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Ministerial screening: What Rotimi Amaechi told the Senate
Former governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi, on October 22, 2015 finally appeared before the Senate as a ministerial nominee by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Below are a few of the comments he made at the screening:
"Corruption is very difficult to define. If you are a public officer and you don't take a bribe, I have never taken a bribe in my life but if they send a girl to you and you sleep with the girl and do her favour, you are corrupt.
"Corruption is a very wide concept. If people are contesting a position and you offer your son, brother or sister an opportunity to hold that position, probably the person is not qualified, you are corrupt. So, it is difficult for me to define corruption.
"We sold to the public the fact that there was massive corruption in the system and that there was the need to fight that corruption. We agreed that the only way to fight that corruption is to put a new government.
"So, we had to get a signpost candidate. The signpost candidate is a man who the Nigerian public has seen as an incorruptible president; that was why the party had to put President Buhari forward. We thought that there was a need to do things differently.
"I thought that as good as the former President (Goodluck Jonathan) might have been, I don't think he was suitable enough for the growth and development of Nigeria. So, we needed to offer an opportunity to somebody we believe is better than the former President.
"There was nowhere I was indicted (in the judicial panel report). I was born to test my rights and fight for my rights, I was once a student union leader and believe me, if there is one man who does not like corruption, I do not like corruption.
"I came here with a copy of the so-called panel report, there is no where that the panel indicted me, I am ready to tender this report before the Senate. I was ready for the questions on it and I brought the panel report so the Senate can juxtapose it with the White Paper.
"However, because there are challenges, people in Nigerian politics believe that there is the need to compromise and be able to manage yourself around; I will do that but where it clashes with my principles I find it a bit difficult to do what people expect me to do.
"When you deal with the issue of massive unemployment, you deal with the change in the economic mantra. The mono-economic situation that we have cannot survive. Nigeria cannot continue to be what we are if we continue to rely on oil.
"For me, I agree with the President that there is the need to invest in agriculture. If we invest in agriculture and technology, you will hire as many workers as possible.
"Government must invest in that regard. We must diversify the economy. Mining is another area that God has blessed us with and we also need to invest in education because some of these people are unemployable.
"We need to invest hugely in education. We did that in Rivers State. For four, five, six years, our budget was highest in education. So, if this happens, we will employ quite a number of workers."
"The governors' forum started as a check to executive recklessness. The Senate president (Saraki) was the chairman and with other governors who are here today as senators, including Senator (Danjuma) Goje, to make me the chairman of the forum for the first time.
"It happened in Kwara State and we checked the excesses, including the expenditure of the oil subsidy. There is a case in court up till now stopping the Federal Government from drawing money from the account to fund oil subsidy.
"I think that the radical posture of the governors' forum led to the former president asking me that I had turned the forum into a union, so it's no longer a governors' forum, it is now a trade union and all we were doing was to defend the lives of Nigerians and ensured that the money accruable to the country was judiciously utilised."
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