Amaech in the eye of the storm: A villain or hero?
By Eze Chukwuemeka Eze
I have done several articles on Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and his administration in Rivers State, published by some of the leading social media outfits and National Newspapers, where I highlighted his revolution on Education, Health, Security, prudent management of State funds, Road infrastructure to mention a few.
But the task before me now is to establish the toga of a villain been placed on him in order to crucify him or the heroic moniker on him in some quarters based on the current political upheaval in Rivers State. Although some see a villain as an antagonist, the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, defines a villain as "a cruelly malicious person who is involved in or devoted to wickedness or crime; scoundrel; or a character in a play, novel, or the like, who constitutes an important evil agency in the plot". A hero, on the other hand, according to Dictionary.com is defined as, “a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities; person who in the opinion of others, has heroic qualities or has performed a heroic act and is regarded as a role model or ideal”.
Sadly enough, those who want Amaechi to be pushed out of office describe him as being arrogant, power drunk, evil, possessive and a stumbling block to their political agenda without minding the constitutional consequences. Rather than addressing serious issues, such as the lingering insecurity in some parts of the country, where the lives of innocent Nigerian has little or no meaning, the massive corruption under the incumbent Federal Government recently captured aptly by the United States Government. Nigeria is also being confronted with the menace of unemployment amongst our teeming graduates and youths, breakdown of institutional infrastructure, the list is endless.
This grandstanding and view of Amaechi as a villain that must be taught some political lessons seem to be the major concern of these powerful hands in the country. This prevailing state of affairs seem to lend credence to the views in some quarters that the judgement of the Abuja High Court presided over by Bello which ousted the duly elected PDP Executive of Chief Godspower Ake leave much to be desired. The national dailies are awash with moves by the Presidency to curry the favour of the Governors to ensure that Amaechi is not re-elected Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), even while the constitution of the forum allows an incumbent chairman to seek re-election. What crime has Amaechi committed to warrant all these attacks?
Much as one would not like to dabble into the unfortunate turn of events in the Rivers State PDP, one is challenged by the words of Nobel laureate and world renowned author, Prof Wole Soyinka who in his famous book the ‘Man Died’ said “The man dies in all who keep silent in the face of tyranny”. Doesn’t the above quotation underscores the macabre dance being displayed in the politics of Rivers State revolving round Governor Amaechi, that those who ought to speak out at this time prefer to watch the unfolding events from the sideline to avoid being dubbed pro-Amaechi.
This intolerable situation may have prompted one great mind residing in Port Harcourt, Mrs. Ohunene Scott-Ananaba in her lamentation titled “POLITRICKS RIVERS STATE STYLE” wept and inquired, “Where are all these people who stood on the stage with Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi on that sunny day at the Rivers State College of Science field in Rumuola at the Obio-Akpor leg of the ‘Change you can see’ Campaign in 2011. Ha! Where are all those that spoke valiantly that day when I took this picture one of hundreds? Where is the Bulldozer Sargeant Awuse who was ready to follow you to the end? where is Nyesom Wike who anchored your campaign, where is Honourable Dakuku Peterside where is Magnus Abe where is Dawari George where is Tele Ikuru? Governor Rotimi Amaechi,where are they? Where are the Chindas et al. If any of them are still with you let them identify openly here and now or hold their peace. I wonder if anyone of them would have conceded to you the way Prince Tonye Princewill did in 2007, yet the same people drove a wedge between you and him”?
Now that Amaechi seem to be a leper and a villain and to demonstrate your political power and patriotism it becomes ideal and wise to keep off from him at this period but one can take solace in the wise stand of Benjamin Disraeli famous quotation that “There is no act of treachery or meanness of which a political party is not capable; for in politics there is no honour". According to one of the best minds in Journalism from Rivers State while reacting to Nene’s lamentation counselled those aspiring to be politicians to learn from the political development in Rivers State. They should also engrave it in their heart these words by Tennessee Williams: "We have to distrust each other. It's our only defense against betrayal."
