The International Writers Magazine: Nigerian Electionss + Results of April 9th Poll
Rivers Guber 2011:
Amaechi, Sekibo or Omehia.
Who is the best candidate for the Rivers State People?
Eze Chukwuemeka Eze
Ahead of the April 26th 2011 polls when the people of Rivers prepare to vote, they have a distinct choice:
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.
These three great sons of Rivers State were only some months ago 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.
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 that he will make them sleep with their two eyes open - 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 open 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 record 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. 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 lifestyle, the city was more like a war zone or rather a jungle where the fittest ruled. 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. 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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This treatise cannot be concluded without hearing from someone who has 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”.
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.
© April 7th 2011
Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze is a Media Consultant based in Port Harcourt
*April 2011 Polls: Princewill Commends Rivers’s People and Prof. Jega
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).
||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."