Ignominy of “Rivers’ Integrity Group”: Amaechi, a leader with change not pedigree
By Dr. L.D Lionel
The integrity of a man is not measured by how voluminous he speaks, but by how he shows in his character and attitude, what he speaks. This is exactly what came to mind after reading an unenthusiastic paid advertorial by a relatively faceless group that parades itself as “Rivers Integrity Group” published in the revered ThisDay newspapers of June 28 2013, pg 46.
The piece-of-writing did not only abuse the collective intelligence of Rivers masses and indeed, Nigerians, but speaks volumes of an incoherent organisation, which avoidable errors parade its sentences, hence the question of where the ‘integrity’ of the group lies. Ordinarily, such lies and distortions of facts against the Governor Chibuike Amaechi government are not responded, but for the records of the reading public.
A very boring commentary to read, the group took a swipe against itself by first writing that the likeable Governor Amaechi of Rivers State was insulting his ‘elder’ brother, President Goodluck Jonathan. What the group meant by this could be the political misunderstandings that have surrounded our polity in the recent times, oozing out from Abuja, in which persons and groups like this “Rivers Integrity Group” are fighting hard in making sure that President Jonathan has more enemies than friends just for the lucre of 2015 elections and, for their continuous lootocracy of the government of the innocent Jonathan, they want to make bad in the annals of the country, after his tenure as president. Many who have come in contact with Governor Amaechi would attest to the fact that his lifestyle and carriage are far from fomenting troubles as against what the mysterious group wants to sell to the general public. But even though there might be a face-off between Jonathan and Amaechi, the question is when has our politics turned out to be a family affair, where the issue of one being a younger or an elder brother is taken into consideration before any opinion or agenda is put into consideration. Nigeria is just a populous country with over 250 ethnic groupings, so the issue of younger or elder brother raised by the group is garbage, when it comes to politics and leadership positions in a democracy. Suffice it to say that were there no elderly people in a country like the USA and Barack Obama became president. Or, is Jonathan the eldest person in Nigeria and he was elected to be president?
Still wondering the stuff that the group is made of on reading a line in its cynical advertorial that Amaechi came to office through what it describes as “through the back door”. You see, those that do not have respect for the judiciary would always see how Amaechi came to power in October 25 2007 as “through the back door”. A peaceful man, many of us knew that in the advent of 2007 elections, Amaechi won the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) primary elections in 2006 for the state’s gubernatorial elections for 2007. Powers that were opposed to democratic norms short-changed him for Sir Celestine Omehia, who later was declared winner of the gubernatorial elections by the electoral umpires. Amaechi, instead of taking to violence, resorted to the court procedures and, after many trials and threats to his life, he won at the court and was declared the authentic winner of that election by the apex court in our country. So, when did one going to court to address issues turn out to be “through the back door”?
There are a lot of inconsequentialities in that article. The group, perhaps, to massage the ego of President Jonathan, wrote that Amaechi came to power as governor the second time on the willpower of President Jonathan. That was a blatant lie, because Jonathan was by 2011 still not sure if he was going to be president, because Northern politicians were saying that the late president (who happened to come from North) whom Jonathan was his vice, had not completed his term, so it was the turn of the North to be president in 2011. We knew how desperation led to the smouldering of the PDP’s zoning agenda or were its formula. It was even Jonathan who rode on the shoulders of Amaechi to become president when the North did not want him. If it was not Amaechi who convinced the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), as its chairman, to endorse Jonathan, Mr. President wouldn’t have contested, let alone, having a strong platform that he is boastful of today.
As if the bible had this group solely at heart when it said in the book of Hosea 4:6 (King James Version) that "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge..." If not for its lack of ‘knowledge’ how could the group have said that Amaechi had no ‘pedigree’ and as a result, he was not supposed to be governor? What the group meant here was that it must take one to have a ‘pedigree’ to be elected into an office in this era of democracy? This is the kind of crass mentality that the group parades, which questions where the ‘integrity’ is evidenced in the group. Does the group know that it makes mockery of Nigeria before the international community by that singular comment of ‘pedigree’ in leadership position? While such group is still swimming in the irritant called ‘pedigree’ in leadership, these are what the international community has said about the jadedness of ‘pedigree’.