Nene my sister, you need not weep so much because one with God is in the majority! Amaechi is not an ordinary human being except you have lost track of his background and his rise to his present state and I am convinced that God who saw him through in the past will surely see him through now. But if you are not counselled then read 11Timothy 3: 1-4 (“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy. Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good. Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God”). Come to think of it, Amaechi is not alone after all considering the backlash from key stakeholders in the crude oil and gas rich State! The Rivers State House of Assembly, the Traditional Council of Chiefs, members of the National Assembly from the State, the Rivers State indigenes resident in Abuja, the State Chapter of the Association of Local Government Chairmen, (ALGON) and other segments of the State are with him as demonstrated during the historical solidarity visit on April 20, 2013, where a mammoth crowd gathered to re-assure him (Amaechi) of their support at this period of his trial. In a similarly show of love and solidarity, women in the State gathered on April 22, 2013 to commit the political situation and the Governor to God who is the only one that can truly decides the fate of man. The embattled Chief G.U.Ake, the ousted PDP Chairman throw more light on why the political imbroglio is been staged in Rivers State, “my ouster though temporary is targeted actually against Amaechi”.
According to Malcolm X, “To me the thing that is worse than death is betrayal. You see, I could conceive death, but I could not conceive betrayal”. In line with this fact of life among civilised people and capturing the happenings in Rivers State aptly, an illustrious son of the State and former Minister of Petroleum Resources Prof. Tam David-West described Amaechi’s “orchestrated travails” as unfortunate in view of the fact that the governor has worked hard enough in restoring the glory of Port-Harcourt, also known as the Garden City of Nigeria. To the University Don, Amaechi’s travails is “Nigerian paradox “where excellence is relegated and mediocrity is elevated. “I’m particularly worried about the trend, not only because I am a Rivers State elder, not only because I am a strong supporter of Amaechi without any regret, I am also worried as a Nigerian because what is happening to Amaechi underscores a terrible Nigerian paradox, which I call the paradox of excellence. We support him because those of us who grew up in Port Harcourt as a famous “Garden City” knew how the city changed to a rotten city. And Amaechi, who is also a Port Harcourt boy, returned the city back to its glorious “Garden City” status. Any person that does not realize this is not only blind but terrible.” This great Sage reminded Amaechi’s opponents that he who laughs last, laughs best, stating with emphasis that the governor would laugh last because his first name, Chibuike means “God is strength.”
in recognition of the feats of the Governor, the Council of Traditional Rulers in Rivers State through its Chairman and Gbenemene Tai Kingdom, His Majesty King GNK Gininwa OFR, JP in a well advertised advertorial to Governor Amaechi on his recent Vanguard Personality of the year award stated, “All the traditional Rulers in the state are proud of your various achievements. This award is an addition to many more you will receive and a reward for your steadfast leadership because as a detribalized Nigerian, you are simply a big fish in a big sea and no man can stop you. Keep up the pace”
on the other hand, the National President of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Abdulwaheed Omar has described Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State as a pillar of democracy in the current dispensation. Omar spoke when he led a delegation of top NLC officials on a courtesy call on the Governor in Port Harcourt at the weekend.
The NLC President and other members were in the Rivers State capital for a conference to elect new executive of the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporation, Civil Service, Technical and Recreational Services (AUCPTRC). Omar said: “Nigerians are watching. Nigerians are very, very intelligent people. They are watching, they know things, they know what is happening (to Amaechi) and they are also passing their own judgment. “You have been one of the major pillars of democracy in this dispensation and we always like to in our only small way, associate with good things, especially when I recall that when I was here last, you decided to show me some of the projects, that at that time, a lot of them were not even completed but by the time we arrived this time and we passed through some of them, especially primary schools are completed. “I have not seen any where the children in public primary schools are learning under such very conducive atmosphere. This is what is required of democracy, for leadership to provide the dividends of democracy to the people practically, not theoretically, and I think that is very abundant in Rivers State. We believe in what you are doing because we have seen it and we only want to urge you to continue in that direction”.
A cursory look at some of the issues and opinions shows that the ‘villain’ toga does not suit Amaechi, however, let me attempt to bring it to the fore what Amaechi truly is, after looking at his giants strides and achievements in Rivers State from 2007 when he came into office as the State Chief Executive and ponder if the heroic toga fits him. The real verdict will be known sooner than later!
Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi a humanist, administrator par excellence, visionary, egalitarian, radical, respected, a pragmatist and exemplary leader was born on May 27, 1965 in Ubima, in Ikwere local government area of Rivers State and is an alumnus of the University of Port Harcourt in Rivers State. He was the Rivers State Speaker of the State House of Assembly from 1999-2007; Chairman, conference of speakers of State Houses of Assembly in Nigeria (1999 – 2000), Governor of Rivers State (2007 – date), current Chairman of the Governors’ Forum in Nigeria. A winner of several awards including the Commander of the Order of the Niger, CON.
