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RIVERS GUBER 2011: AMAECHI, SEKIBO OR OMEHIA: WHO IS EASY CHOICE FOR THE RIVERS STATE PEOPLE?

Posted by Port Harcourt on 4/7/2011 5:29:22 AM | Views: 314 |

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Written by: Port Harcourt






RIVERS GUBER 2011:
AMAECHI, SEKIBO OR OMEHIA: WHO IS EASY CHOICE FOR THE RIVERS STATE PEOPLE?



 



By Eze Chukwuemeka Eze



 



Ahead of the April 26th
2011 polls when the people of Rivers state like their counterparts Nationwide,
would troop out in their numbers to elect the State’s Chief Executive to head
its affairs for the next four years, the decision to pen an article of this
nature focusing on the antecedents and pedigree of the three main contenders in
the gubernatorial race and what their candidature portends for the number one
seat in the state is timely.



 



The three main
contenders are Dr. Abiye Precious Sekibo of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN),
Sir Celestine Ngozi Omehia of All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) and of
course the incumbent Governor and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)
Flag-bearer, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi.



 



This attempt will try to unravel the past of these three
great sons of Rivers
State
and who only some
months ago were all PDP Chieftains. Incidentally, the trio were also key
players in the administration of Sir Peter Odili, the erstwhile Executive
Governor of Rivers
State
from 1999-2007. Dr
Abiye Sekibo was the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) from 1999 to 2003
and later the Rivers State nominee on the Federal Executive Council as Minister
of Transport from 2003; Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi held sway as the Speaker and
Head of the Legislative Arm of the Government from 1999-2007 with Sir Celestine
Omehia as a member of the Kitchen Cabinet of the Odili’s Administration while
it lasted. Ironically under the administration of Gov Ada-George, Chibuike
Amaechi was the Special Assistant on Education to Gov Ada-George working
directly under Sir Celestine Omehai who was then Commissioner for Education
from February 1992 to November, 1993.



To appreciate this
attempt it becomes imperative that Governance be defined and used as a guide to
this discourse. Governance according to Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia is
the act of governing. It relates to decisions that define expectations, grant power, or verify performance. It consists
of either a separate process or part of management
or leadership
processes. These processes and systems are typically administered by a government.
Governance relates to consistent management, cohesive policies, guidance,
processes and decision-rights for a given area of responsibility. For example,
managing at a corporate level might involve evolving policies on privacy,
on internal investment, and on the use of data. To distinguish the term
governance from government; "governance" is what a
"government" does. It might be a geo-political government
(nation-state), a corporate government (business entity), a socio-political
government (tribe, family etc.), or any number of different kinds of
government, but governance is the physical exercise of management power and
policy, while government
is the instrument (usually collective) that does it. The term government is
also used more abstractly as a synonym for governance, as in the Canadian
motto, "Peace, Order and Good Government".



 



In this case, this
study will concern itself with governance in Rivers State and how these three
great sons of Rivers State have either negatively or positively impacted on
governance in Rivers State and what their candidatures portends to the State
and her people and project what the verdict of the Rivers State shall be being
the bearers of any of these trio being elected come April, 26th
2011.



 



I may not dwell much
on the side of Dr. Abiye Sekibo, the ACN Gubernatorial candidate for the fact
that during his stint as SSG to the Rivers State Government from 1999-2003 and
Minister of Transport from 2003, not much was done by him to attract
development of any kind to either his home town Okirika or the State. His
candidature therefore evokes a lot of reactions from a lot of people depending
on what side of the divide they belong to. To many, his name evokes insecurity
and the modernisation of militancy in the State. This was fully played out
during the Rivers state
Truth and Reconciliation Commission headed by a
great Jurist Justice
Kayode Eso and sadly he has not made much effort in erasing this conception
from the minds of most of his opponents.  He must however be credited for
touring and campaigning in all the 23 LGA’s in the state following his
declaration as the Action Congress of Nigeria candidate and for ensuring that
ACN fields candidates in all the elective offices in the State. How this action
would metamorphose into votes come Election Day, remains to be seen
particularly considering his new idea of security which he presented while
presenting his manifesto to the people of Rivers State that he will make them sleep
with their two eyes opened
indicating he may resurrect the insecurity
which Gov Amaechi have done much to stop. How he intends to make fellow human
beings to be sleeping while their eyes are opened is a new subject for
scholars!



