Amaechi In The Eyes Of Non-Indigenes

by Odimegwu Onwumere

For instance, while the Governor Chibuike Amaechi-led government of Rivers State was in Oct. 2009 into the review of section 2 sub-section 1 of a bill on levy, urging the Board of Internal Revenue (BIR) to collect levy from leviable persons in Rivers State, Governor Babatunde Fashola-led government of Lagos State has urged the non-indigenes in Lagos State in March 18th 2011 to support his re-election and have his support. He described his government as a government of not only for the Yorubas, but a government of inclusiveness. He urged the non-indigenes in the state to cast their votes for him and have them be included more in his cabinet.

What has been heard from Amaechi was how he would cut down the heavy tax people pay, his government instituted, if elected the second time. This gesture by the governor was once a taboo, a case the indigenes used against the image of non-indigenes as incapable in the Rivers State government.

Reportedly, in 2009, “unconfirmed reports had it that some government officials are lamenting that the internally-generated revenue of the state has declined since the non-indigenous tax consultant was signed on”. The attention-seekers indigenous government officials did not reason well that this was how a government was supposed to be as Amaechi has realised the need to whittle the heavy taxes people pay in Rivers State if re-elected, perhaps having learnt this from the scandal-led non-indigenous tax consultant. But how has the BIR fared with the collection of the existing statutory taxes with additional responsibility when an indigenous tax consultant was saddled? It is a case of, “All the same the BIR is working”.

While the government officials under Amaechi were alleged to have shouted hoax when a non-indigenous tax consultant was signed to man the collection of levy, again, was it not in the sub-section 4 of this same section 2, that the BIR was charged to “devise such forms as it may deem necessary” in assessing and collecting the levy, which seemed an open cheque, which might give the BIR the lee-way to use extrajudicial means to carry out this duty?

When this was heard, non-indigenes feared that the board could decide to raise thugs to be harassing non-indigenous motorists and passers-by in the name of wanting to collect the levy. Non-indigenes became too much afraid that if this situation arose, the implication was that Pot Harcourt residents would be wearing fighting gloves all the time. Yet, under Amaechi, the city of Port Harcourt is seemingly bursting forth with all manner of thugs who operate under the guise of task forces. But, because, the (ill)legal collectors were indigenes, the question was, who collects their own levies or are they exempted?

Imagine that the levy that non-indigenes were not exempted, in section 4 sub-section 4, it was also stated that the levy was “to fund scholarship for the education of Rivers State indigenes.” A report said, “For real, the state is not “Santa Claus” to be giving scholarship to non-indigenes, but it is surprising that some people at the stakeholders meeting were of the opinion that aliens should be excluded from these social services. But ironically, they did not pray that people from outside the state should not pay these social levies”.

Read more! It was Hon. Nimi Walson-Jack, a former National Secretary of Nigerian Bar Association, who, however, reacting to a question posed by the governor, stated that he would not support the idea of saying that non-indigenes should not operate in the state “because in places like Lagos, everybody is seen as a Lagosian.” But the governor at the same time contradicted this opinion when he stated that “we have to peg the number of children a non-indigene can bring to the school.”

This is yet to say that Amaechi could be a hater of non-indigenes even that he preaches Jesus Christ and exhibits holier-than-thou behaviour, but his character towards the non-indigenes is yet to reflect that of Jesus Christ he talks about so much, who operated without any form of barrier.

“If as stated in the schedule of the payment, a non-indigene is made to pay the same amount with an indigene, and you go ahead to peg the number of children he will send to government schools or the number of times he and members of his family will appear at government health centres, are you not inadvertently driving them away?” an observer reported. “What of a situation where both a non-indigene and indigene pay the same amount and the alien has more children?”

Indeed, many people see Amaechi’s concept as working in Rivers State. But, he is yet to transform Rivers State to a civilised city where one’s origin does not count. He still holds to its past glories by the indigenes in secluding the non-indigenes in the state-of-affairs of the state. Without Amaechi including non-indigenes in the key positions in his government up till now, the transformation of Rivers State is Shylockian , without a planned voyage, common and painstaking strategies for all in the state.

This is not salutary to Amaechi, especially because, non-indigenes who desire/are to make the difference in the life of Rivers State are consistently confronted with thorns and thistles laid by the indigenes without any near iota in the near future to discourage the barbaric behaviours meted out to non-indigenes in Rivers State.

In the area of road construction for instance, the ambitious programme of the Amaechi-led administration has seen the opening and dualisation of several roads without any boast that a non-indigene holds any of the major contracts on-goings in the state. Rather, what we have seen are the crushing of shanties and squalors which dotted the streets of Port Harcourt and its environs in attempting a regain of the garden city. Hahaha! Somebody is laughing.

Instructively, Port-Harcourt and other cities where the indigenes are many are enjoying the attention of Amaechi’s beneficiary of the road expansion network, like Ahoada, Buguma, Okrika, Elele, Eleme, Ogu and their environs have also had their fair share of road transformation in the last three years, but a place like Oyigbo were the non-indigenes are majority is relegated to the background. Aside road network, other infrastructures like water and light projects are also commanding the attention of the Amaechi, in the areas where his fellow ‘indigenes’ are majority. (He has done it before and he will do it again by May).

The indigenes are praising Amaechi-led administration today, because of resource optimization which had seen the administration utilizing all available resource (of the non-indigenes) optimally for the benefit of the indigenes. To date, all earnings accruing to Rivers State, including investments and Liabilities, are public knowledge that non-indigenes suffer more, while white elephant projects which gulp money unnecessarily have all been yanked off the shelf, saving millions of Naira?

However, has the internally generated revenue seen better figures and proper accounting in the Amaechi-led administration? Has he enthroned to make Rivers State self sustaining and less dependent on Federal allocation? Has Amaechi-led administration really achieved success in crime control and enthronement of safety modules in Rivers State?

Notwithstanding, the state is safe for only the indigenes while the issue of cult group activities and kidnappings many non-indigenes are yet to recount the loses of their beloved ones in the hands of these daredevils that once characterized Amaechi’s Rivers State. Some non-indigenous-investors and certain grades of workers who left the state in the wake of militant and criminal activities in Rivers State are yet to trooping back because of the perceived indigenes and non-indigenes dichotomy in Amaechi-led government of Rivers State.

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