The Monitor's Editorial Board of November 15, 2012, in one of it headlines, says, "China's new leaders can't rule by pedigree". Upon that Xi Jinping, the new leader of the Communist Party, who took power along with others as descendants of Mao's revolutionary elite; reportedly, “China needs rulers open to change, not those who cling to hereditary privilege”. In a critique by Ed Kilgore of the Washington Monthly of October 17, 2012, condemns 'pedigree' with the following line: "The Long Pedigree of “Trickle-Down Government”. Columnist Norman Tebbit of The Times of London says of 'pedigree' in a thesis of April 2 2012 thus: "Background shouldn’t matter in politics..." In a National Review Online titled ‘Without Pedigree or Government Connections’ of July 26, 2012, Jay Nordlinger writes the following: "By any standard measure, Neil Parrott’s place in Maryland politics ought to be toward the very bottom. He’s a freshman Republican delegate in a very blue state, without pedigree or government connections. Yet through dogged organizing and clever use of technology, this tea party leader from Hagerstown has turned a little-used provision of the Maryland Constitution into a tool capable of overturning chunks of the ruling Democrats’ legislative agenda". Can you see that the so-called “Rivers Integrity Group” talk before it thinks?
In the Kangaroo’s estimation of the “Rivers Integrity Group”, it believes that Amaechi has expended N2.0 Trillion, without checks and balances. One thing remains sacrosanct: it is very hard to tell lies against a living person. You may tell lies against the dead, but certainly not the living. And how can a group of persons who have refused to return home but decided to be calling our Rivers State names from Abuja know the developmental strides that Governor Amaechi has counted and is still counting in the state? The group was talking about N2.0 Trillion, but from what Amaechi is doing in Rivers State, we often wonder if he is not using his personal money to do them (to become poor) just for the love of our state.
Without mincing words, Amaechi has brought hope for all, not ‘pedigree’; he has brought infrastructures, not guns; he has brought security, not wars. His government has been an all inclusive government, and not for those who have political ‘pedigrees’. His government pummelled the unbecoming challenges in the state which those with ‘pedigree’ saw as taboo to venture into because they perhaps were benefitting from them. Amaechi was not fighting the challenges of piracy, kidnapping, illegal bunkering, nuisance, armed robbery and sundry that once characterised the state with microphones as wont those with ‘pedigree’, he is putting every security apparatuses in place and these involve money. Port Harcourt is today not ranked with Baghdad as where notorieties reign supreme. Port Harcourt is no longer ranked in the global crime index as one of the most hazardous cities for doing business or residing.
It was Amaechi who brought down the ‘Rambo’ practices that were Port Harcourt. People were living in fears as violence in the state once went circle, with the economy dampened as a result. It is amazing that what the “Rivers Integrity Group” could see were monies expended on vital projects in the state and, not when some assailants from the Niger Delta region took-up arms against the country, during the Dr. Peter Odili government in our state, that pigeonholed the economy of the state and, Amaechi revived the economy. Over 3, 000 people were killed in that madness.
Never has Amaechi been mentioned as the problem of Rivers State. If not for his quiet self, Amaechi would have gone for the Nobel Peace Prize. Stakeholders and opinion leaders in the state like the one time Action Congress of Nigeria’s gubernatorial candidate in the state’s 2007 elections says of the glowing strides of Amaechi this way: Rivers State, when Amaechi took over was a garrison state. Now that things have changed, people refer to him, like they do to Fashola as a performing governor though the only difference between the two is that Fashola had a foundation in Tinubu but in the case of Amaechi, it was not so!
Governor Amaechi has built schools, hospitals, roads and many other infrastructures in Rivers State and these were done based on the evaluation given to the state government by the contractors handling the projects. Contracts are not single-handedly given by the governor; there are procedures. There is a body called Rivers Bureau for Procurement, which vet and approves contracts in the state before they are awarded. Rivers State happens to be the only state that has this body, for transparency and accountability.
Our happiness is that no one would say that Amaechi shares cash, not even the thoughtless group, as was expedient before Amaechi came to power. And that act of muffling people’s mouth with money left our state underdeveloped. But in the myopic stance of this “Rivers Integrity Group” it only saw the estimation of monies used for such projects and not the projects done with the monies. How come the group did not see these projects that Amaechi has handled and is still handling in Rivers State? This is a man who frowns at the inability of some elected leaders in providing true governance to their state; hence he spurred for development in all stratums of the state.
Did the “Rivers Integrity Group” know that it is under Amaechi that the state government has combated crimes with modern technologies, with Rivers State being the first to acquire a mobile scanning van known as back scatter and mounted the Gantry Scanners at tactical access locations in and around the state? Did the “Rivers Integrity Group” know that Amaechi government on 1 October 2010 gave the state free education and enabled every child resident in Rivers State to also enjoy free text and exercise books distributed to the schools? Did the “Rivers Integrity Group” know that the Amaechi government has also given the state 500 new state-of-the art model primary schools across the 23 Local Government Areas (LGAs), with over 250 of the schools in use? Where in the successive governments in our state that primary schools were given the benefit to enjoy free Information Communication Technology (ICT) facility? Did the “Rivers Integrity Group” see the modern library, science laboratory, and other sports facilities that these children have been enjoying in the model schools? Did the “Rivers Integrity Group” see the revolution that Amaechi has brought in our state that was once in dearth of teachers with the employment of over 12, 000 teachers that were internationally trained to meet up with the international standards of teaching of the present times? What about the Greater Port Harcourt, Emergency services, and the new stadium at airport road?
