Former Rivers State governor, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, was finally screened for ministerial appointment by the Senate on Thursday after the previous three attempts were stalled by the petition of alleged corruption against him filed by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) from his home state.
Expectedly, Amaechi’s screening was not without drama and controversy as senators from both sides of the political divide took their respective positions on the controversial ministerial nominee.
First to kick-start the show was Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio. The former Akwa Ibom governor told the Senate that the PDP caucus would not put questions to Amaechi since the report of the allegation of corruption against him submitted by the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions had not been debated by the Senate. While Akpabio’s position raised uproar, the Majority Leader, Ali Ndume, suggested that Amaechi should take a bow and go, stressing that one of his key duties as Senate leader was to market the ministerial nominees.
However, Senate President, Bukola Saraki, ensured Amaechi was asked a few questions, allowing All Progressives Congress (APC) senators to grill the former Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) chairman. While fielding questions from the senators, Amaechi declared that he detests corruption.
The former Rivers Governor also claimed he was not indicted in the whole report of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry of Rivers State. “There is nowhere in the report of the Judicial committee, not (even) the white paper by the governor, that I am indicted for corruption,” he said.
On his achievements in office, Amaechi gave a synopsis of his legacy: “My administration worked to restore the old glory of Port Harcourt. We now have almost 24-hour power supply in Rivers State. Rivers State was the first state to introduce Fiscal Responsibility Law. My administration redefined governance and repositioned Rivers State.”
Speaking on the APC victory in the last presidential election, he said the party was able to sell to Nigerians that there was massive corruption in the previous government. “We let Nigerians know that the only solution was to change government. And then, we presented a signpost candidate who is incorruptible.”
On Niger Delta problems, he assured that the East West Road would be his top priority if he is appointed minister of Niger Delta Affairs. “Resources are in Niger Delta and they should be treated fairly. We must diversify economy and invest in education. We must remove corruption and invest in power; without improved power supply, there can’t be industrialization,” he stressed.
By Olisemeka Obeche