To capture the current rating of Amaechi in the political psyche of Nigerians, the recent award as the personality of the Year for 2012 on him by the Vanguard’s Newspaper says it all. This was an event aptly captured by the great Aristotle the famous Greek critic, Philosopher, Physicist and Zoologist as far back as 366 BC; “In the arena of human life the honours and rewards fall to those who show their good qualities in action”. This extraordinary thinker as if not satisfied with the above feat went further to state and I quote, “Dignity does not consist in possessing honours, but in deserving them”. This is awesome and breath-taking as the stand and postulations of the great Aristotle came into play on 6th April, 2013 at a colourful event held at the famous and prestigious Expo Centre, Eko Hotels and suites in Lagos where Nigeria and Nigerians stood still to celebrate one of her bests, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi CON, Governor of Rivers State and Chairman of Governors’ Forum of Nigeria, a forum comprising of other 36 Governors in Nigeria.
This historical event beamed live in most of the key network channels of AIT, Channels, Silverbird and public broadcaster, NTA was chaired by one time President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babaganida where Vanguard Newspapers gave reasons why Governor Amaechi was honoured, “Amaechi is being honoured for his widely acknowledged developmental strides which have seen noteworthy improvements in infrastructure and the impartation of governance on all sectors of the society in Rivers State. Governor Amaechi’s development strides have been observed as going beyond infrastructure improvements in sectors such as roads, electricity, sports, new towns and such like, to life touching and human capacity development initiatives such as education, healthcare among other economic boosting endeavours”.
In line with the thought of Susan RoAne, “Rewards go to the risk-takers, those who are willing to put their egos on the line and reach out to other people and to a richer, fuller life for themselves”. I will like just to highlight few areas that have made Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi not only unique but a pointer to the fact that we still have hope about the future of our nation not minding the challenges and obstacles.
The standard set by the administration of Gov Amaechi in Rivers State is a big challenge both to the Federal Government and other States of the Federation. The State has won several awards in this regard. From records, the government is targeting building 700 model primary schools with 500 completed each with 20 classrooms costing N3.1Billion each and equipped with ICT facility, modern library, science laboratory, football field, basketball pitch, volleyball pitch and Nursery playground. These model Primary schools are built to the standard of the United Nations and obtainable in developed parts of the world. It is also building 24 model secondary schools across the 23 local government councils in the state; well-structured and fully equipped with modern day educational, recreation and boarding facilities with standard housing for teachers, these secondary schools have grossly been referred to by observers as Universities. The government is currently running free primary education with free books and uniform, provisions of library and internet facilities for the primary schools. The Rivers State Government has been adjudged the best performing state in the Education sector within the South-South zone.
In recognition of this the Federal Ministry of Education has rewarded the state with the sum of N70 million for its performance. The process of employing extra 13,000 Teachers has been concluded. The State has offered scholarships to over 2,000 students in Nigerian Higher Institutions and has spent about N5bn for her students in foreign Intuitions. The State is building a world Class University which when completed will turn out well equipped graduates that will hold their own in any field and compete with the best in the world.
2. THE JUDICIARY
Contributions to the Judiciary by Amaechi are awesome and overwhelming. My good friend, Ken O.Olumati a legal counsel based in Port Harcourt in an article he titled, ‘Ameachi's Debt to the Law’ captured what Amaechi has done to improve the judiciary in Nigeria. He stated that, “It is noteworthy that the various decisions of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal in Governor Amaechi's case were reported in Parts 1040 and 1065 of the Nigeria Weekly Law Reports. In Part 1065 alone contains six decisions on Amaechi's case; three by the Supreme Court and three by the Court of Appeal. This in itself underscores the significance of Amaechi's battles through the courts. Few cases have enjoyed similar attention in the annals of Nigeria's legal institution. Some of them include the case between Amodu Tijani V Secretary, Southern Nigeria, and the late Oba Oyekan's legal battle for the Obaship of Lagos in the 1950's, which went as far as Her Majesty's Privy Council before a clear winner was installed. In recent memory, the case of the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi against the Nigeria Bar Association as well as his numerous court battles against the Military Government of former President Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida.
