Swearing in: Amaechi Reunites with Odili… Pledges Consolidation

BY JIMITOTA ONOYUME

PORT HARCOURT -  IT was not just all about oath taking for a fresh term of four years for Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi , Sunday, in Port Harcourt as it was also a day the governor  publicly reunited with his erstwhile political boss, former governor of the state, Dr Peter Odili.

It was a surprise to many at the Corpus Christi Cathedral church, on Kaduna street, Port Harcourt where the ecumenical thanksgiving service held Sunday morning before the oath taking ceremony at the Liberation Stadium when the officiating priest, Most Rev Dr Camillus Etokudoh announced to the congregation that former governor Peter Odili and his wife were in church to celebrate the day with Governor Amaechi and his family. Midway into the service, Amaechi and Odili  exchanged plesantries.

Meantime, at the Liberation Stadium, Governor Amaechi assured that his administration would take steps to consolidate it gains in its first four years. The governor who extended a hand of fellowship to all willing to contribute to the development of the state said he would not slow down on his development drive. He said there had been calls on him to slow down the pace so that he does not lose focus but he had seen that there were still much to do. Hence, he would rather opt to speed up the drive.

 Promising to run a people centred government the governor said his second term would among other things focus on urban renewal, improve on power generation, quality of education and health care. He said the government would also ensure that the new Rivers state University of Science and Technology is completed before the expiration of his tenure.
Source: Vanguard, 29th May 2011.

 

Amaechi: I Ran For Second Term Because I Have Work To Do

MARTINS OLOJA

Waterfront Project Will Continue, But We Shall consult

Rotimi Amaechi, Governor of Rivers State had a session with journalists in Abuja last week, where he spoke on the need for the state to take a bond to fund critical infrastructure and why he decided to run for second term. Bureau Chief, MARTINS OLOJA was there.

Now that you have been re-elected in spite of the strong opposition against you, what effort are you making to reconcile with key members of the opposition who were once your political godfathers or associates?

THAT is not a development agenda and it is really distracting. I'll rather focus on my development agenda for the state. I have now won my election. That is how people will look at you. If you had actually won the election, it is not a developmental agenda. Is it? No. It is not. In the state, it will even be more distractive. That does not mean I should not be sensitive to the fact that we must reconcile with everybody. But, I must confess to you that it's more distracting because now we will now have more politicians clamouring for contracts. And if they are awarded contracts and they fail to execute, that would be another problem. I'll tell you this: my first term was rough but development-driven. We did not look at anybody; we were just focused on what we set out to do. I have never participated in politics after I was sworn in as governor. In fact, I got distracted midway when President Umaru Yar'Adua died and they started politics suddenly. I was just focused. People were trying to hold me down but I said let's move on because people will ask what did he do? In fact, I can tell you that I have been proven right because what campaigned for us were our projects. I will rather want to focus on development because I believe that Rivers State should be higher somewhere than it is now. And if the Federal Government says they are not supporting you, you are not federal government, you know the kind of resources you have. Focus your resource on your state and you may shoot up more than anybody expects you. That is the way it is. Then if the Federal Government comes and assists you with development, it becomes an addition.

Are you not bothered about the sustainability of these projects at the expiration of your tenure?

That is the problem. It is a huge problem. I have just empanelled three persons to give me feasibility study on education because, don't forget, we are running free education and these three persons are the greatest critics of our free education. Their argument is that it is not sustainable. They just know that Governor Amaechi is running free education but they don't know the kind of free education we are running and the kind of free education others are running. We are doing something different from what others are doing –– free uniforms, free sandals, free books, free handbag and free tuition. In the secondary schools, we give free uniform, free bags, free books and free boarding. Boarding means free accommodation and feeding and then free sandal. If you look at it, it is a wonderful idea. Now, what happens when you leave?

But don't you think the so-called wonderful idea might not be feasible considerable the financial burden?

Really? My cabinet insists that we should pay 50 per cent and let the parents pay the rest. When I heard their argument, I just shook my head. Now, I don't know how many people in my cabinet that must have passed through poverty the way I passed through it. I grew up at No. 18 Chibu Street, I moved from there to Nnamdi Azikwe; then began to live with one of my friends in one of the creek villages near Port Harcourt. And I knew that my parents suffered a lot. With tears, they were looking for money to pay school fees, buy me uniforms, bags and all that. When I was in the University, I used to tell the girls that 'none of you looked at my face because I was wearing one shirt, one trouser almost every day with a sandal.' On Fridays, we wash it and we don't move out at all on Saturday to enable it dry. Myself and Sam Okah. Then it will dry on Saturday but on Sunday we are back to life; the same shirt, the same trouser. How many of those in the cabinet passed through that? And there are more persons out there suffering.  In the 70s, we heard that the ratio of poverty in Nigeria was 40 per cent. Now it is 70 per cent. So is that declining? No, it is on the rise. The economist has said we can't sustain it. But I say let me sustain it while I'm in government first. But, all the same, I have put an independent analyst to give me sustainability analysis of education, but I have told them that, in whatever study they do, don't tell me the government can't afford free education because we can. And I don't see why the next person who will take over from me cannot because if he comes, he will not be dealing with the infrastructures of building a new university or infrastructure of building a new primary school. The only thing he will deal with is the infrastructure of continuing with secondary schools we are building.

Yes, I have another person in that panel, who thinks that these secondary schools appear to be too bogus. Right, you want to provide everything but it is too costly how do we do something that is cost effective and reduce the size? I said, tell me which part we can reduce. The only part we can reduce is the classrooms. In which case, it will no longer be 25 per class but 40. I know that what you are saying is not a bad idea but teachers need to know their students. Why did we have to hire foreigners to manage these secondary schools? It is simple because nobody has shown that he can manage them. So, let them say we have a six-year contract. In those six years, let's train first. We have to reform the inspectorate division of ministry of education. We have to eradicate corruption. Now, would you believe that we are outsourcing inspection? We have contracted it out to a team of professors in the university to take over the inspection for two years, within which we will now rebuild the inspectorate division because outsourcing is not the solution to institutional weaknesses but it's a temporary measure to strengthen what we are doing. So the greatest challenge I have is sustainability. If you ask if we have prepared structures to sustain these things, I will say yes.

What are the structures?

We think that the primary schools can be run independent of the government. So we are going to announce board of governors this second term. Even those free uniforms, free things, after last year the government should stop providing them from September. Government should rather pay the board of governors the school fees. They'll tell us how much they charge per child and we pay them. Currently, we are outsourcing the maintenance of the schools. Virtually everything is outsourced but that is not also the solution but you pay to the school through the board of governors who will be made up of the chairman appointed by the governor. Then a teacher, labour TUC, the headmaster or headmistress, you pay the money to them. Their responsibility is to buy the uniforms, buy the books, the sandals and all that and manage the school. Government should be only to pay salaries. If we are able to institutionalize that, then there is a little bit of independence both at the level of primary school and level of secondary schools. The only problem would be whether government has the capacity to continue to pay these funds to the board of governors while the inspectorate divisions will continue to come and find out what they are doing in the school? If we do that and we can sustain that for the next 15 to 20 years, you will marvel at the quality of graduates of these schools.

Do you have any health care delivery agenda?

I thought you will ask how would I consolidate on what we are doing in the area of health? Have you visited Rivers State? We have wonderful primary health care facilities. I was told by my commissioner for health, and it was confirmed at a meeting held with all the doctors in the state, that you cannot have a sound secondary health care without basic foundation which is basic primary health. That is where we focused. We have the plan to build 160 primary health centres. We have completed 100 and they are functioning. The 100 that have been completed have doctors' quarters, nurses' quarters and they should live there. Why I said they should live there is that I have visited those hospitals, but most of the times I have gone there, all the doctors were not found there after 4 pm. The excuse they give is, how many patients do we receive in a day? Maybe 10 – 20 and so what are we sitting down for? That is the excuse. But you are paid to stay there. You are hired to be there, you are not paid to be in Port Harcourt. You are told you will live at the rural areas. There are generators attached to every hospital. Of course, there are management problems but we are addressing that. We will pay the health centre for every patient they see. We will pay the bill. So if you talk about primary health centre, we currently have a very robust primary health care. We intend to complete the 60. If possible expand on the 160.  At the secondary health care level, we are refurbishing some hospitals. If you have been to Port Harcourt, the old Niger Hospital will be re-named Prof. Carlson Harrison Hospital. We are furnishing it now and the dental hospital too. But we intend to renovate 24 of the secondary health care facilities, so that if anybody needs to be referred from the primary health care at least there is one secondary health care institution in every local government you can go. We are encouraging negotiation with people to complete the construction of one of our major hospital projects. It is supposed to be a medical tourism. Initially the vision is to be 1000 beds but it shows you that we were new when we had that vision because we did not ask basic questions. That is why it is good to have consultants. When we brought consultants the basic question they asked showed that we didn't do our work well. The first question they asked was, do you have feasibility? No sir. How do you know you need 1000 beds? Who are the patients? What are their financial capabilities to pay for the service? How do you sustain it? So their recommendation is out of 1000 beds, we go for 500 beds, In fact, modern technology does not even allow a patient to stay more than one week in the hospital, so if you plan for 1000 beds and the patients stay for one week, you notice a lot of the beds will be empty, so we have reduced it to 500 beds instead of the 1000.

So, we are dealing with primary health care, secondary health care and then tertiary. If we do have the money by God's grace, we would complete the rest of primary and secondary health care and we hope that we would be able to raise a huge bond.

Why bond?

Yes, bond. I don't know why Rivers State people are afraid to borrow. They believe that if you say you want to go and borrow, it means you are broke. That is not true. I believe that government is business. You must run government as business. When they show me the list of states that have gone to borrow from the bond market, I was shocked. Younger states that are not as rich as Rivers State have gone to the bond market. We have not. The only money we borrowed is N30 billion, which we will finish paying by October. I think we need like N250 billion bond.

But do you really need such a huge amount?

Today government pays you N11billion or N15 billion out of which you pay salaries and you now distribute the rest to projects. By the time you finish, it will take you eight years to complete one project. But if you go to the bond market and they give you that money, you focus on the projects and complete them. Then as the money comes, you can actually pay back the bond if you want to pay in three to four years. Even though the people at the bond want to say no, its 12, 15 years but you can actually pay before you leave if you want to. But in our state, once you say you want to borrow, they will say you are broke. In fact, the questions they asked us the last time we had the approval from the assembly to borrow N100 billion, which we didn't even borrow was: okay you say you are saving N1billion per month, why are you borrowing? You must have a business-like mind if you are in government. If I want to deliver 500-bed hospital, it will cost me xyz amount of money. If I start building it today and complete it in four years I, have to wait for the dwindling rate of funds from the Federation account and tax. But if I borrow, I can use that money and complete it and payback from the money that is coming in from the Federal Government.

Don't you think those kicking against borrowing are justified because, as someone with a tenured appointment, they may feel that that you will be leaving debt for others to pay?

No problem. What people will bother about is the utilization of the funds. Don't forget, borrowing is not say, 'please borrow me N250 billion and I keep it in my wallet.' It is give me N250 billion, 40 per cent is for this road, 30 is for this hospital. That is how it is going to be. If they come and see those projects, will the new governor come to repeat those projects? That is the point and you have to pay back. All I'm saying is that I don't have time to wait for N10 billion or N11 billion. I have a vision. I want to actualise these visions and I think the way to actualise it is to take other people's money and give them, then they can take back my money with interest.
Source: The Guardian, 29th May 2011.

 

NGF Chairman, Amaechi, Promises Better State Economy

By Joy Olekanma, Port Harcourt

The newly elected chairman of the Governors' Forum, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi says his two years tenure would consolidate on the achievements of the Bukola Saraki led tenure in ensuring a productive economy for the states and Nigeria at large.

Governor Amaechi, who said this recently in Ilorin, the Kwara State Capital shortly after he was elected by consensus, noted that his tenure would strive to build a united Nigeria, emphasizing that when we have a united nation, crises arising from political issues would be resolved through the Judiciary.

He called for unanimity of purpose from stakeholders, assuring that within his two-year tenure, efforts would be made to enthrone lasting peace in the country while ensuring that states have more funds from the Federation Account to combat poverty.

Governor Amaechi was elected as the new Chairman at the valedictory meeting of the Nigerian Governors' Forum through a consensus, while the motion for his adoption was moved by Governor Timipre Sylva of Bayelsa State and seconded by Governors Danjuma Goje and Isa Yuguda of Gombe and Bauchi States, respectively.

Meanwhile, Special Assistant to Rivers State Governor on Information Communication Technology (ICT) Mr. Goodlife Nmekini, has said the department has carried out the automation of all Government Processes successfully within its period of existence.

Mr. Nmekini said this Friday during an interactive session with a group from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission, who was on a study tour of the Rivers State Information Communication Technology centre in his office in Port Harcourt.

He said Governor Amaechi created the department in 2008 and expressed the hope that the department has been able to carry out its duties with the use of highly dated products.

The Special Assistant also told the group how the department has been able to built Information Technology sector job employment opportunity by organizing training programmes for civil servants on ICT as well as explaining how their Network works.

Responding on behalf of the group, the leader of the ECOWAS study team Folake Olagunju Oyelola said the group was in Rivers State to get information on how to establish its Information Technology Centre by sharing experiences from the department in Rivers State using the micro-Soft product.

Also briefing, Micro-Soft Product Representative, Mr. Akin Akinwole told the group that the information technology department in Rivers State has been effective and efficient through the use of their product.
Source: Daily Champion, 29th May 2011.

 

Amaechi Gets N100bn Bond Approval from Assembly

DENNIS NAKU, Port Harcourt

In an apparent show of support for the executive arm, the Rivers State House of Assembly yesterday approved request for a loan of N100billion by the state Governor, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi.

Also, the Assembly approved the floating of a bond of N100billion, during an emergency sitting yesterday where the lawmakers gave unanimous approval to the request by the executive for the loan.

This is in addition to a previous revolving loan of N30billion obtained from Zenith bank, by the Chibuike Amaechi-led government in September last year, during which the executive said the loan was to enable it complete some on-going projects.

At a brief emergency sitting, the 32-member House led by its Speaker Tonye Harry unanimously approved the request for the loan, by the executive arm.

Considering the letter of request, Harry explained that the loan would not have been necessary if the state has succeeded in getting back the revenue accrued to it from the 86 oil wells recovered from Akwa Ibom State .

He explained that the executive is seeking to borrow to fund on-going projects in the state which include water project, rural electrification, and construction of six roads, saying instead of going to the bond market to borrow, the executive has decided to source for funds inwards to meet its immediate expenditure.

Meanwhile, the Assembly has amended the Local Government Law No 3 of 1999, increasing membership of the local government service commission from six to seven.

Leader of the House Leader, Chidi Lloyd, said the amendment was to enhance the performance of the local government commission.

To this effect, the clause in Section 44, Subsection 2 of the law was replaced with a new clause which read as follows; "The commission shall consist of a chairman and not more than six other members all of whom shall be full time members appointed by the governor.

"That A person appointed as chairman or member of the commission shall be subject to screening and confirmation by a resolution of the house of assembly," he said.

Source: Daily Champion, 25th May 2011.

 

River States, New Governor, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi3
Amaechi emerges new chairman of Governors' Forum

FROM ABIODUN FAGBEMI, ILORIN

THE newly-elected Chairman of Nigeria Governors' Forum (NGF), Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State, has pledged to consolidate the achievements of his predecessor, Bukola Saraki of Kwara State and take the forum to greater heights. He succeeds Saraki who was elected chairman of the forum in 2007.

Amaechi, who spoke with reporters yesterday after the valedictory meeting of the NGF in honour of both the out-going chairman and members in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, said although the task ahead of him is onerous, he would sustain the aims and objectives of the forum.

His tenure would last for the next two years. Eighteen governors were said to be in attendance while three others sent in their apologies.

According to sources, Governor Timipre Sylva of Bayelsa moved the motion for the adoption of Amaechi while Governors Danjuma Goje of Gombe State and Isa Yuguda of Bauchi State supported it. There was no dissenting voice.

Speaking moments after his announcement as the next chairman by the out-gone leader of the forum, Amaechi said: "I will try and consolidate on the achievements of my predecessor. I know it is a difficult task but we will try and address national issues together for the overall benefit of our people."

While responding to a question on the causes of frequent crises in some parts of the country, he said poverty and joblessness could not be divorced from the problem.

He noted that the only thing that could enhance Nigeria's continued unity is for all the stakeholders to live together harmoniously and seek solution to their grievances only in competent courts rather than resorting to extra-judicial killings.

Speaking on the effects of the Federal Government's amnesty programme in the Niger Delta zone, he described the programme as a huge success, noting that it has greatly reduced the spate of violence and kidnapping in the area. Besides, he said it has positively affected the socio-political and economic development of the people of the zone.

The high point of the meeting was the reception and adoption of the committee of Governor Raji Fashola of Lagos State on Revenue Allocation formula "with some amendments," just as it agreed that the new chairman of the forum should negotiate it with the leadership of the National Assembly on the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Allocation Committee (RMFAC), President Goodluck Jonathan, as well as the mass media.
Source: The Guardian, 24th May 2011.

 

Amaechi Is New Chairman of NGF

By Hammed shittu

The 36 states governors under the aegis of the Nigeria Governors' Forum (NGF) Monday unanimously picked the Governor of Rivers State, Mr. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, as the new chairman of the forum.

Amaechi, who succeeds the outgoing chairman of the forum and Kwara State governor, Dr. Bukola Saraki, is to serve for two years.

Saraki, who read the communiqué of the meeting held at the Kwara State Government House, Ilorin, Kwara State, said the forum deliberated extensively before picking Ameachi.

THISDAY checks revealed that the Governor of Bayelsa State, Mr. Timpreye Silva, moved the motion for the appointment of Amaechi and was seconded by the Governors of Bauchi State, Mallam Isa  Yuguda and  Gombe State, Alhaji Muhammed Danuma Goje.

He stated further that the forum received and adopted the report of the committee headed by Lagos State Governor Babatunde  Fashola on revenue allocation with some amendments and agreed to designate the new Chairman and Vice Chairman of the forum to negotiate with the leadership of the National Assembly, the Revenue Allocation and Fiscal Commission, the President as well as the mass media on the issue.

Saraki added members of the Fashola Committee and the Secretariat were also enjoined to lead the media campaign so as to enlighten the members of the public and other stakeholders on the issue of revenue allocation to the 36 states of the federation.

The outgoing chairman also commended members for the successful Induction Programme for newly elected and re-elected governors held by the forum as well as the launch of the State Peer Review Mechanism, with Anambra and Edo State set to pioneer the review process.

Responding on his appointment, Amaechi said: "I will consolidate on the achievements of the last chairman." He described his appointment as a challenge.

He said the states were asking for more funds from the federation account to enable them reduce poverty and ensure productive economy.

He added that efforts would be made by the forum to build a united Nigeria, saying: "when we have a united nation, crises arising from election results would be resolved through the judiciary".

He noted further that the NGF would look into how to resolve the crises so that there would be no violence after every election in the country.

Among the state governors at the meeting were those of Kwara, Niger, Cross Rivers, Bayelsa, Rivers and Bauchi. Governors of Sokoto, Gombe, Lagos and Osun states were also in attendance. The deputy governors of Kaduna and Kastina were also in attendance.
Source: This Day, 24th May 2011.

 

Intrigues as Amaechi emerges Governors' Forum chairman

• To negotiate new revenue formula with Jonathan, RMAFC

From LAYI OLANREWAJU, Ilorin

Rivers State Governor Chibuke Rotimi Amaechi yesterday emerged as the new Chairman of the Nigerian Governors' Forum (NGF). He would serve a-two year term. He was elected at a valedictory meeting of the NGF in honour of the outgone Chairman, Governor Bukola Saraki of Kwara State and other embers.

The  new chairman was elected by consensus while a motion for his adoption was moved by Bayelsa State Governor Timipre Sylva and seconded by Governors Danjuma Goje and Isa Yuguda of Gombe and Bauchi states respectively. He was unanimously adopted while Governor of Lagos State, Raji Fashola (SAN), remains the vice-chairman of the forum..

The meeting was held behind closed doors at the Kwara State Government House, Ilorin.

Briefing newsmen on the outcome of the meeting, Saraki said:  "The NGF received and adopted the Governor Babatunde Fashola's committee's report on revenue allocation formula with some amendments."

He said the forum agreed to designate the new chairman and his deputy the approval to negotiate with the leadership of the National Assembly on the revenue allocation formula and "engage with the Revenue Mobilization and Fiscal Allocation Commission (RMAFC), the President as well as the mass media."

He added that the Fashola committee and the NGF secretariat had been mandated to brief the media on the thorny issue of the revenue allocation formula.

Saraki noted that the forum deliberated extensively on the election of the new chairman, adding that "Governor Rotimi Amaechi was chosen as the new chairman of the forum. He would serve for a-two year term."

