I hope this letter meets you in a good condition of health. If so, doxology (whatever that means). Anyway, that was how we began letters in those days. You probably may have forgotten. Many of us learnt letter writing from reading those fantastic pamphlets popular as Onitsha market literature. It was from reading those series that I came across one titled “How to study and write good letters, applications, compositions, telegrams, agreements, better sentences, important letters, speaking in public and teach yourself good English”. I do not know if you read this particular ‘book’. Anyway, that’s an aside.
I am writing you just to call your attention to something that ought to bother you about you. I do not know if you are bothered about you as I am. And honestly, I do not know why I should be bothered about you. It could be because you are a minister of the federal republic of which I am an ordinary consumer of the outcome of the service you render. I know you have been Speaker of the House of Assembly in Rivers state as well as governor of that state. I am also aware that you are into your sixth year as minister in the President Muhammadu Buhari cabinet. Implication of this is that progressively, you have had more than 20 year stay within leadership ranks in our country thus putting you on a pedestal where children will read your name in social studies class in primary school. This is where I get bothered. I woke in the morning, the other day, wondering what teachers will tell children about you given your obvious penchant to discuss very serious national issues in such a manner to suggest that your oral cavity rarely connects with what is encased in your skull. You may call it brain.
I do not mean any insult please; and I will ask that you pardon my fingers if you find my logic here demeaning of your person. You recall that in the run-up to the 2019 general election, precisely in January 2019, a voice note purported to be yours was leaked and went viral on social media. In the leaked audio, the voice, which many believed was yours, was heard making very disparaging remarks about President Buhari and his leadership skills, in much the same way and manner you publicly derided his predecessor. In that voice note, the voice asked a very disturbing question: “Does he read?” The voice also supplied an answer to the question when it said “he does not read”. The voice, purported and believed to be yours, further made very disrespectful comment about Nigerians living in places like Utako in Abuja. Finally, the voice gave you out when it made reference to “my children” and disclosed that they live in Canada, Dublin and London.
The leaked audio generated a lot of concern. There was no doubt that the voice was actually yours. Some had insider details about how and why it leaked. Like every Nigerian would do, you made effort to deny it as ‘doctored’. A group called The Integrity Group, led by someone publicly known to be your ally, Livingstone Wechie, issued a statement stating: “Our organization describes the so-called audio leak on Rotimi Amaechi as a sheer blackmail against the South-South region of Nigeria which he represents as leading the region in the current political dispensation. It is most unfortunate that fake news has gone extreme to the point where honest, frank and private conversations can be so contrived with the aim of destroying the reputation of an individual and his region as it is in this case without doubt.” However, facts on the leaked audio, spoke for themselves.
There is no doubting the possibility that the same organisation would have, by now, issued similar statements dismissing what you said on the contentious issue of the sovereign exclusion clause in the $5.3 billion loan from China’s Export Import Bank as captured by Channels Television, and also, the insinuations you made about the Secure Anchorage Area of Hosa Wells Okunbor during an interview on AIT. Note please, I am not in any way an advocate for Okunbor’s rights or those of his businesses. No, I have no dealings with him and do not represent him. What I write here is my reading of the insinuations you made on AIT. I will get back to it shortly. But first, on the sovereignty-exclusion clause in that loan deal with China.
Let me refresh your memory here. You said: “First, I just got to know that there is a clause in the agreement.” That was your exact comment as captured on television. With that, you betrayed not only yourself but the government you serve. You inadvertently say that the government you serve does not really care about the intricate details of the deals it enters into on behalf of Nigeria. That line is also a testament to your leaked audio where you asked “does he read?” It says a whole lot about the government. Logically, it says that since the President does not read, as stated by your good self, therefore, his ministers and aides are not bound to any moral or legal requirements to read any document before they append their signatures. Rotimi, is that you? Is that how you superintended the House of Assembly in Rivers state as speaker? Was that how you administered the state as governor? So, you are at home executing documents which contents you neither know nor understand. Chai, leaders!
You further trivialized a very serious issue when you said: “the reason why you are ceding your sovereignty… not that you are ceding your sovereignty. You can’t cede the sovereignty of Nigeria; the implication is that if in the end you fail to pay back our money, whatever we need to take from you, we take without you telling us anything about sovereignty…” Hmmm! Obviously Rotimi, your mouth was operating at a different speed with your logical mind making you change your position when you realized that you had goofed. However, without intending it, you have told Nigerians that their country is now at the mercy of China. And this is about just one loan deal. There are several others involving China. Perhaps, full disclosure of the details of all loan agreements with China will open Nigerians to the reality of where their leaders have plunged them. Besides, you showed arrogance when you warned that China will no longer give loans to Nigeria if Nigerians asked questions about details of the loan agreement. Please Mr. Rotimi, what are you afraid of? What is it that you, or anyone, must hide? You told us that you don’t like money. So, what scares you with the exposition? Well, just to let you know that I will soon begin learning the Chinese language and how to use chopsticks, just in case.
On Okunbor’s business deal with NPA, you did say: “He makes $17 million from there every month and he doesn’t pay back that money to the federal government. Who approved it? Nobody.” Minister Rotimi, you mean no authority in Nigeria approved the business deal between NPA and Okunbor’s company? Really? How then did he successfully take over a piece of the nation’s waters and created charges which vessels paid before anchoring? Besides, why were you eager to expose how much Okunbor makes from his business deals with NPA but against exposing the loan deal with China? Is there any cat in the bag? Like I said, I do not hold forte for Okunbor and his business. But the literal interpretation of your allegation that “nobody” approved his deal with NPA, or at NPA, is that Okunbor is a usurper. The dictionary meaning of usurper is “a person who takes a position of power or importance illegally or by force.” Is that your meaning, Rotimi? You just accused him of usurping an area of Nigeria’s territory while all state defence and security apparatus watched. Is that possible?
I believe that given your high office, you should be able to speak in such a manner that many Nigerians won’t doubt your scholarship. I am sorry to say that the more you talk, the more you eliminate doubts about that and further confirm that indeed, you gamboled unto leadership by accident haven never prepared yourself to lead at any level. Could this be why your best legacy as governor in River state is captured in the report of the Justice George Omereji Judicial Commission of Inquiry that probed your administration?