N750million Tinubu, Amaechi, Deal Exposed!

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Details are beginning to emerge on some of the sweetheart deals that

cemented the relationships of the old guard of the All Peoples Congress
(APC) and Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State.

As the dust from the tremors of the political landscape settled back in
2013 with the defection of the five Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)
governors to the APC, what followed were weeks of getting-to-know-deals in
the APC.

“Finding their feet in the new environment had huge financial implications
for the newcomers. Behind the photo opportunities that the country was
treated to, the sharks among them moved in quickly,” a source involved in
the exchanges told the Nigerian Times.

To the delight of the APC top brass, Amaechi who appeared in a hurry to
acclimatize started picking the tabs of many party programmes. Nigerian
Times learnt that even the publicity arm of the party had a new lease of
life on account of Amaechi’s generosity. Lai Mohammed, the APC’s publicity
czar, became a frequent flyer on the Lagos/Port Harcourt, Abuja/Port
Harcourt routes.

That was when Bola Tinubu, the ultimate power broker in APC, moved in. No
governor in the Class of ’99 comes close to Bola Tinubu in privatising
public resources. Lagos has been such a boon that almost a decade since he
left office, he has been a central figure in all the political intrigues.

Those abreast of the early days of the relationship characterize it thus:
“Amaechi was the political orphan on the prowl with plenty of cash buying
up affection and influence in the new political family. Too many doors
opened up to him because the party, in many respects, was poorly funded
and too often, depended on Tinubu’s mood swings. Tinubu on his part was
seeing beyond Amaechi’s new convert’s zeal; he had his eyes fixed on the
honey pot that was Rivers State. They hit it off”.

Tinubu owns both TV Continental (TVC) and Radio Continental (RC);
companies that have always been run by a few journalist friends of his.
But a few years ago, he brought in a former top shot of Qatar based
Aljazeera to rejig the place. Part of the reforms was the launch of a pay
TV arm called Consat TV (Continental Satellite Television). Since he had
his fingers burnt in the defunct HiTV, Tinubu had always dreamt of a
business to rival South African owned DSTV. Consat was his answer and the
service launched in June.

His next move was to tie up Consat and the Rivers State Government. Consat
TV and the Rivers State Government entered a deal for the purchase of
fifty thousand decoders at the premium rate of fifteen thousand Naira per
decoder. The deal set the Rivers State treasury back by seven hundred and
fifty million Naira. Nigerian Times can report that since the signing of
the deal and full payment was effected, less than ten percent of the
decoders have been supplied.

Why a government would want to buy decoders for its citizens remains
unclear, but watchers of the Rivers State treasury say it is one of the
“transfer of wealth” cases they have been witnessing since the governor
decamped to APC.”

The relationship had recorded its first victim almost immediately. In a
classic case of journalism misreading the dark art of a proprietor’s
interest , Bola Tinubu’s TVC, or more precisely, Oluchi, who was TVC’s
correspondent in Port Harcourt ,when the Rivers State House of Assembly
crisis began, was to pay a steep price. Her crime was that bit of the
trade every journalist lives for, a scoop.

On the day Chidi Llyod, the governor’s supporter went wild, bludgeoning
another member on the head with the mace, it was Oluchi and her crew that
brought the scenes across homes in the country. But because of the limited
coverage of TVC not many people saw the video that night. Indeed the
government and many media houses had eggshells on their faces in the
intervening twenty four hours.

The governor’s propaganda machine got all the newspapers to report the
event as one more instance of Wike’s supporters’ belligerence. Unknown to
them, Oluchi had reported the event as it unfolded, correctly identifying
Chidi Llyod as the villain and properly situating him between the warring
camps. It took twenty four hours for other media houses, especially the
newspapers to realise that they have been badly used.

TVC, itself, was forced to stop running the story the following day. By
then the video had gone viral. Miss Oluchi was declared persona non grata
in Port Harcourt. Her company could not protect her and fearing for her
safety she escaped to Owerri. Her cameraman returned home late one night
to find his house ransacked. He fled Port Harcourt too. After many months
of idling away in Owerri, and the company ignoring her, she resigned.

In her reaction, the Information Commissioner in Rivers State, Ibim
Semenitari, admitted that though such a deal exists between Consat TV and
the state government, the agreement was never about Governor Rotimi
Amaechi, but about the good of the people of the state.

She told the Nigerian Times that it was wrong to say that just 10 percent
of the decoders had been supplied, adding that 50 percent of the product
(the quantity which the state government paid for) had been delivered.

While defending the agreement for the supply of the product, the
Commissioner noted that the deal was important given that the Federal
Government’s digitization policy would soon take off and the state
government needed to comply.

“First, your figures are wrong, but to your question, 50 percent has been
supplied and that is all we have paid for. What we are doing is not about
the purchase of the decoders, but about the digitization policy which will
commence soon’’, she explained.

Semenitari added, “We are getting the decoders because we need to migrate
to the new platform and we are also grooming installers for the project
which will in turn empower our youths by way of providing job
opportunities’’.

According to her, since the state owned television station and radio
station were in the process of joining the rest of the world in migrating
to the new platform, it was important that the purchase was made to
enhance the penetration of information to the remotest parts of the state.

“The penetration into the villages will not exist since we want to reach
the largest mass of the people if we do not do this migration,’’ she
explained.

Consat TV which launched in June this year is one of three pay TV firms
apart from the popular but expensive DSTV.

GOtv is a cheaper offering from Multichoice and StarTimes which is a joint
venture between the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and Chinese
investors.

The NTA StarTimes, the biggest player in the direct to home television
service sector is offering free decoders ahead of the 2015 digital
migration.

Until the Christmas promotion started, the decoders went for N3, 900 with
one month free subscription and offering 35 to 70 channels at 1,000 Naira
monthly or up to 3,000 Naira monthly.

NTA Startimes is currently available in Lagos, Abuja, Kano, Aba, Benin,
Enugu, Ilorin, Jos, Kaduna, Kano, Markurdi, Onitsha, Port Harcourt,
Sokoto, Uyo, Yola, and Ibadan.

GOtv owned by Multichoice Africa with some channels from the DSTV bouquet
offers a similar service to StarTimes and is a direct competitor. For N2,
900 subscribers get a GOtv decoder including one month subscription to
GOtv Plus – which gives them access to over 41 local and international
channels.

But until the recent promotion, Gotv access cost was 6,900 Naira for
decoder, outdoor antenna, remote, and 1 month free Gotv plus package.

However, consat TV is one of the new Nigeria pay TV which offers
subscribers only 24 channels at a cost of N15, 000 for dish and
accessories and subscription price of N4000 per month.

And very crucially, both Startimes and Gotv are plug and play. No
installation fees.

So, far from Mrs Semenitari’s pro-poor fibbing, this is a deal done at the
behest of the mafia don.

The Nigerian Times