BY JIMITOTA ONOYUME
PORT HARCOURT—GOVERNOR Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State, has described alleged statement credited to the Amayanabo of Abonema, HRH Israel Bobmanuel, in which he reportedly expressed satisfaction with the actions so far taken by the Federal Government on the contentious Soku oil well, as an act of betrayal.
The governor, spoke on a live radio programme, yesterday, in Port Harcourt. He said he had expected the traditional ruler to demand for return of the oil wells when the Bayelsa State governor visited him in Abonnema, Akuku Toru Local Government Area, adding that his failure should be seen as a betrayal of his Kalabari people.
“I heard my colleague, the governor of Bayelsa State went to Abonema the other day and the Amanayabo of Abonema received him and said he was satisfied with the way the President was handling the oil wells issue.
For me, that is a betrayal of his people. He 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 governor of Bayelsa came, what did he go for in Abonema? Why would the traditional ruler of Abonema not tell the governor of Bayelsa that the people of Abonema are not happy over the oil wells taken away from them? The traditional ruler was expected to say ‘return our oil wells to us.”
Governor Amaechi said that he had told President Goodluck Jonathan that he was ready to support him if the oil wells were returned, noting that he was sure the President would not do so, because of the alleged impression that such action would be in his (Amaechi’s) favour.
“I have told the President that if he returns the oil wells, I will support him. But he (President) can’t. It doesn’t matter whether I go back to Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP or not, I will support him. He has not been able and he will not. If he (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.”
Amaechi said that there was attempt by the Federal Government to weaken development in Rivers State, stressing that it was why another 41 oil wells belonging to the state in Etche was allegedly ceded to Abia State.