Help Nigerians Tell UK Prime Minister To Beg President Jonathan To Fight Corruption, Amaechi Tasks Visiting British Minister
Rivers State Governor and Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has called on the Federal Government to fight oil theft and financial diversion in the country.
Amaechi spoke Tuesday when the British Minister for Africa and Member of Parliament, Mark Simmonds visited him in Port Harcourt. Amaechi recalled that his administration had procured two surveillance helicopters that would assist the Federal Government to fight oil theft, but expressed disappointment over the inability of the Federal Government to ensure it’s arrival to the state.
According to him, “I don’t know how much you have seen about oil theft, and I don’t know if the Federal Government is serious about combating oil theft. Why I say this is that for two years now, the federal government has refused entry into the country, two surveillance helicopters paid for by the Rivers State Government. These helicopters have cameras and their job is to fly all over and whomever that is stealing oil, you will see. And the helicopter will have a monitor with the Army, Police, Airforce and with the Department of State Security(DSS).
“I suspect the refusal may be for political reasons.The helicopters have been packed in America for two years now, and the Rivers State Government is paying demurrage on them. But, if you see how much oil we are losing, we hear it is about 7 billion dollars annually, then you will see that we need the helicopters.
“We paid for it, not the Federal Government, and we are prepared to help them but the President has emphatically refused to allow the two helicopters into the country for the past two years. We are still paying demurrage. The manufacturers have told us if they should sale them. So if the Federal Government say they need help, why not bring in the helicopters rather than run to the British government. These are questions you should ask them. I said same thing to the American delegation. Our problem is not just oil theft which is costing this country to lose about 7 billion Dollars a year, but financial diversion also.
“The last letter written by the Central Bank Governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, was the diversion of 49.8 billion Dollars. Now, they have been able to manage the crisis to reach 20 billion dollars. But 49.8 billion dollars was spent outside the appropriation law. So it is all about diversion. While I join you to say, we should fight oil theft, when the British Prime Minister meets the Nigerian president, he should also deal with the issue of financial diversion. The way the President spoke in his media chat yesterday, there seems to be uncertainty.
“He doesn’t know the figures accurately. They are calling 20 billion dollars, while others say it is 10 billion dollars. But, even, if it is one billion dollars, it is a hundred and seventy billion naira, which is almost the budget for Enugu, Anambra and Kwara States combined in a year. So, when the Prime Minister is discussing with Mr. President they should address these issues”. Amaechi noted.
Amaechi also decried the high level of corruption in the country, which he explained has hampered some state governors from paying salaries effectively, and advised the federal government to govern by the rule of law and not by the rule of man.
“This is the highest level of corruption in the history of Nigeria. So, it is important that when you see President Jonathan, he should deal with these issues so that we can develop and govern the state. Yesterday (Monday), Governors’ Forum met, and it appears, we do not have money to pay salaries anymore. This is not caused by oil theft alone, but with financial diversion which does not go through the appropriation law. It is pure impunity, illegal and a breach of the constitution. And that is against the rule of law. So, it is important that when you talk with the lPresidency, advice them to govern by the rule of law and not by the rule of man. You also tell your friends and partners in Europe that since the President in Nigeria is not mindful of obeying the constitution, those of you who are closer to him, can advise him that countries all over the world are governed by rules for which everybody knows the punishment attached to offenders”. Amaechi explained.
Earlier, the British Minister for Africa and Member of Parliament, Marx Simmonds said he was in Rivers State to see the United Kingdom investments and to also participate in Nigeria’s centenary celebration holding at Abuja, the nation’s capital.
“I hope to participate in the centenary celebration in Abuja, and part of my visit to Rivers State is to see for myself the significant investments owned by the United Kingdom, practically in the oil and gas sectors that exist here”, Mark said.
He lamented the high level of environmental degradation caused by oil theft and further indicated the readiness of the United Kingdom to partner with Nigeria to work out positive modalities to tackle the menace.
According to him, “I just came from the Niger Delta area were I saw some of the sites affected by environmental degradation, even some of the environment damaged. And it makes us to emphasize the importance of Nigeria’s authority to tackle the problem. My Prime Minister and President of Nigeria are discussing on how these two countries can work together to make a positive difference in that area”.
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