015 general elections.

“Even, during the campaigns, our people were beaten, manhandled and others threatened, leaving many dead. But we will not continue to allow these things to happen like that. Members of the PDP were also responsible for killing APC members in Omoku,” Mr Amaechi, who is now the the Minister of Transportation, told reporters.

 

Amaechi Claims Wike, PDP Behind Killings In Rivers State

chibuike-amaechi-and-nyesom-wikeA former Governor of Rivers State, Mr chibuike Amaechi, has accused the current governor, Nyesom Wike and his political party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), of being behind killings in the state. 

This allegation is the latest in allegations and counter allegations that have been put forward, as political parties in Rivers State prepare for the December 10 re-run legislative election.

Mr Amaechi claims that Mr Wike could not deny his involvement and sponsorship of the killing of innocent Rivers people and stalwarts of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2015 general elections and the March 19 re-run elections in the state.

Cache Of Arms And Ammunitions

The former governor made the allegations while addressing reporters at the Port Harcourt International Airport on arrival in the State for Saturday’s re-run legislative elections.

He said the cache of arms and ammunitions Mr Wike recovered from cultists during the first phase of the Rivers State Amnesty Programme was evidences to buttress his allegations.

“Wike has not denied he did not kill people. He sponsored those who carried arms in the 2015 general elections.

“Even, during the campaigns, our people were beaten, manhandled and others threatened, leaving many dead. But we will not continue to allow these things to happen like that. Members of the PDP were also responsible for killing APC members in Omoku,” Mr Amaechi, who is now the the Minister of Transportation, told reporters.

When asked for his opinion on claims by the PDP and Governor Wike that the Police and INEC in Rivers state have connived to manipulate election results in favour of the APC, Mr Amaechi, who is a member of the APC said: “If Governor Wike and the PDP have justifiable evidence, let them present it to the general public and stop blackmailing me or INEC and Police.

“The allegations are immaterial, null and void. Why is Wike and PDP making too much noise and fruitless allegations?” he questioned.

But Mr Wike has vowed to release a video of the plot to rig the election in favour of the APC when the need arises.

Despite Wike’s claims, Mr Amaechi claimed that his popularity in the state was enough to the give his party victory,.

He argued that he was more popular than all those in the PDP because, when he left office in 2015 as Governor of Rivers State, he had over 75 per cent support from Rivers people and other Nigerians resident in the state.

“This is so because, as Governor then, l overhauled the Health and Education sectors by promoting free healthcare system and free education.

“Over 10,000 teachers were employed, including the building of critical infrastructures, roads and youth empowerment, making Rivers people and other Nigerians experience change.

“So, l am very sure l had more popularity than any PDP stakeholder including Governors across the country,” he claimed.

Mr Amaechi further urged the people of the state to disabuse their minds against comments by the PDP and Governor Wike, which he said were calculated to rubbish him in the eyes of right thinking persons, in order to score cheap popularity and further whip up public sentiments to heat up the polity.

He called on Rivers people and other Nigerians resident in the state, including supporters and stalwarts of the APC to turn out en-masse to vote on Saturday, urging them to always protect their votes at election venues.

“Before now, I used to tell my Party members to vote and protect their votes, but there has been complains of indecent attacks from the PDP, so, I have asked the APC party members to protect their votes and their lives as well, because the PDP cannot be bigger than everybody everywhere,” Amaechi explained.

He equally expressed total displeasure over what he called, “irresponsible comments” by Wike, stating that, “at several occasions, Wike has abused the office and privileges of the governor, especially, his sudden interception of Security operatives who were detailed by law to arrest corrupt judges in some states across the country”.

“During my tenure as Governor, I never abused the office of the Governor, because, it is sacred and should be respected in all ramifications,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Minister in a broadcast aired on Radio stations across Rivers State asked Rivers people to take advantage of the December 10 re-run elections and vote the right persons to represent them and put an end to the alleged terror they have been made to go through by the Wike and PDP administration in the State so far.

He said: “This is another opportunity for us to exercise our right to vote for candidates of our choices. You would recall that the last time the elections were held, members of the APC were brazenly, crudely and violently prevented from exercising their inalienable rights to elect those they wanted. Those same characters and forces that stole our votes by violently, denying us the right to vote the last time, are at it again.

“In the months and weeks leading to this Saturday’s election, they have employed the use of violence and intimidation and harassment all aimed at preventing us from coming out to vote, they have turned our hitherto peaceful state into a haven of brazen criminality culminating in killings and maiming of innocent citizens.