Under the Rivers State Government, tremendous revolution in the Health sector is taking place; the Government is offering free health services to all her citizenry in all government owned hospitals or health centers. To achieve this, Government has Constructed 160 Health Centres in all the LGAs and construction of 1000 bed specialist hospital with other special intervention in this area. These facilities are available free of charge to both indigenes and none indigenes residing in the State. The Health sector today is about one of the foremost employers of labour in Rivers State. The State has gone into the medical industry as she is about developing an area in part of the Greater Port Harcourt city to be called the Medical Industrial Region where the syringe factory, the malaria diagnostic and test tube factory shall be situated.
So far, about 100 medical Doctors have been employed to staff most of the Health Centres in the rural areas. The Rivers State Government has currently embarked upon the exercise to eradicate malaria vectors from the State. The Health Centre at the Rivers State University of Science and Technology will soon be opened to the public. The State was lauded last year for its daily commissioning of a health centre over a 60 day period in 60 communities in its 60-60-60 initiative. The Dental Hospital located in the Garrison area of Port Harcourt is now opened. All of these will also generate employment amongst the youths in the State. Rivers State Government says it has concluded arrangements to commence a partnership with the Economic Community of West African States for the production of Biolarvicides to control and eliminate malaria in the state. Few weeks ago, Rivers State was adjudged the best state of the federation in the area of malaria elimination and control programme.
4. STEPS TO ALLEVIATE UNEMPLOYMENT SCOURGE IN RIVERS STATE
Apart from concluding plans to employ 13 thousands Teachers, below are some other plans highlighted by Amaechi that will hopefully alleviate unemployment:
He stated that the Rivers State Government has signed a long lease contract with Siat Firm to revamp and manage the RISONPALM. According to him, when fully operational it would create about 4,000 job opportunities.
Additionally, the Rivers State Government has commenced paper work to establish and develop a N20bn Agric Scheme. According to him, “The scheme would encompass a settlement and cluster units in different areas of agriculture and is geared towards providing jobs for the teeming youths of our State”. He said the project is expected to have about 300 housing units, a processing industry and primary schools. This multi-billion Naira Agricultural Scheme will be splintered into three areas of the State housing 100 families each in the 100 housing units to be constructed. Construction is now on-going to construct a multi-purpose Shopping Mall located at the Front gate axis of the Government House. On completion the mall will employ about 600 youths.
The state is embarking on establishing a Banana Farm at Ogoni where about 200 workers will be engaged.
The Rivers State Government has established a Fish farm at Buguma where many youths are today engaged.
He reiterated government’s commitment to revamp most of its ailing companies to create jobs for the youths based on Public/private partnership to avert the pitfalls of the old system. In this regard, both the SUPABOD and the Olympia Hotel will soon be leased out.
You can only appreciate what Gov Amaechi achieved in this sector if you know of the security challenges facing the State before he assumed office as the Governor. Find time to read my article on this sector titled "AMAECHI: SECURITY CHALLENGES IN RIVERS STATE, HIS STRATEGIES & SCORECARD" to grasp the full impact of the inputs of the Governor in this regard.
All the same, the State has purchase two equipped and modern Helicopters for aerial surveillance to fight crime in the State. To the Governor, “inability of elected leaders to provide adequate security for the citizenry is an impeachable offense.
6 PUBLIC POWER SUPPLY
The Power Sector in the State is working tirelessly to ensure an end to epileptic power supply in the State by the year 2013 this would also serve to boost employment in the state and will also encourage entrepreneurship among the Youths. Apart from all these the Rivers State Government has built three power stations at Omoku (150 Mega watts), Trans-Amadi (130 Mega watts) and Eleme (75 mega watts). By June, 2013, capacity will be increased to 500 Mega Watts under the $195 million dollars 180 MW gas turbine awarded to Saipem. Seven Transmissions stations (132/33 kilo volts) and 7 Distribution injection sub-stations 33/11 Kilo Volts built.
Four fish farms-buguma, Andoni, Opobo and Ubima. Banana Farm in Ogoni-100 hectares have been done out of the total 250 hectares. It will employ about 500 workers. Rivers Songhai learning initiative has a centre for training, agricultural production, research and development of sustainable agricultural practices. The farm project sits on a 314-hectares land in Bunu-Tai, an agrarian community in Tai Local Government Area of the state.
It is about 20 times the size of the Songhai model in Porto Novo – an integrated farm which combines livestock, arable farming, fishery, snail farming and poultry. There is a 2,000-hectare farm in Etche with a total available land space of 3,000 hectares. The farm is projected to cost $140 million. The state is investing $100m; the foreign partner $40 million. The farm would have 300 farming houses, agro processing and 3,000 hectares for cultivation. The 300 houses would accommodate 300 farming families who would live and work on the farm.