He said the NGF commended its members for the successful induction for newly-elected and re-elected governors as well as the launch of the State's Peer Review Mechanism, adding that Anambra and Edo states are to pioneer the peer review process.

Responding, Governor Amaechi said that "I will consolidate on the achievements of the last chairman," describing his appointment as a challenge.

Re-echoing the stand of NGF on the allocation formula, he said the states were asking for more funds from the Federation Account to enable them reduce poverty and ensure a productive economy.

He added that efforts would be made by the forum to build a united Nigeria, saying that "when we have a united nation, crises arising from election results would be resolved through the judiciary."

According to him, the NGF would look into how to resolve these crises to end election violence.

Some of the governors at the meeting included those of Kwara, Niger, Cross River, Bayelsa, Rivers and Bauchi states. Others are Sokoto, Gombe, Lagos and Osun. The deputy governors of Kaduna and Kastina states were also in attendance.

But Daily Sun learnt that the proceeding may not have gone as smoothly as it might seem.

For one, it was gathered before the meeting commenced the PDP Governors had already met and decided that the PDP must retain it.

When it was obvious the PDP governors were bent on enthroning their own amidst Fashola's objection that the process as contained in their laws should be followed and Osun State Governor Rauf Aregbesola that the House did not form a quorum and were overruled by Saraki, Fashola left the meeting, though he said his flight was running late.

On his part, Gov. Peter Obi of Anambra State, who had already been unanimously nominated by the Governors of the South- East, withdrew his candidature, citing the need for stability in the Forum. It was however clear that he did not like the development, though they unanimously insisted he remained the Vice Chairman.

The Governor of Niger Babangida Aliyu wondered what they would tell their people about the South retaining the Chairmanship and the Vice Chairmanship and wondered if zoning had finally died.

Source: Sun, 24th May 2011.

 

Amaechi Emerges Chairman, Governors' Forum

ABDULLAHI OLESIN, ILORIN

The Rivers State governor, Mr. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, yesterday emerged the new chairman of the Nigeria Governors' Forum (NGF). He would serve a two-year term.He was elected as the new chairman of the forum at a valedictory meeting of NGF in honour of out-gone chairman, Governor Bukola Saraki of Kwara State, and members.The meeting was held behind closed doors at the Kwara State Government House, Ilorin.Briefing newsmen at the end of the meeting, Saraki said the NGF received and adopted Governor Babatunde Fashola's committee report on revenue allocation formula with some amendments.

He said the forum agreed to designate the new chairman and vice- chairman of the group to negotiate with the leadership of the National Assembly on the revenue allocation formula and "engage with the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), the president of the republic as well as the mass media".

He added that the Fashola committee and the NGF secretariat had been mandated to lead the media on the thorny issue of the revenue allocation formula.

He said the NGF commended its members for the successful induction for newly elected and re-elected governors as well as the launch of the state's peer review mechanism, adding that Anambra and Edo states had been slated to pioneer the peer review process.

Responding on his appointment as the new chairman of the forum, Governor Amaechi said "I will consolidate on the achievements of the last chairman," describing his appointment as a challenge.

Reechoing the stand of NGF on the allocation formula, he said the states were asking for more funds from the federation account to enable them reduce poverty and ensure a productive economy.

He added that efforts would be made by the forum to build a united Nigeria, saying that "when we have a united nation, crises arising from election results would be resolved through the judiciary".

Some of the governors at yesterday's meeting included those of Kwara, Niger, Cross River, Bayelsa, Rivers and Bauchi states. Others are Sokoto, Gombe, Lagos and Osun states. The deputy governors of Kaduna and Kastina states were also in attendance.
Source: Daily Champion, 24th May 2011.

 

Rivers Gets Power Distribution Committee

From HENRY CHUKWURAH, Port Harcourt

Rivers State Government has inaugurated a seven-member Electricity Power Distribution Committee to work out modalities for sustainable electricity supply in the state. The move followed the recent permission granted states by the Federal Government to generate, transmit and distribute power within their areas of jurisdiction.

The committee is headed by the Managing Director of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), Mr. Mutiu Sunmonu while the Permanent Secretary in the state Ministry of Power, Mr. Minabelem Michael-West is to serve as secretary.

Inaugurating the committee in Port Harcourt, Governor Chibuike Amaechi said the state would be generating about 460 megawatts, which when distributed, would ensure stable power supply.

Governor Amaechi told the committee members that the state was gradually overcoming the problem posed by the regulating framework and urged them to tackle the issue of management in trying to organise the execution.

He said no effort would be spared to achieve government's set goal of improved power supply in the state.

"My strategy to achieve result is to set aside anybody who poses problem, even if it involves extra funds, just to achieve our objectives and when the objective is achieved, we can begin to meet with those people to ask how much they owe us and what the government owes them and reconcile the differences."

Turning to the chairman of the committee, the governor urged him to, "attach the same importance you attach to your job as managing director of Shell" pointing out that, "it will be to your credit and that of SPDC, if we are able to achieve this goal before the end of next year."

Governor Amaechi urged the committee to isolate industrial areas where companies are located and provide them 24 hours power supply as quickly as possible.

Responding, the Chairman of the committee, Mr. Sumonu assured that members of the committee would do their best to help in achieving the vision, which he believed was an important milestone for the state, adding that the effort would help to develop the economy of the people as an oil producing state.

Other members of the committee are the state Commissioner for Power, Mr. Augustine Wokocha and Messrs Toyin Olagunju, Emmanuel Georgewill and Rotimi Onanuga.

The committee's term of reference include reviewing the power supply situation in the state, with a view to developing a sustainable framework for improving power supply and develop a master plan for delivering power to critical infrastructure and industries in the state.

They are equally expected to access the investment requirements for stabilizing power supply, carry out an audit of on-going distribution and transmission projects in the State that will impact on the power supply stability.

The Committee is also to advise on sustainable framework for managing distribution infrastructure to maximize benefits to consumers and review the interface between the generation, transmission and distribution network within the State, as well as strategy to improve payment discipline within the State.
Source: Sun, 24th May 2011.

 

Rivers Raises Power Distribution Panel

FROM ANN GODWIN, PORT HARCOURT

WORRIED by unsteady power supply, the Rivers State Government has inaugurated a seven-member electricity power distribution committee to work out modalities for regular electricity supply in the state.

The move was as a result of the permission granted states by the Federal Government to generate, transmit and distribute power within their areas of jurisdiction.

The committee include; the Managing Director, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), Mr Mutiu Summonu, Commissioner for Power, Augustine Wokocha, Mr Toyin Olagunju, Mr Emmanuel Georgewill, Mr Rotimi Onanuga and Mr Minabelem Michael-West.

They are expected to access the investment requirements for stabilizing power supply, carry out an audit of on-going distribution and transmission projects in the state that would impact on the power supply stability.

Headed by Summonu, the committee is also expected to develop a master plan for delivering power to critical infrastructure and industries in the state.

Governor Chibuike Amaechi while inaugurating the committee assured that the State would be generating about 460 megawatts of power by September this year.

Amaechi disclosed that the state got the Federal Government approval on power distribution following its earlier request, adding that the regulating framework remained a problem the state still needed to overcome.
Source: The Guardian, 24th May 2011.

 

86 Oil Wells : Rivers Rules Out Political Solution

DENNIS NAKU, Port Harcourt

Rivers State Government has declared that there was no need for any political solution over the ownership of the 86 oil wells, because the Supreme Court had ruled in favour of the state.

Consequently it called on the Revenue Allocation Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) to respect and implement the order of the Supreme Court on the hitherto disputed oil wells.

Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communication, Mrs Ibim Semenitari who stated this in a chat with last weekend reminded the commission that the Supreme Court is the highest Court in the country; hence its judgement on any given matter cannot be faulted.

Daily Champion recalled that the Supreme Court had ruled that the 86 Oil wells belonged to Rivers State , following the agreement between it and the Akwa Ibom State Governments in 2007.

Also in the said ruling, the apex court said Akwa Ibom should pay revenues accruing from the oil wells and pay interests there from.

But, despite the judgment of the apex court, the RMAFC had proceeded to set up a technical committee to reconcile the two states, even as it went further create a special account for the revenue accruing from the said oil wells pending when the committee would complete its assignment.

But spokesperson of the Rivers State government, Mrs. Semenitari, noted that except the commission was working out the details to ensure that the Rivers get its deserved funds from the oil wells, RMAFC position on the matter might be tantamount to disobeying orders of the Supreme Court.

She explained that it would be a disservice to the government and people of the state, if denied what rightfully belonged to on the bases of any political solution, insisting that the Chibuike Amaechi-led government would exhaust all legitimate means to get back the money, if the commission further delays in implementing the court order.

According to the Information Commissioner, "The commission has no choice than to commence the implementation of the Supreme Court judgement and pay the state the monies accruing to it, because the judgement was very clear.

"The money rightly and legally belongs to Rivers State . I would not like to believe that the commission has decided to ignore the judgement but probably they are sorting out the paper work and calculations in readiness of the payment.

"It would be mischievous if they want a legal interpretation of the judgement before payment. We can not be the goose that lay the golden egg while some people would sit in Abuja and deny the state its rightful funds. This government would not allow it to happen.

"We do not expect that it would extend to a full blown war because we believe that the commission is working out modalities to commence the implementation of the Supreme Court ruling on the 86 oil wells, Mrs. Semenitari posited.
Source: Daily Champion, 23rd May 2011.

 

Omehia Opposes Amaechi's Election Victory

FROM KELVIN EBIRI, PORT-HARCOURT

THE All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) Governorship candidate, Mr. Celestine Omehia, has asked the election petition tribunal to nullify the victory of Rivers State Governor Chibuike Amaechi and his deputy, Tele Ikuru.

He alleged that Amaechi and Ikuru who won the April 26 polls on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) were not qualified for election on the ground that they did not as public servants resign from office 31 days to the date of the governorship polls, hence contravened Section 182 (1) and (9) of the 1999 constitution

The respondents in the APGA candidate's petition are Amaechi, Ikuru, the PDP and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Omehia also, claimed that the results of the State governorship election in which Amaechi polled 1,178,529 votes and himself 112,528 to come second, was invalid by reason of fraud and substantial non-compliance with the provision of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended.

The APGA candidate in his 140-page petition claimed that electoral fraud perpetrated by members and agents of the PDP in the 23 councils of the State were similar. According to him, fierce looking thugs accompanied by stalwarts of the PDP to polling units where they chased away his agents and supporters.
Source: The Guardian, 19th May 2011.

 

Amaechi: I'll Consolidate On My Projects

Rivers State Governor, Rt Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi

EDITOR

RIVERS State Governor, Chibuike Amaechi, has given hints that his administration would focus on consolidation of the projects he started in his first tenure in office.

During the flags-off of his re-election campaign at the Corpus Christi Cathedral, Port Harcourt, the governor explained that his target was not to build structures alone, but also to consolidate on the sustainability of the projects he had started.

"I will run the next four years of consolidation in Education, Power, Security, Transportation and Agriculture, which has capacity to provide jobs for our people. School building in itself cannot guarantee quality education, but emphasis would be placed on qualified teachers that would impact the right knowledge to the students," he said.

The major policy thrust of the Amaechi administration has been to improve living and working conditions as well as the quality of the workforce, through rapid infrastructural development. And in keeping with this mandate, his critical areas of focus are roads and bridges, education, health, agriculture, water and urban renewal.

To stem the tide of poverty, the governor, in his first term, decided to return to the basics through the provision of basic, compulsory and qualitative education, and good healthcare delivery.

Presently, the administration is building an unprecedented 700 state-of-the-art primary schools, 24 secondary schools and two universities, all at various stages of completion.

The governor recently observed that his achievement in education in the past three years would contribute to the reduction of crime in the state, while quality healthcare delivery would reduce poverty.

Amaechi would, within the next four years, be striving to complete the remaining 60 out of the 160 new health centres he started in all 23 local government areas of the state and other secondary and tertiary healthcare institutions.

Though Rivers State was created in May 1967, it had roughly 1,000 kilometres of road network as at when the Amaechi administration assumed office. Most of the riverine communities were inaccessible by because of a lack of bridges and roads. In the hinterland, however, though there existed some roads, but rough unmade roads in most parts of the state made travel a hazardous undertaking.

But in realisation that today's economic growth and wellbeing of a people depend upon a suitable road network, the government has built additional 700 kilometres of roads and several new normal bridges to the hitherto network. This remarkable achievement has distinguishes the administration as one that has constructed more roads in the history of the state.

For a state that is in dire need of critical infrastructure needed to

drive its development, Amaechi, in the last three years, has invested a minimum of N100 billion yearly on roads/bridges/infrastructure. And according to the governor, this

trend would be sustained "because an efficient road system is needed to drive our administration's economic agenda."

For instance, the Rumuola-Rumuokota and Slaughter to Rumuobikani, has been completed with streetlights, drainage and walkways.

As part of effort to ease traffic on the busy Aba-Port Harcourt expressway, there is an ongoing dualization of the Old Aba road starting from the First Bank junction through Rumumasi to Rumuobiakani.

Similarly, Elekahia to Rumumasi road has been dualised. Already, contract has been awarded for the dualisation of Ada George road. Total reconstruction and upgrade of G.U Ake road that starts from Aba road parallel to the Air Force Base to Airport Road, has commenced.

And with the return of the 86 oil wells ceded to Akwa-Ibom and an anticipated refund of all the proceeds from these wells that were illegally paid to Akwa-Ibom, the government is expected to vigorously pursue its statewide urban renewal programme and development of infrastructure, chief of which is the Greater Port Harcourt project.

The Greater Port Harcourt is a new city that covers an area of approximately 1,900 square kilometres (190,000 hectares of land) with a projected population of two million. The Master Plan is for a period of 50 years, with periodic reviews, and would be implemented in phases.

In addition, it is expected that the governor would expeditiously

move to complete the Rainbow Town housing estate, which he started in collaboration with First Bank. The N50 billion housing project comprises 17 high-rise buildings, offices, and residential buildings in 705 building units spread across 24 hectares of land.

Others area that the governor would be focusing on include provision of critical utilities such as electricity and water, strengthening government institutions and improving competencies and capacity in the public service for good governance and service delivery with support from international development partners and local institutions.

An analysis of the capital expenditure in key sectors of the state's economy is quite revealing of what lies ahead. For the passage of the 2011 Budget by the state legislature, the government had budgeted for Works N60 billion; Education N67.92 billion; Power N12.500 billion; Sports N10.553 billion; Health N17 billion; Water N6.9 billion; Agriculture N3.065 billion; Housing N0.810 billion; Transport N10.2 billion; and Environment N2.9 billion.

Last year, the government successfully started the construction work for our monorail project. So far, N11billion has been spent on this project while N24.934 billion was spent in the power sub-sector as at November last year, to enable the government effectively pursue its rural electrification project.

Governor Amaechi recently said that his vision was to make Rivers State the preferred destination in which to live and do business in Nigeria.

According to him, "we are changing our economic direction so as to create a robust economy that will meet the challenges of our present reality. While building on our natural strengths of oil and gas, we shall return to Agriculture. We are also making deliberate efforts to be the technology hub of Nigeria."
Source: The Guardian, 1st May 2011.

 

'Why Foreign Credit Agencies Rate Amaechi High'

By Ndubuisi Ugah

Special Assistant to the Rivers State Governor and state coordinator of the New Partnership for Africa's Development, Dr. Tex Wariboko,  has said Governor Rotimi Amaechi's commitment to good governance was the reason why he has been scored high by world renowned credit rating agencies.

Wariboko in a statement said: "Rivers State has been rated high in the past couple of years by Standard & Poors and Fitch Rating Agency (two of the foremost world renowned credit rating agencies) primarily as a result of Governor Amaechi's leadership and governance approach."

He stated that the governor has exhibited the tents of good governance-transparency, accountability, openness, fiscal responsibility, equity and rule of law, "which incidentally satisfy the African union-Good Governance initiative under the New Partnership for Africa's Development."

According to him, "Governor Amaechi has performed at a premium level.  In addition to the significant development strides in education, healthcare, power, transport, road and bridges, water, energy, environment, etc, the governor has embarked on poverty reduction strategies in compliance with the United Nations and African Union strategic frame works.

"Indeed, no state can experience real development without good governance practices.  The Amaechi administration is transforming Rivers State by bringing about positive change which is evident in the nooks and crannies of the state and bound to improve the general welfare and quality of lives of the people."

Wariboko  said Amaechi has been able to run a responsible and responsive government in Rivers because of the legal frameworks and mechanisms that he put in place, citing the procurement and the fiscal responsibility bills that he caused the state legislature to pass into laws.

He said the governor had created opportunities for members of the public to scrutinise him on issues of financial accountability, explaining that he has been holding town hall meetings where every official of government is made to account.

According to him, "Governor Amaechi has really exhibited the principles and qualities that NEPAD helped to promulgate and so in good governance area, I know people compare governor to governor all the time and I don't want to sound biased but in area of good governance, I don't really think there is any other governor in the whole of the federation that has done that much.

"Even the fact that he goes to Town Hall meetings and give account. He makes sure that he calls his commissioners, his representatives, government agents to account and tell the people the truth. He allows the communities to have an input."
Source: This Day, 1st May 2011.

 

Arrest Omehia Over Attack on Our President, TUC Urges IG

Rivers State Governor, Sir Celestine Omehia 7

By Chukwudi Akasike, Port Harcour

The Trade Union Congress of Nigeria has called on the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Hafiz Ringim, to arrest and prosecute the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance in Rivers State, Mr. Celestine Omehia.

TUC alleged that Omehia, who was in company with some youths suspected to be his supporters, attacked its President-General, Mr. Peter Esele, during the governorship and house assembly elections in the state on Tuesday.

The union's call was contained in a statement signed by its Secretary-General, Chief John Kolawole, and made available to SATURDAY PUNCH on Friday via electronic mail.

The TUC said in the statement that it would not hesitate to deploy other options if the IG failed to arrest and prosecute Omehia and others involved in the attack on Esele.

It called on the governorship candidate of APGA to publicly tender an apology within a time frame to its president-general.

The statement said, "TUC demands that the Inspector-General of Police arrest and prosecute Omehia and his co-travellers within the next seven days, failure which we may be forced to consider deploying other options open to us, which may include calling out our members on a national strike to protest the assault on our national president.

"We demand that Omehia should, within the stipulated time frame, tender an unreserved apology publicly to first the person of Peter Esele, and to the office of the president-general of TUC."

It, however, appealed to the police and other security agents to carry out their duties of protecting lives and property without fear.

The union argued that those who wanted to lead must show good examples, saying, "We can no longer tolerate impunity by any politician no matter their position.

"We condemn in strongest terms the unprovoked attack on the TUC Election Monitoring Team members led by the President-General, Mr. Peter Esele and Mr. Chika Onuegbu, TUC state chairman, Rivers State, by a gang of thugs.

"Esele, as the leader of TUC Election Monitoring Team, duly accredited by the Independent National Electoral Commission as a domestic observer, was in Omehia's ward located in Ubima town, Ikwerre Local Government Area when the attack occurred."
Source: Punch, 30th April 2011.

 

River States, New Governor, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi3
Amaechi, Akpabio re-elected in Rivers, A'Ibom

By Chukwudi Akasike and Etim Ekpi

INCUMBENT governors of Rivers and Akwa Ibom states, Rotimi Amaechi and Godswill Akpabio, were on Wednesday declared winners of the governorship elections in their respective states.

Both Amaechi and Akpabio are of the Peoples Democratic Party and are both re-elected for their second tenure.

While Akpabio, according to the Independent National Electoral Commission, scored 957,585 votes to defeat his closest rival, Senator John Ndoelehe of the Action Congress of Nigeria who polled 163,449 votes.

Announcing the results of the Rivers elections on Wednesday the Collating Officer, Professor Joseph Ajieneka, said Amaechi scored 1,178,859 to beat his rival, Mr. Celestine Omehia of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, who got 112,528 votes.

Action Congress of Nigeria's governorship candidate, Dr. Abiye Sekibo got 60,241 votes to have distant third in the election.

Ajieneka, who is the Vice Chancellor of the University of Port Harcourt, also announced that the governorship candidate of the All Nigeria Peoples Party, Dr. Itekena Abel-Tariah scored 3,912 and came fourth behind Sekibo.

The collating officer put the number of registered voters at 2,442,488 while the number of votes cast was 1,401,464. He explained that the number of voided votes was 27,995 while that of valid votes was 1,373,469.

Meanwhile, APGA and the ACN in Rivers have rejected the results of the governorship election in the state, insisting that the exercise was fraught with many irregularities.

The deputy governorship candidate of APGA, Mr. Tamunosisi Gogo Jaja, said the result of the election was not a true reflection of the people's wish.
Source: Punch, 28th April 2011.

 

Polls: We're Confident of Victory, Says Amaechi

Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi (ThisDay)

By Muhammad Bello

Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi has assured of overwhelming votes from the state for President Goodluck Jonathan in the Presidential polls on Saturday.

