Amaechi & non-rivers indigenes involvement in government
While scrutinizing his government, as was reported on March 11, 2012, Governor Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State said that over 2,000 Rivers and non-Rivers indigenes have so far benefited from his Special Overseas scholarship programme.
Unlike the governor we knew who believed so much in the indigene and non-indigene dichotomy in his state, we have to praise Almighty God that he is today turning a new, if he could say that non-Rivers residents also benefited in the scheme premeditated to further human capital expansion in Rivers State and the country.
This might not be the first time he was involving the non-Rivers in such scheme. But what made this testimony so unique was the fact that the governor once saw Rivers State politics to belong solely to the Rivers State indigenes not until we at the Concerned Non-Indigenes In Rivers State (CONIRIV) started making our voice heard through the media against such odious mindset of the governor and every average Rivers person against non-Rivers resident in the state. Inter alia, statement credited to the governor like, “Rivers money is for Rivers people” changed to “Rivers money is for competent people” when he started hearing our literary salvo.
The reversion of the governor from his former statement was hinged on his conviction that his fellow indigenous contractors, many of them, disappointed him and couldn’t deliver on the contracts his government awarded them. However, whether his comment of involving the non-Rivers in that scheme was a mere pronouncement, it is even better than his once un-edited comments known of him in the period he assumed power newly and his body language that suggested that he wanted every non-Rivers person resident in the state to “pack and go”.
Conversely, as a journalist (Reporting for a better Environment) committed to urban and community life, Odimegwu Onwumere, the Coordinator of CONIRIV was spurred into intensive creation of awareness to sensitizing the general public and pressurizing the government on the effect of bad policies to the environment and human rights as they relate to education, health, politics, human rights, child rights, environment etc. Founded in 2007, today the group can boast of over 300, 000 members scattered across the world in seeing that the government’s policies affect the rights of migrants in Rivers State, positively.
Description of the initiative:
CONIRIV regulates media briefs on environmental and human rights programme through various newspapers and recognized websites, through mails generated to these various media organizations for covering the overview of its discussion. Apart from using the newspapers and websites, strategic use of social networking sites and other social media are put in place to promote and market the welfare of the society and people. Onwumere pays his colleagues to facilitate the publication of his briefs.
The implementation of this plan requires access to all aspects of the media platforms, and not limited to a particular one. He does this because an enlarged audience makes a core identity to effective brand recognition of the subject of concern across over all media, blog, brand, sale sites, when he circulates his briefs about the menace against the society and the people from any quarter, without restriction. He even establishes relationships with known charitable organizations and socially responsible business people to network with him.
He had been in the struggle before CONIRIV was founded. In a decade and, in this crusade, those that have read about his inputs have said that he turned out to be one of the best activists in the globe. He has successfully been creating maximum impact through media strategies. In his crusade, he nip sudden issue related to the entire process if the problem was not nipped into the bud immediately – like environment and public rights.
People consult him on any special issues as they relate to the writing, politics, government policies, and he helps in seeing that the rights of the people are not hampered by the issue bordering to his consultation – media – when faced with attack of those who may not like to hear about the society’s outcry and their perception. He does all these benevolently. Though, he finances the project to the tone of $30, 000 (USA Dollars) annually.
He uses pen to extend messages beyond the capability of munitions, Strategic Planning for Blackism and African and multi-cultural projects, Establishing purposes in line with artistic projects and humanism, Environment and Child/Human Rights Crusade, Citizen/ Grassroots Journalism, To Promote and make Good communication skills, High agility, Commitment, Teamwork ability, Good personality, Ability to work under pressure, Analytical skills, Ability to travel and Ability to make future projections a bedrock of all, but especially, the downtrodden.
Amaechi and his aides would attest that Onwumere has written over 3000 articles on the issue of Human and Environmental rights on (Nigeria, and at large) the Rivers State and Niger Delta region, which was characterised by militant pressure groups and kidnapping activities in the recent past. Onwumere had received life threatening calls several times. Some of the callers said that they were militants, assassins and must fish him out, no matter where he may run to because of the corrective articles he had written on Amaechi-led government to see governance beyond only Rivers indigenes. As a result, Onwumere has been forced to go underground many times for fear of his life.
To date, Onwumere with his journalism initiative has effected change in the government policies. Migrants are being appointed in the government of Rivers State by the indigenous politicians. There is a humanface free education and health care policy on the passage of the bill "Social Contributory Levy" by the State House of Assembly. Albeit, the bill would require parents to pay a certain amount of money to complement what the state government would provide to enable the students that would gain admission into the new model secondary schools enjoy free uniforms, sandals, books and feeding, as against what students used to pay.
If the schools charge fees, many poor parents cannot afford to send their wards to the school. There’s pressure on the Assembly to consider the importance of the bill to the common citizens and pass it into law. His pressure followed in making the government trained people at Benin Republic for the Songhai Model Farm. Primary Schools and Health Centres, the Governor had assured the people that contract for the remaining ones would be awarded, while those yet to be completed would be monitored to ensure early completion. Onwumere was not relenting in seeing that life is bettered for the people living in the urban and rural towns of the state.
CONIRIV’s intervention in Human and Environmental rights has to a large extent brought a sustainable awareness and consciousness in the minds of the indigenes and non-indigenes in Rivers State and in the government of Rivers State to respect HUMAN DIGNITY. Onwumere has been empowering the government with REVIEWS about the government’s policies and suggestions on how to better humanity. He is always investigating the areas that required the government's attention especially on the area of infrastructural decays and sundry in the communities.