8. ROAD NETWORK
According to the Governor, “I don’t emphasize roads. There is just one road we are building now, the Trans-Amadi Road. It is going to take about three flyovers; one at Garrison, one at Slaughter and another at Nbogo Junction. It is going to cost N47 billion. It is 10 kilometers long. There is another new road we are going to build now to the airport to decongest Aba Road. It is going to cost N200 billion and fifty percent of that will be spent on bridges with about four flyovers and inter-changes.
The Rivers State Government has invested over N100b per year from 2008 till 2011 in provision of roads, bridges and Social amenities. In this regard, the Government has engaged in the construction of 800km roads with 250 already completed. 10 major bridges under construction with 3 already completed. 20 minor bridges under construction with four completed, 2flyover/interchange under construction. 6 Land reclamation/shore protection projects at Andoni, Opobo, Buguma, Abalama, Olombie/Owukiri Island, Oba Ama, Okirika with 1,1400,000km 2 completed. 2 major markets and a shopping mall under construction (phase 1 of mile 1 market housing 960 shops and two banking halls completed). dualisation of eight major roads in Port Harcourt – Rumola-Rumuokuta (completed), Oginigba-Rumuokbiakani Rd (completed), Eastern by pass-Amadi Amaa-Oginigba (reconstruction completed), Old Aba Road (80% completed), Elekahia-Rumuomasi (70% completed), Rumuokuta-NTA-Choba Rd (60& completed), Tam David-West Rd (80% completed), d mega-Airport-Isiokpo-Omerelu dualisation (42km Federal Rd, 50% completed), Rumukurusi-Eneka-Igwuruta Rd (ongoing), award of 850 km of roads, completion of 260km of roads. Two overhead bridges completed; two under construction, four bridges completed and four under construction. It is to the credit of this administration that very soon communities in the Riverine Areas hitherto inaccessible by road will be linked to the road network.
9. PREUDENT MANAGEMENT OF FINANCES OF RIVERS STATE
To demonstrate the high prudent management of recourses at the disposal of the State, It is on record that Rivers State has again been affirmed a ‘B’ international rating by leading international financial analysis agency, Standard and Poor’s (S & P) in a report released recently. The long-term outlook for the state is revised upwards from last year rating of “Stable” to “Positive” on the strength of significant ongoing infrastructural investments (in roads, ICT, health care, education and urban renewal) and relentless efforts to transform the public finance framework. All this would help lift the state’s social and economic status in the long run. The agency in its 20112 credit analysis report on Rivers State, noted that the state currently had a high credit quality, owing to its strong cash holdings, low debt and a healthy operating balance. More importantly, the state’s efforts towards modernising public sector administration, which included information technology upgrade and an improved transparency and accountability in administration is a plus to the administration. Standard and poor’s also noted that Rivers has a strong liquidity base with no substantial debt burden.
HOW HE IS LOVED IN RIVERS STATE
To demonstrate on his acceptance by his people in Rivers State, he is a beneficiary of various traditional titles from most of the kingdoms in Rivers State though he hates to be addressed as a Chief and Patron to various professional groups in the State. His associates and friends in the State hold him in high esteem.
HIS ROYAL MAJESTY, KING ALFRED DIETE-SPIFF the military Governor of the old Rivers State, from 1967 to 1975. He was also a member of the Supreme Military Council (SMC) under General Yakubu Gowon's administration and currently, the Amayanabo of Toun Brass, Bayelsa State once stated and I quote, “Yes, I am attributed to be the father of the old Rivers State but without sounding immodest let me reiterate that Governor Amaechi can be described as the builder of the modern Rivers State if all the infrastructure he has put in are anything to go by. I am so proud of his feats and if he continues like this, Rivers State will be a proud to all Nigerians”.
To PRINCE TONYE PRINCEWILL the scion of the King of the Kalabari Kingdom and an associate of the Governor but better addressed as the Prince of Niger Delta Politics while reacting to the Vanguard’s award to the Governor stated thus, “A good move. If he had listened to our advice he would have been winning it every year. The award should be seen not as just an achievement but as a signal that he is being watched. Until he hands over power successfully to one accepted by the Rivers State people, he carries a powerful readership under his belt. As a guest writer with my own column in the Vanguard Newspapers, I believe I should know. Amaechi is an asset to Nigeria and the world”.