Amaechi who spoke through his Campaign Organisation's Director of Publicity, Mr. David Iyofor, gave the assurance in Port Harcourt, Thursday.

He said: "as far as Rivers State is concerned, President Jonathan can go to sleep with his two eyes closed because we will deliver. Our people are in full support of the Peoples' Democratic Party's Jonathan/Sambo ticket and I am confident they will come out and vote PDP.

"We have done massive mobilization, going from community to community, village to village, compound to compound in all the 23 Local Government Areas of the state urging the people to vote for President Jonathan."

 Iyofor, who is also the Senior Adviser to Governor Amaechi Media and Publicity, added that "the result from the National Assembly elections in the state is an indication that the PDP in Rivers State is poised and rightly positioned to deliver outstanding results in the Presidential polls. And with the kind of mobilization we are doing for the presidential polls, the PDP would get more votes on Saturday.

 "Rivers State is a known PDP state, the so called opposition in Rivers only exist on the pages of newspapers. We are one of the states with the best results in previous elections. In fact Rivers State is one of the states to give the highest and undisputed number of votes to the PDP in Presidential elections. On Saturday, we would even do better than in previous elections, he said."

Iyofor further urged registered voters in Rivers State to come out en masse on Saturday and vote President Goodluck Jonathan for continued transformation of the country to greater heights.

Source: This Day, 15th April 2011.

 

April 2011 Polls: Princewill Commends Rivers's People and Prof. Jega

 Prince Tonye Princewill being acreddited (1)

By Nwaorgu Faustinus, 11th April 2011.

Following PDP's sweeping all the National Assembly seats vied for in Rivers State in the just concluded National Assembly election held on Saturday the 9th of April, 2011, Princewill Political Associates (PPA) has congratulated and commended the people of Rivers State for taking their destiny into their own hands by supporting and catching up with the revolutionary bug of the Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi led administration as it seeks its second tenure, adding  that its support for the PDP under Amaechi, will surely catapult the State to enviable heights.

PPA in the same vein prays that all hands should be on deck to ensure that the pattern of last Saturday's election be replicated in the Presidential elections on the 16th of April, 2011 and the gubernatorial and State Assembly elections on the 26th of April, 2011 respectively stressing that by that grand gesture, the people of Rivers State would have demonstrated through their votes their readiness to consolidate on the gains evident in an Amaechi led government. 

According to the results as declared by INEC, PDP won all the three Senatorial seats in contention with the 12 Federal House of Representatives at stake. The details of the results shows that in the Rivers South East Senatorial Zone – Hon. Chief Barr Magnus Abe of PDP pulled154,218 votes to defeat Nomate Toata Kpea of ACN with 34,978 and Baria Jack Ledo of APGA with 3,679. 2. Rivers East Senatorial zone had incumbent Senator George Sekibo Thompson of PDP with 198,414 votes dusting Lasbry Amadi of ACN with 58,182 and Chigozie Orlu of APGA with 13,605 votes. 3. Rivers West Senatorial zone had incumbent Senator Wilson Ake of PDP winning with 34,931 votes dusting his closest rival from ACN with 6,446 votes. 

The 12 members so far elected apart from the candidate of PDP (Mrs. Blessing Nsiegbe) for Port Harcourt 11 that her election has being shifted till 26th April, 2011 that won under the PDP platform that will be representing Rivers State in the Federal House of Representatives are as follows – 1. Hon. Mrs Betty Apiafi (Ahoada/Abua), 2. Hon. Chief Andrew Uchendu (Ikwerre/Emohua), 3. Hon. Dr. Sokonte H. Davies (Bonny/Degema), 4. Hon. Honourable Asita (Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni), 5. Hon. Dr Dawari George (Akuku Toru/Asari Toru), 6. Hon. Barr Kingsley Okey Chinda (Obio-Akpor), 7. Hon. Chief Dakuku Peterside (Andoni/Opobo/Nkoro), 8. Hon. Bright Gogo (Okirika/Ogu/Bolo), 9. Hon. Ogbu Nwuke (Etche/Omuma),  10. Hon. Bar Ken Chikere (Port Harcourt 1), 11. Hon. Chief Barry Mpigi (Tai/Eleme/Oyigbo) and 12. Hon. Moris Kporone (Khana/Gokana). 

In an online press statement by PPA Media Consultant, Chief Eze Chukwuemeka said, "The interesting point about the outcome of the last NASS election in Rivers State is the awful and abysmal outing by both Sir Celestine Omehia and Dr Abiye Precious Sekibo both gubernatorial candidates of APGA and ACN respectively for failing to win their various political wards losing to PDP with margins that indicate that either they are not on ground, are politically crippled or their long absence from the State is telling on them! 

Continuing he said, for instance, in Dr Abiye's ward, ward 4 in Okirika he lost both the Senatorial and House of Representatives in this order, Senate: ACN – 926 to PDP's 1088 while for House of Reps his party ACN pulled 926 as against PDP's 1065 votes. With this calculation, it has become imperative that they will do their names some measure of good to honourably concede victory to Gov. Amaechi to avoid the disgraceful defeat that awaits them should they still go ahead to contest the 26th April, 2011 gubernatorial election against the peoples Governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi. 

PPA advised the Rivers State PDP candidates who won the seats vied for at the 7th National Assembly of Nigeria to ensure that they be good Ambassadors of the State and put the interest of the state first before personal interests and also to facilitate the equitable access of the state to democratic dividends accruing from the Centre. 

Thanking the security agencies for the role they played in ensuring a peaceful conduct of the election, Prince Tonye Princewill the leader of Princewill Political Associates who cast his vote in his home town, Buguma expressed satisfaction at what he termed "....signs and indications that Nigeria is truly coming off age, with the successful completion of the first leg of the first ever credible elections to be held in the country." 

He urged all Nigerians to support Jega and to put behind the memory of the botched elections of 2nd of April. He stated that by the precedent set nationwide yesterday, he is confident that the Jega led INEC would provide best practices for the remainder of the election. As a final call he advised all those in the other political parties in Rivers state to see the writing on the wall and abandon their sinking ships. 

"PDP in Rivers state is different and in tune with the people because of the new quality of leadership we currently have in place. Join us and let us make a difference together. There is no need to fear PDP any longer especially if parties like ACN now have membership containing people like Iwu and Sekibo. Here in PDP, I and other people like me are here to welcome you. It isn't too late. PPA can show you the way into PDP.

Princewill also in his comments decried the incessant bombings occurring in various parts of the country. Describing the acts as disturbing and "dastardly", he called on perpetrators to desist from such inhumane acts capable of putting paid to the dream of a "Democratic Uhuru" for the nation. 

He once again commended the President Dr Goodluck Jonathan for sound judgment in his appointment of Attahiru Jega as the boss of INEC in a move he described as "finally putting a round peg in a round hole in spite of the implications to the PDP dominance".

 


Profile of Warisenibo (Hon.) Dakuku Adolphus Peterside

Dakuku Adolphus Peterside 5

By Chris finbone

Dakuku Adolphus Peterside is a Management Expert, Public Policy Analyst, Scientist, Civil Society Activist and Leadership Trainer.

He often defines his mission as that of an emerging leader whose role is to provide clarity of goals and priorities, generate commitment, and mobilize team mates to do their jobs well, create synergy, demonstrate integrity and take responsibility for performance. There is a consensus of opinion that he is the leaders leader, and a man of rare integrity.

Born in 1970 to a middle class family in Biriye Polo, Opobo, Dakuku Adolphus Peterside grew up in Azumini, Aba, both in present day Abia State, Kaduna and Port Harcourt at various times. Dakuku studied in Okrika Grammer School, Okrika, one of the pre-eminent public schools in the 1980's in Rivers State. He was a school prefect by reason of his conduct, leadership qualities and academic standing.

After OGS he gained admission to the University of Science and Technology (RSUST) Port Harcourt, where he studied Haematology, graduating with an honours degree in department of Medical Laboratory Sciences. He later earned a Post Graduate Diploma in Business and a Masters Degree in Business from the same University. He was an outstanding student's union leader in RSUST who gave hope to his generation and exhibited great passion about a bright future that lies ahead. After formal university education he has attended several management courses in United Kingdom, United States, Israel, France and Spain.

Early in life, Dakuku believed in the fact that public life is a veritable platform to change society for the better, if guided by integrity and passion to serve. He has been involved in various political parties at various times NRC, ANC, DPN, and now PDP. He is an unrepentant believer in democracy as the only form of government that can guarantee peace, security and happiness of most members of the society.

He has at various times served as National President, National Union of Rivers State Students (NURSS), State Financial Secretary DPN, State Youth Leader, Restoration Youths of PDP, Special Assistant to Rivers State Governor on Students and Youth Affairs, Chairman, Opobo/Nkoro Local Government Area, Senior Special Assistant to Governor of Rivers State on Works and Cabinet Commissioner for Works (2007 - 2011).

Dakuku has been involved in leadership training and public advocacy. He founded on NGO, the Development and Leadership Institute (DLI) in 2002. DLI is the sector leader among NGOs working in the area of good governance, deepening democracy and leadership grooming in Nigeria.

A member of many Professional Associations: member, Association of Medical Laboratory Sciences of Nigeria, (AMLSN), Nigeria Institute of Management (NIM); Fellow, Institute of Management Consultants of Nigeria (IMCN), amongst others. He is also well published.

A widely travelled gentleman, he is married to Elima, Lawyer, and they have three (3) children, Soba, Belema and Mieibi. He is an ardent Christian, whose hobby is writing, reading, swimming and football.

His five-point legislative focuses include:

Infrastructural Development of the Niger Delta

Good governance, Transparency and Accountability in Governance

Education
Youth Empowerment
Environment

Chris Finebone, is a media consultant based in Rivers State.

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Prince Tonye Princewill2
Princewill Explodes and Foretells a Dicey Future for the Polity Following PDP's Failure to Uphold the Zoning Agreement

Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze

Prince Tonye Princewill the former AC Governorship candidate in Rivers State, the Prince of Niger Delta Politics, the Leader and Founder of Princewill Political Associates (PPA) and the crowned Prince of the Kalabari Kingdom being the only son of the Rivers State Chairman of the Traditional Rulers Council and Amayanabo of Kalabari, HM King TJT Princewill. He is the political god-son of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar. In an interaction with the press on his way back from his London base, he spoke on how he resisted the then AC in the state from being hijacked and why he later dumped the party for the PDP. He also bares his mind on zoning, the chances of President Goodluck Jonathan in the coming elections and his support for the administration of Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi.

On Atiku and President Jonathan, he stated, "My focus before now was firmly on Atiku, and now my focus is definitely on Goodluck Jonathan. There is absolutely no shadow of doubt that Atiku has policies and principles with revolutionary reforms that would definitely have transformed Nigeria. However that particular dream is no longer viable and so as a party man the next best thing to do is support the current candidate who happens to be Goodluck Jonathan. But beyond that, while I am less than 100 per cent satisfied with what a Jonathan/Sambo ticket represents, I must say that in the context of things, they are the best, yes they are the next best option. So, I can say that I have the dual advantage of having the candidate of my party and the best option for the country. It is only expedient therefore, that my people and I join forces to work towards a Jonathan/Sambo victory at the polls. The slight caveat here and I say this without prejudice, is that the duo of Jonathann/Sambo are still not where they should be. That, I think is unfortunate, but in politics you must accept what comes your way and what comes our way now is Jonathan/Sambo and we have no choice than to make it acceptable".

On the critical situation of zoning and the dilemma of Atiku, the Prince stated, "Unbeknowst to many, I am someone who likes to be realistic. And the issue on ground for me, is the fact that the elders are not on the same page on this lingering issue. I think believe everybody realises that Atiku's role has become so has become so significant that he cannot speak for himself anymore, he has to speak for others; and so if you look at it critically if he (Atiku) supports Jonathan and Buhari looses, then you have a situation where the Northerners would blame him for not supporting a Northerner. On the other hand, if he supports Buhari and Jonathan wins, the presidency will blame him for not supporting them, they will say he is not a party man, because he should have supported a PDP candidate. So, I think Atiku is between a rock and hard place. There is no winning for him, it is unfortunate, but his position reflects the position of many Northerners who are now forced to trade the ethnic card. Zoning and the need to respect it is a very valid argument, but for whatever reason the President has decided that he is not going to make such a commitment. In a democracy, he has a valid argument which obviously must be in the best interest of the country, but because of the kind of country we are in, because of the kind of pluralistic society that exists, the need for zoning is undoubtedly a valid one. My luxury is that I was not there when this agreement was reached; I was not even a member of PDP, but for all it's worth, I think it is important for us to recognise that the inability to keep to agreements or the inability to predict zoning distribution may lead to let me say an uncomfortable situation in the future and so it is imperative that these issues are cleared and not left ambiguous. But, then that is an issue for the elders, we have the good fortune of being somewhere behind the elders and we expect them to take the lead, we are not the ones that are supposed to take that position. For now, I have completely retreated to politics stateside and right now I am focusing strictly on Rivers State and the production of a credible candidate in the forthcoming elections".

On the implication of discarding zoning, he stated, "There is need to be realistic, my opinion has been communicated to him (Atiku) and he understands where I am coming from. I am glad you highlighted the fact that ours is a case of mutual respect the respect. it is only to be expected that for a Northerner who has been clamouring for a Northern presidency and it still eludes him; at least not through the PDP; and you go to Jonathan and say "..Jonathan I want to work with you", you will expect that as a politician Jonathan will give you something to take back to your community, so the issue of zoning becomes a pre-requisite for them to take back to their communities; the issue of zoning and tenure. Now in the absence of the issue of zoning and tenure, being committed to by Goodluck Jonathan, it means that they have nothing to take back to their people, so when you say support Jonathan, the question they will ask is why? Is it that he is going to recognise zoning in 2015 or is it that he is going to serve only one term? And if there is no clarity on these questions, then it would be taken for granted that Atiku and the rest have compromised themselves. That is the unfortunate reality of it, so I think; my opinion which is that he (Atiku) should support Jonathan would not recognise the fact that if he did that without any firm commitment from Jonathan, his people would accuse him of betraying their interest. Like I said it is in between a rock and a hard place, but one thing for sure is that I am supporting Jonathan and he is aware of that, he has given it his blessing".

On the ideology and future of his babe (PPA), "Well, it is impossible to predict exactly what would happen; Whether it will survive beyond the elections or not remains to be seen, but if I were a gambling man, I would say that the odds against its remaining after the 2011 is quite high. But we do not know who is going to emerge as victor in the elections; we do not know what the outcome of the elections would be. Another reason why PPA may not need to exist is that PDP under Amaechi is favourably disposed to the kind of ideologies that PPA represents: transparency, accountability and an aggressive determination to reverse the fortunes of Rivers State and move up on a platform of complete rejection of ethnic, religious and tribal politics and accommodation of what you might call an all inclusive style of government, for instance the role of non-indigenes, that is something that is a very important issue for us. So, all those kind of things that PPA represents, we can also see those traits in the Amaechi-led PDP".

On his relationship with ACN in Rivers State after defecting to PDP, "Well, I said it that parties don't have ideology, it is the candidates and therefore AC under Princewill is completely different from ACN under Abiye Sekibo. What he represents remind me of years gone by, years that we would much rather forget. So, it is not a surprise to me that the leadership of the party, the candidate of the party will go a long way to influence the position of the party. So, it is very consistent that if I am not an Odili person, if I am not a Sekibo person, I will not be an ACN person; because of course Sekibo is the person who is leading ACN. The other thing to also bear in mind is that as a member of AC, one of the reasons I left was that from 2007 at the early stage to the day I left, there was a clamouring for Abiye Sekibo and others to join the AC.

Some of you may remember, there were a lot of statements credited to me on this issue for which I have been vindicated today. I recall that back then, especially behind the scenes, I was constantly blackmailed. I was told that if I did not do so, so and so the structure of AC would be given to Abiye Sekibo, at one point it became clear that they could not take the structure away from me and then decided to tell me to open up my door for people like Abiye Sekibo and co and if you remember we arranged a lavish reception ceremony and Abiye Sekibo did not turn up and threatened to sue us for saying that he was going to join AC. Many people did not realise that behind the scene they wanted to take over AC from Princewill. When Atiku left AC and AC was then entirely in the hands of Asiwaju Tinubu, I opted not to bother to hold onto the structure of AC anymore and if you notice when I left AC, that is when Abiye Sekibo stepped in, so anybody who thinks it was a coincidence does not recognise the fact that behind the scenes there constant, continuous attempts, which even included blackmail, which meant they wanted to give the party to Sekibo, because Sekibo said that the party under Princewill was too quiet, too relaxed and was in consonance with government and that if it was given to him he will do justice with it.

We have given it to him, so let us see if he can do justice to it. One of the things which we were trying to highlight while in the AC, was that constructive credible opposition had a place in politics. We criticised and confronted the government on a number of issues and proferred alternatives and the government reacted and modified whatever it was to the point where we felt comfortable with them. At the point I left the opposition, it was with the hope that somebody else would come and take over and continue in the style of constructive opposition. It is sad that such expectations have since been dashed with what I see masquerading as opposition in the state".

On why he is supporting PDP and Amaechi's candidature, "There is no deception at all. The fact that I have not come out to do a big show regarding the PDP is not really the issue, even though we have a strong media arm, I do not always want to be "all come and dance" about this thing. Anybody who knows me knows that I am not yet 100 per cent comfortable with PDP, but I recognise that as a member of a team, you would not always be happy with every aspect of the game, so you just have to do your own bit and that is who I am. PDP as a structure is what delivers candidates. Amaechi as a candidate has my sympathy, he has my support; and so, in order to ensure an Amaechi victory and the continuity of an Amaechi administration, I have to ensure a PDP victory and the continuation of a PDP administration.

So, to me it is a means to an end and in that context, PDP has my heart and of course it is not a surprise that Jonathan and Atiku are all in the PDP, so it is just a continuation of the same PDP agenda. Now, if am a member of another political party, then you can say it is a deception; but I am not, I am a member of the PDP and there is no need for me to have a party in the street to make that message clear. I think I have said it on several occasions, I will say it anytime I have the opportunity and I am saying it now that I am in PDP, that I will fight for the PDP and that politics is too important to be left to politicians and PDP is too important to be left to the PDP, we all have to be part of it. There is no point sitting on the fence and complaining about PDP. If PDP has ten thousand members, then let us create another ten thousand members who can go in and tell the other ten thousand people what they do not like about what they are doing and contribute their own bit to ensuring that what is done is proper. That is my agenda and that is where I am coming from".

7. On the chances of President Goodluck Jonathan in the April general election, "I think his chances are very high; I was a little disappointed that he was not able to reach an agreement with his Northern colleagues. I often argue that PDP is going to face a battle in 2011 and I think a divided house is not the best way to approach it. So, yes I am disappointed they could not reach an agreement, but call it principle, call it positioning, for whatever reason, an agreement was not reached. So, I think that the President would most certainly loose some support in the North; how significant the support he looses, depending on the circumstance, I think is anybody's guess. But I am historically known for building bridges even where people think that bridges do not need to be built. And so, my instinct would always be to calm the fears of others rather than disregard them, and so my instinct is that they should have resolved the matter of the Northern agenda way before now and even now I do not think that it has been done, because I think it would have had an impact, but how to go about the impact, we do not know. My guess is that in the end, Jonathan will prevail and he will be given the opportunity to guide the country for the next four years. I sincerely hope that it is the case and I will want to give my own quota to ensure that it is the case and be the four years that it can be, like I said we need to make the best of what we have".

9. On the postponed National Assembly and the implication of it on our polity, "Well, though very sad and unfortunate, but it did not come to me as a surprise due to the frustrations Well, though very sad and unfortunate, but it did not come to me as a surprise due to the frustrations and loopholes put on the paths of INEC prior to this election by the National Assembly and the Presidency in the release of funds and enactment of the enabling laws to enable the INEC perform its tasks credibly. But we call for patience and understanding among Nigerians over this unfortunate situation. I only hope that this blunder should serve to spur INEC into doing everything in its power to win back the confidence of Nigerians and the international community by conducting credible elections that would be commended".

Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, Media Consultant, PPA

 

 

Rivers Guber 2011: Amaechi, Sekibo or Omehia: Who is Easy Choice for the Rivers State People?
River States, New Governor, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi3Dr. Abiye Precious SekiboRivers State Governor, Sir Celestine Omehia 2

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 , or verify . It consists of either a separate process or part of or processes. These processes and systems are typically administered by a . 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 , 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 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
email: ezemediaconcept08@rocketmail.com, mediaconsultanttpcorivers07261@gmail.com

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Rivers Group Warns Against Threat to Amaechi's Life

THE Rivers People Congress, yesterday, warned that no harm  must befall the state governor, Chibuike Rotimi  Amaechi.

