The Rivers State Government has reacted to a statement by the Presidency over Governor Rotimi Amaechi’s allegations at the mega rally to mark the seventh anniversary of his Supreme Court victory, saying instead of resulting to name calling, the Presidency should address the issues raised.
Following Amaechi’s statement at the rally, where he said the president hates the state and has been hampering its progress, Special Adviser, Media & Publicity to President Goodluck Jonathan, Dr. Reuben Abati described Amaechi as a rascal and warned him there were consequences to his utterances, including legal actions.
Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, however rose in defence of Governor Amaechi yesterday, urging the Presidency to address the issue of its marginalization of Rivers as raised by the governor.
Semenitari also wondered where Abati heard Amaechi making reference to the First Lady, Patience Jonathan.
“The first thing to say is that clearly that statement must have been written before the rally. If it wasn’t written before the rally, then I am at a loss at where Dr. Abati saw the so-called statement against the President, his wife and the Federal Government. There was no point during the rally where the wife of the President was mentioned and that was because issues being discussed were not issues about persons but about governance.
“The issues were in no way related to her as she does not hold any official position in government. Therefore, there is no need referring to her where governance issues are being discussed,” she said.
Continuing, the commissioner said Governor Amaechi only raised issues bordering on governance, stressing that there was no time he attacked the person of Dr. Jonathan.
“Governor Amaechi did not refer to the President in any personal capacity. He did refer to the activities of the Federal Government; he did refer to the fact that the Federal Government’s Ministry of Aviation has not completed the remodelling of the Port Harcourt International Airport, which was started at the same time as Enugu, as Lagos, as Kano, as Calabar.
“He did refer to the fact the Rivers people were being treated like refugees and we have become internally-displaced persons in our own state and our only offence was that we gave the President two million votes in 2011. He did complain that Rivers people only feel marginalized, but are poor cousins to the Federal Government.
“He did complain as to why Rivers people continue not to have the funds that come from their oil wells and the fact that the oil wells that belong to Rivers State were taken to Bayelsa and Abia states.
“He wondered if it was an offence to be cousins to rich brothers. He asked if the Ijaw people in Rivers State were any less Ijaw than their cousins across the river in Bayelsa, in Delta and in Ondo states. He thought that if it was a matter of Ijaw ethnicity, which he ascribed to because he felt that first and foremost, Nigeria is a federation comprising of every ethnic colouration and therefore, every ethnicity should feel entitled to the common wealth.
“However, he said that if it happens to be a matter of ethnicity, then, certainly, the Ijaw in Rivers State deserve to also benefit from their Ijaw brother.
“He said that brotherhood means that you will take care of my needs as your brother and therefore, the Bonny-Bodo Road would have been completed by now. He did ask if it was not true that the first Port Harcourt Refinery was built by Tafawa Balewa… He also did say that the Eleme Petrochemical was built by Ibrahim Babangida.
“Again, may be, Dr. Abati has a fact that is contrary to that. Perhaps, Dr. Abati is unaware because he has not been following the releases of the federal allocation that states are receiving 50 per cent of what they were all receiving before… What he issued yesterday (Sunday) was his opinion, which is really different from presenting the facts as they occurred, and therefore, it will be difficult for me being a news person to join issues with him.
“I will, therefore, just refer him back to the table and ask him to address the facts that have been raised by His Excellency, the Governor of Rivers State.
“The facts are clear that as at today, there is no significant federal presence in Rivers State. That as today, the Port Harcourt International Airport remains abandoned. That as today, the Ministry of Niger Delta, created by His Excellency, the late President Yar’Adua and have had a whole cake as an assignment; yet, the only thing that recurs on the agenda of the Niger Delta Ministry is the East-West Road.
“Perhaps, Dr. Abati will want to controvert that by showing us other issues that are on the agenda of the Ministry of Niger Delta.
“Those are the facts that Governor Amaechi raised and to my mind, what Dr. Abati needs to do is to address the facts, then, keep aside his opinions. I think when he answers those questions, then, there will be reasons to have a conversation,” she said.