“However, it is gratifying to know that the Commander-in- Chief, President Muhammadu Buhari, has assured the security of lives and property in the state before, during and after the election.

“Mr. President has graciously provided adequate security through the length and breadth of the state. I therefore, enjoin you all to come out en masse and exercise your civic right on Saturday”.

My Arrest Is Connected To Amaechi’s Request, Justice Okoro Tells NJC

iyang-okoro-and-chibuike-amaechiJustice Iyang Okoro of the Supreme Court says his arrest by the Department of State Services (DSS) may not be unconnected to a requested made by the Transport Minister, Mr Chibuike Amaechi.

The Judge claimed that Mr Amaechi, who was the former Governor of Rivers State, had visited him on February 1, 2016 asking him to ensure that the candidate of the All Progressive Congress in the April 2015 governorship election in Akwa Ibom State, Mr Umana Umana, must win all of his appeals.

In a four-page letter to the National Judicial Council, Justice Okoro said that the Minister informed him that he sponsored the Akwa Ibom governorship candidate and should he lose the elections, he, Amaechi would have lost a fortune.

Justice Okoro further alleged that the Minister had told him that he had spoken with the Chief Justice of Nigeria to include him (Justice Okoro) in the panel to hear the appeal and that the said Umana Umana also visited him, making the same request.

Justice Okoro went on to say that the sum of $24,000 and 10,000 euro found in his house during the raid by the department of state services were an accumulation of three years travel and medical allowances, since his sojourn to the Supreme Court.

iyang-okoro-letter
Copy of Justice Iyang Okoro’s letter to the National Judicial Council

He added that the DSS had not confronted him with any petition or complaint against him.

The judge further alleged that the operatives, who visited his house, pointed guns at him from different angles like a common criminal.

 

In reaction to the claims of the judge, the office of Mr Amaechi in a statement said the claims were false.

“It is a figment of his imagination, concocted to obfuscate and politicise the real issues for his arrest and DSS investigation of allegations of corruption against him.

“The claims by Justice Okoro against Amaechi are blatant lies, bereft of any iota of truth or even logic.

“Amaechi did not and has never approached Justice Okoro in respect of the cases Okoro mentioned or any other case.

“This is a cheap attempt, albeit, political move to drag the name of Amaechi into something he knows nothing about,” the statement from the office read.

Mr Amaechi’s office further asked Justice Okoro to face his issues and leave Amaechi out of it, saying the Minister would seek redress.

Osinbajo Inaugurates Committee On Nigeria’s Railway Concession

Railway-NigeriaThe Nigerian government has inaugurated a ‘Steering Committee’ that will handle the concession of the eastern and western lines of the Nigeria’s Railways.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo inaugurated the committee on Thursday, with a demand from the members to get the job done promptly.

Professor Osinbajo said that the committee would create a one-stop shop for the concession, fast track the process and beat the red-tape and bureaucratic bottlenecks.

He further expressed optimism that the Steering Committee headed by the Transportation Minister, Mr Chibuike Amaechi, would be innovative, urging the members to remove whatever obstacles in the way of a smooth concession process.

The Vice President is also hopeful that the committee will meet its deadlines and end up “to be an example of how it should be done”.

He said that the Buhari administration was determined to overcome the challenges of bureaucratic bottlenecks in the public service delivery system.

“I think this Steering Committee is extremely important, because we have tried to bring together everybody that should be involved in this (concession) project in order to see to it that we deliver quickly and efficiently in a manner that justifies Federal Government’s expense in the project.

“The whole idea of the Steering Committee raises the issue we are trying to address, to have a one-stop shop for all approvals, objections or problems so that we can realise our target,” he explained.

Speaking after the inauguration, the Minister of Transportation said that the committee was set up to ensure the concession of the nation’s railway and is expected to submit its report in six months.

The Steering Committee

The 20-Member Committee is composed of officials and individuals from relevant public and private sector agencies and firms and they are to also advise the National Council on Privatisation (NCP) on policy issues that impact on stakeholders’ interest, advise the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) on efforts at improving stakeholders’ relations and also advise BPE and Federal Ministry of Transportation on planning, coordination and implementation of Nigerian Railway Corporation.

Other functions of the committee are to review existing legislations, reports, studies and any other relevant information on the railway sector and provide guidance on policy issues, review economic and financial viability of the project and recommend the level of Federal Government of Nigeria’s investment and review the concession framework developed by the Project Delivery Team.