ENGR. TELE IKURU, FNSE the Deputy Governor of Rivers State in his contribution titled “My Boss is Vanguard Personality of the Year stated and I quote, “God has been gracious to you so much that you have increasingly become an instrument of transformation, an icon of performance, a symbol of excellence in public service, and a refreshingly quintessential model for good governance. This is now public knowledge. The Vanguard Newspapers’ 2012 Personality of the Year Award is a testimonial to this fact”.
RT. HON. OTELEMABA DAN AMACHREE the amiable Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Principal officers, members and entire staff of the Rivers State, see Amaechi as a pace setter. To them the Governor have come a long way and his leadership style is worthy of emulation as his endless strides continue to speak for itself.
MR GEORGE D. N. FEYII the unassuming Secretary to the Rivers State Government in his well-advertised advertorial on the Governor’s feats stated and I quote, “Celebrating your leadership is a celebration of the landmark profile of your giant developmental strides in the new Rivers State. It is unarguably a moment to celebrate a phenomenon of our time; a man of distinction who has given so much to his people in infrastructural development, ethical reorientation and a sense of pride among the comity of states. Your doggedness, focus and track record of achievements are leadership qualities that have set you apart from the crowd”.
To DR DAWARI GEORGE one time Commissioner under the administration of Amaechi before becoming a member of the Federal House of Representatives, “Gov Amaechi has redefined governance. He has been able to reconcile leadership and compassion. A good heart he has. A workaholic, restless and impatient with d status quo, a man who left no one in doubt that he is in charge and able to mobilise all his followers behind a common vision for the future".
To HON. CHIEF DAKUKU PETERSIDE a formidable force while holding forte as the Commissioner of Works under the administration of Governor Amaechi and currently the Chairman of the Downstream Committee of the Federal House of Representatives in his remarks stated, “It is an honour he truly deserves and rightly earned. Gov Amaechi without doubt has revolutionized the infrastructural landscape of Rivers State. The whole nation has come to acknowledge that he is the new gold standard in good governance. His democratic credentials are exemplary and above all his principled stand on issues stands him out. He taught us to always stand by the truth no matter the inconvenience and that truth will always prevail. We are indeed privileged to have studied at his feet and we are proud of his accomplishments”.
To DR TAMUNOIYORIARI SAMPSON PARKER the Commissioner of Health, “we commend your efforts in repositioning the health sector through the building, equipping, and the staffing of hospitals, model primary health care centres, provision of drugs and other health facilities for the benefit of all residents in the state”.
To BARR ACHI WILLIAMS and other members of the PAN RIVERS LEADERSHIP NETWORK, an organisation set up by some of the best brains in Rivers State whose vision is for a better Rivers State in an advertorial signed by over 100 of its leaders stated thus – “Your Excellency, leadership is about influencing the thinking, behaviour and development of others. To us all, you are our leader as you have positively influenced our behaviour and thinking and we are delighted that your leadership qualities and contributions to nation building are being recognised nationally. To us, you are not just the Man of the Year; you are the Man of this Generation”.
Given an insight into what prompted Amaechi into politics, HON. (CHF.) IKE CHINWO, KSC, FNIM one time member of the Federal House of Representatives and presently the National President of the UNIPORT Alumnus Associate, “Many may not know but let it be said loud and clear that what actually propelled Rotimi into politics was his worry about the high level of poverty and lack of development in the land and the quest to ameliorate the situation among our people, the state, nation and humanity at large. From the projects and programmes he has initiated since he was elected as Governor and the passion with which he is vigorously pursuing them one can see the justification. So, I am not surprised about his achievements. I am convinced he will attract more laurels by his works”.
AMAECHI AS A NATIONAL FIGURE
Apart from been a onetime Chairman of the Forum of Nigerian Speakers from 1999 to 2011 and currently the Chairman of the Forum of Nigerian Governors’ Forum, he was the recipient of an honorary Doctorate Degree from various Universities in Nigeria including the Usmanu Danfodiyo University of Sokoto. He is a holder of the Commander of the Order of Niger, CON and Man of the Year recipient of Sun, Leadership, Compass and recently Vanguard Newspaper. The following comments by some outstanding Nigerians attest to the above.
Under an advertorial by 32 members of the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly of Nigeria signed by Deputy Senate President, Sen. Ike Ekweremadu, “Today as always, we rejoice with you, our worthy friend, a democrat, a patriotic Nigerian and an epitome of good governance as you add another feather to your cap as Vanguard Man of the year 2012” and that signed by over 200 members of the Federal House of Representatives indicates the wide acceptance of Amaechi as the “Standard Torch Bearer” of a better Nigeria.