National leader of the group, Chief Martins Kunumgbe, in a statement said the Federal Government should offer protection to the citizens, adding that a strong security presence is needed in the riverine parts of the state.

The statement said: "There are indications of violence and threats from opposition politicians in Rivers State and we hereby warn those threatening the life of Governor Amaechi to have a rethink because we will not fold our hands and watch people cause trouble in Rivers State."

Kunumgbe who recently addressed indigenes of the state in Lagos and Accra, Ghana urged those who registered in the state to go home and exercise their civic rights.

He said: "Those looking for Amaechi's downfall are not after Amaechi, but after Rivers people and anyone who hates Amaechi in the state is an enemy of the people and progress."

He noted that the group's support for Amaechi was based on his people-oriented leadership style "which has brought substantial dividends of democracy to the state," adding that Ogoloma, Isiokpo, Omoku and Andoni communities did well for endorsing Amaechi as their sole candidate in response to the call by the group.

Kunumgbe said: "Amaechi rescued Rivers from the reign of terror. The governor should be careful with some pretenders who behave as if they love the state. He should check his cabinet and fish out enemies of the state because so many people in Rivers are enemy of the state."
Source: Vanguard, 7th April 2011.

 

ACN accuses Amaechi, PDP of breach of Electoral Act

The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has accused the People's Democratic Party (PDP), Rivers State government and the governor of breach of the Electoral Act, saying the party (ACN) was being muscled out in the campaigns. The party said its offices had not only been shut down in some places, their members attacked, campaigns disrupted by thugs, but that the governor, Chibuike Amaechi, had held meetings with electoral officers, an action that they feared might compromise credible election.

In a crowded press conference in Port Harcourt, Uche Okwukwu, the state chairman of the ACN, also accused the state government of moving huge sums of money to the communities ahead of the coming Saturday election as well as using security apparatus to stop the opposition.

Okwukwu said the PDP and the government singled out the ACN because it was the only opposition party that had squared up to the hilt against the ruling party in the state by fielding candidates in all positions in the elections.

In a statement he read at the conference, the party boss alleged that the party's office in Eleme was shut down by government agents for tenement rate of N7million, a notice served only to the party where there were six other tenants in the building. He said the promise by the governor to re-open the Port Harcourt office of the party by paying with his salary had not been fulfilled, but government spokesmen said the party had not come to the governor to collect the money.

Okwukwu said: "As we speak, agents of Governor Amaechi are moving into communities in Rivers State with physical cash of millions of naira to induce voters ahead of Saturday's elections."

He also alleged that on April 3, 2011, a day after the postponed National Assembly elections, Amaechi met with all the electoral officers in the state at Government House. "Elections in Rivers State may not be fair and credible", he warned.

He further stated that the state was appalled by the movement within and around collation centres, voting units and wards by the candidates of the PDP.

He listed many members and contestants that were allegedly attacked by suspected PDP thugs and mentioned PDP stalwarts allegedly involved in the attacks, saying most rallies by the ACN have been disrupted, cars seized, injuries inflicted on supporters, etc. The party said it had recorded evidence of most of the allegations, mentioning the chairman of the Amaechi Campaign Organisation, Nyesom Wike, as a major force in causing harm to the ACN. The party's boss also recounted instances when the security agencies especially the JTF had been allegedly used to carry out mass arrest of their supporters who he said are now languishing in the Port Harcourt prisons. "We have been seriously intimidated", he cried out.

The party called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to as a matter of urgency; relocate its local council offices from the PDP-controlled council secretariats, saying the members had been stopped from entering into the councils on election day.

Reacting, David Iyofor, director of media in the Amaechi campaign organisation, said "there is no truth in any of the allegations, and they cannot prove any of them." Promising that the party would react soon, he said the ACN had not gone to the governor to collect the money to pay the tenement rate.
Source: Business Day, 7th April 2011.

 

42 ACN Members Detained In Rivers State

ANAYO ONUKWUGHA, PORT HARCOURT

The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in Rivers State yesterday said no fewer than 42 of its members were currently being detained at the Federal Prisons in Port Harcourt. The party said that the detained members were arrested by men of the Joint Task Force (JTF) on March 28, 2011 at Okrika, the hometown of its governorship candidate, Dr. Abiye Sekibo.

ACN Chairman in the state, Barrister Uche Okwukwu, who disclosed this at a press conference in Port Harcourt, stated that the whereabouts of 10 members of the party who were arrested by the JTF on March 27, 2011 were still unknown.

Okwukwu said the missing ACN members were arrested when the security operatives stormed Lewe Community in Gokana local government area of the state, shortly after the party concluded its campaign rally in the area.

"At about 10.00pm on Sunday, March 27, 2011, men and officers of the Joint Task Force (JTF) stormed the tiny community of Lewe in Gokana local government area of the state and apprehended over 10 CAN supporters.

"The unwarranted arrest was coming on the heels of the ACN rally in Gokana in which the arrested persons featured prominently as eminent ACN members. Up till now, their whereabouts are unknown," he said.

Okwukwu accused the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) under the leadership of the state Governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, of using state apparatus to advance their interests by intimidating and harassing the opposition.

In his reaction, Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Blessing Wikina, described the allegations leveled against the state governor and the PDP as a tissue of lies, saying that the secretariat of the Abiye Sekibo Campaign Organisation (ASCO) was sealed in obedience to a court order by the Obio/Akpor local government council.

Reacting to the arrest and detention of ACN members in the state, the spokesperson of the JTF, Lt. Colonel Timothy Antiga denied the involvement of men of the special outfit in the arrest of the party faithful.

"It is not every soldier you see on the street is a member of the JTF. I have said this before that those people were not members of the JTF," he said.
Source: Leadership, 6th April 2011.

 

Amaechi, MOSOP Urge Release of Abducted Lawmaker

FROM KELVIN EBIRI, PORT HARCOURT

AS the search for the whereabouts of an abducted federal lawmaker, Emmanuel Deeyah, intensifies, the Rivers State Governor, Chibuike Amaechi and the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), have condemned  the act and  called for his release.

Deeyah, an Ogoni lawmaker representing Gokana / Khana Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, was kidnapped in his village, Gwara in Khana Local Council of Rivers State, shortly after the postponement of the National Assembly election at the weekend. One of his aides was shot dead as well.

Governor Amaechi who spoke through his Acting Chief Press Secretary, Blessing Wikina, told The Guardian that the abduction of the lawmaker was an embarrassment to the country  which was  a focal point in the world as it embarks once again on its democratisation process.

The governor who described the act of abduction as retrogressive and abysmal, charged those responsible to immediately release the lawmaker to enable him exercise his franchise .

Deeyah who served as a Commissioner between 1999-2003 under the Governor  Peter Odili administration, was first elected into the House of Representatives in 2003. He was re-elected in 2007 under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) platform.

Amaechi cautioned the abductors to take into cognisance that the state discouraged the payment of ransom for the release of a kidnap victim and would ensure that those who masterminded the dastardly act were brought to book.

Similarly, the President of MOSOP, Ledum Mitee, said Ogoni people find no justifiable reason for this callous and dastardly act especially, coming at a time everyone expects free and fair election, devoid of any acts of violence and intimidation.

MOSOP, according to him,  appeals to all Ogoni people and the general public to provide information of any kind that would help in securing his release.

The Rivers State Director of State Security Service, Mr. Olusegun Agbaje, said that security agencies were working assiduously to secure Deeyah's release.
Source: The Guardian, 4th April 2011.

 

Rivers Guber: It's Payback Time–Amaechi

Governor Chibuike Amaechi woos voters in Rivers State reminding them that returning him to power on April 9, is like "Pay back time." He spoke at a post -ampaign rally briefing in Okrika, the home town of his opponent of the Action Congress of Nigeria(ACN), Dr. Abiye Sekibo. CHIDI OBINECHE presents the excerpts

How do you see the mudslinging trailing the campaigns?

Our opponents are not addressing issues. Instead, they are abusing us.

Is it not mere politicking, to draw you out?

Okay, they have drawn me out now. I told them that I am as young as they are whatever they say, I can say it back to them.

At the rally in Okrika, you said it was payback time for Okrika people. Could you clarify that statement?

I left the University in 1987. By 1988, I started working with Chief Rufus Ada George and Dr. Peter Odili. Chief Ada-George was an aspirant in our camp running for governorship. Sergeant Awuse was an aspirant in the SDP and because Ada-George was from Okrika, my people felt that it was wrong for any Ikwere man to support an Okrika man But I dared it and supported an Okrika man and Chief Ada-George became governor.

One day, we went to elect officers of the party at the LGA level and I dared contest for secretaryship. They could not take that. When I arrived for the election, they began to beat me. I was admitted at a clinic. The following week, the election was on, I came, ran and won. So, that was one vote for Chief Ada-George because the secretary was an automatic delegate to the governorship primary. They were surprised that I came after they beat me up the previous week. So, that is what I mean by payback time. If I supported your son to be governor, it is your turn to support me and this, time there will be no violence, nobody is beating them for supporting me.

How do you see the challenge and opposition from that area?

Their son was launching a campaign in Port Harcourt. You would expect that by the time we arrived Okrika, we would not see the kind of crowd that we met on ground. The fact that we saw that kind of crowd was a surprise to me. It was courageous that we hired NTA and AIT to show it live.

Was televising it live strategic?

No

Were you actually expecting such a crowd?

Yes. You listened to them now. Was I the one that was saying they lost so many persons, there was no security in the past, etc? Okrika was a war zone. Chiefs were flogged, bishops were...I don't want to go into the details. You better ask them. It was when I came that I imposed a curfew, chased away the criminals that they had trained and kept in the place, and went after their guns that they were liberated. You can ask them. You heard them speak, one after the other. You heard the woman, who said they found it difficult going to ease themselves because of fear of being attacked.

The chiefs did not applaud or seem not to agree with what Chief Ada-George said...

How can you say a thing like that? The chiefs will naturally not clap for anybody. If the chiefs were against what we were doing, they would not have come to the place. Do they go to every rally they see? Usually, what we do is we don't invite chiefs, we go to see them, but they followed us.

Apart from supporting their son to be governor in the past, what have you done for Okrika since you assumed power?

You heard me speak, when I said let their son come and stand and tell us what he had done for Okrika. Their son was SSG and a minister. I say to people that today, I have done just two roads in my local government area as governor. The second one is I am rebuilding the road in my village. The rest roads were done when I was a speaker. So as SSG, why didn't he attract those things to his community? The Ring Road we drove on today was built by this government.

Is their support for you against their son not strange?

There is nothing strange because the community of Rivers people have always known me to be straightforward, honest and some even accuse me of being brash. I said it at one of the rallies: 'I will not stop saying the truth because somebody say I am arrogant. You listened to the state chairman of the party. The difference between me and other politicians or governors is if you meet other politicians or governors and say I want you to buy me a house, he would say 'what are you doing next Friday?' You would say, 'I am around if it is in the house I will come so that you will give the money.' You come next Friday, they would say 'Ah, governor has gone to Abuja.' You will go. You call him on phone, he would say 'Oh, I am in Abuja, can you come by April ending?' You come by April ending, they will say the governor is in Lagos. You will be coming until you get frustrated and give up.

But if you tell me now, 'build a house for me.' I will ask 'from where, my salary or government money?' If you say government, I will say 'how, which law?' If you say my salary, I will say 'okay, wait till month end' and I will give. I won't say come Monday, Tuesday or Friday and make sure you don't see me. The difference is that will say 'this is man honest but if he gets to power, he will change.' I am sure that three years down the line, they are surprised that I am still the same person and I will not change.

At the rally, a female member of the House of Assembly said she was disaffected in the PDP but would not leave the party.

What have you done to reconcile aggrieved members of the PDP?

The only member who was disaffected that we have not reconciled with is the former Minister of Transport, Abiye Sekibo. Chief Austin Opara is still with us, he is the chairman of the reconciliation committee.

At a press conference in Lagos, Sekibo alleged that your government frittered away N980 billion of the state in three years...

You should ask him whether it was frittering away Eleme Junction that used to keep people lying down there till 3.a.m everyday for N7 billion or the mono-rail that is going under N49 billion or the secondary schools that we are building -now it is N4.5 billion because we are increasing the capacity to 1000 students. We are building 24 of such schools and if I win a second term, I will build another 24 to make them 48. Anybody who sees it will say 'Oh, you can turn it into a university, polytechnic, etc. I just showed a bank how our university is going to look like. They are doing the infrastructural work -water, roads, electricity, etc. When they finish, we will start building.

Ask him, he lives in Abuja, he does not know what is going on Port Harcourt. He just came back a few months ago to run for governorship. The difference between us is that when he served as SSG there was nothing called due process. Here, there is procurement Law, which we now refer to as due process. We hired the expert from a bank and said if you save us XYZ, you get XYZ, your job is to save money for us. If you apply due process and save XYZ, this is the commission for XYZ. To make sure that saves money give him something that will induce activities in his budget so that he can actually protect government resources.

Tell him that part of the funds we are spending is as a result of his activities in Okrika. The insecurity in the state started from Okrika and we are spending huge amount of money trying to protect the state. So, if he didn't cause us that problem, we won't be spending money looking for criminals, buying equipment for the police, etc. Virtually, all the vehicles that they are using, we bought. You saw APCs, we bought more than 10. Before he became SSG, Port Harcourt was quiet. It was after him that we ran into crisis. We bought vehicles for joint patrol between the Police and the Army. Even the Air Force and Navy joined in the patrol to get Port Harcourt to the situation it is now. Who caused it?

But you were part of the government then?

You heard me say today, live on AIT, that they should ask the former governor. I went to him to complain and I said 'I don't like the way people are being killed in Okrika.' My wife was the first person that said it at the rally. I was very frustrated and I told my wife, 'you cannt replace life, there is no duplicate. If we burn down Government House, we can rebuild it. If we burn the state House of Assembly, we can rebuild it, but if you kill, you cannot replace life.'

Why don't you ask: 'where is the Ijaw National Congress (INC) President?' He is in Paris. We flew him to Paris. Just because he was supporting us, organising the Ijaws for support, he was shot. If I didn't fly him overseas he would have died. He was organising Okrika people and the riverine people, saying, 'we have no other candidate whether our son is running or not, our candidate is Amaechi.' He started receiving threat messages. Then, he went to Yenagoa, on his way back from Yenagoa, he was shot. I was here when they called me that if we didn't fly him out that night he would die. That same night, I had to hire an air ambulance to fly him to Paris.

I don't like discussing the last government because Dr Peter Odili is my mentor. He is my former boss. If Dr Abiye Sekibo was facing issues, we won't be discussing the last government. That was why I say, 'can we please address issues?' But because he is not addressing issues that is why you see us talk about this. I am reminding him of all these because he is throwing stones that he should not be throwing.

How much of a threat is Sekibo to you?

He is no threat

We saw so many people in his campaign vehicles heading to Okrika from his rally in Port Harcourt...

So many people? There were three buses. Let's assume there were 50 persons per buses, multiply three by 50, you get 150. Didn't you see more than 150 persons at the rally? When we were going, we saw three buses leaving Okrika. Okay, let's say each bus took 100 pers ons, did you see just 300 persons at the rally? Is that a threat? That is why I said they should shown his rally live to see whether they can fill the stadium.

Anytime we hold a rally at the stadium, the sitting capacity is 16,000, we fill that with over 10,000 persons standing outside and inside. At the presidential rally, you saw the crowd, over 27,000, even if there was a stampede...
Source: Sun, 4th April 2011.

 

Amaechi: ACN's Planning Violence

From Muhammad Bello in Port Harcourt and Mohammed Aminu in Sokoto

Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, yesterday disclosed that there is an alleged plan by the governorship candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) to unleash mayhem during the forthcoming general elections starting Saturday.

The accusation in Rivers is coming as the Sokoto state chapter of the ACN said the current desperation and persecution of the opposition by the state government in connivance with the police could threaten free and fair elections in the state.

Speaking to newsmen in Sokoto yesterday, ACN governorship candidate, Alhaji Isah Bajini, decried the antics of the ruling PDP government in attacking political opponents with thugs and later framing up unnecessary accusation, saying it will not bring peace and stability in the polity.

Amaechi made the allegation  at the close of his campaign at the Community Secondary School, Nkpolu, Oroworukwo, in Port Harcourt. "A.C.N. is planning violence. They are planning to bring out their thugs to intimidate the people", the governor alleged, adding that the election will not only be free and fair but will be free of intimidation and violence.

He said security personnel are fully on alert to tackle any miscreants who threaten the peaceful conduct of the polls and advised the electorate to report any dangerous act through their facebook or mobile telephones.  "We will not allow these criminals to come back to power," Amaechi said while addressing an enthusiastic crowd which stood all day to hear him speak.This came as former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives and PDP governorship aspirant in Rivers State in 2007, Hon. Austin Opara, at the grand finale of Amaechi's Local Government Areas campaign rally in Port Harcourt, openly declared his support for the governor's re-election bid.

Also, House of Representatives member, Hon. Igo Aguma,  who lost in the primaries to former Attorney General of the State and Commissioner for Justice, Ken Chikere, pledged his support for the party .

On his part, Captain of Nigeria's Super Eagles, Joseph Yobo, commended Amaechi for his good works in the State and urged all Rivers people and sports loving fans to vote for the governor and other PDP candidates for continued transformation in the State.

The party spoke against the backdrop of recent mayhem in Zugana village, where suspected political thugs torched houses and shops at Zugana town, during the PDP campaign rally in Gada local government of the state.
Source: This Day, 31st March 2011.

 

PPA Winds up Door to Door Electoral Campaign Exercise; as Princewill Urges Voters to Convert Overwhelming Support to Physical Votes on Election Dates

PPA 4

By Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze,

Yesterday the 30th of March 2011, the Princewill Political Associates (PPA) one of the leading political pressure groups in the Niger Delta region concluded its door to door electoral campaign initiative in Rivers State. The exercise was one of the various programmes embarked upon by the PPA in support of the re-election bid of the incumbent governor of Rivers State Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi at the April 2011 polls.

The one week exercise apart from drumming up support for Amaechi, also served as a vehicle for rallying support for all PDP candidates in the State. Highlights included voters' education and distribution of enlightenment fliers. Areas covered during the exercise, include sections of Port Harcourt, Obio Akpor and Ikwerre LGA as well as Local Governments in the Kalabari Kingdom and Ogoni axis of the State.

It was quite a rewarding exercise as members of the PPA through its interactions with the public, got to experience up close the tremendous support the Amaechi led government enjoys in the state. According to Prince Tonye Princewill who led some parts of the exercise, "if what I have observed so far is used as a tool to predict the outcome of the April general election in Rivers State, then it won't be out of turn to say that the PDP candidates have given their opponents a wide berth in their dash towards breasting the victory tape".

He however stated the need for caution and urged all PDP supporters to convert their overwhelming support to physical presence at the polling booths and actual voting on election days adding that with the just concluded campaign trail that covered all the 23 local government areas in the State and the attendant pomp and pageantry with which the campaign train led by the amiable Governor was received, it would be a travesty if such passion was not exhibited on election day by way of coming out by the numbers to vote when it really counts.

He urged everyone not to lose focus on the need to ensure that Amaechi returns to consolidate on all the developmental programmes he has started in the state as well as ensuring the sanctity of life and property.

The PPA Leader also left Port Harcourt for Buguma his hometown yesterday to supervise the preparations by the PDP in the area but not before he inaugurated four Committees ahead of the April Polls, they are Monitoring headed by Dr. Ibiamu Ikanya, Logistics headed by Mr. Dagogo Emmanuel, Contacts Committee headed by Bishop Boma Lewson and Media Committee headed by Chief Eze C Eze.

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Hon. Chief Peterside Dakuku and His Triumphant Entry into Andoni Kingdom
Hon Dakuku Peterside

By Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze

Hon. Chief Peterside Dakuku the immediate past Commissioner of Works in Rivers State and the PDP candidate representing the Andoni/Opobo/Nkoro Federal Constituency's entry into the PDP rally venue held on the 28th March, 2011 at the CPS 11, Ngo Town the Headquarters of Andoni Local Government can only be described as triumphant judging by the mammoth crowd gathered at the waterside to receive him and accompany him to the rally ground where he officially received the PDP Flag to represent the party come 2nd April, 2011 National Assembly Elections.

In his remarks at the event, he expressed appreciation to the party for finding him worthy for such a huge responsibility. He also assured his constituency of adequate representation that would ensure they receive equitable dividends via his service. He charged the people of Andoni to ensure that Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi is appreciated for all his government has done so far for the LGA and the State. He listed the numerous projects that include the construction of model Primary and Secondary schools, health centres and most importantly the ring road that will alleviate transport gridlocks in the area.