They will also review the technical, financial and legal framework for the successful preparation and concession of the project, review the activities of the Project Delivery Team that would facilitate the concession, guide the project delivery team in the concession process, assist the concessionaire to obtain all clearances, approvals and permit as may be necessary and assist in organisation of workshops, and public awareness campaigns on the concession process.

The Steering Committee will also brief the NCP and Federal Executive Council (FEC) from time to time on the activities of the Steering Committee; and to carry out any other function that will facilitate the delivery.

Nigeria Urges Africa To Collectively Tackle Climate Challenges

Nigeria, Africa, AfricaNigeria has called on African countries to act in a collective and collaborative manner to tackle climate related challenges bedevilling the continent.

The Minister of Transportation, Mr Chibuike Amaechi, made the call on Friday in Abuja during a meeting of the Council of Ministers in charge of National Meteorological Services in ECOWAS member countries.

Mr Amaechi described Africa as one of the most vulnerable continents to the impact of global warming and climate change.

Increasing Poverty

He believes that drought and desertification were responsible for forced trans-boundary migration of persons and increased security challenges in Africa.

The Minister added that the consequences of climate related challenges were impacting negatively on agriculture and increasing poverty in the continent.

The Chairman of the Council, Bushuben Keita, encouraged the ECOWAS member states to improve their climate monitoring capacity.

A representative of the Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organisation, Bennard Gomez, also advised the member states not to ignore the current climate challenge.

The meeting continued behind closed doors and it is expected to adopt the ECOWAS Meteorological Programme.

The fundamental objective of the programme is to improve the quality of meteorological services in member countries, so as to reduce the risks associated with extreme weather conditions.

FG To Audit Nigeria’s Ports

Nigeria's PortsThe Federal Government has announced plans to audit Nigeria’s ports as part of efforts to improve the economy and fast track the clearing of goods.

The Minister of Transport, Mr Chibuike Amaechi, said this in Abuja shortly after a meeting with port concessionaires, dry port operators and the management of the Nigeria Shippers’ Council.

He said that the audit of the ports would determine the next step to be taken by the federal government.

He, however, reiterated the federal government’s determination to diversify the nation’s economy.

FG Renegotiates Lagos-Calabar Rail Contract

Railway-NigeriaThe Federal Government of Nigeria said on Friday that it has renegotiated the contract for the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Railway Project.

During a contract signing ceremony in Abuja, the Minister of Transport, Mr Chibuike Amaechi, revealed that the contract was reviewed for $11.117 billion from the $11.917 billion agreed with the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

The reduction in contract sum is attributed to drop in prices of key materials such as steel among others.

On the funding of the project, the Minister said that funding would not pose any hindrance to the smooth commencement and final completion of the project.

The project was part of the controversial points during the budget impasse between the executive and legislature earlier in the year.

The executive had accused the legislature of removing the project from the budget but the legislators said the project was never added to the budget.

Lagos-Calabar Rail Project: Ministry Of Budget Clarifies 2016 Budget

2016 BudgetThe Ministry of Budget And Planning has come out with its position on the controversies surrounding the 2016 budget.

The ministry in a statement said the President is yet to take a position on the budget after receiving the budget details from the National Assembly on April 7.

On the controversial Calabar-Lagos rail project, the ministry confirmed that there were indeed some errors in the initial budget proposal sent to the National Assembly by the President in December.

The statement, however, added that the errors were corrected, submitted and subsequently accepted by the relevant committees of the National Assembly.

The statement read in part, “It must be emphasized that the two rail projects are part of those for which the President is currently negotiating funding with the Chinese government.

“The 60billion Naira provided in the budget for the Lagos – Kano and Calabar – Lagos rail lines, respectively, is counterpart funding, to support the Chinese financing for the projects.

“These projects are part of the strategic implementation plan of the government which was disclosed by the Minister of Budget and National Planning at The National Economic Council retreat in March 2016, in the presence of state governors.”

The statement added that it was the corrected version that was defended by the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi and his team.

Mischief

It has been a tug of war between the executive and the legislature over the 2016 budget, as the National Assembly insists that the Lagos-Calabar rail project was excluded from the budget.

At a news conference in Abuja, spokesman of the House of Representatives, Abdulrazak Namdas, insisted that there was no project as to Lagos-Calabar rail in the 2016 appropriation bill presented by President Buhari to the National Assembly.

He criticised the late presentation of the project by Minister of Transport, Mr Chibuike Amaechi.