It is a ruse by the “Rivers Integrity Group” for saying that Amaechi has expended N2.0 Trillion and wants the public to believe same. It was the bible that says in the book of John 8:32 (King James Version (KJV) that: "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." Amaechi has built 160 functional model health centres across the 23 LGAs of the state. The government did not stop there: it gave free health care programme to children, pregnant women, nursing mothers and the aged persons. The shamefaced group was asking where the state coffers are expended on.
It was the Amaechi government that brought in what is known today and called secondary health care in the state, with an additional three new hospitals added to the fleet of hospitals. If we believe that truth is sacrosanct, is it not true that the three additional powerful hospitals that this government has built are the Kelsey Harrison Hospital, formerly known as New Niger Hospital on Emenike Street, Diobu; ultra modern Rivers State Dental and Maxillofacial Hospital on Aba Road; the General Hospital at the Rivers State University of Science and Technology? The doctors and staff at these hospitals are also internationally groomed.
The “Rivers Integrity Group” was only talking about money whereas Amaechi dots development in all the areas of human endeavours in the state. Are there no fish farms in Buguma, Andoni, Opobo and Ubima built by this government? What about the (Songhai at Tai-Eleme?). What of the Banana Farm in Ogoni that encompasses over 200 hectares? Have these not created jobs for our once jobless youth? What about the available farm space of 3,000 hectares in Etche? Did the faceless group know that the Amaechi government has made sure that in the agricultural sector of the state there are farming houses, agro processing, mobility, machines, pest control, cultivation and sundry are provided before it talked about the seemingly N2.0 Trillion that Amaechi has spent in the cause of governance?
To be honest, Governor Amaechi has opened doors for opportunities that have attracted investors to the state than ever with the hosting of the Pan African Parliamentary; Garden City Literary Festival, Miss ECOWAS Beauty Pageant, CARNRIV. Just name them! How many shall we mention? Did the “Rivers Integrity Group” know about the Rivers State Investment Forum and Governor’s Interactive Session with Rivers State Youths, and the Dr. Claude Ake Memorial Lecture? The problem that parts of the world has been that some persons do not read. If not, the so-called “Rivers Integrity Group” would have known that Amaechi does not hide how his government uses the state money and that 80% of the projects in the state are awarded to the Indigenes, and not non-Rivers Indigenes, as against what this unashamed “Rivers Integrity Group” wants to mislead the public with. We have even lost count of the many roads that Amaechi has built in Rivers State and is still building.
Did the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) and its national Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, in what was regarded as a major step towards restoring peace and putting an end to the long-drawn-out battle between governors elected on the platform of the party not describe the Rivers State governor and chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum(NGF), Chibuike Amaechi, as the best governor, bearing-in-mind Amaechi’s excellent trail record of performance and achievements in the state as well as the numerous people-oriented projects embarked upon by his administration? Reportedly, Tukur described the development in Rivers State in the few lines: “What I mean by a developed state in the comity of nations is when you can see education being transformed, health, infrastructure are given priority and whatever things (infrastructures) developed countries can be proud of, we also have them in Rivers State”.
In the 27th November 2012 edition ThisDay newspapers with the headline “Rivers Spends N5.5bn on Port Harcourt Primary Schools”, Amaechi says his administration has spent over N5.4 billion in building model primary schools in Port Harcourt, the state capital. His government also says that it would increase the number of classrooms from 14 to 20 classroom blocks to meet the increasing number of school children seeking admission into the state’s model primary schools.
But the bald-faced “Rivers Integrity Group” said that each of the schools costs N110 million totaling just over N22 billion. With our findings on how much that each of the schools that the Amaechi government builds costs and the gross bloating of the cost by the “Rivers Integrity Group”, there is no gainsaying the fact that the group had a mission for vendetta against Amaechi; but it has failed, as the N2.0 Trillion it wrote that Amaechi government has expended was only the figment of its imagination in order to cast the Nigerians against Amaechi.
We therefore urge the public not to take such wretched and miserable advertorial of the group seriously or any of its ilks. “Rivers Integrity Group” is mischievous and a character assassinator against our indefatigable Governor Chibuike Amaechi.
Dr. Lionel, Board member Pilot Group, wrote from Port Harcourt.