Rivers And A State Once Caught Up By Ruling Thieves!

I have conducted numerous investigations to uncover failing government programs and how to fix the problems, including recovering… I wish I were in the Brick-House, where I could get more of a sense of what is going on, talk to people, get a grip on the fact that there are faces that I would see and voices that I would hear of many people I know who would not be as hysterically celebratory about hanging people in prisons as the Obasanjos and others like them happen to be. But all I can do is read what I can where I am from the Nigeria newspapers.

So my day begins (when I get informed) by reading the words ‘headline’, ‘editorial’ and ‘Hanging’ on newsflash, and hoping that I can soon add ‘Clemency’ or ‘Commutation’ to my search string to yield some hopeful result. When I did add the word ‘clemency’ or ‘pardon’ recently, I got a result that confirmed my long held views on the wisdom inherent in our republic’s judicial apparatus. The lord justices of the High Court of Port Harcourt have sent out a thinly veiled warning addressed to Mr. President, instructing him to act with caution, or else provoke a judicial review of the executive authority when it comes to matters regarding Odili’s misappropriation of Rivers money (wealth). Their words suggest that Mr. President’s EFCC must exercise the utmost restraint and consideration, and not be carried away by passion, in arriving at any decision regarding the crime penalty awarded to Mr. Peter Odili, after handling the State affairs for eight years.

It seems remarkable to me to think that the state’s decision to prosecute a man in a broad-day light should be prefaced in terms of reason, caution, consideration and restraint, and that the mere consideration of reasons to save that face should be qualified by terms that suggest that even the entertainment of such a thought could be unreasonable, excessive, rash and impudent. We do not need a reminder of the fact that Odili’s alleged involvement in the planning of this “bail-jump” is the only reason why he is being hunted for. Unlike, other instances of the award of capital project, where the accused are likely to be people who have actually corrupt other people in particularly heinous ways, Odili is accused only of being an actor in a conspiracy, a cog in the wheel of terror. His was not a hand that held a cheque-leaf on those days. He draft no deal without his numerous spin doctors presently found in Amaechi’s government, that “defraud” just a “state-affair”. He was caught because his signatures were in those deal executions in one of the fund found on the person of the accused.
In a letter written to his High Court defence lawyer, Odili points out that his endorsement has numbers of government personnel, and the same logic by which he is implicated in the conspiracy of December 13 by ex-president Obasanjo should logically lead to an investigation of his government personnel’s role in the event.

Despite all long caution left to be learnt from Odili’s failure, it becomes obvious that for a week or so now, the issue of Scandal in the Rivers State Government is in news.Gov. Chibuike Amaechi’s administration that has earned a reputation for itself to rake up and foster divide on sectarian questions has once again proved its ineptness in doing what it is supposed to do best i.e. provide quality governance to the indigent Rivers people, that too at a time when the Government is considering declaring the Niger Delta a “grip of lawless epidemic”. Only that in the latest instance the victim of negligence has been none other than a vibrant of Chibuike Amaechi himself.

Despite that the youthful governor is committed towards spinning grassroots development network, with an interest in the urban condition. The regime is a crucial intervention in this regard. Even as the Rivers sustainable development summit are provided financial support and academic resources to carry out research, present social work and interact with the wider academic community. Covering a wide frame of geo-cultural regions that included the Rivers East, West and South Senatorial region, this stipendiary focus helmsman instituted the sustainable development summit on a broad range of disciplines including literature, history, gender studies, urban planning and communication development. In the course of 9-day of motivated development forum, researchers were invited to participate in three workshops to discuss their ideas and problems and engage with scholars of urban studies inside Rivers State.

This is third and final workshop intended for researchers to present their research addressing a wide variety of problems facing the Rivers-man. This year’s forum focuses on engagements with dynamics of new urbanism in Rivers State, historical trajectories of matrimonial classifieds, popular music and issues of communal and gendered identities urban memories and question of representations, narratives and desires, geographies of capital and labour in the State, historical construction of Riverine people in context of ethnic killings and militancy of recent times and many worlds of sustainable development industry.

His project focuses on the dynamics of new urbanism in Rivers State, examining the new cultural economy that is (re)organizing and creating new forms
of spatial segregation in the era of global capitalism. The project assesses the relationship between the production of space, class, culture and consumption through observing gated ethnic communities in Rivers State.

But unfortunately, it has spurred a debate among the Rivers people whether it’s right to accept a disguising Bank Account from the Government. Those who are for the subsidy, argue that it is not alms on the part of the government to the cabinet as the subsidy is paid from the exchequer of the country to which the indigenous tax-payers also contribute. It is true that the Government has been providing facilities for the excess crude account and incurring an expense of N3.6 billion ($30 million) on miscellaneous event. But, the tax-payers money here is used as provision of facilities, not as subsidy. Even as Eleme junction flyover project is at standstill, those indigenes who oppose the subsidy over how Rivers governance it is to be performed.

A state is many things: a history, a group of people, a set of laws. When a society does not prevent actions whose allowance yields a net loss to each of its members, the society has taken liberty to a point where it becomes counter-productive. Thus it becomes a ‘libertine’ society, as opposed to a liberal one. The validity of laws in any society depends on the continuation of the legal order under which those laws were made. Once that legal order is destroyed, the laws cease to have validity. If the destruction of the legal order is spontaneously caused by political disorder, criminal action, unqualified military rule with criminal motive and anarchy, then the state has failed to fulfill the basic needs of a substantial element of its population and can therefore be called a ‘troubled state.’

