- As another Minister, wife, son die as SUV somersaults
The Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi on Sunday read the riot act to journalists in the Nigerian Maritime Industry, stressing that they must necessarily write objectively in respect of his activities otherwise, he would individually open communication with their publishers.
“Deal with us objectively. You must deal with us in an objective manner, otherwise, I will be the first person to write to your publishers, to say I am being blackmailed” Amaechi cautioned a full house of industry news hounds, following the collapse of his visionary effort to merge all Maritime Journalists Associations into one.
Obviously disappointed with the unwillingness of the various associations to acquise to his request, Amaechi also directed all parastatals under him, which includes the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) and the Nigerian Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) to cut off with immediate effect, the extention of any form of of patronage to all news practitioners’ associations, until they tow his line.
Honorable Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi (middle) flanked by Chairman Board of Trustees of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Custom Agent ANCLA, Henry Njoku (right), National President of ANLCA, Prince Olayiwola Shittu (second left) and Chief Ambrose Nwuzi, shortly after the Minister was made a member of the board of trustees of the organization in Abuja… Friday.
“You want me to give you more time? I will give you more time. If it takes you one week or three weeks, come and tell me when you are ready, but, until then, any parastatal that relates with any association would be doing so against this directives”, Amaechi further warns during an interactive meeting at the Rockview Hotel Apapa, Lagos, hinting that if the journalists think they could play on his intelligence, they would find him a shrew and willing fighter.
The Minister said he was aware that some group decided against his merger option stressing that he would henceforth treat new hounds as reporters on individual merits, while he and the parastatals under him would not touch any Association with the 10 metre pole.
“As I sit here, I ask myself, what is your interest? As for me, if you want to form 10 organizations, stay, form them, but we will not deal with any organization; and any parastatal that does so, is doing so, on his own.
“Government will henceforth deal with you as normal reporters. If any of you writes, we will acknowledge. But if any association writes, we will not even acknowledge”, he stated further.
The Minister in anger, had almost closed down all discussion only 12 minutes from onset, when an association head suggested a Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) like approach, where each group retains it’s identity, but only converging at the center, in a federated forum.
The President of MARAN, commended the Minister for a job well done, for his genuie interest in the Maritime sector. He however stated, that it would be nice if the Minister’s attention is brought to the fact that there’s no crisis in the Maritime Sector, adding that if the Maritime sector should become one then outsiders would believe something isn’t right in the industry and that may not be too good for the Maritime Industry.
Subsequently, the body posited that it would be nicer if the Minister can leave things the way they are. But if he couldn’t, then he should give them more time.
Earlier reactions from stakeholders was however mixed as a few lauded him for attempting to gag the media, while some simply accused him of outrightly being meddlesome.
In the meantime, Minister of State for Labour and Employment James Ocholi (SAN) died yesterday in an accident on the Kaduna-Abuja road. He was 55.
The accident in which Ocholi’s wife, Blessing and son, Aaron also died, occurred at Rijana, Kilometre 57 on the highway.
Ocholi and his wife were married for 27 years.
Kaduna State sector commander of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) Mr. Francis Udoma said: “The minister and his son died on the spot; the wife died in the government hospital in Doka, Kaduna State.
“The driver, the chief detail, the orderly and the P.A (Personal Assistant ) were injured.”
Kaduna Police spokesman Zubairu Abubakar confirmed the accident, which he said occurred because the Lexus Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) the family was travelling in lost a tyre while on speed.
A source said the Minister was on his way back to Abuja after attending a thanksgiving church service in Kaduna.
Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) Kaduna Sector Command ACM Victor Nwokolo told The Nation on telephone that three persons were confirmed dead.
He said the accident occurred when the tyre of the Lexus SUV they were traveling in got bust, causing the vehicle to somersault.
He said bodies of the dead and those injured were taken to the National Hospital.
He said: “There is an accident involving the minister’s convoy. Our men are on ground at the scene of the accident, but I am not the one to disclose what has happened now since he is a serving minister.
“It happened at Doka village and I am not on ground there. We have a unit at Kateri and the ambulance is there. I am talking with them on telephone.”
Residents of Kogi State, where the late minister hailed from, were yesterday thrown into shock.
The eminent lawyer, who hailed from Ogbabede/Abocho in Dekina Local Government Area, was one of President Mohammadu Buhari’s nominees.
Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello was shocked by the minister’s death.
Bello described the late Ocholi as a pragmatic, dynamic, humane and brilliant law officer, who was known around the world for his dexterous approach to legal and political issues and one of the most unwavering constitutional lawyers Nigeria has ever produced.
The governor recollected how the late Senior Advocate of Nigeria joined other progressive-minded individuals around the country to drive the intellectual pillars of the All Progressives Congress (APC), just as he described the late Ocholi as a complete gentleman who was irrevocably committed to the advancement of Nigeria.
He described his death as an irreparable loss to Kogi State, Nigeria, the APC and the legal profession, praying for the repose of the soul of the departed.
The APC Kogi State chapter, described Ocholi’s death as a great loss.
Treasurer Ismail Yahaya Adesayo described the death “very unfortunate”.
He remembered the late Ocholi as a fine leader who meant well for state and Nigeria.
He lamented that Ocholi died when his service was most needed in the state, praying to God to grant him eternal rest and give his family the fortitude to bear the loss.
He prayed to God not to take away the state’s leaders again, adding that the party is mourning.
Ocholi was the defunct Congress for Progressives Change (CPC) governorship candidate during the December 2011 governorship election in Kogi State.
Additional report from Nation