THE FEATS OF GOVERNOR AMAECHI, PRESIDENT JONATHAN’S UNDER-DEVELOPMENT OF RIVERS STATE– AN OVERVIEW BY AN INSIDER
Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, ezemediaconcept08@rocketmail.
In many foras particularly at the APC gubernatorial campaign rally held at Etche some weeks ago and the Presidential rally at Benin in Edo State, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi the Executive Governor of Rivers State and Director General of the APC Presidential Campaign Organisation told the world that the politics and elections of the March and April, 2015 in Rivers State will be determined mainly with what he has achieved as the Governor of Rivers State or otherwise and what President Jonathan and his party have done or not done in Rivers State.
It is based on these factors that brought about this research or study to expose some of the feats of Governor Amaechi and how President Jonathan in his own wisdom decided to undermine and under-develop Rivers State, compare these with promotion of insecurity and what the key gubernatorial candidates stands for and project the fate of the key political parties in Rivers State as regards the coming general elections in the State.
RIVERS STATE, ITS POLITICS AND ITS STRATEGIC STATUS
The strategic status of Rivers State in the socio-economic, political future of the nation may not be over-emphasized. One may not be surprised of the political intrigues, manoeuvres currently going on in the State in order to capture the soul of the State knowing very well that whoever that takes the State is sure of the Government at the centre. This study therefore becomes imperative
GOVERNOR AMAECHI: HIS MISSION AND VISION
In assessing the achievements of Governor Amaechi the mission statement of his administration when he assumed office in 2007 comes to play; “Our Mission is to serve our people with humility and render transparent and accountable stewardship anchored on integrity and good governance.
We shall use our God given resources to improve the quality of life nof our present and future generations, and empower our people in a peaceful, just and harmonious society under God” – Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi CON, Governor of Rivers State.. The seven years plus stewardship of Governor Amaechi in Rivers State is actually anchored on the mission statement of his administration and it behoves on me to unearth some of the remarkable feats of his administration that made him an award winning Governor in this dispensation in the annals of political evolution in our country.
GOV AMAECHI’S FEATS
To Horace Mann the great Educationist, “Education is our only political safety. Outside of this ark all is deluge”. Mann cannot have a better disciple better than Gov Amaechi who probably because of what he suffered to be educated due to lack of fund has sworn that he will not allow any Rivers State child to go through the hell he went through to be educated. In this regard, the Amaechi-led Government on assumption of office declared a state of emergency on the education sector and completely took over the payment of salaries of primary school and junior secondary school teachers, hitherto the statuary function of the local governments, to ensure that education takes its rightful place in the scheme of things. This intervention costs the State Government N800 million monthly to pay the salaries of the primary school teachers.
The government is targeting building 700 model primary schools with 500 completed – each with 20 classrooms costing about N116m 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 as obtainable in developed parts of the world.
The State Government has also built 24 model secondary schools across the 23 local government councils in the state each costing about N3.; well structured and fully equipped with modern educational, recreation and boarding facilities with standard housing for teachers of which one was recently commissioned by the former President of Nigeria, General Olusegun Obasanjo. These secondary schools have been referred to by some observers as universities. Said Governor Amaechi about his mission: “We knew that the problem of the state was basically education, the state of our quality of education was abysmal and we knew that the quality can only improve if we take over primary education.”
The Rivers State Government has introduced the study of ICT in the model primary and secondary schools. According to Dame Alice Lawrence-Nemi, whose word is law when it comes to issues of education in the state, “This is to enhance technological development of our students in the State. The world is a global village and the need to embrace technology at an early stage is essential in the intellectual development of the students. I am proud that Rivers State is the first state in Nigeria to introduce the study of ICT at the primary school level. All the schools in Rivers State today are equipped with ICT facilities with internet connection as the state is eager to make all her pupils and students to be technologically ahead of their counterparts in other parts of the country.
Apart from retraining its teachers, the State Government has employed 13,000 teachers from the 20,000 shortlisted for interview out of the over 45,000 teachers that applied. The state has offered scholarships to over 2,000 students in Nigerian higher institutions and has spent about N5bn on 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.
In the Rivers State University of Science and Technology the Rivers State Government is building a hostel that will accommodate about 6,000 students and accommodation for all the lecturers of the university and will be fully ICT-compliant. It is important to point out here that the Rivers State Government is among the few in Nigeria that offer free education and free health delivery to its people but stands apart as the only state offering free education, free sandals, free books and free uniform in Nigeria. About 500 new primary schools have been built in 350 communities across the state, a feat that no other state in Africa is yet to accomplish.
