A former Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, has said the book by the former Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Hadiza Usman, was full of lies against him.
Amaechi, who served under former President Muhammadu Buhari, stated this on Thursday at TheNiche annual lecture in Lagos, where he was the guest speaker.
The lecture with the theme: “Why We Stride and Slip: Leadership, Nationalism and the Nigerian Condition,” held at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, Victoria Island. The occasion was chaired by a former director of the National Policy Development Centre, Dr Uma Eleazu.
Speaking for the first time after his failed presidential bid, Amaechi contended that Usman’s book, titled, ‘Stepping on Toes: My Odyssey at the Nigerian Ports Authority,’ contained lies against him.
Amaechi denied Usman’s claim in the book that he orchestrated her removal as the NPA Managing Director.
He said, “Some of you must have read the book written by the former MD of the NPA, ‘Stepping on Toes.’ There has been a huge debate about whether I should respond or not. The lies were too many.
“For instance, she claims that she was not indicted by the panel but she was found guilty of all the 10 counts. I even came with a copy of the memo to the President in which the President endorsed her removal.
“We took the President through all the counts, including the fact that a Managing Director of NPA with a N2.5m approval limit can approve a N2.8bn contract. No appropriation, including the fact that even if I were to approve despite the lack of appropriation, you are overpriced by N58m so tell them to refund the difference, having awarded the contract.
“Why is that document not public? Prominent Nigerians are involved. She gave waivers to prominent Nigerians which she had no power to give and these are dollars accruable to the Nigerian economy but she was bold to write the book and Nigerians followed her to launch the book.”
Amech also bemoaned the docile nature of Nigerians and their inability to demand good governance.
“What is new to say, Nigerians don’t react to anything. Has any politician told you he is not a thief? Which politician told you he went to university, which politician told you she served in NYSC, and which politician told you he has his certificate?
“Nigerians know and still vote for them, so what is your problem? I say why should I speak when already there’s nothing new
“Nigerians choose who to believe and who not to believe, Nigerians choose who to vote and who not to vote. Even if you come to a Nigerian man’s house and kill his mother, the father will continue his life. Nothing bothers you, nothing, so why should I waste my time?
“I chose not to speak again because there was nothing to say and because Nigerians would do absolutely nothing. If you say it’s a lie, line up 10 Nigerians and shoot them tomorrow, nothing will happen.
“The worst thing about Nigerians is that even if you say you are not committing any crime and they pick you up tomorrow, ‘We said it, he’s a thief,’ Nigerians will join and chorus it and you will go to prison for nothing.”
The event which saw the convergence of brilliant brains made of public servants also had a panel of discussion with Funke Treasure, Yakubu Mohammed, Valentine Ozigbo, Chidi Amuta and Prof Anthony Kila serving as the discussants for the panel
The event saw the induction of Amechi and Eleazu into TheNiche Hall of Fame.