Ben Eguzozie, in Port Harcourt
- Nigeria’s transport minister’s proxy defends himself over ‘dud’ projects accusation
- Lists 13 projects worth billions of naira he attracted to Niger Delta
- Says he’s architect of N78.9bn FG refund to Rivers, others
Rotimi Amaechi, Nigeria’s minister of transportation and former governor of Rivers State, has chosen to reply the incumbent governor, Nyesom Wike and his fellow Ikwerre-born man. The former recently lampooned the latter, describing his projects while he (Amaechi) was governor of the state, as ‘white elephants.’
Amaechi’s reply was compiled and crafted by Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, media professional, APC chieftain in the oil region and former publicity secretary of the short-lived New People’s Democratic Party (nPDP) before its members collapsed into the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). According to the minister, he has attracted 13 ‘viable’ projects to his home state, and the entire Niger Delta region, running into several billions of naira, while serving as a minister since 2015.
The projects drawn to the oil-rich region, include Bonny-Bomu road that leads to the multi-billion-dollar NLNG complex, with its $7 billion Train 7, expected on-stream by 2025; construction of 39 km Bonny-Bodo road and its two creek bridges including the bridge over Opobo channel worth N120 billion, with bridge comparable only to the 2nd Niger Bridge; newly commissioned international wing of the Port Harcourt International Airport; Soku Oil Well legal victory against Bayelsa, which court case was instituted by Amaechi as governor of the state, with Rivers now receiving the revenue.
Particularly, Eze said: “Rivers State oil wells were ceded to Bayelsa, Abia and Akwa Ibom states; and through the efforts of Amaechi’s administration, most of these oil wells were returned particularly the Soku oil wells,” said Amaechi’s media team.
He also listed: Making Port Harcourt the UNESCO 2014 World Book Capital; the flag-off of $1 billion Ogoni clean up in June 2016, with $400 million so far released to HYPREP [Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project], the government’s cleaning agent; resumption of construction work on the earlier abandoned N726 billion expansion of the 675km East-West road. The carriageway has total 29 river bridges of variable lengths ranging from 31m to 260m and 2 box girder bridges with lengths of 700m and 850m. The Buhari administration is said to have released additional N19.67 billion to complete the expressway.
Other Amaechi-attracted projects are: reopening of Eastern Ports, which has led to the berthing of high capacity ocean vessels at the region’s various ports, including the Maersk Stadelhorn, the largest cargo vessel on any Nigeria port, at Onne Port complex. This, he said, has increased Rivers’ economic takings and shoring up the state’s revenue profile. Other projects allegedly attracted by Amaechi are: federal government’s recent approval of the $1.96 billion Port Harcourt–Maiduguri rail line, which loan is being negotiated from China; Calabar–Port Harcourt–Lagos coastal rail line; setting up of Maritime
University at Oron in Akwa Ibom State; the building of Naval Intelligence and Logistics College at Ubima, Rivers State; Bonny and Warri deep seaports, approved by the federal government, and the just commissioned Ajaokuta–Itakpe–Warri rail line covering 320 km and cutting across the entire Niger Delta. The transport minister also said he influenced the dredging of Port Harcourt Port channels, which is now alive, thereby increasing the port’s cargo throughput by about 50 per cent.
By far, Eze a stout defender of Amaechi since his days at the Brick House Port Harcourt as the governor said: “If Wike has eyes, he should have seen the trucks queuing for containers at the Port Harcourt Port now stretching to the Rivers State Government House.” He challenged the incumbent governor to “resign,” as he said he would if Amaechi could mention one project he attracted to Rivers State.
Eze said: “Amaechi’s giant initiatives in the port sub-sector of the transportation sector has impacted lives and improved livelihoods of thousands of people around the Eastern region.”
Meanwhile, Eze said, Amaechi’s administration had fixed several federal roads in the state at the cost of N103 billion for which the erstwhile governor sought for refunds from the then PDP-led federal government under former president, Goodluck Jonathan; but he was rebuffed.
He said the Muhammadu Buhari administration refunded N78.9 billion to Rivers last July from projects executed by Amaechi. The party chief said the actions of the transportation minister (Amaechi) are “well-intentioned.”
He advised Wike to get himself “engaged in the primary business of governance, which duty he owes Rivers people, rather than spend time on calumnious scheming and showmanship.”