The bills to strengthen Education in Rivers State
To further strengthen and ensure qualitative education in the state, Governor Amaechi has signed into law five bills brought for his assent by the State House of Assembly. Among them are the Rivers State Universal Basic Education Amendment Bill 2012 and the Rivers State Senior Secondary Schools’ Board Bill 2012. The Rivers State Governor was upbeat while signing into law these bills including, including the one on social services levy recently passed by the Rivers State House of Assembly.
The Rivers State Ministry of Health has continued to witness revolutionary changes since the advent of the government of His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi in October 2007.
The Rivers State Primary Healthcare Management Board, established in 2008 is fully functional.
Model Primary Health Care Centres
So far, 112 have been completed, equipped, furnished and are in use.
Secondary/ Tertiary Health Care
3 New ones built and being managed on PPP basis:
New Dental and Maxillofacial Hospital.
120 bed Prof. Kelsey Harrison Hospital.
120 bed hospital within the Rivers State UST campus
The Braithwaite Memorial Specialist Hospital is constantly upgraded in the areas of infrastructure and equipment.
Projects currently under construction:
New College of Nursing and Midwifery
Orthopaedic Hospital at the old UPTH site
Cardiovascular Hospital at the old UPTH site
Mother and Child Hospital at the Air force Base
A Pan African Health Foundation (PAHF) Auto Disable Syringe Factory that produces
160 million syringes per annum was completed and commissioned in October, 2008.
Recruitment and training/retraining of Human Resource for Health have been ongoing. So far, 460 doctors, 300 nurses, 20 pharmacists, 40 record officers, 20 catering officers, 20 cooks and 20 drivers have been recruited to boost the workforce in the service. Another 218 other staff were recruited into the State Emergency Medical Services.
The under listed programmes are fully functional
Free Medical Care Programme
Emergency Medical Service
Malaria Control Programme
HIV/AIDS Control Programme
Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme
National Programme of Immunization
According to the Governor, “We have four fish farms-Buguma, Andoni, Opobo and Ubima. Banana Farm in Ogoni-100 hectares have been done out of the total 250 hectares. Therefore is among the big farms we have started to create jobs for rural dwellers. 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..
The Rivers State Government has invested over N100b per year from 2008 till 2014 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). Apart from all these the Rivers State Government has built three power stations built at Omoku (150 Mega watts), Trans-Amadi (130 Mega watts) and Eleme (75 mega watts). By June, 2011, 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
“His administration is perfecting measures to ensure 24 hours regular power supply in the state. In this regard, the Amaechi Administration was able to build 88 sub-stations which are yet to be commissioned. Through the efforts of the Administration, the State is generating 545 megawatts of electricity, and also building facilities for another 180 megawatts. Before the end of this year, there will be 715 megawatts to ensure that Rivers State and her people have 24 hours uninterrupted power supply.”
The menace of unemployment and solution:
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.
A multi-purpose Shopping Mall located at the Front gate axis of the Government House is on with about 600 youths employed.
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
CHIBUIKE ROTIMI AMAECHI AND THE RESOURCES OF RIVERS STATE – A SCORE CARD!
To demonstrate the seriousness of Gov. Amaechi careful management of the resources of Rivers State, he immediately on assuming office in 2007 constituted his Cabinet with men and women of integrity and seeing the decay in infrastructure in the State commenced his task by initiating and signing into law, Road Maintenance and Rehabilitation Agency Bill No. 3 of 2008, Sustainable Development Amendment Bill No. 1 of 2008, procurement public bill, Saving Public Fund Bill and even a bill excluding the office of the Governor from signing and awarding of contracts. The fact remains that no other State in Nigeria has such laws in operation excluding the Governor from interfering and awarding of contracts and saving part of its revenue for the rainy days. With the enactment of these bills, the Governor demonstrated early enough the type of governance he intends to bequeath to the State – Governance premised on Accountability, service delivery, people orientated government for the greater good of Rivers people.
According to Rt. Hon. Amaechi, ‘in order to lay a strong foundation for positive change in governance in the State, the administration has taken it upon itself to initiate very critical bills on fiscal responsibility to the State House of Assembly and virtually all of which have been passed into law and assented to by me. The Executive arm of government so far has credit for having at least 60 per cent of all bills passed by the House of Assembly, saying that virtually all the bills were designed to deal with the age long problem of financial irresponsibility and rascality and as far as the existing laws on fiscal responsibility are concerned, anyone in government who tries to have an over sight of the due process mechanism in the State would surely run into problems’.
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 2010 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. According S & P, as of July 2010, Rivers continued to enjoy a very comfortable liquidity position. It had N43.9 billion in local currency and $11 million in U.S. dollars. By this overview, cash holdings in the state at the end of 2010 should be at around N50 billion, based on Standard and Poor’s assumption of N200 billion”.