Prior to his entry, Prince Tonye Princewill, leader of Princewill Political Associates and the undisputable Prince of Niger Delta Politics in his speech at the rally, was full of praises for Dr. Ibiamu  Ikanya, Commissioner of special Duties in the state and Chairman of the Princewill Political Associates for ensuring that half of the mammoth crowd in attendance for the historical rally were members of PPA. He thanked the people of Andoni for the great reception accorded the Amaechi Team and reiterated the widely accepted fact that Amaechi stands out as the greatest thing that has ever happened to the people of Rivers State in recent time.

 He reminded the people that in the beginning following the Supreme Court verdict in Amaechi's favour in 2007, he had recognised the burning desire and commitment in him to move the state to an enviable height, hence his decision to withdraw his case against the PDP at the tribunal even when he was offered a 1.5 billion Naira bribe by Omehia's Camp to continue with the case with the assurance that they would also provide documentation on how the elections were rigged by the PDP: all these in an effort to ensure Amaechi did not have his rightful mandate. Princewill said the decision was one he had not had cause to rue in the almost four years of the Amaechi administration.

He urged the people to avoid complacency in this year's election and participate in the voting exercise, which is the only way an Amaechi victory can be ensured, because according to him the real threat to a PDP victory is "OC" Over Confidence- by the supporters and not even the ACN.

Other Speakers that gave solidarity speeches include Prince Uche Secondus, the National Organising Secretary of PDP and erstwhile State Chairman of PDP in Rivers State, Engineer Tele Ikuru, Deputy Governor, Barrister Magnus Abe and a host of other dignitaries whose speeches were along the line of proactive

If the entry of Hon. Chief Dakuku Peterside into Andoni was triumphant then his entry into his home town of Opobo can best be described as electrifying. He was carried shoulder high to the venue of the rally held at New Sand Field, Opobo Town. In his remarks Hon. Peterside representing the party in the 2nd April National Assembly election, assured Rt. Hon. Amaechi of hundred percent of the votes of the Opobo people as the fact remains that apart from King Jaja of Opobo who founded the Opobo town, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi can be described as the founder of the new Opobo as his government had successfully reclaimed 50 hectares of land for the Opobo people which would be put to good use for the benefit of its citizens. Chief Peterside in his speech urged the people of Opobo that as Opposing political parties come to campaign in Opobo Town they should ask them to show them the projects they have influenced for the Opobo people.

Also in attendance at the Opobo event to wholeheartedly endorse Amaechi, was Sir Dr Gabriel T. G. Toby, immediate past Deputy Governor of the State and father of the current commissioner for Information Mrs Ibim Seminatari. In his speech summarised the views and position of the Opobo people thus, "Amaechi, you have proved yourself as God sent to the people of Rivers State particularly to the people of Opobo and you should not worry yourself about our votes as it is going to be total". Other Speakers included Barrister Magnus Abe, the Chairman of the party, Chief .G.U.Ake, Dame Aleruchi Cookey-Gam, former SSG and Attorney General of the State and currently the Administrator of Greater PortHarcourt initiative, Dr Silva Opusunju, Chairman of the Central Campaign Committee of the party, Mrs. Ibim Seminatari, Commissioner for Information and an Opobo daughter.

 Chief Barr Ezebunwo Nyesom Wike in both rallies assigned the various wards in the two Local Areas to some specific leaders of the party and cautioned them that they will be held responsible should they fail in winning the wards under their purview.

 Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi the Governor and gubernatorial candidate of PDP for the April 16th Gubernatorial election assured the people in both LGA's of more projects amidst cheers of "Amaechi, Amaechi, Amaechi we will follow you whether rain or sun as you have proven that you are the light of Rivers State'.

One elderly woman by name Madam Easter Opobo summarised the two rallies, 'If I die today, I will die a happy woman for I have seen the Messiah of Rivers State. Chief Eze

Chukwuemeka Eze is a Media Consultant based in Port Harcourt

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2011: The National Assembly to be Reinvigorated as Gov Amaechi Unleashes His First Eleven on the Hapless Opposition in River State

Rivers State Governor, Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi 4

By Eze Chukwuemeka Eze
E-mail: ezemediaconcept08@rocketmail.com,mediaconsultanttpcorivers07261@gmail.com, 08038199163

In Nigerian democracy, there are three main functions of government, which are often distinguished under the doctrine of the separation of powers. Those who have the formal power to create legislation are known as Legislators; a judicial branch of government has the formal power to interpret legislation while the executive branch of government acts only within the powers and limits set by the law. In Nigeria, the National Assembly is the branch vested to perform the legislative functions and it is a bicameral legislature established under section 4 of the Nigerian Constitution and the highest law-making body of the country. It consists of 109-member Senate and a 360-member House of Representatives.

The term of the National Assembly is 4-years from the date of its first seating after the general elections. The current 6th National Assembly was inaugurated on 5th June 2007. The body, modelled after the federal Congress of the United States, is supposed to guarantee equal representation of the states irrespective of size in the Senate and proportional representation of population in the House. The National Assembly, like many other organs of the Nigerian government, is based in the federal capital Abuja. The Senate is chaired by the President of the Nigerian Senate, the first of whom was Nnamdi Azikiwe, who stepped down from the job to become the country's first Head of State. The House is chaired by the Speaker of the House of Representatives.  At any joint session of the Assembly, the President of the Senate presides and in his absence the Speaker of the House presides. Currently, the Senate is headed by Sen. David Mark [GCON] while the House of Representatives is headed by Hon. Oladimeji Bankole, [CFR]

The Assembly has broad oversight functions and is empowered to establish committees of its members to scrutinise bills and the conduct of government officials. Since the restoration of democratic rule in 1999, the Assembly has been said to be a "learning process" that has witnessed the election and removal of several Presidents of the Senate, allegations of corruption, slow passage of private member's bills and the creation of ineffective committees to satisfy numerous interests.

While the Assembly has made strong and often popular efforts to assert its authority and independence against the executive, it is still viewed generally in a negative light by the media and many of the Nigerian people. The Assembly sits for a period of at most four years, after which time the President is required to dissolve it and call a new Assembly into session. The Senate has the unique power of impeachment of judges and other high officials of the executive including the Federal Auditor-General and the members of the electoral and revenue commissions. This power is, however, subject to prior request by the President. The Senate also confirms the President's nomination of senior diplomats, members of the federal cabinet, federal judicial appointments and independent federal commissions. Before any bill may become law, it must be agreed to by both the House and the Senate, and receive the President's assent. Should the President delay or refuse assent (veto) the bill, the Assembly may pass the law by two-thirds of both chambers and overrule the veto and the President's consent will not be required. The present Assembly has not hidden its preparedness to overrule the executive where they disagree.

Having defined what the essences of the National assembly in Nigeria are the main thrust of this attempt will now be pursed accordingly. The 'learning process' of the National Assembly may become a thing of the past if the efforts and vision of Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi the Governor of Rivers State is anything to go by. According to him, 'we have taken enough of the 'learning process' and slow pace of law making in Nigeria with but the calibre of representation we are sending to the 7th National Assembly is to be judged with the learning process of the National Assembly may be a thing of the past. According to some political observers of the Rivers State, the State is sending her best hands to make a change in how the National Assembly is being conducted. The main thrust of this attempt therefore is to reveal these new helmsmen expected to make these changes in the 7th National Assembly of Nigeria.

Top on the card is Chief Hon. Magnus Ngei Abe.

Hon Magnus Abe 2

Magnus Abe, born on the 24th of May, 1965 in Nchia, Eleme; had his early education in Gokana  at the St. Peters State School, Yeghe and Boys State School, Okrika and rounded up Primary Education at Bedwell Primary School with Merit in his FSLC exams.

He then proceeded to St. Patrick College, Ikot-Ansa, Calabar and later came back to Rivers State at Akpor Grammar School, Ozuoba to complete his Secondary Education with his WASC Examination. Married to beautiful and unassuming but decisive Mrs. Bariyaah Abe and blessed with four kids, Peter, Phil, Pearl and Ziga.

He defined a career path by bagging a LL.B (Hons) and defined a professional career path when he was called to Nigerian Bar in 1987. Magnus started working as a Pupil State Counsel for the Federal Ministry of Justice, Lagos. He went into Private Legal Practice as a Junior Partner with Okocha & Okocha, Manuchim Chambers and rose to a Managing Partner with Etim-Inyang, Abe all in Port Harcourt.

He has served in different capacities as Member Youth Day Committee on anniversary of the creation of Rivers State in 1992, Member Bye-laws Drafting Committee - NBA, Secretary Dinner/Welfare Committee - NBA, Secretary Grande Council of Nigeria. He joined active Politics in 1999 and was elected into the Rivers State House of Assembly where he served as a Minority Leader. He served as Commissioner of Information between 2003-2007. With the new administration of Rt. Hon. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, he was called to serve his fatherland as the Secretary to Rivers State Government. He resigned to join the race for the position of a Senator representing Rivers South-East Senatorial District.

This man has established himself not only as an orator, a tactician, a strategist, a seasoned Philanthropist, humanist but to add to all his political machine is awesome and ready to crush and bulldoze himself into the National Assembly with the votes of his people. He is cherished and loved by his people. Though he has a weak opposition, he is not leaving anything to chance as he embarks on door to door campaign at the grassroots.

For Chief Hon. Magnus Abe, "My vision and dream are of a greater tomorrow for our men, women and children. A vision and dream of an improved standard of living for the people living in the Rivers South East senatorial region. I honestly believe that we can have a future where the basic needs of human existence such as reliable infrastructure, social services, and improved quality of life would become facts of our everyday living. I share in the vision of our Governor,  Rt. Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi that we need to make Rivers State a place where all our people are stake-holders in the sustainable development and growth of this great state and where basic amenities such as Healthcare, Security, Roads and water are taken for granted by our people.    

2.  CHIEF HON. DAKUKU PETERSIDE

Hon Dakuku Peterside

Born in 1970 to a middle class family in Biriye Polo, Opobo immediately following the Civil War, he grew up at various times in Azumini, Aba, Kaduna and Port Harcourt. Dakuku studied at Okrika Grammar School, Okrika, one of the pre-eminent public schools in the 1980s, in Rivers State. He was a school prefect by reason of his conduct, leadership qualities and academic standing. He obtained a B.MLS (Haematology), MBA from Rivers State University of Science and Technology and currently a Doctoral candidate. He has been through several management courses in the United Kingdom, United States, Israel, France and Spain.

He was an outstanding Students Union leader in RSUST who gave hope to his generation and exhibited great passion about a bright future that lay ahead. Student Unionism furnished him with the skills and experience of leadership, and his belief in public service as a veritable platform for positive social change was crystallized. He has at various times served as National President, National Union of Rivers State Students (NURSS); State Financial Secretary of DPN; State Youth Leader; Restoration Youth of PDP; Special Assistant to Governor of Rivers State on Works; Chairman Opobo/Nkoro Local Government Area; Chairman Board of Trustees Empowerment Support Initiative (ESI)  and lately Cabinet Commissioner for Works (2007 – 2011). He is an unrepentant believer in the democracy as the only form of government that can guarantee peace, security and happiness for members of the society.

Dakuku, Mr. Integrity, goal getter, pro-democracy activist, scholar, writer is now candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for House of Representatives to represent Andoni – Opobo – Nkoro Federal Constituency.

He has been involved in leadership training and public advocacy. He founded the Development and Leadership Institute (DLI) in 2002. DLI is the sector leader among NGOs working in the area of good governance, deepening democracy and leadership grooming in Nigeria. He is a member of several professional associations including Member, Association of Medical Laboratory Sciences of Nigeria, (AMLSN); Member, Nigeria Institute of Management (NIM); Fellow, Institute of Management Consultants of Nigeria (FIMCN). He is also well published.

He is married to Elima, a Lawyer, and they have three children: Soba, Belema and Mieibi. He is an ardent Christian, whose hobbies are writing, reading, swimming and football. According to him, "my focus shall be on - Infrastructural Development of the Niger delta, Good Governance, Education, Youth Empowerment and Environment. Regarded as a silent and unassuming operator, he understands the need to see development in practical terms, hence his tireless resolve to achieve targets. Reports have it of how shocked Journalists were, while during a meeting with Gov. Amaechi, Peterside called him at about 3am to relay updates on a Road construction site in the State. He is one of the greats that Rivers State is sending out to National Assembly. A non-violent per excellence politicians, Hon. Dakuku Peterside knows the worth of human blood and life and that is why he has continued to preach for peaceful conduct of the recently concluded PDP primaries and forth coming election to all and sundry in order to perpetuate and sustain the democratic experiment. Hear him: "Electoral victories like mine could only make meaning when it is won without violence. I abhor violence; no victory in any election and indeed in any human endeavour in life is worth the blood of anyone; no victory is worth the life of any person."

 In an unprecedented move and first of its kind in the history of his constituency, he embarked on the visit of 70 churches to thank God for His immeasurable goodness having served as a Commissioner of Works in Governor Chibuike administration for close to four years.

3     DR. HON. DAWARI GEORGE

Hon Dawari George 1

 Dr. George was born in a family of five children. His father is a Baptist clergy. Two things his parents never took away from Dr. George and his siblings were imbibing Christian virtues in them and giving them the best education. The least educated person in his family is a Master's degree holder. Dr. Dawari George is married to beautiful Mrs Ibiama George and blessed with two kids – Charis and Berith. He is the immediate past Commissioner for Energy & Natural Resources, Rivers State. He is representing PDP in the Akuku-Toru and Asari-Toru Federal Constituency.

Dr. George had the best result in secondary school (Government Comprehensive Secondary School, Borokiri, Port Harcourt). A Master degree holder in Political Science, specialising in Political Economy, which is called Development Studies and Ph.D. in Political Science, also in Political Economy/Development Studies, all at the UNIPORT. He has also been involved in some courses and seminars.

As a peacemaker, he was the Chairman of the Rivers State chapter of the National Youth Council at the height of militancy and cult activities in this state. "Combining that kind of sensitive office, with the negative things that were happening around, many people wondered how I was able to survive. There was also security challenge". Dr. George is a preacher of commitment to work. Anywhere he went, he urged people and the members of the public to put all misunderstandings in the past behind them and work assiduously as a team in order to achieve set goals

Dr. George knew his onus when he was Commissioner for Energy & Natural Resources, Rivers State. He followed the due process and re-organized the petroleum products distribution monitoring team, without dissolving the team. Notwithstanding, he did not treat any member found wanting with the kid's glove. He always stressed his zero tolerance for bribery and corruption. He made sure that the team received their arrears of allowances owed them and that adequate logistics were provided to enhance their operations. During his tenure, the Rivers State government discovered a huge gas reserve that would last for over 150 years and George successfully came up with a master plan that would enable the government utilize gas for both domestic and industrial uses that would include gas distribution to private homes, offices and industrial complexes. Other plans include a template for gas-to-diesel conversion plant that will enable the state to use gas to power its vehicles.

Dr. George also collaborated with foreign investors to build refinery, petrochemical and bitumen plants, to generate employments. According to him in one fora: "We have comparative advantage to open more petrochemical plants in our state, given the existence of such plants. Apart from providing jobs for the skilled and unskilled across the different strata of the economy, of course, you know that this will oil the wheel of the needed development which the current administration has hugely carried out."

In the PDP Primaries ahead of the April 2011, Dr. Dawari George polled 429 votes, beating other contestants who polled 120 votes, 18 votes respectively. He has since closed ranks with other contenders, such as Barr. Onimim Jacks, Hon Daddy West, Chief (Barr) Tam Princewill and they currently spearhead his campaign in his constituency.

As the 2011 elections draw closer, indications are rife that the Asari-Toru/Akuku-Toru Federal    Constituency seat in the House of Representatives will surely go to this amiable man. Rivers political observers are gearing to hear the repeat of the reportedly unprecedented event (after April) that took place Saturday, December 11, 2010, when political leaders and the masses of Asari-Toru (ASALGA) marched through the streets of Buguma chanting songs: "Dr Dawari George na our choice, "we believe wetin Dr Dawari George can do," "Go and tell them that Dawari na our choice for House of Reps.".

Speaking on his ambition, he said "My experience at the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources has shown me that there are fundamental problems in policy formulation in the oil and gas sector of the country's economy. And based on the fact that my constituency is a major host to oil and gas exploration in Nigeria, I have this burning desire that if I am at the National Assembly, I can network with colleagues and effect a change in the existing laws for the oil and gas industry that can help in developing our people. I also saw at the Ministry of Energy that the existing laws do not take into cognizance the well-being of our people. I have also seen that while there is so much hype about reforms in the sector, they have actually not been far-reaching enough to assuage the terrible conditions of our oil and gas-bearing communities. We feel that going to the National Assembly will afford us the opportunity to effect a change" he explained.

4. Hon. Ogbonnaya Nwuke

He is the son of the late Chief (the Hon) JHE Nwuke who was Parliamentary Secretary Internal Affairs under the Nnamdi Azikiwe administration in Eastern Nigeria and later Provincial Commissioner for Port Harcourt Province and Minister of State, Ministry of Works Eastern Nigeria under the administration of Dr. M.I. Okpara.

A Nigerian journalist of note and Publisher of the Port Harcourt Telegraph, a Port Harcourt based tabloid. He was the Director of Press Affairs to Gov. Chibuike Amaechi, Governor of Rivers State and was later appointed Commissioner for Information from where he was moved to the ministry of Commerce as Commissioner.  He is billed to represent the people of Etche/Omuma Federal Constituency of the Rivers State chapter of the People's Democratic Party (PDP)

Nwuke is regarded as one of those that stood with Amaechi during his trying period when he went on exile following his stolen mandate. Nwuke at the time was steadfast in his commitment to ensure that his paper did not go the way of other well respected tabloids who had taken pecuniary gains to carry out a media onslaught against Amaechi's character. Nwuke remained resolute in his refusal to build his ark on mischief, even when a lot of Rivers people hid under the pretext of 'stateism' and patriotism and caused a lot of havoc on the person of Amaechi and tagged it for "Rivers Unity".

As a Commissioner for Information in the Governor Amaechi-led government before his re-appointment as commissioner of Commerce and Industry, Ogbonna Nwuke became a role model to many youths, not only in the state, but in the Niger Delta region. He made sure he was in the forefront to avoid any hoodwinking information in the state. As commissioner for Information, the ministry was ahead of its ilk in the dissemination of information and sensitivity campaigns in many areas like empowerment, drug abuse, child trafficking, encouraging girl-child education, alleviating poverty and encouraging youths to desist from social vice.

Nwuke's campaign against any form of violence in the state and in the Niger Delta at large is evident in the peaceful co-existence of inhabitants of the state today.  His activism has influenced more Rivers people and beyond to actively be involved in the integration of all the regions of Rivers State. He improved the quality of information in the state, and similarly, did his best to ensuring there was a conducive circulation of information for the people's consumption.

By and large, because of Nwuke's informative crusade against the spread of criminality, he is today seen as the symbol and hero of the struggle to rid Rivers State and the entire Niger Delta of criminality and violence. He solicited for the support of the general public at the peak of his campaign to report every suspicious activity to the security operatives.

The support he enjoys is evident in the choice of his candidacy as by the entire people of Etche/Omuma Federal Constituency.

5. Hon. Kingsley Ogundu Chinda

Born on 24th day of March, 1966 to the family of Chief Thompson Worgu Chinda and Caroline Ihuchi Chinda (nee Nwaoshor) in Rumuodani Community, Elelenwo Town in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State; Chinda started his primary education at St. Marks State School Elelenwo and at Municipal Council School I, Orogbum along Agudama Street in D/Line, Port Harcourt. He graduated in top colours in 1978 and was an active young lad in school, as class prefect all through his primary school days.  He also attended the Stella Maris College, Port Harcourt in 1979 and was at the Rivers State School of Basic Studies between 1984 – 1986 where he obtained his Advanced Level Certificate and gained direct entry into the Rivers State University of Science & Technology, Nkpolu, Port Harcourt where he graduated with a Third Class in law. He is married to Beauty Azeru Chinda  (nee Chuku) and they have three pretty daughters (Angel, Kaka and Iche).

 Kingsley Chinda has always been involved in politics. He was Legal Adviser to Social Democratic Party (SDP); Grassroot Democratic Movement (GDM) and People Democratic Party (PDP) at various times.

In 2005, Chief (Barr.) Ezebunwo Nyesom Wike the then Chairman of Obio/Akpor appointed him as his Legal Adviser where he served until 2007 when the council was dissolved.  He quickly went back to private legal practice with the firm of Onyeagucha, Chinda & Associates.

 In 2008, His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi appointed him as the Commissioner for Environment.  In June 2009 the cabinet was dissolved and he was re-appointed in August 2009 to the same ministry. He served on several boards and committees including the Greater Port Harcourt Development Authority Board. In December 2010, he resigned his appointment to pursue a political career. He contested at the party primaries for a shot at the House of representative slot for the Obio-Akpor Federal constituency and won resoundingly.

The last among the Trojans is Mr Ken Chikere the immediate past Commissioner of Justice of the State. Applauded as one of the best brains in the nation's judiciary system, his stint as the Attorney General of Rivers State will forever remain the golden era of the Ministry. .

