The 7 Deadly Sins Of Governor Rotimi Amaechi However, Amaechi bears a chunk of the blame. I see the creeping rise of the governor’s churlishness, that pettiness which tarred my first impression of him eight or so years ago. But he has been fortunate. He is self serving and lacks a sense of proportion, yet we all – especially the media – continue to cut him so much slack. Last week in Ekiti, he spoke at the Symposium for Young and Emerging Leaders, and all his excesses were on full display again. It was a painful thing to watch. Amaechi was unprepared – he said so himself. But whereas for others, that might have served as a cautionary marker to watch what comes out of their mouth; for him it was a licence to run amok. It is unbecoming of the governor to use every given opportunity to throw barbs at the president.
Hear him: “On fuel subsidy, what have we done? A lot. That’s why they want to remove me as chairman of the Governor’s Forum. They face a radical chairman that’s why they want me removed.” Interestingly, in 2012, when they – meaning President Jonathan – took the bold, mistimed, callous decision to remove subsidy on fuel and the whole nation was about to combust, all the fingers pointed to Aso Rock. Amaechi and the other governors in the NGF from all parties, the instigators, remained strategically silent, allowing the president take the hits on their behalf. To be clear, Amaechi never said he was opposed to the removal, but no one heard him come out to speak forcefully in backing the president. When labour leaders met with him during the Occupy protest in Rivers, he said, “Please let’s bear with the president, we have only one country.”
Do not forget that it was Amaechi that lead other Governors in threatening the Federal Government to remove the subsidy, as they claimed that states are starved of funds.
In the midst of it, he announced a N4 subsidy, slashing the price from N141 to N137 in Rivers, and asking that motorists cut fares which had increased following the subsidy removal. And that’s exactly how he does it – by playing both ways. On the one hand he announced the laughable N4 subsidy and the bus fare slash, small gestures intended to show that he was making motion; securing his ‘lovability.’ Behind the scene however, he maintained pressure on the president to stay firm and not budge to the people’s demands, and he was at the forefront of the hawks who clamoured for soldiers to be deployed to Ojota (he mockingly said so himself at the symposium.) Let’s hear more quotes from Amaechi: “Because government is the biggest enterprise in the country, that’s why when the president enters, everybody catches cold, so that’s why I keep getting advise ‘Amaechi don’t talk again oo…’” and “I went to Turkey with the president and that’s the last trip I went with him. They don’t like taking me to travel with them…” and “They’ve threatened me with the EFCC, they’ve hunted me, there’s nothing they’ve not threatened me with… If I was not a governor with immunity, they would have taken me down.”
Did I mention that people cheered him on? But of course! We love the “me” vs. “them” stories which Amaechi tells so well. His “David” vs. “Goliath” epics, in which he is always the “David” with his tongue for a sling and haughty words for stones, felling every giant in sight. But while he ‘photoshops’ his narration of his records, he cannot photoshop our memories. And we remember that it was he who pushed for the noxious Rivers Governor and Deputy Governor Fringe Benefits Bill last year which entitles all Rivers ex-governors and their ex-deputies to two houses in Rivers and Abuja, three new vehicles to be replaced yearly, 300 per cent funding for any furniture of their choice, pension equivalent to the annual basic salary of the incumbent governor or deputy, amongst other benefits. These bills of course would be footed by the Rivers taxpayer.
The assembly members couldn’t dare oppose the bill. You see, part of Amaechi’s ‘maverism’ is that he doesn’t tolerate dissent. Imagine if it was Jonathan who had proposed and signed such an obscene law – Verily, verily I say unto you, the nation would have known no peace. When you hear Amaechi describe Jonathan as a “dictator”, you wonder if it’s not the same Amaechi who sacked 11 duly elected local government chairmen because they failed to attend a meeting at the Governors’ Office. When you hear him claim to be a Marxist and a radical socialist opposed to the ‘greed of capitalism’, you wonder if it’s not the same guy who six months ago blew $45 million to procure a new Bombardier jet. Today, it is exposed that the plan still belong to the American sellers and one should ask, what happened to $45million that belong to Rivers tax payers? The answer is obvious.
Oh, and by the way, in Ekiti, when he saw a small reference to the absurdity of his jet purchase in an Enough is Enough (EiE) flyer which was distributed at the event, he simply accused the executive director of EiE, Yemi Adamolekun, of “trying to incite people against me. Tomorrow when you come and ask me to carry you in my jet, I won’t.” “Hahahahaha,” roared the audience.
Our maverick has spoken. So in essence, Amaechi has a blank cheque – he can say whatever he likes (“kidnapping can be seen as a form of redistribution of wealth”), change positions whenever he likes (“Orubebe is an incompetent minister”/January 2013; “Orubebe is a transformational leader”/March 2013), and still have everyone in his corner. What a charmed life!
He’s the only one who can condemn oppression and claim to be an oppressor while making the same speech, and be applauded both times because he is just being himself, he speaks his mind, and he is a maverick. No, no, no, he is a politician, people! He should be judged on a case by case basis and the press should not be too quick to make excuses for him. The governor is not incompetent and he is by no means a failure.
If any comparison is made between him and the president, only the deliberately mischievous can claim that Jonathan has been a better performer. But it’s time to tell him that he hasn’t done anything extraordinary, that he is taking his eyes off the ball, that his double speak and double mindedness would not go unchallenged henceforth and that for some time Rivers people have been reaping thorny fruits of his neglect.
It’s time for someone to tell Gov. Amaechi that he talks too much, that he needs to tone down on his self-serving arrogance and that next time he feels the need to criticise President Jonathan, he should go right ahead, but only after removing the Iroko trunk in his own eyes.