 



For Sir Celestine
Omehia the APGA Candidate who many regard as a gentleman per excellence, much
can be said for this humane and amiable fellow. Although he is facing some
financial challenges with a party lacking any substantial root in the State, he
has his past records as one time Commissioner for Education and five months of
Governor of Rivers State to stand him in good stead though in the eyes of the
law he never served as Governor since the Supreme Court voided his election for
being an illegal PDP Flag Bearer in the 2007 gubernatorial election in Rivers
State. His new party APGA has only offices in about three or four Local
Government Areas out of the 23 LGAs in Rivers State,
how this can make anybody a Governor is to be determined by 26th
April, 2011. Be that as it may, I will take time to look at the scenario when
he held forte as the Chief Executive of Rivers State whether illegal or
otherwise from May 29th, 2007 to October, 2007 and allow the reader
to pass judgment.



 



During the eight years
of the Odili’s Administration and the ill-fated period of Omehia’s tenure a
good drive along most streets of the Port Harcourt
city by then became an expensive exercise and a nightmare due to the giant
potholes that were evident along most streets in Port Harcourt. There was massive
infrastructural decay. Pupils and students were made to study under harsh
condition at times sitting under the bare floor to study. The Hospitals were
mere consulting institutions and the workforce zeal was at the lowest ebb.



 



According to records, Port Harcourt that
Amaechi inherited from Omehia apart from having curfew as part of its life
style the city was more like a war zone or rather a jungle where the fittest
determine the fate of the lesser animals. It sounds pretty surprising but not unexpected
that the city of Port Harcourt,
a once very glamorous city, was ranked among the three most dangerous cities in
the world under the watch of Sir Celestine Omehia. The human resources unit of
New York-based Marsh & McLennan Cos. had ranked Port Harcourt
with Baghdad, Yemen's
capital of Sana'a and Khartoum in Sudan, as the
world's most dangerous cities. Going by the ranking published by Bloomberg, Port Harcourt ranked with Baghdad as one of the world's most dangerous
cities for foreign workers as criminal gangs and guerrillas seeking greater
control of energy revenue step up attacks.



 



Mr. Ahamefula Ogbu a
Journalist with Thisday Newspapers one of the leading Newspapers in Nigeria
described one of the scenes in the State at this period in these words 'Rambo
could not have done better. With automatic rifles in their hands and hate,
revenge and murder hanging around their necks, warring cultists took Port Harcourt, Rivers
State
, by storm yesterday
for the second day running. Pandemonium broke out as residents ran for safety.
It was sorrow, tears and blood. At the end of it all—or, more aptly, at the
interval, for no one knows the end yet—15 persons had been dispatched to their
early graves' and true to this unsung prophet nobody knew the end as the next few
days saw about eighty innocent souls wasted by an agitation uncommon to our
people in the Niger Delta.



 



Okey Ndibe a respected
opinion on national issues in Nigeria in his  article during this period
published in the Sahara Reporters one of the leading internet websites on
Nigerian political activities titled 'a blood soaked city' described the
happenings in Rivers State  then in these words 'That the once idyllic
Port Harcourt was now a scarred place, a war zone, a city soaked in blood; the
city under siege with thousands of citizens displaced; that its once quiescent
boulevards and avenues were now ruled by marauding militiamen and by the fierce
soldiers deployed to dislodge them. Sudden death by bullet was now a
generalized hazard for the city's trapped and hapless residents'.



 



Contributing, Chief
Edwin Kiagbodo Clark an elder statesman and a onetime Federal Minister of
Information in the first Republic advocated that the only solution to the
lingering security crisis in Rivers State 'I implored President Umaru Musa
Yar'Adua not to dilly-dally in imposing a state of emergency on Rivers State,
doing so would be tantamount to postponing the evil day' He continued 'Omehia
was not fit to be governor of Rivers State in fact he is a major part of the
problem and an unserious and insensitive personality; where is the seriousness
in Omehia? If he is a serious governor or politician, why should he abandon Rivers State
when the state was still boiling to go and take part in a birthday bash in Abuja for his godfather,
Peter Odili? We can't fold our hands as elders, and continue watching the
situation degenerate."