If a state is in trouble, it often casts fundamental doubt on the legitimacy of the regime in power. The disintegration of law and order also exposes the latent incapacity and failure of the government to deal with those problems. The presence of a well-functioning government does not mean that a sovereign state will have the capacity to establish an assured peaceful law and order situation over time. Still, the government is spared the indignity of the jurisprudential insult of being asked whether law exists, unless the sort of chaos prevails that leads outsiders to label the reality as an instance of a marginal state or a failed state, or a rebel (militant) state, as we are compelled to believe by recent course of political events in Rivers State.

It involves clear definitions and international protocols exist to cover all wrongdoers indulging in stealing from the state and its people. There are legal remedies for these in the law of the land but in Rivers State, extension of personal wealth and political power of government officials and the ruling class is being carried out at the expense of the people. Literally, it means rule by thieves. The garden city has a government of those who chiefly seek status and personal gain at the expense of the riverine and the Rivers due to rampant greed and corruption. This is encouraging a situation in which the economy is subordinated to their selfish interests because; they regard the state treasury as their piggybank. Since the advent of our nascent democracy, they have routinely ignored economic and social problems in their quest to amass ever more wealth and power. For this reason, Rivers State government is getting destabilized through for the fact that those on the seat were extending their grab to their own supporters thereby driving income producers away from the garden city through incessant tax inflation.

Recently, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arrested and detained Nyeson Wike, Chief of Staff to the Rivers State Governor, and the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Magnus Abbe, over alleged loot of the state treasury running into over N300million.Of the two Rivers state government accounts frozen by the EFCC, on alleged withdrawal of about N400 million was made from the converted “Government House Account. The remainder of N3 billion remains frozen. The other account had N27 billion left in it. Some of the allegations being investigated by the EFCC, include that the Chief of Staff, Mr. Wike is allegedly in control of a massive building in Port Harcourt worth about N150 million, which he reportedly told investigators that he was building on behalf of Governor Amaechi and that all the transactions was done using cash taken out of the state accounts with Zenith Bank of Nigeria in Port Harcourt.

“The Chief of Staff to the governor, Nyeson Wike, in connivance with Zenith Bank officials at the Azikiwe Road branch, opened one of the accounts (Number 601-091-6587) on March 27th 2008 with the fictitious name, “Harrison Ba Princewill.” The fictitious account was being run by Wike on behalf of Governor Rotimi Amaechi. The account lacked such required information as passport photographs and information about the next of kin of “Harrison B. Princewill”. However, the account was fully active and enjoying daily inflows of cash such that by April 26 2008, that is, within one month, it had already been credited with N3.6 billion ($30 million).As the money swelled in Zenith bank, officials notified Wike that the account was being monitored for suspicious activities. On June 5th 2008, Mr. Wike colluded with a Zenith bank staff named “Mohammed” to change the account details and convert it to a “Government House Account”. “Harrison Ba Princewill” then became a depositor to the new “Government House Account”.

Today, there is general hardship and suffering in the State of Rivers for the vast majority of citizens since the rule of law disintegrates. The present regime amasses wealth through sales of weapons, and loans, appropriation of public property and confiscation of private property to enrich themselves and their political cronies. The previous government of Dr. Peter Odili was characterized by the practice of transferring money and power from the people to the few usurping liberty, justice and other democratic rights of the citizen. Large-scale corruption by his cabinet officials was a particular threat for Rivers State democracy and rule of law. Such corruption undermines financial accountability, discourages foreign investment, stifles economic performance, and diminishes trust in legal and judicial systems.

Media profiles do not have to focus only on inconsistencies in Rivers State, not to talk about the sons and daughters of “established” people in the state government (the latter would only re-inscribe hierarchies and local elites). There are many other stories to track down — the near monopoly
of Rivers staked wealth in Brooklyn’s brownstone renovation business, the Arumemi head buyer at Airbus Company, the huge bloc of Rivers indigenes in the pugnacious Odili Taxi Scheme, the Ukwuani over-dominance of “Rivers” restaurants in South Africa and France, the packed-to-the-gills French bar-restaurant and trendy East Village hotspots, the new Franklin spot in Italian’s immigrant rights battle, and the men who commandeered a signature campaign for International Women Lawyer Day. We can also attempt, emotionally and politically, to embrace a pan-Rivers identity and take the success stories of Western Rivers as part of our mosaic. The network can extend to projects that have a Rivers link, such as My Architect (we failed to build on the buzz around that film’s Fibresima nomination), and Sonny MacDon (HBO documentary about ethnic violence that features a Rivers family).

Current politics is a death-bound roller coaster, and the passengers can’t disembark. Rivers people are always banging on about the resulting short supply of optimism. No substantial Work and Labour, Education and Employment beyond reach, Neo-Liberal Globalization and Issues of Development out-of-talk, Gender and Sexuality rampant, Internationalism and Revolutionary Movements failing, Exclusions: Caste, Class, Race and Religion more practiced, Alternatives: Dreams and Visions for another world not in agenda, Environment and Ecology failure well-tamed, Conflict and Violence given 100% approval, Migration and Displacement well accepted. Late Mr.Sarowiwa’s Prize will bring a new rush of energy into the national psyche. Many more role models for upliftment of Rivers State are also needed. The effort is needed, inside and outside the borders – vested with the Tireless Activists, Young Ijaws and regions Agitators.

The Rivers State sustainable development is intended as indicative of broad areas of concern. While there is no time-limit as such, in order that a diversity and range of projects can be screened, “nigeria4betterrule would urge that indigent Rivers people not exceed 3 innovational local technologies in length. In solidarity, the package of Rivers sustainable development subsidy is in no way beneficial for the Rivers community. Clamour for its restoration on the part of the political and the ethnic leadership of the community belies their demonstrated commitments for the betterment of the community.

Written by
L.Chinedu Arizona-Ogwu
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