Today, the judiciary system in the state stands out as one of the best owing to the commitment of this silent and unsung achiever. It is on record that the famous Supreme Court judgement awarding 86 oil wells hitherto in the hands of Akwa Ibom back to Rivers State was during his tenure.

With these men together with Senator Wilson Asinobi Ake, Senator George T. Sekibo, Hon. Andrew Uchendu and other PDP representation, the reinvigoration of the 7th National Assembly is an achievable project.

Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze is Media Consultant based in Port Harcourt

 

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2011: The Principle of "Aya-Neli", Chief Barr. Ezebunwo Nyesom Wike and The Political Future of Rivers State - An Overview of an Insider

nyesom wike 3

By Eze Chukwuemeka Eze

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

Politics according to Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia is a process by whereby groups of people make collective decisions. The term is generally applied to the art or science of running governmental or state affairs. It also refers to behaviour within civil governments. However, politics have been observed in other group interactions, including corporate, academic, and religious institutions. It consists of "social relations involving authority or power" and refers to the regulation of public affairs within a political unit and to the methods and tactics used to formulate and apply policy

Wikipedia went further to define Political engineering as a concept in political science that deals with the designing of political institutions in a society and often involves the use of paper decrees, in the form of laws, referendums, ordinances, or otherwise, to try to achieve some desired effect within a society. The criteria and constraints used in such design vary depending on the optimization methods used. Usually democratic political systems have not been deemed suitable as subjects of political engineering methods. Political engineering, using suboptimal methods or criteria, can sometimes yield disastrous results as in the case of attempting to engineer a previously democratic country's political landscape by such methods as, for example, a coup d'état. The Greek military junta of 1967-1974 used political engineering utilizing a coup d'état to dissolve the democratic system of Greece with catastrophic results. Political engineering can also be employed to design alternative voting procedures in a democratic system. In the social arena the counterpart of political engineering is social engineering

To Dr. Jeffrey R. Lax, Department of Politics, New York University political engineering is like engineering in the natural sciences, which translates theory (e.g., from physics) into practical design (e.g., a bridge), engineering in the social sciences translates rational-choice analysis into the design of better political-economic social institutions." and "Informed answers to these questions require that we set forth criteria—the specifications of the engineer—for evaluating institutions. In this course, we will invoke such criteria as efficiency, equitability, freedom from certain paradoxes, etc. Particular emphasis will be placed on making institutions as invulnerable as possible to manipulation, which will be subjected to theoretical analysis and illustrated through a series of case studies" Political Engineering to Benjamin Reilly Ph.D. is when political parties in theory represent the political expression of underlying societal cleavages and parties and party systems have not usually been thought to be amenable to overt political engineering. While some authoritarian states have attempted to control the development of their party system (eg the mandated 'two-party' or 'three party' systems that existed under military rule in Nigeria and Indonesia respectively, or 1, For what is still the best discussion of ethnic parties and party systems, see Horowitz 1985; 2, See, for example, Sartori 1994, Diamond 1999, Reynolds 2002. 3 the 'no-party' system that currently exists in Uganda), most democracies allow parties to develop freely. Because of this, parties are generally understood to remain beyond the reach of formal political engineering in most circumstances.

As much as it is not my intention to bore you with all the postulations about Politics and political engineering the major thrust of this attempt is the current political reengineering taking place in Rivers State referred to as the principle of 'Anya-neli' with its chief proponent and advocate being Chief Barr Hon. Ezebunwo Nyesom Wike, the Chief of Staff to the Governor of Rivers State of Nigeria and the Director General of the Amaechi 2011 Re-election Campaign Organisation. Considering the speed with which this principle is taking root in the politics of Rivers State it has become expedient to critically examine this new political concept by this enigma -who in the course of the ongoing campaign has proven himself as the new political force and encyclopaedia of Rivers State politics- and its effect and socio-political impact on the present and future fortunes of the political terrain in Rivers State.

Now that the major purpose of this study has been defined, let me for the avoidance of doubt particularly for non-Nigerians that may be reading this thesis from foreign countries shed some light on the entity Rivers State. Rivers State is one of the 36 states of Nigeria with Port Harcourt as its capital. It is bounded on the South by the Atlantic Ocean, to the North by Imo, Abia and Anambra States, to the East by Akwa Ibom State and to the West by Bayelsa and Delta states. Rivers state is home to a variety of ethnic groups, including Abua, Andoni, Ekpeye, Engenni, Etche, lbani, lkwerre, Kalabari, Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni, Okrika and Ogoni. The inland part of Rivers state consists of tropical rainforest; towards the coast the typical Niger Delta environment features many mangrove swamps. Rivers state, named after the many rivers that border its territory, was part of the Oil Rivers Protectorate from 1885 till 1893, when it became part of the Niger Coast Protectorate. In 1900 the region was merged with the chartered territories of the Royal Niger Company to form the colony of Southern Nigeria. The state was formed in 1967 with the split of the Eastern Region of Nigeria. Until 1996 the state also contained the area which is now the Bayelsa State.

The word 'Anya-neli' is a political word coined from the Ikwerre language and has an array of uses in context ranging from carefulness, alacrity, watchful, cautious, alert, vigilant, wary and observant. The essence of this new principle and concept in the politics of Rivers State urges one to be on guard to protect each and every vote that will be cast in favour of PDP candidates in the state at the April polls. As Director General of Amaechi 2011 Re-election Campaign bid during the course of this campaign, it has become second nature for Chief Wike to end what I have come to refer to as his "Charge Speech", where he mandates specific PDP stalwarts to deliver their various words on election day;  with cries of  'anya-neli!, anya-neli!!, anya-neli!!'. It is the gusto with which he has applied himself to this act at all campaigns that stirred my interest to research and understand the idea behind such passionate cries and if it in any way had any far reaching implications on the political stage of a state like Rivers State.

To say that the Amaechi campaign train so far has been operating like a well oiled military onslaught with Wike as Chief Strategist at the helms of affairs, would be underestimating the obvious, this is because apart from the new doctrine of anya-neli he is so passionate about, any keen observer of the campaign is amazed at Wike's prowess at mentioning the names of every stalwart charged with delivering the wards in their various states. And if one recalls that a total of 319 wards in contention, then it would not be amiss to give kudos to the man who is able to seemingly without effort reel out names off hand at each campaign. He is also quick to add that political relevance in the next dispensation will be based on ability to deliver wards at the polls. This charge in my opinion is a major form of political engineering which gives a sense of responsibility to party stalwarts and negates the principle of "business as usual" by keeping everyone on their toes.

The fact therefore remains, that never in the annals of politicking in the State or any part of Nigeria has one individual exhibited the skill and ingenuity developed by this new enigma of the Politics of the State in delivering charges and mobilizing the people to action. In one of such campaigns at a particular Local Government rally, the traditional rulers in attendance stood up in salute of this new revelation in the arts of campaigning in the State as he reeled out names and charges to people. So much so, that Mr. Julius "De Genius" Agu, a renowned Rivers Born Comedian and Entertainer who compeered at most of the rallies, was forced to call him the embodiment and encyclopaedia of the Rivers State Politics based on his ability to reel out names of politicians in the State without any paper in hand.

At Okirika the home Local Government Area of Dr. Sekibo the ACN Gubernatorial candidate in the 2011 April polls and one of the pretenders challenging Amaechi for the seat of the Governor of Rivers State. The tireless Director General of the Amaechi Campaign team Barrister Nyesom Wike in his speech that reverberated around the whole of the town and by all intents would have sent Dr Abiye Sekibo scuttling out of town if he was anywhere near the vicinity. Chief Wike charged the Okrika people to ensure that Amaechi be re-elected come April. Showing the stuff of which he is made of he reeled out names of different individuals who he mandated to personally work tirelessly to deliver their wards during the elections. He especially fired on all cylinders when he charged Honourable Soe Dikibo, one time Commissioner in the State to ensure he delivered Ward Four to PDP come April. He was emphatic in his call for victory at this particular ward because it incidentally is the Ward of Dr. Abiye Sekibo, the ACN gubernatorial candidate. In his words "uproot the so called base of doom and watch the other areas will be delivered".

What is perhaps baffling to most people that have watched this man on stage is how and when he does his research resulting in such commendable delivery at the rallies. Being a member of the campaign team, it was easy for me to make up my mind to do a fly on the wall study of this man to understand what drives him. Fortunately the 7th March, 2011 presented me with an opportunity to monitor him. Like every other day since the campaign started on the 1st of March, he rose up by 4am in the morning and went straight for morning devotion with his family. By 5am, he took his bath and by 6am people had already gathered in his house for meetings or other businesses. By 8am, he was at the Campaign office to attend to files before the arrival of most of the staff and Directors of the Campaign. 8.30am saw him hold meetings with the Chairmen and Secretaries of the Campaign Committees and by 9.30am he was off to the campaign ground to inspect the venue while awaiting the arrival of the Governor and his entourage. This particular day we visited two Local Government Areas – Ahoada East and Ahoda West and came back to Port Harcourt by 6pm. He drove straight to his house after a debriefing at the campaign headquarters. On arrival at his residence, we were met by hundreds of people already seated and waiting for him for several meetings. He retired to freshen up and then took his dinner while on his feet and almost immediately stepped into his garden to hold meeting after meeting till 4am the next day. After having witnessed firsthand what 24hours in a day of this man was like, I realized that what he exhibited at the rallies was indeed a rare command of political sagacity and oratory that only a few are blessed with, since it was obvious he had no time to do any kind of research talk less of have a goodnight's rest. During the course of our day together I had the privilege of having him shed light on his 'anya-neli' principle. Chief Hon. Bar Ezebuwo Nyesom Wike, in his discussion with me, came across as a crusader who was not just passionate about his state, but also one who was passionate about the governance style of his Boss and Governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi. According to him, "Chief Eze, you may not see what I see. The State is in danger if Gov Amaechi fails to come back for a second tenure. Not only will we be crippled politically, but 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. Wike was also quick to remind me that it i was that alerted him to the lyrics of the song that was the highlight of Celestine Omehia's flag off APGA campaign that by 'the time we rose from our slumber he would be elected Governor'. According to him, such jabs were the motivation he needed to continue to work tirelessly to ensure that their dastardly plans do not see the light of day.

He said he had resigned himself to sleepless nights until the day Amaechi's victory is cast in marble, stating that anyone who calls himself a friend or ally of Amaechi and chooses this time to slumber should as a matter of expediency reconsider the authenticity of their friendship. With this kind of resolve it is therefore easy to understand what drives Wike, though some would say he has personal reasons behind his decision to invest his time and all his energy in this, I can't help but doff my hat to this fellow who has gone beyond the call of duty to ensure that Rivers State not be drawn back into the darkness.

Perhaps no one better to shed more light on the concept of "anya-neli" than Governor Amaechi who while addressing the people of Gokana said: "You must be vigilant 'anya-neli'. One of our opponents said he was the brain behind PDP successes, and if we were being criticised by the whole world  for all those successes, it means that the previous elections wasn't properly organised; it means, maybe it was rigged, if it was rigged then, best be careful 'anya-neli' of these same people. They are in another party now. You have a new PDP that will obey the rule of law; there must be voting on that day, votes must count, so go out and vote on that day." The driving force and fear that drives the anya-neli concept may be therefore hinged on the fact that it was Dr. Abiye Sekibo, the ACN gubernatorial candidate in Rivers State that was the Returning Officer of PDP in the 2007 gubernatorial elections that returned Sir Celestine Omehia as the Governor of Rivers state in a poll severally criticised by the International Community and people in other political parties, it has become imperative that with this new concept, the PDP and the entire people of Rivers state are being urged to become vigilant 'anya-neli' in the forthcoming  elections to avoid manipulation of their votes by these charlatans.

 But who is Chief Nyesom Wike?. A lawyer by profession, a political tactician and strategist of the first order, bold and fearless and ready to die for any cause he believes in. an attempt was made on his life January, 2008 when his vehicle was riddled with bullets resulting in near fatal injury of his driver Emeka Mba. Although Wike escaped unscathed, the car has been preserved as a reminder of what he has had to endure to stand for what is right and just. Recalling the incident Wike would rather refer to it as the day he died because of his passion for and commitment to the ideals and vision of Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi for a new Rivers State.

Married to the quiet and unassuming beautiful Mrs Sussett Wike, they are blessed with two boys and one girl. He is one of the most detribalised Nigerians, surrounding himself with staff and aides from different parts of the country. One of his closest allies and the Director of Administration of the Campaign Team, Hon. Chuma Chinye, attest to the fact that Wike is a devoted friend. A democrat to the core, he detests injustice in any form. He is also a philanthropist. It is a well known fact within the Amaechi's camp, that the fear of Wike is the beginning of wisdom if you want to remain relevant.

From 2003 – 2006 he was the National President of All Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON), the umbrella Forum through which all the 774 Local Government Council Chairmen in Nigeria interface and interact on issues affecting the Politics and policies of Nigeria while from 1999-2007 he was the Executive Chairman of Obio-Akpor Local Government in Rivers State, an office he used to redefine and exhibit his special brand of governance. He constructed the Local Government Secretariat that stands as one of the best in Nigeria and a great edifice to behold. His tenure witnessed various developmental initiatives in the local government and he is remembered most especially for empowering a lot of youths, elderly women and men, the physically challenged. An ardent hand at grassroot mobilisation, He is credited with founding the formidable political vanguard in Rivers State - the Ikwerre Youth Movement (IYM) that decides and determines to a large extent the political tide in the state.

Senator George T. Sekibo, the Leader of the Rivers State Caucus in the National Assembly and Chairman of the Labour Committee of the Senate and the Senatorial Candidate of Rivers State East has also attested to the political prowess and magnanimity of Chief Wike at the Obio Akpor leg of the campaign. According to Senator Sekibo, Chief Wike wanted to be a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in this dispensation and the fact remains that I ought not to be here addressing this rally as a Senatorial candidate aspirant of PDP if not for the sagacity and benevolence of Chief Wike conceded to him. In Sekibo's words, "...He (Wike) stepped down for me when it was obvious that he had the support of 85% of the delegates…but because the Governor of Rivers State, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi prevailed on him to reason that Ikwerre area can't produce the Governor of Rivers State and the Senator from the same Zone at the same time (Gov Amaechi and Chief Wike are of the Ikwerre extraction); based on this, Chief Wike had to step down for me because I hail from the Okirika axis of the zone.." To Chief Hon. Victor Tombari Giadom the Executive Chairman of Gokana. Chief Wike is the Eze gburu-gburu 1 of the Gokana Kingdom (an equivalent of Dim Odimegwe Ojukwu's title in Ibo land); to Chiefs Amaechi Ikenga and Emeka Bekee, Major Jack  ardent followers of "Wikeism" brand of politics, "Chief Wike is the oil that greases the political machine of Governor Amaechi, because without him, "most of us would have been history when we were discarded and treated as lepers when Amaechi was forced into exile by the PDP stalwarts in 2007 while fighting to redeem his stolen mandate. If not for the large heart of Chief Wike who ensured that we were kept together most of us would have died of hunger before the intervention of the Supreme Court".

To Chief (Barr) Ezebunwo Nyeson Wike, Chief of Staff, Rivers State Government; Governance means ability to provide for her people.  "My vision of governance is (1) to make the people happy. What do I mean by making the people happy? First of all, you know before this period, we have what we called direct democracy'. Direct democracy is where the population was very small. So it was possible for everybody to gather and take decision for themselves. But as the population began to expand, they said that there is need for indirect democracy. The people will now elect people who will take decisions on their behalf'. What do they expect from you? They expect true governance and representation, the basic things of life has to be provided, they will have roads, schools, hospitals, powers when they need it. So, for me, my vision for governance is to make the less privileged, to make the people who have elected you to be happy. That is my own vision of governance.

This is Chief Wike the proponent of the Anya-neli concept in the Rivers State politics and if by 16th April, 2011, Rt. Hon. Chuibike Amaechi is re-elected, the politics of Rivers State may not be the same again as the inputs of the Anya-neli exponent cannot be underestimated in the socio-economic and political future of this great State that has become the richest State in Nigeria by the reclaiming of its 86 oil wells from the Akwa Ibom State.

To any positive follower of the politics of Rivers State, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi re-election is to ensure continuity in realisation of people-oriented projects and programmes in the next political dispensation which includes among numerous others massive infrastructural investments around the state, including road projects, schools, health centres, electrification, ongoing monorail project, rural development and implementation of the Greater Port Harcourt Master Plan and most importantly the attainment of relative peace and security as evidenced by the attraction of foreign investors to the State. 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 developmental 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. In this regard, the Governor has won the prestigious 2010 Zik Prize for Good Governance based on his performance in the implementation of credible governance principles. The Zik Prize is part of the yearly activities to honour the late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, the First President & Commander-In-Chief of the Armed forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which was instituted in 1994 by the Public Policy Research and Analysis centre to encourage patriotic leadership in Nigeria. This enviable award is to be 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 and recently honoured as the most outstanding Governor in Nigeria by the Independent Newspapers ltd so the product that Chief Wike is assiduously marketing is a sellable and good product and I sincerely wish him and his Team the best of luck.

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

 

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Amaechi Seeks Election of Credible Leaders

FROM KELVIN EBIRI, PORT HARCOURT

GOVERNOR Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State yesterday said the county was in dire need of purposeful leadership.

The governor urged Nigerians to vote for true and qualitative leaders that are committed to providing good governance.

Amaechi said this has become imperative at this point in the country even as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) government is leading the way in providing qualitative governance at both the states and national levels.

The governor stated this during his door-to-door campaign, which he took to some streets in Port Harcourt, markets and churches.

Addressing PDP supporters at Oroworukwo in Port Harcourt, the governor said he was prepared to sacrifice his position as governor if that was what is required to make Nigeria great.

According to him, the country remained in dire need of purposeful and selfless leadership and only the commitment of its leaders can save the situation.

Amaechi, who reeled out the developmental projects and programmes of his administration in the past three and half years in the state, cautioned the electorate in the state against voting for candidates that would stagnate the state progress.

The governor, who visited Wards Two, Nine and 14 in Port Harcourt Local Council Area, implored members of the party to close ranks and deliver the party candidates in all the elections and warned them against complacency.

He promised to rehabilitate the Abuloma-Okuru-Ama road, which was in a deplorable situation, noting that government was doing its best to spread development to all parts of the state.
Source: The Guardian, 29th March 2011.

 

Rivers Community Protest Destruction of Forest by Oil Firm

DENNIS NAKU, P/Harcourt

SOUTHS and women of Abuloma community in Port Harcourt local government of Rivers state took to the streets Wednesday to protest alleged destruction of its ancestral forest by Next Oil.

The protesters allege that the company exceeded the limit allotted to it for business, thereby encroaching on the community's ancestral forest, which houses the cemetery and shrines of the community.

At a meeting shortly after a peaceful protest in Port Harcourt yesterday, the community said Nest Oil Nigeria had in the name of extension, gone beyond the land mass which was leased to it by the Spaniran Fisheries Limited, an indigenous firm, and had destroyed some part of the cemetery.

The protesters allege that corpses and caskets that had been buried there were dug up in the process.

A member of the Abuloma Council of Chiefs, Chief Orumo Joseph said the chiefs? council had given out 51.76 hectares of mangrove land to the Spaniran Fisheries Company to do business and the agreement stated that the company would be in the possession of the land for 99 years.

"The present chiefs were not involved in that agreement because we were not chiefs then. The Spaniran Company has been there for 30 years and they are the ones who have dealings with the Nest Oil, not Abuloma community", he said.

Chief Orumo said, the development had sparked off the protest to express their discontent with Nest Oil.

Meanwhile, the protesters have called on the state government to call the firm to order, before the situation snowballs into a major crisis between the community and the firm. This was as a 13-man committee was set up after a meeting by the Joint Council to find a lasting solution to the problem, even as the meeting was attended by the representatives of the SSS, at the instance of the care-taker committee headed by Engineer Maxwell Adoki, it was unanimously agreed that the matter should be resolved amicably.

But one of the residents, Amoni Gobo blamed the chiefs of the community for the problem in the community. "It is the House chiefs that created the present problem that the community is facing today", he alleged.

On her part, Mrs. Asigo Dennis said , "Since Nest oil came to Abuloma nothing has been done for the community whereas inside the premises, there are about five companies operating there including Hammakorpp construction, Gobowen exploration, Energy works engineering, B/Q dredging and Nest oil limited."

The protest attracted soldiers and armed policemen who were stationed strategic spots on the road leading the Nest Oil Company Tuesday, may be to wade off the possibility of breach of the peace in the community.
Source: Daily Champion, 25th  March 2011

 

Our Opponents Have no Idea of Governance, by Amaechi

FROM KELVIN EBIRI, PORT HARCOURT

Rivers State Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, who is gunning for a second tenure in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) recently spoke with some journalists in Port Harcourt on his ambition and the challenges from the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), especially in the Okrika area of the state.  KELVIN?EBIRI?Excerpts:

YOUR second term was an issue at a time because you said you wouldn't run. Why are you going for second term?