 



Then came Rt. Hon.
Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, the Flag-Bearer of PDP  referred in some quarters
as a developmental magician to rescue Rivers State and make the haven of
development and peace it has become since then, a man whose drive and passion
towards rebuilding Rivers State to an exemplary State in Africa is legendary.
The ironic thing about the coming into power of Amaechi at a time when security
had broken down in the state with no hope of being restored-a situation that
led the duo of Dr. Abiye Sekibo and Sir Celestine Omehia flee the State and
became more or less refugees in Abuja the National Capital of Nigeria- was that
once security was restored, these same gentlemen started coming back to the
state and chose the path of wresting power from the man who gave them the
leeway to feel safe again. That is the irony of life and the politics of Rivers State.



 



To Rt. Hon. Chibuike
Amaechi, governing Rivers
State
is more of a divine
mission where tomorrow does not exist. He seems to be in a hurry to accomplish
so many things within a short period. I will not like to bore the reader with
the many projects the Governor has embarked upon as doing so will entail writing
a book but I will in a summarized form highlight some in order to have the
feeling of what this young visionary has done to building the new Rivers State
of his dream. After constituting his Cabinet with men and women of integrity
and seeing the decay in infrastructure in the State he 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 bill excluding the
office of the Governor from signing and awarding of contracts. With these
bills, the Governor gives an insight of the type of governance he intends to
bequeath to the State – Governance imbedded in Accountability, service delivery
orientated and government by the people and for the greater Rivers State.
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’.



 



With projects such as
the multi-billion naira Rumuwoji (Mile One) Market, the New Niger Hospital, the
50-bed hospital located inside the Rivers State University of Science and
Technology (RSUST), Eleme Junction Fly-Over which all located within the state
capital and are already functional, pinning down the achievements of the
Governor to one main project is like looking for a pin in a haystack the reason
being that his strides cut across all sectors. In the area of education, the
Amaechi-led Government has completely taken over the payment of salaries of
primary school and junior school teachers, which was ab-initio the
responsibility of the local government councils. It costs the state government
N800 million monthly to pay the salaries of the primary school teachers. The
government is building 350 primary schools each of which has 20 classrooms and
will cost N3.1billion each. It is also building 23 secondary schools across the
23 local government councils in the state. It is on record most of these
structures are completed. The Governor knew what his mission is, “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 governor emphasized, as he expressed concern over
what local government councils were doing with the money meant for that”.



 



The government is
currently running free primary education with free books and uniform with
provisions of library and internet facilities for the primary schools. The
government has acquired 150 hectres of land to relocate the premier University of Technology
in Nigeria;
the Rivers State University of Science and Technology (RSUST), to a bigger and
better permanent site. The new site is expected to have facilities that will
accommodate no fewer than 50,000 students. 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. Due Process
procedure has been complied with in respect to the furnishing of the model
primary schools as well as completed Health Centres, noting that they would be
furnished soon.



 



Given the importance
of the health sector in any given community, the Amaechi administration has
completed about 100 out of the 150 health centres being built by the state
government across the state at the cost of about N3billion. Each of the health
centres will have ambulances and state-of-the-art medical equipment. About 200
medical doctors have being recruited to man these hospitals. 



 



However, due to the
threats of ocean surge and the loss of its lands to tidal waves and erosion,
the state government decided to reclaim the lands first. The land reclamation
exercise is going on in Buguma, Abalama. Also, Andoni while the land
reclamation exercise in Opobo alone costs about N3billion. It is worthy of note
that the land being reclaimed in Opobo is bigger than Opobo town itself that
made Hon. Chief Dakuku Peterside the erstwhile Commissioner of Works and the
next member representing Opobo/Nkoro/Andoni Federal Constituency in the 6th
National Assembly to describe Gov Amaechi as the Founder of the new Opobo after
the famous King Jaja of Opobo who founded the old Opobo based on the landmass
Gov Amaechi has singlehandedly reclaimed for the people of Opobo.



 



Already, 376
communities across the state have been electrified. Based on his promise to
consolidate on the power programmes of his predecessor, Governor Amaechi has
ordered for additional equipments and contracted expert vendors for the
completion of the moribund turbines such as Trans-Amadi Gas Turbine and Eleme
Gas Turbine projects for effective power supply in the state. Also, additional
feeder stations are being completed in places hitherto without power
supply. 



 



The former SSG Mr. Abe
Magnus and the Senatorial Candidate of PDP in the South East senatorial zone
expanding on the vision of this administration stated, “As part of its tenure
strategy, this Government sees the whole of Rivers state as one big family in
need of urgent attention. The onus is on us as a responsible government to
ensure the provision of basic infrastructure in every community in the state
irrespective of whether they have representation in the State Cabinet or not”.