President Jonathan Goodluck had during a working visit to Rivers State to commission Owerri Road a Federal Government Road constructed by the Rivers State Government to ease the suffering of commuters at N45B, lay the foundation of the Adokie Amiesiemaka Stadium that has hosted a lot of International meets and the foundation of the Rivers State Monorail Initiative that is intended to revolutionize transportation in Rivers State and a challenge to other States of the federation, the commissioning of the Trans Amadi based Gas Turbine eulogized the Governor of Rivers State over his vision in the choice of projects that impacted positively on the people. President Jonathan hinted that the several road networks embarked upon by the Rivers State Government and the Monorail transport system planned by the government has significantly shown that the state is moving ahead, “beside the road network, I want to commend Governor Amaechi on the three major projects, the quality of Primary and Secondary Schools that we saw, as well as the Power Project that would aid Small Business Enterprises”.
To Prof. Tam David-West, “If you compare the administration of Odili and that of Amaechi, you will agree with me that the present administration under Amaechi has done in two years far more than what Odili did in eight years”.
To Governor Shekarau of Kano State who was in the State to witness some of the great feats of Amaechi remarked, “I feel highly fulfilled by coming here today to hear and see the dividends of democracy, as I urge Governor Amaechi to build more of such schools which he described as vehicle for change. But for time, I would have borrowed a leaf from Amaechi by replicating the quality of schools I have seen here in his state”.
INTERNATIONAL STATURE OF GOV AMAECHI
To demonstrate the international posture of Rivers State and how the Governor has taken Rivers State to the outside world; he was one of three high profile speakers at this year’s Commonwealth Observance day held at the Westminister Abbey in London. Governor Amaechi was invited to speak at this year’s Observance because of what was described as his “incredible achievements at the national level, personal commitment to policies that encourage enterprise and create opportunity and not least his personal engagement”.
Attesting to the international figure of this great gift to Nigeria by God, the former President of the Republic of Zambia, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda during his visit to the State described the leadership of the Governor of Rivers State as a focused one. Dr. Kaunda noted that with the focused leadership of Governor Amaechi, Rivers State would continue to be of service to humanity for many years to come.
Following up, the Deputy Speaker of Ugandan Parliament and Chairperson of CWP Hon Rebecca Kadaga, lauded the developmental efforts and policies of Governor Amaechi especially those geared towards improving the lot of children and women, saying that the issues already canvassed confirm that what the CWP was set to achieve are already in place in Rivers State.
In appreciation to the great feats of Amaechi’s administration, the former Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert stated recently that, “The impression that I always get when I come to Africa is that these countries have enormous potential and your country and your State (Rivers) have enormous potential and I think that you happen to have at this time in history also, a dynamic, energetic and capable leadership that can make the dreams of building up the State into a reality of life for the 5.1 million residents in Rivers State that want their lives to be of much higher and greater quality.” Mr, Ehud enthused.
In extolling this great revolutionist, the United States Consul General in Lagos, Mr. Jeffrey Hawkins while exchanging ideas with some Journalists stated, “I must commend Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State for embarking on numerous people-oriented projects and showing enthusiasm on Niger delta issues. “We are very appreciative of all that Amaechi has done. we are quite clear that addressing the issues of the Niger Delta, the challenges require focusing on things like education development, agriculture, health, all sorts of issues, and the governor was kind enough to show us, on the ground, some of the projects the government of Rivers State is working on, so we are very deeply appreciative of his support”.
RIVERS STATE AND INTERNATIONAL MEETS
The results of the peaceful state of Rivers State under the watch of Gov Amaechi has resulted not only the attraction of foreign investments but today Port Harcourt is now the haven of both International and National championships. Apart from hosting one of the best organised National Sports Festival ever in Nigeria, the just concluded School Sports and the Police Games by March 2013. Port Harcourt apart from Abuja and probably Lagos is the only State to have hosted US-Nigeria biennial National Conference, Pan African Parliamentary; Garden City Literary Festival, hosted CARNRIV involving several foreign countries to showcase the rich culture, potentials and beauty of her people, the 2nd Dr Claude Ake Memorial Lecture, Rivers State Investment Forum and Governor’s Interactive Session with Rivers State Youths.