He was said to be a leading voice on human and environmental rights in the province. He has consistently made it possible for migrants in Rivers State to be heard by their host. He has tirelessly focused more on the major concern of non-indigenes, which is their safety and security. Emphasis have been given to the security threats emanating from certain persons’ utterances, drawing attention to similar war chants in 2004, which marked the onset of crisis and insecurity in Rivers State. He has tried to crusade that lives were not lost anymore unlike when militants in the state took up arms against Nigeria in 2004 or 2000 as he proudly has announced to the world in his crusade. His activism has affected human beings and the environment positively. Today, the non-indigenes are not (perceived to be) threatened with war drums as were severally targeted against them. They were ever ready to embark on an exodus to their States of origin. Non-indigenes, some of whom returned to the state, can afford another location of businesses and lives, without prejudice.
As far as campaigning for human and environmental rights in Nigeria and around the globe are concerned, Odimegwu Onwumere has brought about the kind of awareness and perception that the non-indigenes and the public domain desire in line with their choice of aspiration. He has built a capacity to win and keep a well-respected and very influential spectrum of special publics working in consonance with his drive: pool of known political, economic and social power-brokers and influence-wielders in terms of the strength of their commitment to his desired success. This calibre of people is indispensable down-linkers and re-enforcers of crusade messages in key areas of decision-making within and outside the domain of his choice. He has attained the essential gains that any well-schemed activist aims to achieve as follows:
- Top-Of-The-Mind Public Awareness Of The Project.
- A Most Favourable Disposition By The Public For The Activist That Culminates In Coming To Consonance With Him.
In line with the above and in the absence of a clear and detailed brief, his innovative ambition has brought fame thus:
- Generate and manage profound streams of information about him and his ambition across the world, with special focus on Rivers State.
- Mobilize, organize and sustain a powerful team of media functionaries (editors, writers and reporters) to commit themselves to his course.
- Use of the most appropriate media communication tools to create extensive and captivating awareness about his activism quest, with the intention of registering that as a Reliable Leadership Brand in the minds of members of the general public.
- Effectively managed himself as a Brand. This is professional media communications that focus on deepening his popularity by developing and running special platforms that registered him strongly in the public consciousness in a manner that secures their emotions, sentiments and sense of leadership choice of him.
All of the above and more have been successfully carried out.
Transferability and up-scaling:
Odimegwu Onwumere started this initiative in his neighbourhood in 1996, sharing fliers and bills to people. This metamorphosed to writing. It began to expand with his formation of Poet Against Child Abuse (PACA), a non-profit organization that provides a portal for all people but most especially young people to find inspiration, express their rights, access information and get involved in improving their local and global communities on the fight against Child Abuse.
His quest for human and environmental rights did not exclusively exist in major form. He used "all the means necessary" to pass his information, excluding violence. It was when he took the crusade to the media that it became internationally.
Despite lack of financial donors, he never waned to take his message to the West end. His goal of expansion is to bring equality to human habitats all over the world, wondering why few people live in affluence to the detriment of the majority that live in slums and in abject poverty.
Today, his programme that was a toddler, Onwumere is inundated with calls and emails from the media, groups, individuals, environment and human rights organisations around the world seeking his comment on an issue or the other. His current expansion is to establish a publishing firm that would focus on publishing unpublished writers, using the proceeds to influence the lives of those in the towns and villages he has not slept for their betterment. This firm can only be achieved if he receives funds to the tone of $1million (USA Dollars) from the general public.
Recognition of the initiative:
Over half of 150 million Nigerians and non-Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora have recognized this project. They are strongly behind Onwumere for the good work he is doing in sensitizing people on the issues of human and environmental rights. The 2006 WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY GLOBAL ACTIVITY REPORT praised him thus:
To commemorate the World Environment Day, The Port Harcourt Link Club organized a series of events, which culminated with a presentation titled, "Desertification in Nigeria". The accord reached was to turn working-women into growers of trees, instead of mere collectors of wood. A special poem "Sahara Desert" by Odimegwu Onwumere was also composed and celebrated. Rowland Ogundu was fascinator, The Port Harcourt Link Club.
Amaechi has shown that he was not a stonehearted person with his relationship with non-Rivers residents, though his former disposition against the non-Rivers people in the state was the Adamic state of mind of many. Because of our outburst in 2007 that there was supposed to be a non-Rivers Commissioner in his cabinet, we have today heard that he did not disappoint, by appointing a non-indigene as a Commissioner in Rivers State, the first to happen in the state. Some Permanent Secretaries, Chief Press Secretary etc. were among those said were non-Rivers persons in his government.
Notwithstanding, we are wishing Amaechi the best in his rule since he has chose to turn a new leaf. He should also drastically look at the roads, schools, hospitals and every other government projects he has initiated if they are working in tandem with the purpose for setting them. While he has said that over 2,000 Rivers and non-Rivers indigenes have so far benefited from his Special Overseas scholarship programme, we appeal that he should not fail to do more and that are happy that even though that Odimegwu Onwumere was risking his life in seeing a better integrated Rivers State, some non-Rivers indigenes are today benefiting from his protestation. We thank the Almighty who has been by Onwumere’s side, the media that assisted in no-less ways in making sure that we succeed, and all who have stood by our side.
By Concerned Non-Indigenes In Rivers State (CONIRIV). Email: email@example.com