I want to consolidate on what I have started. There are huge projects that I dare other parties, especially the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) to try. I wish it were possible for these parties to govern for six months each before the winner of the election takes over. As absurd as this is, it will give us an idea of what anyone can do.

At your recent rally in Okrika, you said it was payback time for Okrika people. Could you explain this?

In 1988 I was working with Chief Rufus Ada-George and Dr. Peter Odili. Ada-George was running for governorship seat under the National Republican Convention (NRC). Sergeant Awuse was in the Social Democratic Party (SDP), and because Ada-George was from Okrika, my people felt that it was wrong for any Ikwerre man to support an Okrika man. I dared them and supported an Okrika man and Ada-George was elected governor.

Before the governorship election, there was an election of officers of the party at the council level and I was running for the office of secretary. They would not take that. When I arrived for the election, I was beaten black and blue. It was so bad I was admitted at a clinic. I, however, won the election. That was one vote for Chief Ada-George because the secretary was an automatic delegate to the governorship primary. So, I am telling Okrika people that if I supported their son to be governor, it is their turn to support me. This time there will be no violence; nobody is beating them for supporting me.

Apart from supporting their son to be governor, what have you done for Okrika people?

I had asked them to let their son tell us what he has done for Okrika. He was Secretary to the State Government (SSG) and a minister. I say to people that as governor, I have done just two roads in my council. The second one is, I am rebuilding the road in my village. The rest roads were done when I was the Speaker of the House of Assembly. So as SSG, why didn't he attract things to his community?

How do you see the challenge and opposition from Okrika where the ACN governorship candidate, Ebiye Sekibo hails from?

Actually, at the time we were in Okrika holding our rally, the ACN was launching a campaign in Port Harcourt. People would have expected that by the time we arrived Okrika, we would not see any one at home. I was surprised with the huge crowd we saw.

What are the issues in Okrika and why is the council strategic?

There was no security in the past, in Okrika; the area was a war zone. Chiefs were flogged, bishops were harassed and intimidated, and I don't want to go into the details. The people of the area know the details. It was when I came that I imposed a curfew, chased away the criminals that they had trained and kept in the place, and went after their guns and they were liberated. A woman at the rally said they found it difficult going to ease themselves because of fear of being attacked.

What is your relationship with the traditional rulers and would their support for you against their son not be seen as strange?

If the chiefs were against what we were doing they would not have come to my rally. Usually, we don't invite the traditional rulers; we go to see them, but they followed us.

There is nothing strange because the communities in Rivers know me to be straightforward, honest and some even accuse me of being brash. The difference between me and other politicians or governors is that I will tell you what I can or cannot do, while some politicians will promise you heaven and earth and then begin the game of avoiding you. The difference is that they would say 'this man is honest but if he gets to power, he will change.' I am sure that three years down the line, they are surprised that I am still the same person and I will not change.

Are you contended with the content of the campaigns?

Our opponents are not addressing issues. Instead of addressing issues, they are abusing us.

What have you done to reconcile aggrieved members of the PDP?

The only member who was dissatisfied that we have not reconciled with is the former Minister of Transport, Abiye Sekibo. Chief Austin Opara is still with us; he is the chairman of the reconciliation committee.

How do you react to the allegation made by Sekibo at a press conference recently in Lagos, that your government frittered away N980 billion in three years?

My question is whether I was frittering away Eleme Junction that used to keep people lying down there till 3 am everyday for N7 billion or the mono-rail that is going under N49 billion or the secondary schools we are building, which is costing us N4.5 billion because we are increasing the capacity to 1,000 students. We are building 24 of such schools and if I win a second term, I will build another 24 to make them 48. People have asked me to turn the schools into a university or Polytechnic. We have a plan for that yet. I showed a bank how our university will look like. They are doing the infrastructural work - water, roads, electricity, etc. When they finish, we will start building.

Sekibo lives in Abuja; he does not know what is going on Port Harcourt. He just came back a few months ago to run for governorship. The difference between us is that when he served as SSG, there was nothing called due process. Today, there is a law called Public Procurement Law, which we now refer to as due process.

Insecurity in the state started from Okrika and we are spending a huge amount of money trying to protect the state, buying equipment for the police, etc. Virtually all the vehicles that they are using, we bought.

I heard again at the press conference that they accused me of taking a bond of N130 billion. That is not correct. We said if necessary we will take a bond of N100 billion, but we have not taken it. We borrowed N30 billion.

Sekibo, wants to be a governor, he should know that governments are not run without loan. It is a wonder that he is using loan to campaign. Part of the economics of governance is loan. He should have an economic team. My economic team is chasing me about to borrow and I say wait.

The N30 billion we borrowed is for some roads and flyovers. There is a flyover we are building on the new road which is on the way to the airport, it is the East -West road, a federal road and the flyover is on the road, but the Federal Government has not paid us back. We have to complete that before the next loan is taken. We specifically allocated part of the N30 billion for these projects. What makes the loan interesting is that we have started paying back. Every month they deduct N2.6 billion, both interest and principal, and I am told by October, we would have finished paying back.

How much of a threat is Sekibo and the ACN to you electorally?

I don't see any threat from that direction at all. On my way to Okrika, there were three buses carrying ACN supporters to Port Harcourt. If each bus was carrying 50 persons, it means that there were 150 people. We had more than 150 persons at our rally. Even if we say that each bus had 100 persons, we had more than 300 persons at the rally. Where is the threat? They should have shown their rally on television so that people will see whether they can fill the stadium. All the time we held rallies at the stadium,  even though the sitting capacity is 16,000; we filled it up with over 10,000 persons standing outside and inside. At the presidential rally, the crowd was over 27,000, even if there was a stampede...

To what extent did the government compensate victims of the stampede?

We supported in the burials and are giving assistance to the victims. I was affected personally. The woman leader is from my village and my sister's mother-in-law died. The woman said she wanted to come and see me at the rally. And she died.

How are you managing the available land in Okrika given the kind of space needed for the schools, and have you resolved with the riverine people?

The point I made before the wife of the President is that you can't have a school in Okrika without some necessary infrastructure. The one in Port Harcourt has a football field, basketball court and a playground, but the one we have in Okrika does not have any of those things because of surrounding houses. In one of the schools that I visited, one person was pounding yam and it was disturbing the students who were learning. I then told the wife of the President that there was need for us to buy the surrounding houses, pay them off and demolish the houses to make way for football field and play ground. I think we need to reconcile that with the community because the community will be losing if their children are not able to enjoy those facilities.

You are part of the last administration in Rivers…

Yes I was and I said some things on live television. I said: 'I don't like the way people are being killed in Okrika.' I was very frustrated because I know that life cannot be replaced; there is no duplicate. If the Government House or the State House of Assembly is burnt down, it can be rebuilt, but if anyone is killed, he or she cannot be replaced.

I don't like discussing the last government because Dr. Peter Odili is my mentor; my former boss. If Sekibo and the ACN were facing issues, we won't be discussing the last government. I am reminding him of all these because he is throwing stones that he should not be throwing.
Source: The Guardian, 22nd March 2011.

 

86 Oil Wells: A'Ibom to Pay Rivers N350bn, Says Counsel

By Tobi Soniyi

Akwa Ibom State government would pay N350 billion to Rivers State following last Friday's Supreme Court judgment which ordered Akwa Ibom to transfer to the latter 86 oil wells with revenues accruing from them beginning from April 2009.

But the Akwa Ibom State government Sunday denied entering into any agreement with its Rivers counterpart in 2004 on sharing of the 172 oil wells.

Counsel to Rivers State, Mr. Ade Okeaya-Inneh, who gave the figure in Abuja Sunday, said the amount was a conservative estimate of what Akwa Ibom would pay to Rivers.

He said because of the fluctuations in oil prices, calculating Akwa Ibom's indebtedness to Rivers was difficult.

However, Okeaya-Inneh said he had made contact with the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) with a view to determining the exact figure.

He said: "But I tell you, it is not less than N350 billion. That is just an estimate. It will certainly be more."

In a unanimous judgment, seven justices of the Supreme Court with the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu, presiding held that Akwa Ibom was bound by an agreement it signed with the Rivers State government.

The agreement, which was supervised by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, saw the states agreeing to a political solution to the dispute. The agreement was supposed to provide a lasting solution to the recurrent dispute between the two states.

Former governors Victor Attah of Akwa Ibom State and Peter Odili of Rivers State were the signatories to the agreement.

Attah's successor Godswill Akpabio had kicked against the arrangement in 2007 and persuaded the Federal Government to return the 86 oil wells to the state.

Akwa Ibom unilaterally repudiated the agreement and started receiving the revenues accruing from the oil wells.

Odili's successor Rotimi Amaechi cried foul and challenged the return of the oil wells to Akwa Ibom first at the Federal High Court and later at the Supreme Court.

Justice Katsina-Alu held that Akwa Ibom was bound by the agreement because its former governor was a signatory to it in October 31, 2006 yielding the 86 oil wells to Rivers.

In the CJN's lead judgment, he said: "It is not in dispute that this agreement was reduced into writing and dated 31st October 2006. It is exhibit AMBI. It is indeed embodied in the letter written by the then President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo.

"It can be seen clearly from this letter that the parties have voluntarily jettisoned technical and historical solutions. This is so because these solutions were considered at the meeting before opting for the political solution. The parties faithfully implemented the terms of the agreement till the tail end of 2007 when Akwa Ibom unilaterally sought to rescind the agreement and commended its agitation for the application of the historical solution."

Defendants in the suit were the Attorney General of Akwa Ibom and the Attorney General of the Federation.

Katsina-Alu further held: "The plaintiff avers that it accepted the political solution method agreement. So did the defendants. The parties are bound by the agreement. The parties are stopped by their conduct from disclaiming their acts. In the present case, the defendant must accept the legal relations as modified by them in the agreement they voluntarily entered into with the plaintiff. Surely it will be inequitable to permit the defendants to walk out of the agreement which on the evidence before me was not obtained by fraud, misrepresentation or deception.

"It does not matter that in the instant case the defendants have suddenly realised that the terms of the agreement they had entered into with the plaintiff are not favourable to them.

According to him, "The plaintiff (Rivers) is the owner of the 86 oil wells by virtue of the political solution agreement between the plaintiff and the 1st defendant (Akwa Ibom). The terms of which are contained in exhibit AMBI and therefore entitled to be paid revenue derivable there from under the provisions of section 162 of the 1999 Constitution from April, 2009 till date and subsequently."

However, Secretary to Akwa Ibom State government, Umana Okon Umana, while reacting to the judgment, said the intervention of former President Obasanjo, ensured that: "172 oil wells earlier arbitrarily taken from Akwa Ibom State were shared on 50-50 basis between Akwa Ibom and Rivers States."

Umana said though the so-called political solution, which imposed a 50-50 sharing of the disputed oil wells was to come into effect in 2006, Rivers State kept the 172 oil wells and collected all derivation revenues accrued from them until 2009 when the current government of Akwa Ibom State appealed to late President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua to correct the injustice of the so-called political solution which had no basis in law or any technical consideration.

He said if the political solution, which the Supreme Court relied on for the judgment were to subsist, Rivers would refund to Akwa Ibom arrears of all revenues accrued from 2006 to 2009 on the 50 per cent share of the oil wells, which are in excess of N75 billion.

He explained that contrary to the Supreme Court ruling that Akwa Ibom would refund to Rivers the revenue earned on the oil wells from April 2009 to February 2011, a period of 22 months, it is actually Rivers that is owing Akwa Ibom the revenue collected on the disputed 172 oil wells from November 2006 to March 2009. This, he said, was a period of 28 months and from 2004 to 2006, representing the period of the arbitrary seizure of the oil wells before the so-called political solution was signed.

According to Umana, Akwa Ibom is demanding that Rivers refund all of those revenues with interest at the going rate.

Stressing that the 172 oil wells had always been in Akwa Ibom before their arbitrary transfer to Rivers, he said that was the key fact that guided the committee of government agencies made up of the National Boundary Commission, Office of the Surveyor General of the Federation, Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and the RMAFC to advise late President Yar'Adua in a 2008 technical report to return the 172 oil wells to Akwa Ibom after an exhaustive review.

Umana reiterated that Akwa Ibom had at no time ceded its oil wells to any other state on the basis of any agreement, adding that what happened was a political intervention which came out with the so-called political solution.

He challenged the Rivers government to show proof of any signed agreement between the two states on the oil wells, adding that the state government was studying the Supreme Court judgment for further necessary action.
Source: This Day, 21st March 2011.

 

A'Ibom, Rivers Feud Over Oil Wells Lingers

FROM MATHIAS OKWE, ABUJA

Uyo seeks N75b from P'Harcourt

Amaechi pledges prudent use of new oil funds

IN its first full reaction to the Supreme Court ruling transferring 86 oil wells from Akwa Ibom State to Rivers State, the Akwa Ibom State government has denied that the state had at any time signed an agreement ceding any of its oil wells to Rivers State.

Akwa Ibom State government was last week ordered by the Supreme Court to hand over 86 oil wells to Rivers State government in a landmark ruling.

The apex court also ordered Akwa Ibom State to pay revenues plus interest accruing from the wells from April 2009 till date.

A political agreement was purportedly brokered by former President Olusegun Obasanjo for both states over the oil wells, with former Governors Victor Attah and Peter Odili signing for Akwa Ibom and Rivers states.

But at an interaction with reporters yesterday, Secretary to the Akwa Ibom State Government, Umana Okon Umana, denied knowledge of any pact between the two states.

Instead, he claimed that Rivers State was still owing Akwa Ibom a whopping N75 billion in arrears for the Akwa Ibom oil wells allegedly arbitrarily ceded to Rivers by former President Obasanjo.

Umana said: "In 2004, former President Olusegun Obasanjo came up with what he called a 'political solution' by which 172 oil wells earlier arbitrarily taken from Akwa Ibom State were shared on 50-50 basis between Akwa Ibom and Rivers states.

"Though the so-called political solution which imposed a 50-50 sharing of the disputed oil wells was to come into effect in 2006, Rivers State kept the 172 oil wells and collected all derivation revenues accrued from them until 2009 when the current government of Akwa Ibom State appealed to late President Umaru Yar'Adua to correct the injustice of the so-called political solution which had no basis in law or any technical consideration.

"If the political solution which the Supreme Court relied on for the judgment were to subsist, Rivers State would refund to Akwa Ibom State all arrears of all revenues accrued from 2006 to 2009 on the 50 per cent share of the oil wells, which are in excess of N75 billion."

But Rivers State Governor, Chibuike Amaechi, has disclosed that the proceeds from the 86 oil wells returned to the state from Akwa Ibom State from the Supreme Court would be applied judiciously to complete some on-going projects.

Amaechi, who had prior to the Supreme Court judgment on Friday promised not to embark on new projects due to dwindling revenues, said with the return of the 86 oil wells, the revenue to be refunded by Akwa Ibom would be used to initiate new projects.

The governor stated this at a fund-raising dinner organised by his friends and associates in Port Harcourt.

Similarly, women in Rivers State have expressed optimism that the 86 oil wells returned to the state by the Supreme Court would fast-track development in the state.

According to the governor's wife, Mrs. Judith Amaechi, Rivers women received the news of the Supreme Court ruling with joy, as it would accelerate economic and infrastructural development in the state.

Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) senatorial candidate for Rivers South-East, Magnus Ngei Abe, has attributed alleged campaign of calumny against Amaechi to lack of development ideas on the part of opposition parties.

Speaking at an interactive session with Youths of Onne in Eleme Local Council, Abe said he has listened to the opposition candidates carefully but could not spot any concrete development-related plan proffered by any of them.

He said instead of the parties to say what they intend to do to outmatch what PDP has been doing, they have resorted to sentiments such as "Amaechi is arrogant;" "he talks to people anyhow," stressing that if Amaechi had not been bold, he would have found it difficult to reach the present milestone in office.
Source: The Guardian, 21st March 2011.

 

Oil Drilling
S'Court Affirms Rivers Owners Of 86 Oil Wells

FROM LEMMY UGHEGBE, ABUJA

THE Supreme Court yesterday declared Rivers State as the lawful owner of the 86 oil wells under dispute with Akwa Ibom State,  following a political solution used by former President Olusegun Obasanjo to settle the matter between the two states in 2006.

The then governors Victor Attah of Akwa Ibom State and Peter Odili of Rivers State endorsed the political formula.

But Attah's successor, Governor Godswill Akpabio faulted the tripartite arrangement, resulting in the National Boundary Commission returning the oil wells to his state.

Odili's successor, Governor Rotimi Amaechi challenged the action at the Federal High Court and lost, and approached the apex court for redress.

In its judgment yesterday, the apex court's panelists led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Aloysius Iyorgher Katisna-Alu declared that Akwa Ibom was bound by the Obasanjo arrangement because its former governor was a signatory to the agreement of October 31, 2006 yielding the 86 oil wells to Rivers.

Katsina-Alu's held that "it is not in dispute that this agreement was reduced into writing and dated October 31 2006. It is exhibit AMBI. It is indeed embodied in the letter written by the then President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo

"It can be seen clearly from this letter that the parties have voluntarily jettisoned Technical and Historical Solutions. This is so because these Solutions were considered at the meeting before opting for the Political Solution. The parties faithfully implemented the terms of the agreement till the tail end of 2007 when Akwa Ibom unilaterally sought to rescind the agreement and commenced its agitation for the application of the Historical Solution."

Defendants in the suit are the Attorney- General of Akwa Ibom and the Attorney- General of the Federation.

Katsina-Alu further held that "the plaintiff avers that it accepted the Political Solution Method Agreement. So did the defendants. The parties are bound by the agreement. The parties are stopped by their conduct from disclaiming their Acts. In the present case, the defendant must accept the legal relations as modified by them in the agreement they voluntarily entered into with the plaintiff. Surely it will be inequitable to permit the defendants to walk out of the agreement, which on the evidence before me was not obtained by fraud, misrepresentation or deception.

"It does not matter that in the instant case the defendants have suddenly realised that the terms of the agreement they had entered into with the plaintiff are not favourable to them."

He further held that "the plaintiff {Rivers} is the owner of the 86 oil wells by virtue of the political solution agreement between the plaintiff and the 1st defendant {Akwa Ibom}, the terms of which are contained in exhibit AMBI and therefore entitled to be paid revenue derivable therefrom under the provisions of section 162 of the 1999 Constitution from April 2009 till date and subsequently.

"The defendants are hereby directed by themselves and/or their appropriate agencies to forthwith compute and calculate all such sums of money accruing from 86 oil wells belonging to the plaintiff by virtue of the subsisting and biding political solution agreement, which sums has since been unlawfully paid to the 1st defendant (Akwa Ibom) with effect from April, 2009 till date of this judgment and payment of all such sums to the plaintiff by the 1st defendant forthwith.

"There shall be interest at the prevailing commercial rate per annum on the total sums calculated as due to the plaintiff from April 2009 till date of this judgment and thereafter at eight per cent interest per annum on the judgment debt until full liquidation of the judgment sum and interest."

In his reaction, Amaechi declared: "I want to thank God, and please join me to praise God. For nearly two years, I've been fasting and fasting, praying God to disgrace Akwa Ibom State. And today, God disgraced Akwa Ibom State."
Source: The Guardian, 19th March 2011.

 

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Amaechi: God has 'Disgraced' A'Ibom

By Yemi Adebowale

"I  want to thank God, and please join me to praise God. For nearly two years, I've been fasting and fasting, praying to God to disgrace Akwa Ibom State. And today, God disgraced Akwa Ibom State. I told the Governor of Akwa Ibom State (Godswill Akpabio), 'do not take the oil wells that belong to Rivers State and Rivers people'.''

That was how Rivers State Governor Chibuike Amaechi reacted Friday moments after the Supreme Court delivered its judgement on the oil well-dispute between the two states.

Amaechi said further: "I told him (Akpabio) I will kneel down and call on the God that made me Governor of Rivers State to give me and Rivers people back the oil wells. But he went ahead and took the oil wells that belong to Rivers State and Rivers people. And I went back to God, the same God I went to when I wanted to be Governor. And I said 'God, if you are God, show that you are the God of justice, that you are a fair and a just God.'

"And today, God has vindicated me; the Supreme Court handed over all the oil wells taken from us by Akwa Ibom State. I thank God for everything; it is good to worship God. I give God all the glory."

But the Akwa Ibom State government in a preliminary reaction by its Commissioner for Information and Re-orientation, Mr. Aniekan Umanah, blamed former governor of the state, Obong Victor Attah, saying the former governor sold out Akwa Ibom oil wells for political reasons.

The state blamed the administration of the former governor for signing off what it called the fortune of the people of the state when he had the opportunity to fight for their right.