 



President Goodluck
Jonathan in one of his official visits to the State 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.



 



Amaechi’s
Administration has hosted major events to sell Rivers State to the outside
world than all the States in the Federation put together – he hosted the ION
Film Festival where the world best Film Producers were feted with the
hospitality of Rivers State, he hosted Miss ECOWAS Pageant, Garden City
Literary Festival, the recent concluded 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 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 blazing the Town
Hall Meeting trail in the state, he has eschewed the myth of a hidden agenda,
by offering himself up for scrutiny, and by so doing showing transparency in
government and according to the Chief of Field Office, UNICEF A field, Enugu,
Mrs. Pelucy Ntambirweki, I am delight on the state government’s town hall
meeting initiative as it promotes transparency, accountability and
inclusiveness of the populace’’ in the State. The Governor of Rivers State, Rt
Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, said the town hall meetings and provision of
needed projects and infrastructure were not geared towards popularizing him but
designed by government to be abreast of the views of the people of the state to
achieve effective governance,



 



The Governor not
impressed with all the kudos to him stated, “in fact, said it is the
responsibility of government to provide social amenities for the people of the
state, that it was wrong for the masses to dance and rejoice over the existence
of a particular social infrastructure, that the people who voted them into
power deserved the best.”



 



He stands as the only
African Leader to have constructed sixty physical projects and donated the same
to sixty communities in sixty days that earned him the name of a magician!
 His astute leadership in striving for financial transparency,
accountability and inclusive governance has earned the State a lot of
accolades, numerous awards and recognition by international bodies and
corporations. 1.  He emerged Leadership Newspaper’s Governor of the year –
2009. 2.  The Sun Newspaper Man of the Year Award in 2007. 3. The Compass
Newspaper Award for Security in 2008. 4. Recipient of the prestigious 2010 Zik
Prize for Good Governance based on his performance in the implementation of
credible governance principles. This enviable award was bestowed on the Rivers
State Governor for his ability to attract a B+/AA Fitch investment rating to
the state, boost economic and structural development as well as enhance content
development in all sectors of Rivers State. 5. Bestowed the ThisDay
2010 award “Change Makers in Governance Award” in recognition of the
courageous measures implemented to bring about lasting changes and stability to
the areas of governance in Rivers
State
. All this simply
shows that he is a performer and an achiever and after a critical analysis of
projects, policies and legislation brought about by the Amaechi administration,
the need of supporting this visionary and great mind in the onerous task of
governing a complex State like Rivers
State
become imperative.



 



Prince Tonye
Princewill erstwhile AC gubernatorial candidate of Rivers State in 2007 and
whose political credentials stands him as the only capable and credible
aspirant that could have given Amaechi a run for his money buried his
gubernatorial ambition in order to allow Gov Aamechi to complete and continue
with his good deeds in Rivers State, according to him, “let it be my own
sacrifice in order to move our State forward”.



 



To Chief Sgt Awuse one
time gubernatorial candidate in the State and the acclaimed political bulldozer
of Rivers State and one of the most viable, vibrant and strong rallying point
of opposition in the State acknowledge the visionary leadership of Gov Amaechi
and openly declare his support for his second term bid, urging all Rivers
residents to Vote for Amaechi. According to Awuse, Amaechi’s achievements in
three short years have clearly stood him out as the only and most qualified
candidate for the Brick House.



 



To Professor Tam David
West a nationalist and a respected statesman while addressing the mammoth crowd
during the Bugma rally spoke glowingly of Amaechi’s achievement, he stated that
anyone who claimed that Amaechi had not done anything in the state was “blinder
than a bat”. He went on to say Amaechi’s opponents could be likened to
“hamburgers without the beef” in other words they lacked the substance for
leadership. He went on to add that he would support Amaechi with the “last drop
of his pen and the last drop of his blood”. Singling out governor Fashola of
Lagos state as another governor in the same league as Amaechi, he was quick to
add that whereas Fashola had the privilege of building on legacies left by the
Jakande and Tinubu administrations; Amaechi on the other hand started his
administration from scratch. He received rapturous applause from the crowd when
he stated emphatically that angel Gabriel had already sworn in Amaechi and that
the election day is a mere formality similar to signing the dotted lines at a
marriage, stating that any attempt to derail the process will be resisted and
such as wont to do so will be bulldozed by the pen or by action.