In appreciation of all these feats, the Rivers State Governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has been 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.
Under the Transport the following was achieved –
1. Ban on the use of motorcycles as a means pf transportation in (OBIO AKPOR, PHALGA, PARTS OF ELEME & OYIGBO). This ensured that a proper and decent means of public transportation is built within the city environs and to reduced armed robberies, accidents, traffic jams and created a more positive ambience for the city
2. RIVERS MONORAIL PROJECT; PHASE 1A: 2.9Km Stretch (UTC – Sharks Park) 3 stations (UTC, Azikiwe and Sharks Park), 1 Depot, Single Track, One Train was achieved.
Eases Traffic within the city. 2. Helps in developing Port Harcourt as a major business hub. 3. Galvanizes business. 4. Restructure Urban areas. 5.Reduce travel distances, time and costs.
Phase 1A of the project is 80% completed. Two stations (UTC & Azikiwe are practically completed. Construction of Sharks Park and Depot is been fast tracked. Train and MRV (Maintenance and Recovery Vehicle has been hoisted onto the tracks of the rail system. 2. Commissioning of the V15 Phase to commence 10th December 2014.
3. construction of four mega Transportation Terminal at OMAGWA, ELEME, EMUOHUA AND OYIGBO
1. The terminals will decongest traffic within the city. 2. Help in building a sustainable transportation sector. 3. Galvanise business activities in the state.
Two of the terminals have been completed. Omagwa & Eleme
4. RIVERS STATE ROAD TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT AUTHORITY (TIMA-RIV)
In line with global best in class practice, it was deemed fit to create a public transport agency with the sole responsibility of traffic control, management and also enforcement of the provisions of the traffic law.
Better sustained enforcement of traffic rules. 2. Reduction in traffic. 3. Ease of movement within the city metropolis. 4. Help in improving city’s business attractive index.
5. ACQUSITION OF FIVE (5) WATER TAXIS
1. The project is intended to revamp water transportation within the riverine communities of the state.
2. To develop allied industries in the marine sector.
Five (5) water taxis have been acquired by the Rivers State Government.
6. INTRA CITY BUS SYSTEM (PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN SKYE BANK & RIVERS STATE GOVERNMENT)
Set up of a public mass transit bus system that has the capacity to move large numbers of people from one point to another.
1. Enhanced movement of people. 2. Ability to move people in large numbers. 3. Help reduce traffic on major road corridors
PRESIDENT JONATHAN’S FACTOR
President Jonathan coming from Bayelsa a sister State to Rivers State and being married to Dame Patience Jonathan who is from the State and having schooled in UNIPORT and lectured in the State before joining politics; one would have expected him to be a key factor in any election in Rivers State after the State gave him the highest number of votes in the 2011 presidential election but shockingly he is of a negative factor to his party in the 2015 general election.
The inputs or otherwise of President Jonathan in the March and April polls in Rivers State was aptly captured by Rivers State APC in her press statement of 17th March, 2015 titled, “APC LISTS JONATHAN’S 25 SINS AGAINST RIVERS •Insists he won’t win 10% of the State’s votes during March 28 poll”
According to the party, “President Goodluck Jonathan has committed gross sins against Rivers State without any justification and will pay for these sins during the 28th March, 2015 presidential election, the Rivers Chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has said. The party in a statement issued Tuesday in Port Harcourt by the State Chairman, Dr. Davies Ibiamu Ikanya, listed 25 sins committed by President Jonathan against Rivers State and her people, insisting that he will not be allowed to win up to 10% of the votes to be cast in the State during the March 28 poll. Ikanya listed the sins as follows:
President Jonathan failed to muster the courage and political will in a PDP-controlled National Assembly to see to the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) in the over six years of his administration to demonstrate his hatred for the Niger Delta region knowing that communities in Rivers State will benefit from the bill.
The East/West Road, especially Eleme-Onne axis in Rivers State, has not only been abandoned but is a nightmare to travellers and commuters.
Bodo-Bonny Federal Road is completely abandoned just because it is situated in Rivers State.
Refusal to refund to the State Government over 90 billion naira used in the dualisation of Ikwerre-Owerri Road approved by late President Yar’Adua and other Federal Roads in the State executed by the State to ease the sufferings of the people of Rivers State.
Wickedly stopped Train 7 at NLNG Bonny and the loss of jobs to our people and revenue to Government.
