For maintaining strongly and publicly that the corruption in the petrol subsidy payments by the federal government must stop, President Goodluck Jonathan has decided to ostracize the Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, from some official programs, Mr. Amaechi has claimed.
Mr. Amaechi, the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum, NGF, stated that not only is there a crisis between himself and the presidency over petrol subsidy and other issues, the presidency’s reaction has been not only to blacklist him from some functions, but also scheming to remove him as chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum.
The Rivers Governor stated this on Saturday in Ikogosi Ekiti at a seminar organised by The Future Project.
Subsidy is criminal
Mr. Amaechi said the presidency was dissatisfied with his insistence as NGF chairman that complete transparency and accountability be brought to the payment of petrol subsidy.
He explained that the state governors were not opposed to fuel subsidy, but were frustrated “about the corruption in it.”
He also accused federal officials who supervise the payment of the subsidy regime of fraud, saying “they balloon the figures.”
The Rivers Governor said it was for this reason that the Governors Forum was in court to challenge the legality of the federal government’s action of using money meant for the three tiers of government (federal, state, and local government) to pay for petrol subsidy.
He questioned the sincerity in the federal government’s payment of the petrol subsidy saying “oil subsidy is criminal,” and alleged that the presidency was displeased with him for his stance.
“It is one reason they (the presidency) don’t want me as governor’s chairman,” Mr. Amaechi stated.
PREMIUM TIMES had reported on how the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party and the presidency tried to engineer Mr. Amaechi’s exit as chairman of the governors’ forum; eventually leading to the formation of the PDP Governors Forum headed by another PDP governor, Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom.
Mr. Amaechi’s tenure as NGF chairman comes to an end in May, although he is eligible for re-election.
The Rivers Governor is also said to be among the PDP governors opposed to Mr. Jonathan’s re-election plan in 2015.
Jonathan ostracizes me
The Rivers Governor continued with his criticisms of the presidency accusing it of deliberately sidelining him from functions.
Mr. Amaechi alleged that the presidency had stopped inviting him to join Mr. Jonathan’s entourage on official visits.
It is the norm in Nigeria that when the president is travelling for official functions outside the country, some governors, ministers, and top businessmen accompany him in order to use the opportunity to attract foreign investors to their domains.
Mr. Amaechi said the last time he was invited for such was a trip to Turkey before his recent disagreement with President Goodluck Jonathan.
“That (the Turkey trip) is about the last trip. They don’t like taking me again to come with them,” he said.
The governor said many senior PDP and government officials had approached him to stop making public statements about the federal government’s (in)actions.
“Amaechi, don’t talk again now,” the governor quoted some advisers as telling him in order to return to Mr. Jonathan’s good books.
The Rivers Governor however said he was not disturbed by the president’s actions despite the fact that “when the president talks, everybody catches cold.”