Also, in a strongly worded press statement, the spokesperson of the Senate, accused the Presidency of setting Nigerians against the National Assembly.

He accused the Minister of Transport of mischief and demanded an apology from him if he is not able to show evidence that the Lagos-Calabar rail project was included in the budget, otherwise he should resign forthwith.

In another development, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Land Transport, Senator Gbenga Ashafa, confirmed that although the Lagos-Calabar rail project was not in the original document presented to the National Assembly by the executive, the Minister of Transport later informed the Transport Committee of the omission and sent a complimentary copy of the Ministry’s budget to the committee with the inclusion of the Lagos-Calabar rail project.

2016 Budget: Executive, NASS Row Over Calabar-Lagos Rail Project

Railway-NigeriaThe back and forth arguments between Nigeria’s Executive Arm of Government and the National Assembly over the 2016 budget appear to be intensifying, as the lawmakers insist that the Calabar-Lagos rail project was not included in the 2016 budget.

Nigeria’s 2016 budget is one of the most controversial bill in recent time, with issues of its late submission to reports of it being missing then found, then reports of appropriation being padded.

After several months of debate and scrutiny, the budget was passed by the National Assembly but the Executive Arm of Government seem not satisfied with the final product from the lawmakers.

There have been reports quoting the executive as saying that the budget was distorted, with the removal of certain items and addition of some others that were not initially in the budget.

One of such projects that the executive claims were removed is a rail project that will connect the south-south region and the south-west – Calabar-Lagos rail project.

Countering the widespread reports that the National Assembly removed the project from the 2016 budget, the spokesman for the House of Representatives, Abdulrazak Namdas, told a news conference in Abuja on Monday that a late presentation of the project by the Minister of Transport, Mr Chibuike Amaechi, was out of place.

He pointed out that the President was the only one constitutionally empowered to make budgetary proposals to the parliament.

Also, the Senate spokesman, Senator Aliyu Abdullahi, in a strongly worded press statement accused the presidency of setting Nigerians against the National Assembly.

He accused the Minister of Transport of mischief and demanded an apology from the Minister if he was not able to show evidence that the Calabar-Lagos rail project was included in the budget. He also requested that he should reign if he could not present the evidence.

In another development, however, the Chairman Senate Committee on Land Transport, Senator Gbenga Asahafa, in a statement confirmed that although the Lagos-Calabar rail line project was not in the original document presented to the National Assembly by the executive, the Minister of Transport had later informed the Transport Committee of the omission and sent a supplementary copy of the ministry’s budget to the committee with the inclusion of the Calabar-Lagos rail project.

But the National Assembly apparently did not treat the proposal.

The National Assembly will resume plenary on Tuesday, April 12, and all eyes would be on the parliament to see what its next steps would be on the budget controversy.

APC, PDP Lawmakers Bicker Over Promised 5,000 Naira Stipend

APC Senators on 5,000 Naira stipendThe All Progressives Congress (APC) lawmakers in the Senate on Wednesday voted against the immediate implementation of the payment of 5,000 Naira to unemployed Nigerians, a campaign promise made by the APC during the last presidential election.

In his contribution to a motion on an urgent need to curb the soaring rate of unemployment in Nigeria, Senator Philip Aduda recommended that the Federal Government should fulfil its campaign promise of giving 5,000 Naira to unemployed persons.

The issue divided the lawmakers along party lines, a recollection of what had happened last week, during the confirmation of a ministerial nominee and the former Governor of Rivers State, Mr Chibuike Amaechi.

In the Cabinet chambers on Wednesday, the lawmakers from the opposition, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who for the first time since the return of democracy in 1999 have found themselves in the opposition, and the members of the ruling party, the APC, disagreed over the promised stipend, when it was brought up for debate.

Senators from the ruling APC were against the recommendation, which resulted in a back and forth argument between lawmakers from the PDP and APC.

The Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, however, put the issue forward for voting and the APC lawmakers had the day.

Stop Whining And Rebrand, APC Tells PDP

APCThe All Progressives Congress (APC) has dismissed the communique issued by the PDP after its national caucus’ meeting, which ended close to midnight on Thursday.

The APC says the PDP statement on the so-called political developments in the nation is a rehash of the opposition party’s infantile whining which will not save it from going down unless it rebrands urgently.

In a statement issued in Lagos on Friday by its National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, the APC said that the PDP cannot continue to do things in its trademark old ways and expect a different result.

