The former governor of Rivers State, presidential campaign financier and ministerial nominee Rotimi Amaechi, finally walked into the Senate chamber for his confirmation hearings yesterday.
The hearings had been put off three times, as the Senate tried to strike a deal on what to do about the several corruption petitions against Amaechi.
He then proceeded to demonstrate that he wasn’t worth the wait and in fact, not worthy of public office in any serious country.
Watch the session here:
He showed himself up for what he really is – an ex-cultist at the University of Port Harcourt and political thug, with little of the decorum needed for high office. He started by talking about deciding to wear clothes he had never worn before for the hearing. By the end it was clear that despite the new clothes, the “emperor” couldn’t cover up his naked ignorance and bald faced lies.
To support the lie that he didn’t like corruption, he claimed he never took bribes. But he could have had someone take them on his behalf, or could have had the bribes paid into his account. But the real issue is that the majority of the corruption allegations against him involve the misappropriation of public funds and the fraudulent sale of state assets.
His argument was a reprise of the boneheaded statement made by another former governor and ministerial nominee Babatunde Fashola, who argued that he couldn’t have been corrupt because he never signed any cheques!
Amaechi couldn’t even come up with a coherent definition of corruption. And ended up airing his depravity with talk of how sleeping with a woman you have been asked to “help” was corrupt. He said corruption was difficult to define. Let me help him with a definition from the late historian Yusufu Bala Usman: “Corruption means much more than public officers taking bribes and gratification, committing fraud and stealing funds and assets entrusted to their care. Corruption, in my view, means the deliberate violations, for gainful ends, of standards of conduct legally, professionally, or even ethically, established in private and public affairs.”
Amaechi may have entertained his fellow corrupt politicians in the Senate, but he didn’t fool that many Nigerians with his incoherent ranting and thoughtless bluster.
The questioners were no better than him. One asked him how he could use his “charisma” to improve the unemployment situation. I don’t think charisma is what Nigeria needs. It needs policies and programmes that create jobs.
In an attempt to talk about job creation, Amaechi went on a ramble about farming. He mentioned “technology”, but said little about how Nigeria could industrialise.
Another questioner asked Amaechi about his previous position on “resource control” in which the nominee had, as a governor, argued for a bigger share of oil revenue for oil-producing states like his own. Amaechi said his position had now changed. Some would wonder whether it had anything to do with the fact that more oil money, if his previous position were implemented, would be going to his enemy the current governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, and less money would be held at the federal level where Amaechi would be going as minister, if confirmed by the Senate.
But he wanted us to perish the thought that selfish motives were behind his U-turn. He claimed that after going to Germany he saw how they didn’t rely on natural resources there and how they allocated revenues.
A man, who wanted to be a minister, who had been a Speaker of his state’s House of Assembly for eight years and governor for another eight years, was basically telling the world that he had to visit Germany this year to find out that the country did not rely on primary products for revenue and had different methods for sharing revenue among its states. He was telling us that when, as governor, he was proposing more money to oil-producing states, he never bothered to research the issue of revenue allocation in other federations across the world.
With this type of intellectual bankruptcy, it is no surprise that Amaechi bankrupted his state, despite the billions received from the federal government in oil revenue, owed about $400m to banks, and was unable to pay public sector workers and pensioners between three and nine months by the time he left office.