Rivers State Governor, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, on Wednesday slammed the Amanyanabo of Abonnema, the headquarters of Akuku-Toru Local Government, King Disrael Gbobo Bobmanuel, accusing him of betrayal over the Soku oil wells ceded to Bayelsa State.
He said if President Goodluck Jonathan returned the Soku oil wells and the 41 oil wells in Etche Local Government ceded to Abia State, to Rivers, he would support him, even as a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC). Amaechi, however, said he was sure the President would not return them.
The Rivers governor, who is also the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) spoke yesterday in Port Harcourt as a guest on a phone-in programme, Today, on 95.1 FM Radio.
Soku oil wells are in Akuku-Toru Local Government, while Abonnema is one of the Kalabari communities, comprising Akuku-Toru, Asari-Toru and Degema local governments.
Bobmanuel, a few days ago, hosted in his palace, Bayelsa State Governor Henry Seriake Dickson, who was accompanied by the Supervising Minister for Education Chief Nyesom Wike; the Deputy National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Uche Secondus; the Rivers Chairman of the party, Felix Obuah and other PDP leaders.
The Abonnema monarch said he was satisfied with the way President Jonathan handled the Soku oil wells matter.
Amaechi said: “It has to do with the interest of Rivers State. It has nothing to do with my interest. There is an attempt by the Federal Government to undermine the development of Rivers State. Everybody is talking about Soku oil wells. There are over 41 oil wells belonging to Rivers State, which have been ceded to Abia State.
“They (the Federal Government) want to impoverish Rivers and as a governor, you expect me to keep quiet? It is not just Soku alone, it is also the fact that they have taken the oil wells in Etche.
“I heard my colleague, Bayelsa State governor, went to Abonnema the other day and the Amanyanabo of Abonema received him and said he was satisfied with the way the President is handling the oil wells. For me, that is a betrayal of his people.
“He (Bobmanuel) is a king in Kalabari kingdom and he says he is satisfied that the Federal Government has taken the oil wells and Bayelsa is receiving the money. It is not about me, it is about the Kalabari people. It is about the Rivers people.
“When the Bayelsa governor came, what was he doing in Abonnema? Why would the traditional ruler of Abonnema not tell the governor that Abonnema people are not happy over the oil wells taken away from them? The traditional ruler was expected to say ‘return our oil wells to us.’
“I have told the President that if he returns the oil wells, I will support him. But he (President) cannot.”
“It does not matter whether I go back to the PDP or not, I will support him. He has not been able and he will not. If he (President Jonathan) thinks it will favour me, then let him keep the money in an escrow account, because the money was first and foremost in an escrow account.
“When he became President, he went to the escrow account and took the money. If it is about me, let them keep the money in an escrow account and give it to the next government in Rivers State. What I want to see done is the fact that our resources are returned to us.
“Now, there is no money in the escrow account, because Bayelsa State has expended the money. Even if we go to court today and the court says we are right, there is no money in the escrow account again. So, it is a hopeless and helpless situation for Rivers State.”
The Rivers governor added that he did not need to visit Soku before siting development projects like model schools and health centres, among others there, while accusing President Jonathan of taking sides in the ceding of Soku oil wells to his Bayelsa state.
He said: “President Jonathan stated that Rivers people call it Soku, while Bayelsa people call it Oluasiri. We do not need to go to court. Judgment has already been given by President Jonathan,” lamenting that the National Boundary Commission was yet to correct the mistake, as promised.
The NGF chairman also berated Wike, his former Chief of Staff, Government House, Port Harcourt and the Director-General of Amaechi Campaign Organisation in 2011, whom he said he made minister, which the two-term Chairman of Obio/Akpor Local Government council of Rivers State (Wike) denied.
Amaechi said: “I will not join issue with Wike. He is my junior in age. I graduated before him in the university. I ensured his re-election as Obio/Akpor Chairman. I made him Chief of Staff and Minister. I am a Governor by God’s grace, he is not. I have character. I do not know if Wike has character.
“I apologised to my friends for joining issue with Wike. I do not want to be dragged to the gutter with Wike. The Obio/Akpor LG matter is not about political vendetta, but they are sharing the council’s funds.
“I have dissolved the Obio/Akpor LG council. Anybody who pays taxes, levies and other monies to Timothy Nsirim (the sacked chairman) will pay twice. The Grassroots Development Initiative (GDI, which has Wike as the grand patron) is a group of bandits, undermining the security of Rivers State.
“Police are being used to abuse my administration in Rivers State. Militants are now letting loose. They are now using the police, but Dr. Jonathan will not be the President forever. I do not have refinery in Ghana as being insinuated. I do not steal like them.
“They have served in government and they have nothing to show, except corruption. Some people who served briefly in government are now building mansions all over the place and the people are not asking questions.”