Speaking with newsmen in Abuja, Umanah said, "the political solution which the Supreme Court hinged its judgment was entered into by the government of Obong Attah and that was because he wanted to be in the good books of the government at that time. It was a decision that sold the future and fortune of the people of the state to its neighbouring states because of the ambition of one man.

"Now the people of the state are the ones suffering because of the selfish desire of one man.

We have it on good authority that former governor Attah accepted the political solution offer because he wanted to please the powers-that-be, and as proof that he was not supporting the presidential ambition of former vice-president Atiku Abubakar, who was angling to succeed former president Olusegun Obasanjo in 2007.

It was a selfish way of finding solution to an issue that would have a direct effect on the lives and development of the people of the state, without any consideration.
Source: This Day, 19th March 2011.

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Opobians in Diaspora endorse Hon. Dakuku Peterside
Hon Dakukku Peterside

By Nwaorgu Faustinus

Opobians in Diaspora, on Sunday, 13March, 2011, in an Interactive Video Conference with Senibo Chris Finebone, Chairman Publicity Sub Committee of The Real Choice for Change Campaign Organization, formally endorsed the Candidacy of Hon Dakuku Peterside for the Federal House of Representative.

The endorsement which was at the instance of a live streaming video of all the participants, which started at 8 PM local time called on Opobians in Diaspora to mobilize their wards back home and encourage them to go out on the election day and vote for Hon. Dakuku Peterside.

The Forum charged all its members visiting home during the general elections to participate actively and to ensure that their people vote wisely.

Briefing Senibo Chris Finebone on its activities, projects and efforts aimed at mobilizing support for Hon Warisenibo Dakuku Peterside, the group has this to say, ? "The Forum also reaches out to its neighbors - the Andonis and Nkoros thanking them for their support and urge them to vote their son and brother Hon. Dakuku Peterside; for effective and equitable representation of the constituency".

Senibo Chris Finebone on behalf of Hon Dakuku Peterside thanked Opobians in Diaspora for the show of support and solidarity for Hon Warisenibo Dakuku Peterside, emphasizing that not very many people who left the shores of Nigeria remember home and think for the wellbeing of the people back home.

According to Senibo Finebone, "Opobians in Diaspora deserve commendation for staying in touch and contributing to the development of OpoboKingdom".

He also informed the forum about the campaign activities of Hon Waribsenibo Dakuku Peterside; the visit to the Chiefs of Opobo; thanksgiving in Churches across the constituency; endorsement of Hon Dakuku Peterside by the Khono Council of Chiefs; Campaign at Nkoro scheduled for March 14th, 2011; the visit of the Governor to Opobo later in March; election dates; among other things.

The forum used the opportunity to extend invitation to Hon. Dakuku Peterside to a similar interactive video conference being planned by Opobians in Diaspora in the coming days.

The date and time for the conference according to online press statement by Mr. Shedrack Fubara, Chief Coordinator/Host of Opobians in Diaspora will be communicated to Opobians all over the world, as it will provide a platform for all Opobians and friends of Hon. Dakuku Peterside to ask him questions, comments and also hear first hand his legislative agenda and programs for the people of Andoni, Opobo and Nkoro constituency.

The conference ended with a communiqué calling on all Nigerians to:

1. Avoid violence during the elections.

2. Vote wisely for reputable candidates who will bring about desired change in Nigeria. 3. That Opobians in Diaspora as stakeholders in the Nigeria project are watching keenly the political developments in Nigeria especially leading up to the general elections.

4. That Opobians in Diaspora are committed and will continue to contribute to the development of OpoboKingdom, Rivers State and Nigeria.

5. The Forum urges the good people of Andoni, Opobo/Nkoro Fed. Constituency to rally support and vote for Hon. Dakuku Adol Peterside for House of Representative

The interactive video conference had the following Coordinators in attendance:

Mr. Shedrack Fubara – Chief Coordinator/Host – Alberta, Canada

Mrs Pat Asabe Peterside – Coordinator – New Jersey, USA

Mr. Joseph Uranta – Coordinator – Virginia, USA

Ms Faith Toby – Coordinator – Ukraine, Europe

Mr. Darlington Finebone – Coordinator – Houston, USA

Mr. Somiari Bell-Gam – Coordinator – UK, Europe

Mr. Christain Pepple – Coordinator – UK, Europe

Mr. Sobere Owen Opusunju – Coordinator – Malaysia, Asia couldn't join the conference due to time difference and other engagements.

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2011 Polls: Assess Us on Our Performances – Amaechi

By Nwaorgu Faustinus

Governor Amaechi has enjoined Princewill Political Associates to assass the various contestants for the office of the Governor of Rivers State in the April 2011 general elections based on their performances while he was the Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly.

The governor gave the charge recently when he received a mammoth crowd of Princewill Political Associates (PPA) representatives drawn from various Local Government Areas LGA as well as the Hausa and Yoruba Community resident in Rivers State, Forum of Opposition Political Parties, Professional Group, Religious group among others who stormed the government house en masse to thank him for his good works and to support him for his second term bid.

Addressing the crowd, Governor Amaechi said, "Assess us on our performances. Don't assess us as Governors. Assess us when I was the Speaker of House of Assembly and find who performed and who did not perform"

He said at the time he was the Speaker, their was peace and people were not shooting guns nor being killed in his Local Government Area while the reverse was the case in the LGA of his unnamed political contestants.

"In their own Local Government Areas, people were being killed and people who kill cannot be part of government because the first oath of office of the governor is to protect life and property", Governor Amaechi said.

He charged the group to vote wisely.

He explained that it was poverty that propelled him to give free primary and secondary school education to pupils and students attending public schools in Rivers state, while reiterating his government commitment to fund free healthcare adding that free books, sandals, school uniforms and bags are being provided by his government to lessen the financial burden of parents whose children are in public schools.

In order to encourage PPA, the governor gave the group the sum of 5 million naira from the coffers of his campaign organization which generated resounding ovation from PPA members.

From the leader of PPA, Prince Tonye Princewill, the chairman of PPA, Hon. Davies Ibiamu, the Commissioner of Urban Development, Hon. Osima Ginah, the women leader of PPA, Dr. Mrs. Edith Wele to all the representatives of the local governments, the Hausa and Yoruba Community, the professional group, religious bodies etc in one accord thanked Rt. Hon. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi for his achievements and declared their overwhelming support for him, saying the will vote for him at the election day.

Earlier during the commissioning of Princewill Political Associates (PPA) secretariat, located at 268 Aba Road, Port Harcourt and unveiling of billboards for Amaechi 2011 campaigns, Prince Tonye Princewill said PPA was working with Amaechi to ensure his reelection as both PDP members and non members were in PPA.

Princewill noted that the group has attracted various associations and at some point in the future may no longer exists as its members can be assimilated into broader governance.

Commenting on one of the inscriptions on the billboard that reads, "Amaechi is not perfect, but let us make it perfectly clear, he has done very well", Princewill said he is not a sychophant who sees everything as good even though there may be contrary views.

According to him, "the man (Amaechi) is not perfect, but he has done well, he is less than 100 %.

 

Rivers: NAFDAC Seals Off Eight Sachet Water Outlets

By Chukwudi Akasike,Port Harcourt

THE National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control has sealed off eight unregistered sachet water outlets in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.

NAFDAC said it had also seized seven automated sachet water packaging machines in its renewed determination to protect consumers from buying unwholesome water.

The state Coordinator of NAFDAC, Mr. Bolakale Ayinde, who spoke in Port Harcourt on Thursday, said that the agency had arrested four persons involved in illegal production of table water in the state.

Ayinde, who is an Assistant Director in the agency, pointed out that NAFDAC was working in conjunction with the Association of Table Water Producers to achieve its aim.

He expressed NAFDAC's commitment towards sanitising the sachet water industry by flushing out producers of fake table water.

"What we are doing is a concerted effort by NAFDAC and ATWAP to flush out fake sachet water producers in the state. The exercise is geared towards sanitising the sachet water industry.

"We want to ensure that only registered producers with good manufacturing practice are allowed to operate. This renewed move by the agency will ensure that consumers are protected," Ayinde noted.
Source: Punch, 11th March 2011.

 

Diaspora Group Rallies Support For Amaechi

EDITOR

A GROUP of Nigerians in the Diaspora has endorsed the re-election bid of Rivers State governor, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, at the April 2011 governorship polls.

A statement by the 'Diaspora Committee of Friends to Re-elect Amaechi' called for an overwhelming support of the governor "on account of his unalloyed stewardship in the past three years."

Mr. Neruka Okpara, Mr. Menkem Onyia, Mr. Amabo McHarry, Mr. Daopuye Simon-Ogan, Prof. Bisi Oladipupo, Dr. Chamberlain Peterside and Dr. Ogu Emejuru signed the statement.

They said after a critical analysis of projects, policies and legislation brought about by the Amaechi administration, the Diaspora group had resolved to galvanise support for the governor's re-election campaign.

"This is to ensure continuity in realisation of people-oriented projects and programmes in the next political dispensation," they said.

Among the governor's key strides they mentioned were massive infrastructural investments around the state, including road projects, schools, health centres, electrification, ongoing monorail project, rural development and implementation of the Greater Port Harcourt Master Plan.

They also noted "the attainment of relative peace and security as evidenced by first-hand experiences of some group members, who visited Rivers State recently."

They group commended the governor for his astute leadership in striving for financial transparency, accountability and inclusive governance.

On the April polls, the group agreed "to leverage the power of technology to sensitise voters and create visibility by spreading the message about success stories and accomplishments in the state."

The Publicity Committee Chairman of the Amaechi 2011 Re-election Campaign Organisation, Mr. David Iyofor, said the move by the Diaspora group was a welcome development and would boost and enhance strategies put in place by the campaign organisation to ensure the governor gets re-elected in the April gubernatorial polls.

"This also goes to show the level of appeal Governor Amaechi has from Rivers people all around the world. He has performed creditably well in less than four years such that Rivers people everywhere are calling for him to be re-elected," Iyofor said.
Source: The Guardian, 20th February 2011.

 

Most Guber Candidates Are Wanted Criminals - Gov Amaechi

ANAYO ONUKWUGHA, PORT HARCOUR

Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State said yesterday that most of the candidates that are contesting the April gubernatorial election in the state were criminals who are on the wanted list of the Nigerian Police.

Twenty-five candidates are contesting the gubernatorial election in the state on the platform of different political parties.

Amaechi who disclosed this in Port Harcourt the state capital while speaking at the inauguration of sub-committees of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Campaign Committee, said they would be made to face the law immediately after the elections.

"Look at the list of the candidates some of the parties have, the criminals you are looking for are candidates in other parties. Most of them are on our wanted list by the police. If we arrest them now, they will say it is political. Don't worry; we will wait until after the April elections.

"After the elections, we will go after those who have broken the law, those who have killed us, raped our mothers and our sisters. They must answer to the law, they must. If you do anything now, they will accuse you of political witch-hunt. We will endure, after the elections, if we are voted back to power, then, we will call them to come and answer to the law", he said.

The governor stated that some politicians who caused insecurity in the state and ran to Abuja for protection were now back in the state seeking to contest the April election, adding that it was only those who have provided security for the people of the state that could be allowed to govern it.

"Those who caused the insecurity are coming back to say they assure us of security. Is that possible? You have already visited us with insecurity. You ran away to Abuja and we have secured a town and you are back to do what, to bring back insecurity?

"You cannot govern Rivers State from Abuja because, you won't know what is good or bad in Rivers State. You won't know the sufferings of our people. For you to govern us, you must be here.

"You couldn't have caused insecurity and go to secure your life in Abuja. You only come in with bullet-proof cars and come to govern Rivers State. You can only govern Rivers State when you have secured the lives of our people", he said.

Amaechi said the present administration in the state will not hesitate to prosecute anyone who engages in criminal acts in the state, no matter their political standing in the country.
Source: Leadership, 18th February 2011.

 

Rivers Guber Race: Amaechi Blasts Sekibo on Security

From AKEEB ALARAPE, Osogbo

Rivers State Governor, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, has assured Rivers people of continued and adequate security, saying they will sleep with their two eyes closed if he is re-elected into office in April this year.

Governor Amaechi made this promise when he inaugurated members of his re-election campaign team at the PDP state secretariat in Port Harcourt, yesterday.

While speaking on the occassion, Amaechi commented on a statement credited to the gubernatorial candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in the state and former transport minister, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, during the formal opening of his campaign office in Port Harcourt that he would provide security that will make Rivers people sleep with their two eyes wide open if voted into office.

According to Amaechi, "last night I was listening to the statement of one of the parties that said you will sleep with your two eyes wide open if you vote for them. If your two eyes are open, are you sleeping? Surely, you are not. In our government, you have been sleeping and will continue to sleep with your two eyes closed. We are not assuring our people of security because we already have security. Those who caused the insecurity in the past are now coming back to assure us of security.

They  had visited us with insecurity,  ran away to Abuja, now, we have secured the town, they are back to bring insecurity." "You can't cause insecurity and go to secure your life in Abuja only to come back to govern Rivers State. You can only govern Rivers State when you have secured the lives of our people. You can't govern Rivers State from Abuja because you won't know what is good or bad in Rivers State, you won't know the sufferings of our people," he said.

Amaechi challenged Dr. Sekibo to show to Rivers people what he did to better their lives when he was in office as SSG in the previous administration of Dr. Peter Odili, noting that those who led the state into lawlessness and insecurity in the past were now coming back to ask for votes from the same people upon whom they inflicted hardship and pains. Governor Amaechi however told members of his campaign team to concentrate on issues-based campaigns.

He said, "We must not be arrogant about our successes, we will not allow our people to be deceived, we must be humble and show the people that having served them, we will serve them better".

"We will not allow any criminal who breaks the law to go scot-free including those who are running elections. Nobody will be above the law; we must continue to deliver on our promises to the people. Whatever we promise our people we must do. We must keep to our promises and be held accountable for our promises", he said.
Source: Sun, 18th February 2011.

 

Rivers new militant leaders in SSS net

From HENRY CHUKWURAH, Port Harcourt

Two alleged unrepentant militant leaders in Rivers State have been rounded up by the State Security Service (SSS) in Rivers State.

The suspects identified as Sopakiriba Teme Igbikis and Akobo Erise Dokubo were fingered in the lingering crisis in oil-rich Kula Community in Akuku Toru Local Government Area of the state.

Igbikis was alleged to have established new militant camps in the area and recruited some militants, who were supporters of two ex-militant leaders, Kenneth Opusingi and Christian Don-Pedro.

Remnants of the militant group led by Tamunotonye Kuna alias "Obese" were also recruited by the suspects.

Parading the duo and some kidnap and cyber crime suspects in Port Harcourt, the SSS Assistant Director in-charge of Operations and Intelligence, Mr. Kunle Ajanaku told journalists that the militants had been unleashing mayhem on the people and companies operating in the area.

"These militants have re-established new camps in Kula community and its environs from where they unleash mayhem on the oil companies and civilian population that ply Kula sea routes.

"Several innocent lives have been lost as a result of clashes among the militant elements. They also engage in sea piracy, particularly of fishing trawlers and oil tankers and robbery of boat operators." The SSS senior official told reporters that Igbikis and Dokubo were found to be "active" allies who have contributed to militant resurgence in the community.

"Dokubo and Igbikis are striving to become the Chief Security Officers (CSO) of Kula, a position which enables them to extort money from oil companies, fishing trawlers and other sea routes users." He assured that efforts were underway to mop up arms stockpiled by the militants, while the two suspects would be charged to court soon.

Also paraded was a suspected five-man kidnap and robbery gang arrested by the military Joint Task Force (JTF) on January 12, this year.

They were identified as Dakorubo Bruce alias "Bakobar", Victor Batubo, Kingsley Arerebo, Ikwerre Timothy and Junior Ifokobo.

Mr. Ajanaku said investigations revealed that the gang allegedly led by Dakorubo Bruce had carried out several kidnappingk in Asari-Toru, Akuku-Toru, Ahoada West and Ahoada East local government areas of the state and a robbery in First Bank Plc at Ikot Abasi in Akwa Ibom State in November, 2009.

The gang was also alleged to have confessed to the kidnap of four persons namely Messrs Chigbo Eligwe, Emeka Ama, Osagie Omoregie and Elem Ewor in which they collected and shared several millions of naira.

Also, in the SSS net is a 20-year-old Isaiah Uchendu, who allegedly sent threat text messages to the wife of one Richie Eguabor, a staff of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC).

In the incriminating message, he demanded N4million or he would kill Mrs. Eguabor and her children.

Nemesis caught up with the suspect when security operatives used their tracking device to identify him and he later, "agreed to write an undertaking that he will be held responsible and accountable should anything happen to the Richie Eguabor family."

There was also the case of a female suspect, Valary Umukoro, who had been impersonating the SSS and making false phone calls with the aim of swindling unsuspecting members of the public.
Source: Sun, 3rd February 2011.

 

SSS Arrests Aide for Alleged Threats to Amaechi's Life

FROM KELVIN EBIRI, PORT HARCOURT

SPECIAL Assistant to Rivers State Governor Chibuike Amaechi on Students Affairs, Dike Princewill, has been arrested by the State Security Services (SSS) for purportedly threatening to kill the governor.

The Assistant Director, Operations and Intelligence, Mr. Kunle Ajanaku, disclosed yesterday that Amaechi's aide was arrested at the weekend for sending death threats through short message services (SMS) to his boss to make him reverse his stance on the industrial action by teachers of the state-owned University of Science and Technology (RSUST).

Ajanaku, who represented the State Director, Mr. Douglas Dogo, told journalists that shortly after the RSUST branch of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) embarked on a strike last October, the governor started receiving death threats from two female students of the University of Port Harcourt.

He explained that the governor had initially ignored the death threats but when they became persistent, he had to notify the SSS, which immediately started investigation aimed at unravelling those behind them.

Ajanaka said in the course of investigation, the SSS was able to discover through the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) numbers of the SMSs that the suspect had clearly and consistently used handsets belonging to his girlfriends.

And with the assistance of the service providers, he said the SSS tracked down the owners of the two cell phones and arrested them. According to him, it was in the process of interrogation that the girls disclosed that the governor's aide had occasionally used their phones to send SMSs.

"The girls were not aware of the content of the messages he was sending out. He merely used their handsets to send the death threats. It took prolong interrogation for one of the girls to confess he (Princewill), who works in State House Port Harcourt, used her phone to send SMSs," he said.

Following the confession of the girls, the SSS arrested Princewill somewhere around Old Government Reservation Area (GRA) at the residence of a top politician in the state. But the two girls have been released.

Ajanaku revealed that the suspect admitted to sending the SMS to the governor with the intention of blackmailing him to change his hard stance against the teachers who have been on strike since October.

The governor had shortly after the teachers went on strike threatened to mobilise students of the institution for a one million-man match against them for embarking on strike over the non-implementation of the 2009 Federal Government /ASUU agreement.

The SSS chief said the governor was shocked when it was discovered that Princewill was the main culprit sending the SMS.

In his reaction, the Acting Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Blessing Wikina, told The Guardian that the state government would not interfere with the work of the security operatives involved in the matter.

He charged the SSS to conduct a thorough investigation into the matter and let the law take its course. According to him, the incident would serve as a deterrent to other persons across the country that are involved in such an obnoxious act.

"We will not obstruct or interrupt in any kind of investigation being carried out on this matter by security agents, particularly as it borders on serious crime as this. We are not known to have romance with criminality," he said.
Source: The Guardian, 2nd February 2011.

 

Jonathan's Victory Shows General Acceptance —Amaechi

JAMES UME, PORT HARCOURT

Rivers State governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi says the emergence of President Goodluck Jonathan as the flagbearer of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the April 2011 elections in Nigeria was an indication of his general acceptance as possessing the capacity to lead the country.

Governor Amaechi stated this at the Port Harcourt International Airport, on return to the state from Abuja where he led the state delegates to attend the PDP presidential primary, which saw President Goodluck Jonathan emerging victorious.

The governor thanked the delegates, PDP members and Nigerians for the support to a son of the Niger Delta, noting that the massive support from the delegates across the country was an eloquent testimony of the fact that President Jonathan represents a new transformation of Nigeria.

According to him, "Rivers State, like other states of the federation massively supported the candidature of President Jonathan to lead the nation, and we hope that other contestants who were part of the congress would partner with him to move the country forward."

Commenting on the voting pattern, the state chief executive said the delegates expressed their views through voting for the candidate of their choice, emphasising that no individual could have turned in 2,763 votes that produced Jonathan as winner.

On how Atiku Abubakar got only two votes from Rivers delegates, Governor Amaechi said the delegates had their right to express their views, and they voted for who they wanted, and emphasised that both the president who picked the party's ticket and others who didn't, are all members of the same political family who love Nigeria and her democracy. Governor Amaechi and the entire delegates from Rivers State had all returned from Abuja.
Source: Leadership, 15th January 2011.

 

 

 

 

 

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