Non-implementation of UNEP Report on the clean-up of Ogoni land despite all the pleas by our people and the International Community – just to punish the Ogonis and Rivers State irrespective of their overwhelming support for him during the 2011 elections.
Lack of any visible Federal Government project in Rivers State throughout his over six years as President of Nigeria. Instructively, of all the states President Jonathan has visited in the course of his re-election campaign, it was only in Rivers that he could not name a single development project he initiated, not to talk of executing.
Ceding of oil wells belonging to Rivers to Bayelsa and Abia states to ensure that the revenue accruing to the State is reduced to nothing.
Abandoned construction of the Port Harcourt International Airport after completing other airports started at the same time with it. The airport has thus become an eyesore. Pictures of the current state of the Airport attached explain the level of hatred President Jonathan has for Rivers State and her people.
Turning the Port Harcourt axis of Enugu-Port Harcourt Express Road into a death trap. The pictures attached of the bad state of the road explain everything.
Posting and encouraging the excesses of the tyrannical Police Commissioner Joseph Mbu during his inglorious days in the State.
Supporting the impunity of daily killing, maiming of members of Rivers APC by the Police under the watch of Dan Barure
Supporting every imaginable act of impunity in the State, including the plot by five State Assembly members to impeach the Speaker in a House of 31 members.
Seizing and grounding the planes of the State for no just cause.
Harassing and intimidating the duly elected Governor of Rivers State for no just cause and even supporting the splitting of the Governors Forum into two just to ensure that Governor Amaechi, who was duly elected by his colleagues, does not have an easy reign as the Chairman of the Forum.
Refusal to allow the Governor to construct the Federal Road that leads to the Kalabari Kingdom just to ensure that during the rainy season the Kalabaris will not have a road to their place.
Forcefully taking over the 50,000-seater Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium. Incidentally, his party could not mobilise enough supporters to fill the stadium during his rally even after hiring supporters from Bayelsa, Abia and Akwa Ibom states.
Refusal to refund the State the money used to construct the smooth, beautiful dual carriageway from Omerelu to Port Harcourt – particularly up to the Airport Junction from Owerri in Imo State, which the Federal Government abandoned just because Rivers State people ply that road.
Refusal to refund the money used by Rivers State to construct the Ahoada/Elele Alimini Federal Road and the interchange (Flyover) at Obiri Ikwerre.
Refusal to attend to the poor state of the Onne – Port Harcourt component of the East/West Road. This is the road that services the Port Harcourt Refinery from where petroleum products are supplied to the South East and parts of the South South. That is the road that leads to the Onne Free Zone and to Okrika, the home Local Government of Dame Patience Jonathan, Nigeria’s First Lady.
Turning a blind eye while his party continues to kill, bomb and disrupt our rallies.
Against the spirit of equity, unity, justice and fair play, President Jonathan imposed Chief Nyesome Wike from the Ikwerre tribe as PDP candidate, knowing very well that the incumbent Governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, is also of Ikwerre extraction and that if Chief Wike wins the next election – but God forbid! – Ikwerre tribe would have governed Rivers State for 16 years to the detriment of other tribes and sections of the State. This shows that President Jonathan and his unjust party do not wish Rivers State any good.
President Jonathan released all the N25 Billion that accrued from the principle of derivation from the five Soku Oil Wells that rightly belong to Rivers State kept in reserve for Rivers State and Bayelsa State were all paid to Bayelsa State his home State to prove his hatred for Rivers State
As a President, President Jonathan has continued to under fund the NDDC to ensure that Rivers State and in extension the Niger Delta region is not developed, till date, N500B owed by the Federal Government is yet to be paid to the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC)
Refused to empower and fund the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs initiated by the Yar-Adua’s administration. The Minister of Niger Delta recently stated that the N41.7B due to the Ministry is not paid and it is affecting the 90 percent of the projects initiated by the Ministry just to ensure that projects to be executed by the Ministry in Rivers State and other Niger Delta States are not executed
The two principal gubernatorial candidates in this election are Chief Nyesome Wike of PDP and Dr Dakuku Adol Peterside of APC and this two are the faces of President Jonathan and Governor Amaechi respectively and if the account stated above are to be used as criterion then one does not need any soothsayer to declare the result of the election to a better qualified Dr Dakuku Peterside of APC as the winner of the April, 11th, 2015 gubernatorial election. This account is expected to rub on both the Presidential and other elections in Rivers State. But that notwithstanding, the impact of insecurity associated with PDP leadership in Rivers State will surely go a long way in ensuring that no sound mind will vote or associate himself or herself with a party that will promote violence in the State if it succeeds to force itself to power.
Eze Chukwuemeka Eze is a Media Consultant based in Port Harcourt