Apart from the above other major events hosted by Rivers State include the ION Film Festival where the world best Film Producers were feted with the hospitality of Rivers State, Miss ECOWAS Pageant, Garden City Literary Festival, Guild of Editors, Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP), a trade delegation from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on an enlighten mission for private companies within the South-South zone on how to access business opportunities available within the ECOWAS sub region among many other major events hosted by the Rivers State Government. The State is the UNESCO’s World Book Capital 2014. What a feat and what an accomplishment.
HONOURS AND JUSTIFICATION OF MANDATE
Gov. Amaechi got the Sun Newspaper Man of the Year Award in 2007 and the Compass Newspaper Award for Security in 2008. The Governor of the year 2009 Award was presented to Governor Amaechi at the ‘Leadership Award for Excellence – 2009’ chaired by former Head of State of Nigeria, General Abdulsalami Abubakar (Rtd) in Abuja.
He was also conferred with the prestigious “SERA’s” award for his contributions towards the social development of Rivers State, in line with the objectives of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), especially in the areas of Health and Education.
SOLUTION TO THE POOR LEADERSHIP CHALLENGE OF NIGERIA
Barr Olkayo Ajulo in his article titled “Leadership Crisis and the future of the Nigerian Youths” he listed the woes that have befallen our nation. According to this erudite writer, “To state it more clearly, everything that is synonymous with underdevelopment is synonymous with Nigeria. Our hospitals have become mortuaries due to lack of equipment, drugs and personnel; our universities lack the adequate facilities for adequate manpower training and development and the graduates of these universities are now regarded as half-baked; our transport system have gone moribund – our roads are riddled with potholes and our airspace is unsafe to fly with incessant crashes; there is high rate of unemployment; insecurity of lives and properties has become the norm; there is no power to drive our industries making investment difficult and occasioning industries to close shop. These and many others may have propelled the description of Nigeria as a failed state”. What may have caused all these woes, Barr Ajulo came up with an answer, “On the whole, we have produced leaders that have failed the nation in its cry for development, leaders who in recent times have been described as accidental public servants being unprepared for leadership. The failure of the leadership at all levels of government to coordinate, direct and harness the human and material resources of the country accounts for the Nigeria’s underdevelopment today. But must we as a nation continue like this?” Can we continue in this current state of mismanagement and plundering of our natural resources? We obviously cannot forge ahead like this”.
Yes, we cannot continue like this as the former Head of State, General Ibrahim Babangida (rtd) has an answer to that malaise of poor leadership in Nigeria. According to him, the winner of the Vanguard Personality of the Year Award 2012, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, the governor of Rivers State and the runner-up, Group Managing Director (GMD), Access Bank, Mr. Aig-Imoukhuede, are two gentlemen that represent the normative order of a new generation leadership orientation that is anchored on love for country, service delivery and patriotism. “In fact, given their humanity, there is nothing extra-ordinary about their creation but there is something, extra-ordinary about their leadership emanations. For example, Governor Amaechi is not just a governor in whom I am well pleased, but one that has been able to make a bold impression about promise and performance, in a Nigerian political space that is grappling with challenges of development and good governance. Amaechi has been involved in scholarship programmes for Rivers State students some of whom Amaechi also sent to schools up North for foundational studies in the spirit of national integration.
“His conviction that the federating units in the country should be allowed to enjoy some level of independence and exploit their comparative advantages often gets him into trouble, understandably so. With leaders who are brutally frank about issues and the politics of transition, leaders who are driven by their conviction like Amaechi and Aig-Imoukhuede, Nigeria still has tremendous hope. We must make the votes count in order to produce leaders such as Governor Amaechi. I do not envy him. With leaders who are brutally frank about issues and the politics of transition, leaders who are driven by their convictions like Amaechi and Aig-Imoukhuede, Nigeria still has tremendous hope”. With all the above submissions, I agree vehemently with General Babangida in his wise counsel to Nigerians on Amaechi
In conclusion, let me assume that most of the travails of Gov Amaechi are political because of his beliefs and political calculations come 2015 but if I may ask, what is wrong seeing the credentials and feats of this visionary leader from offering himself to higher responsibility in the leadership of this country? This brings in Prof Tam David-West once again. According to him, Amaechi’s “orchestrated travails though unfortunate is “Nigerian paradox “where excellence is relegated and mediocrity is elevated”. If I may ask, must we continue to promote mediocrity in our leadership sphere and allow our nation to continue to bleed? The choice is ours!
Eze Chukwuemeka Eze is a Media Consultant based in Port Harcourt