Buhari’s Change Agent At Daggers Drawn | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Buhari’s Change Agent At Daggers Drawn

Rotimi Amaechi
Posted: Jun 23, 2016 at 4:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Dan Abia

Port Harcourt  – Revelations from the last week’s town-hall meeting of the federal cabinet at Le’Meridien Hotel and Golf Resort, Uyo, the Capital of Akwa Ibom State was a clear indication that that President Muhammadu Buhari’s agents of change may be working in opposite direction from their principal.

The town-hall meeting, the first in the life of the present administration in the South-South zone was aimed at intimating the Nigerian public what it has achieved so far in its first anniversary.

But the outcome of that meeting left Nigerians more disappointed. The gathering opened the Pandora box thereby bringing to fore the real lovers of the south-south region in terms of its development and others whose desire goes beyond the regional dream.

It is a fact that the people of the South-South and South-East geo-political zones are not satisfied with programmes and policies of the All Progressives Congress, APC government at the centre. Platforms like the town hall meeting could have been a veritable avenue to reel out the achievements of the President to the conviction of the audience.

The issue of the day, perhaps was the disagreement between the Cabinet members on the establishment or otherwise of the Maritime University at Okerenkoko community in Warri South local government area of Delta state. The contract for the University was awarded by the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

Trouble brewed at the meeting when the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi condemned the continuation of the Maritime University , adding that the Maritime Academy located in Oron if elevated to a degree awarding University would serve the same purpose, hence, no need for another University at Okerenkoko.

“It should be stated here that the politics of last year that brought the reign of President Buhari was blamed on certain Niger Delta persons who did everything within their power to ensure that there was a change of mantle”, Uko Ntekim, Uyo based politician observed. By that act, Jonathan lose the election thereby ending what would have been a watershed in the political lexicon of the country.

Amaechi went ahead to say that the buying of the land alone for the university cost the federal government N13billion adding that “If I have N13billion, I can buy half of Lagos state”.

Nothing could spark more controversy. But it took the intervention of the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu to calm fletching nerves in a hall where the audience was already brimming with fire.
“I disagree with the minister of transport”, was the needed ice by Kachikwu to soothe the anger. “Any facility in the South-south, we should work towards developing it, I don’t care the circumstance. It is not my business whether land was valued at N19 or N10 million.”

“That has nothing to do with development of infrastructure. As far as I know, so much has already gone into that, so much fiscal asset has been developed. We are not going to throw away the baby and the bath water.

“As far as it is about development in Niger Delta, I will pursue it, if Amaechi continues to refuse it as Maritime University; I will take it up as Petroleum University.” “On the issue of negotiations, again I disagree with him. There’s no theatre in the world where conflicts are being resolved through battle. It doesn’t matter who’s right, who’s wrong.”
In Nigeria, everything is politicized. Kachikwu capitalized on that opened window to draw positive attention to himself. After the town hall meeting on Monday, June 13, he took a journey to the site of the University for on-the-spot Assessment where he was warmly received by the indigenes of the community with unparalleled excitement.

While presenting the achievements of President Buhari, Amaechi said the President should be commended for his determination and patriotic zeal at implementing the Coastal road and rail projects. He made it known to all that the two mega projects were initiated by the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua administration, and not even the Jonathan government who was from the South South region. To him, Jonathan lacked the needed political will to implement the projects.

The Minister of Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu said the government had concluded plans for a massive investment in the area of oil and gas in Akwa Ibom State alone, announcing that investors were ready to partner with Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited to inject a whopping $7 billion investment that would accelerate economic growth and development of the state and region.

He insisted that the reforms in the oil and gas sector of the economy had already started yielding results, a development he attributed to the non-interference in policy initiation, policy formulation and policy implementation as well as the running of the affairs of the sector, a rare Presidential support he said had contributed in the successes so far recorded in the petroleum sector of the country.

Apparently responding to one of the demands of the Niger Delta militant groups, on the issue of allocation of oil blocks to South Southerners, the Petroleum Minister said the president was not in a hurry to discuss such issue but rather was determined to clear the mess in the oil sector first.
Kachikwu assured the people that when it is time to deal with the issue of oil bloc, the administration will ensure the South-South people are carried along to encourage participation and inclusion.
Also, the Joint Niger Delta Liberation Force, JNDLF, had issued a statement to the effect that 60% of the oil wells in the Niger Delta must be given to the indigenes of the area as a mark of justice and equity. This came as one of their preconditions for the federal government planned dialogue.

Meanwhile, stakeholders in the region have condemned the decision of Amaechi to relocate the University from the Ijaw community of Okerenkoko. “I don’t understand the rationale behind such decision”, said Comrade Christian Lekia.
Lekia explained that development does not select location. “This region has been very backward in the area of infrastructural development. If any government whether past or present therefore deemed it feet to cite a University there, why should there be any qualms about?
The coordinator of the Niger Delta Coalition against Violence, NDCAV, noted that the petroleum minister, Kachikwu carved a niche for himself for agreeing to continue with the project which is expected to generate about 3000 jobs for the indigenes of the community.
Dr. Sam Epiye, a Political Scientist from the University of Port Harcourt, did not agree less. His position was that as far as the project is to bring development, “I see nothing wrong with citing where it is”.
He stated that “giving the devastation recorded by these oil and gas producing communities of the Niger Delta region, nothing is too big to be done for them. They produce the resources that we use to sustain ourselves as a people and nation.
“I don’t see any other project that would have been of immense benefit to these people than education. To a large extent, educational standard of the people there will improve and that will drastically reduce criminality and militancy. The youths will be too busy to do any other thing except to face their studies.

“I really thank the minister of petroleum for his foresightedness. Other ministers from the Niger Delta should emulate Dr. Ibe Kachikwu. I appreciate him”. Epiye said.