By Mike Odiegwu
…..President gets Ijaw name as mammoth crowd gather in Bayelsa
President Muhammadu Buhari Tuesday vowed to recover $16bn allegedly wasted in the power sector by the government of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) under the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
“Where is the power? Where is the money?” The President queried saying his administration would go after persons involved in the power deal to recover the money to continue with the ongoing development of infrastructures across the country.
Buhari spoke at the Oxbow Lake Pavilion, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, where mammoth crowd of party faithful gathered for his reelection campaign in the state.
Party faithful comprising men, women and youths adorned in APC vests and fez caps were seen drumming support for Buhari and chanting Sai Baba.
The APC presidential candidate with his entourage landed at the Government House heliport and was received by the state Governor, Seriake Dickson, his Deputy, John Jonah, the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Daniel Iworiso-Markson and other cabinet members.
Buhari was also welcomed to the state by the state leader of APC and former Governor of Bayelsa, Chief Timipre Sylva; the Minister of State for Agriculture, Heineken Lokpobiri, the state Chairman of APC, Jothan Amos and other party leaders.
Buhari and his team comprising his Campaign Director and former Governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi and some members of the National Working Committee (NWC) proceeded to the Secretariat of the state Traditional Rulers Council where the candidate spoke to the council headed by the King of Twon Brass, Alfred Diette Spiff.
The President was giving an Ijaw name, Ebiwari (good house) by the state Chairman of the party, Jothan Amos, who referred to as a symbol of truth to the admiration of the crowd.
But the President insisted that persons who were involved in squandering the whooping power money would not go scot free.
“You know we are building roads; the railway was virtually killed we are rebuilding it and there was no power, we are bringing power back. The previous government mentioned on their own that they spent 16bn American Dollars for power. But you are better witnessed than myself. Where is the power? Where is the money? We will follow them and eventually God willing we will get them and we will get our money back,” he said.
The President insisted that the APC administration would continue to take seriously the problems of security, economy, infrastructures and fight against corruption.
He said: “We are also promising that we will make people who occupy executive positions both in federal and state levels to be accountable to the people. If you could recall when I came in 2015 under our great party, the party articulated three issues which we campaign and were voted on.
“These are security, economy and fighting corruption. On security, the people of the Northeast are the biggest witnesses of what we achieved because when we came, at least 17 local governments were under Boko Haram. As I speak now none is under them. But they resorted to train the young men and women wrap them up with explosives and ask them to explode it in churches, mosques, market places and in motor parks. That is even rare now.
“On economy, when we came in we had very high importation of food stocks. We thank God that in the three previous raining seasons we realised bountiful harvest. The government contribution was to make fertilizer and other agricultural inputs available. That took away many able-bodied persons out of unemployment.
“On fighting corruption, under this system it is very difficult. But I keep mentioning wherever I go that all those who have account to give should prepare to account for it. Those that are indicted were taken before the court and a number of them are in jail and a number of their properties had been taken away to be sold and put in the treasury and continue with infrastructure”.
The President praised the efforts of the party leaders saying the APC was stronger and that its strength would be tested in the forthcoming elections.
On his part, Sylva said the APC remained the stronger party in the state and thanked the President for assisting in payment of workers’ salaries through bailouts.
Sylva said the Ijaw people could be forgiven the last time for not voting President Buhari because their son contested the election against him; they had no more reason not to vote for him in the coming election.
He further accused the state government of spending N120bn to build an airport in the state without disclosing the identity of the contractor.
Addressing Buhari on why the people of the state would vote for him, he said: “Mr. President you have also commenced and almost completed a major road in Bayelsa state connecting the community of the former President. You have also commissioned a major water project in Bayelsa, one in Otuoke and another one in Ekeremor, which was done from the Ministry of Agriculture.
“Bayelsa has many reasons why they should vote for you again. I always say this to Bayelsans, it is as clear as crystal, visible to the blind and audible to the deaf that Mr. President is winning again. I tell my people that apart from the fact that Mr. President has done a lot, we must also vote for Mr. President because that is the winning team.
“Our father Melford Okilo taught us that our alliance with northern Nigeria must be sustained. And for us as Ijaw people, that is what we have always known for. Let us not make any mistake. I learnt that some people came here to deceive Bayelsans, but we know them for whom they are. We call them ‘People Deceive People’.
“For Ijaw land to grow, we need a forthright President like President Buhari. Izon means truth and it is our name as a people. We also know that the name Muhammadu Buhar stands for truth. Buhari is a truthful person so he is our natural alliance. That is why we must all vote for President Buhari.
“He has brought many things to Ijaw land. I stand here as a son of Ijaw land, as a former governor and as a chairman of the Maritime University, which is also a school that was instituted by the President. Ijaw people have no reason not to vote for the President. This time we must vote enmasse”.
On his part, Lokpobiri asked the President to ensure a level-playing filed in Bayelsa to enable the APC prove its worth in the state accusing the state government of squandering N1.3trn that accrued to the state for seven years.
He said: “I have the mandate of the Bayelsa people to tell you that Bayelsa doesn’t want to be left of this moving train and winning movement. Right from the days of Melfford Okilo Bayelsans have always known the party that would win. This time around, Bayelsans have already seen that your reelection had already been concluded.
“The only request we want is for a level-playing field to be provided for Bayelsans to show you that they love you. This state in the past seven years has received N1.3trn. This is excluding local government allocations, bailout funds and loans that run into hundreds of billions of naira.
“But Bayelsa is still one of the least developed states in the country. Bayelsa is still one of the darkest states in the country. Bayelsa civil servants have suffered the highest level of retrenchment in this country”.
He asked the President to bring his anti-corruption drive to Bayelsa and make the state government account for the money it received without commensurate development.