Until very recently, we had a bit of respect for Governor Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State. The little regard was not based on probity, or accountability or frugality in his managing of public money; it was founded on the dogged and unwavering battle that he waged against cultists and cult groups that virtually made that oil state a failed one.
But now, we must duel with him because he is waging a new and self-serving war against morality; against ethics; against public money’s frugal use. Amaechi has revealed his true reason for seeking what Nigerians call “plum job”. In his case, it is the governor’s seat in rich Rivers State.
In his remarks at the retreat convened in Port Harcourt by the Senate Constitution Review Committee about a fortnight ago, Amaechi said that the immunity clause is a non-issue as there is no Constitution in the world that does not have immunity clause enshrined in it. But he failed to say whether leaders in those other countries loot as Nigeria’s do, and if they do, cannot be imprisoned like Rod Blagojevich, the former governor of the state of Illinois, in the United States. Rod Blagojevich who, as a sitting governor in 2009, was arrested for seeking $1.5 million in campaign contributions from supporters of Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr., in exchange for appointing the latter to Obama’s Senate seat. He is now serving a 14-year jail term in a US federal prison.
One of the unshakeable pillars of any country’s progress is moral rectitude, or honesty, namely, a corruption – free disposition. This is why high moral standards, through examples, rather than precepts, is expected from those who lead their fellow citizens. But Amaechi appears to abhor this.
First, he not only manipulated a selfish bill to become law in his state, to grant himself, after his tenure, a life-time governorship status, via continued salary, three cars, replaceable every three years, official security escorts, two official homes in Rivers State and Abuja, free medical expenses for himself and family, etc., he is now campaigning for the retention of the Constitution’s “immunity” clause – Section 308 – which no doubt, perverted his sense of moral judgment, and emboldened him – with impunity – to perpetrate all that he has done – and will do – before eventually rounding off his tenure.
Many Nigerians, led by this newspaper, have been straining stridently for the abrogation of the immunity clause. It is not because they are envious, but because, apart from conferring the president, vice president, governors and their deputies with (temporary) infallibility, it is actually a nursery bed and fertilizer for corruption. Now, corruption is Nigeria’s identity card in the world, stigmatizing those who travel overseas.
Well intended by those who made the Constitution, to save its ‘beneficiareis’ from distractive and unproductive litigations while discharging their offices, Section 308 has been, and is being, interpreted by rogue governors as LICENCE to loot. They regard it as LOOTING CLAUSE! Whoever disagrees with our position should recall what happened to the following former governors:-
1. Joshua Dariye
2. Saminu Turaki
3. Lucky Igbinedion
4. James Onanefe Ibori
5. Gbenga Daniel
6. Peter Odili
7. Christopher Adebayo Alao-Akala
8. Orji Uzor Kalu, etc
Amaechi’s greed boggles the mind for its insatiety. First, many governors in Nigeria are leeches, parasites, rogues!! They eat free food. They slake their thirsts with free and expensive drinks. They burn free petrol in free official vehicles. They live rent-free in Government House. And, we presume, they pay NO TAX. They also inflate the cost of contracts in addition to receiving kick backs.
All these stagger ordinary Nigerians, some of whom in their life time, never count fifty thousand Naira of their own at any one time. But, there in Port Harcourt, not a paradise, lives a man who has enjoyed his own paradise for years and is still not satisfied but is now obsessed with such sybaritic living for the rest of his life!
No doubt, Amaechi’s self-interest law is an ILLEGAL LAW because it will never rescue Riverians from their poverty and penury but will only keep Amaechi and his already - fattened family in unmerited luxury that even the richest men on Earth would cringe from.
Therefore, we reinforce our argument that Section 308, from which Amaechi, no doubt, took a criminal cue to continue to plunder Rivers State, long after his tenure has ended, should be deleted in the Constitution review now being carried out by the Senate Committee.
More than that, the next set of legislators in Rivers State must terminate Amaechi’s post-tenure looting stratagem. They should review and abolish the Rotimi Amaechi “looting Law” 2012 and arrest and prosecute him whenever his tenure ends, so that his impunity will not continue in perpetuity.