“My first confrontation with bribe was with a big contractor in Rivers State. After awarding the contract, he brought a billion naira. I screamed said the Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi at a forum in Lagos.
Amaechi speaking at the first annual lecture organised by CKN news with the theme, “The Role Of The Social Media In Socio-Economic And Political Development Of Nigeria,” held in Lagos said he rejected the bribe because of his principled stance on corruption.
“My first confrontation with bribe was with a big contractor in Rivers State. After awarding the contract, he brought a billion naira. I screamed. “I asked, ‘where did you get the money?’ and he said from what he got (from the contract) and I said ‘look, that means you overquoted the contract’.
“I said ‘the only reason you are giving me N1 billion was because if the contract was N32 billion, you made it N37 billion’.
“I have been special assistant to the governor for two years; speaker, eight years; governor, eight years; minister nearly two years…that’s nearly twenty years.
“So I know Nigerian politics well. Very, very well,” he said.
Speaking on social media in Nigeria’s political and socio-economic development Amaechi said that in spite of its positive uses, the social media is capable of destroying Nigeria if not checked.
The Minister noted that so many politicians engage the social media to tarnish the image of their counterparts saying that most of them engage young men to come up with stories that do not exist against their enemies in politics.
“When it was published that I own a property worth N50 million, I just waved it aside that the news wont go anywhere until it became serious. The social media misinform the public, they don’t verify their information, they have no rules and they can publish anything. It is a tool that politicians use to damage the reputation of another politician.
“As a governor, if you don’t want crime to continue, the best thing is to create wealth. The feedback the social media platform provides helps to check the efficiency of the government, and in the bid to create employment, politicians have made use of the platform to reach out to prospective candidates.”
“Social media can destroy this country, true or false? Just look at Biafra; and that’s why Nnamdi Kanu can say all he is saying and still get a forum. “Most politicians pay young men to post all sorts on social media.” he said.
“I was governor for eight years, for about seven years people used to say ‘this man is arrogant’, how did they suddenly say this man is corrupt?,” he said.
“PDP used to say ‘Amaechi is our response to Fashola’. So when did they suddenly say ‘Oh, he didn’t do anything. “And I say to people, because somebody just went to pay AIT money and, on social media too, there’s no rule. AIT came to put some things on their television, then social media came to write nonsense.
“The first time they attacked us we came out with document. But they (social media users) don’t verify. On the controversial $43 million Ikoyi fund, Mr. Amaechi said people claiming that he owned the money were peddlers of false information.
“When they said that I owned $43 million Ikoyi money… I made just a one-page reply: ‘I don’t even own a house in Lagos’. “I thought people would have said, ‘Ah, eight years as governor, he should be a very rich thief, so he should be able to get a property in Lagos and use it as a form of investment’. Nobody!
“Many people started celebrating, ‘It’s Amaechi’s money, it’s Amaechi’s money’. But people who know me know (that) if I have money, you will know.
“When people meet me and I am not able to spend, it is just basically because I don’t have money… The important thing is, money doesn’t govern me. “But social media twist it the other way; so the problem with social media (users) is that they misinform…they don’t verify their information, they have no rules. Only decent ones.”
“Nigerians say I am stubborn, am I stubborn?”, he asked. His question generated echoes of “Yes!” from the audience. “Stop there,” he continued, “Let me tell you why you are wrong: once you are a principled man, then you are stubborn.
“Nigeria doesn’t have any word called principle,” Mr. Amaechi said.
“It just shows that we need to go back to our value system, so that we can put a place where we can add principle…where they can give you money and you look at the man and tell the man, ‘keep the money’.”
Commenting further, Mr. Amaechi said the removal of Goodluck Jonathan as Nigeria’s president, was a bigger threat than Biafra.
“The removal of President Jonathan was a bigger threat than Biafra. Nigeria was inching towards the civil war. So, forget the talk about secession; Nigeria cannot breakup,” Amaechi said.
He also said that the social media would play an important role in the 2019 general elections.
The Director of Public Affairs, Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC), Tony Ojobo who represented the commission at the event however disclosed that the agency has established an act to caution frivolous and inhuman posts in the social media.