 



Both traditional rulers and stakeholders from Kirike and
Abuloma extractions of Okrika Kingdom of Rivers State where Dr. Abiye Sekibo
hails from have on behalf of their people declared their total support for the
re-election bid of Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, in view of what they
described as his five star performance as Governor of the state. The
traditional rulers, who pledged their total support for the candidature of
Governor Amaechi in two separate solidarity visits led by HRH Emmanuel Obudibo,
the Amanyanabo of Ogoloma and Chief Dr Bernard Aprioku Okome, told him that their
support stems from the genuine peace the governor has brought to Okrika Kingdom
since 2008.



 



To Chief Hon. Bar
Ezebuwo Nyesom Wike, the Director General of the Re-election Campaign of Gov
Amaechi,  “The State is in danger if Gov Amaechi fails to come back for a
second tenure as most of the initiatives we have set up to take this State to a
new height will be deconstructed”. Furthermore, he stated that the anti-people
sentiments exhibited by the likes of Dr. Abiye Sekibo, who whilst presenting
his manifesto to the people of the State, stated that one of the objectives of
his government if elected will be to restore the land acquired so far for the
Greater Port Harcourt City to their owners whereby aborting the development of
a new City in the State; aborting the monorail project etc. such ideas
according to wike should never see the light of day if we don’t work hard.



 



This treatise cannot be concluded without hearing from two
men who have worked closely with this great trio. Former Gov of Rivers State
Chief Rufus Ada-George who had Dr Peter Odili as his Deputy with Sir Celestine
Omehia as his Commissioner for Education with Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi as his
Special Assistant while Dr Sekibo was one of the inner circle members of that
Administration, “Look, Chief Eze if anybody should be in position to speak
about these three sons of our State I should be the one because they have
worked under me very closely. Yes, Gov Aamechi out of the three not minding the
role that I have played in their lives was the only that considered it wise to
inform me of his intention to govern the State. Though that is not the issue,
the issue is that I was to appoint Amaechi as my Commissioner for Education in
1992 but this young man visited me and said, sir, I will prefer you to appoint
my cousin, Sir Celestine Omehia who is older than me as a Commissioner instead
of me as I still have age on my side since then my respect and love for this
young man know no bounds. This step shows the selfless person that Amaechi is
as I later appointed him my Special Assistant on Education. I have watched the
three and if Rivers
State
people want a
visionary, committed and focussed leader then Amaechi is their man”.



 



 



Another person is Engr Tele Ikuru who was the Commissioner
for Housing and Urban Development under the administration of Sir Dr. Peter
Odili and served as Deputy Governor both under the short lived administration
of Sir Celestine Omehia and that of Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi. He stated, “Eze,
on a very serious note if anybody must speak and select for the people of
Rivers State who their next Governor should be then I must be the person
because I have not only worked closely with this trio but I have monitored them
very closely as their friend. Dr. Seikbo was the SSG while I was the
Commissioner for Housing, I have served both Sir Celestine Omehia and Gov
Amaechi as their Deputy Governor and I can comfortably stated that both Omehia
and Sekibo does not have the liver to govern Rivers State at this period of our
history. If we must move forward then give it to Amaechi”.



Let me conclude this
piece by quoting a great Philosopher and the 2011 ANPP Presidential Candidate
during the Presidential debate anchored by NN24, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau,
“Every Nigerian aspires to have good governance. There are six globally
accepted standards of good governance which are agreed upon by the World Bank
and the United Nations. Number One: Voice and Accountability; Number Two:
Political Stability; Number Three: Effectiveness in Governance; Number Four: Regulatory
Control; Number Five: Rule of Law and Number Six: Control of corruption so if
you want good governance, my advice to you is look at these characteristics who
among the candidates considering his past and antecedents can guarantee the
satisfaction of these six standards of good governance whosoever it is between
you and your Almighty God, vote for him”. In my summation therefore I urge you
that whosoever among Dr. Abiye Sekibo. Sir Celestine Omehia and Rt. Hon.
Chibuike Amaechi that you find worthy you vote for come April 26th
2011.



 



Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze is a Media Consultant based in Port Harcourt



 



ezemediaconcept08@rocketmail.com,mediaconsultanttpcorivers07261@gmail.com,
08038199163






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