“It is time for the PDP to take a long, hard look at itself in the mirror and change everything that is ugly about the party, instead of wasting its energy and time on irrelevancies,” the party said, adding that the PDP was the architect of its own fall from power.

“The days of winning elections with the aid of slush funds, brigandage, deceit and rigging are gone forever, hence the PDP must return to the drawing board to fashion out decent and empirical ways of repackaging and selling itself to Nigerians, just like the opposition did when they decided to come together.

“Instead of a blanket and unsubstantiated accusation against the judiciary over the election petition tribunal rulings in Rivers and Akwa Ibom, the PDP would have shown itself to be a serious party if it had provided statistics on how many of the cases filed at the various election petition tribunals nationwide, after the 2015 elections, have so far been decided in favour of the PDP and the APC, so that Nigerians can see whether the PDP has not won any single petition or whether all the cases have been won by the APC.

”The PDP has forgotten that the same judiciary that it is wilfully castigating today had decided many election petitions in favour of the party and against the APC, whether at the Governorship, National Assembly or State Assembly levels, and the ruling party has not opted to bring the whole house crashing down on everyone just because of that.

”Going down the memory lane, when the PDP took itself to court in 2007 over the Governorship election in Rivers, the same judiciary that has now become an apparition to the PDP awarded the Governorship to a candidate who never even featured on the ballot because the party crookedly substituted his name. Then, the PDP did not see the judiciary as being used by the then PDP Administration, neither did the opposition castigate the judiciary,” it said.

APC admonished the PDP to engage in strategic thinking that could propel the party forward, rather than continue to be nostalgic about its past, as the 16 years of the PDP are nothing to celebrate.

Stating that President Muhammadu Buhari has brought sanity to governance in spite of the PDP’s attempts to distract him, the ruling party said that the PDP’s “ceaseless and ill-advised attack on the judiciary, the endless put-down of government agencies and the demonization of everyone but itself would fetch the party nothing but political grief”.

”Our parting word for the PDP; stop throwing juvenile tantrums against everyone, especially the judiciary. Stop wasting your energy on frivolous accusations. Learn how to communicate your thoughts to Nigerians in a more civilized way and put your shoulder to the wheel if you want to reincarnate as a force to be reckoned with in our country’s political firmament,” APC said.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had criticised the recent tribunal judgment on Rivers State governorship election, accusing the Department for State Services of interference.

Shortly after the PDP national caucus’ meeting, the party’s spokesman, Mr Olisa Metuh, told reporters that there was serious cause for concern in the nation’s political environment, especially as it concerns the survival of the nation’s democracy.

He wondered why the tribunal was able to deliver a judgement within 24 hours “in a case that had nearly 100 witnesses, 1,000 pieces of documentary evidences and nine written addresses, each not less than 40 pages,” raising concerns about the judgement of the Election Petition Tribunal.

PDP Raises Issues Of Interference In Rivers Governorship Election Judgment

Olisa-MetuhThe Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has criticised the recent Tribunal judgment on Rivers State governorship election, accusing the Department for State Services of interference.

Shortly after the PDP national caucus’ meeting, which ended close to midnight on Thursday, the party’s spokesman, Mr Olisa Metuh, told reporters that there was serious cause for concern in the nation’s political environment, especially as it concerns the survival of the nation’s democracy.

He said that the National caucus of the Peoples Democratic Party carefully reviewed the political development in the nation’s polity before it came out with the resolution.

“For emphasis, the PDP and Nigerians wonder why it was necessary to interfere with the composition of the Rivers State Governorship Tribunal and to harass resident electoral commissioner severally to the extent that the Tribunal itself was able to deliver a judgement within 24 hours in a case that had nearly 100 witnesses, 1,000 pieces of documentary evidences and nine written addresses, each not less than 40 pages,” he said, raising concerns about the judgement of the Election Petition Tribunal.

“Pretentious War”

The spokesman for the PDP said that the outcome of the decision, “in view of a rather interesting history of the case”, indicated that the Nigerian people and the PDP were victims of the APC-led government.

Making comments about the walk out staged by the Senators of the PDP during the confirmation of the former Governor of Rivers State, Mr Chibuike Amaechi, on Thursay, Mr Metuh said it was a decision that showed the party’s stand against corruption.

“We salute the courage and unity of purpose of our Senators, especially as demonstrated in the Senate chambers today in their collective stand against impunity and corruption in line with the wishes and aspirations of Nigerians.”

He said that the action of the APC Senators during the confirmation plenary at the Senate had put a dent on the ruling party’s “pretentious war against corruption”.