Why Amaechi’s 8 Years as Rivers Governor Was not a Waste
By Eze Chukwuemeka Eze
Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike, Rivers State CAN’s Apostle of Peace and 2016 Sun Newspapers Governor of the Year Award Winner, had on 11th February, 2017 granted an interview to Editors of The Sun Newspapers, titled, ‘How I Parted Ways With Amaechi – Governor Wike…’; with the rider, ‘There won’t be election in 2019’. Wike in his infamous and ignominious interview had stated: “So far I am concerned, Amaechi’s eight years as Governor of Rivers State was a wasted eight years.”
I will not be attending to the issue of if Wike – who supervised the killings in Rivers State before and after he assumed office as the Governor of Rivers State – merits Sun’s award or not. Neither am I ready to expiate if such a character who turned Rivers State to ‘Rivers of blood’ merits the title offered to him by some elements in the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rivers State branch, as an Apostle of Peace. But in few weeks time, I will attempt to explain to the public the lies contained in the interview by The Sun Newspapers, against an innocent man like Rt. Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, the former governor of Rivers State and incumbent Minister of Transportation of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by x-raying some sectors of the administration of Amaechi and allow you the reader to judge.
Let me reiterate that Wike’s assessment of his mentor, boss and predecessor in office, Amaechi as that of a colossal failure is laughable, as he, Wike, was not only a part of the engine room of Amaechi’s administration but a key actor. Coming back to write off an administration whose impact on the lives of people of Rivers State had been described in some quarters as the golden age of Rivers State – only comparable to the administration of Alfred Diete-Spiff, first military administrator of old Rivers State – is not only an attempt to rewrite a history that is still alive to most of us, but a very callous, malicious, satanic, wicked, sad and unfortunate attempt by a mind that needs an immediate health attention.
Because of the much falsehoods, misrepresentation of facts, and turning facts upside down in order to achieve a devious and sinister agenda, it behoves on some of us that monitored not only the eight years administration of Amaechi, but who also worked very closely with Governor Wike, to straightening the facts and save the general public from the obvious falsehoods contained in this particular interview.
In carrying out this assiduous task, I am challenged by the words of Nobel Laureate and renowned author, Prof Wole Soyinka who, in his famous book, The Man Died, noted: “The man dies in all who keep silent in the face of tyranny.” And to avoid falling into the trap of late Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia’s famous words: “Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted, the indifference of those who should have known better, the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most that has made it possible for evil to triumph.” Others who have benefitted so much in Amaechi’s political sagacity and benevolence may decide to sit on the fence or keep quiet at this critical time, but I have no choice than to defend a misunderstood man by some misguided elements, no matter the cost. And in this my latest attempt to defend and protect the integrity of Amaechi – whose only sin is that he spearheaded the ouster of a clueless president who supervised the looting of our common patrimony with impunity and to such a ridicules level where billions of dollars are housed in the houses of most of his aides, while the entire nation suffers in abject poverty.
Wike’s unfortunate stand is aptly captured in Psalm 41:9: “Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.” And Psalm 55:12-14, which says: “For it is not an enemy who reproaches me, then I could bear it; nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me, then I could hide myself from him. But it is you, a man my equal, my companion and my familiar friend; we who had sweet fellowship together, and walked in the house of God in the throng.” The above biblical quotes cannot find a better person than what Chief Nyesom Wike, is currently doing to rubbish and ridicule the personality of ex-governor Rotimi Amaechi, his predecessor, political mentor and benefactor.
What is happening in Rivers State today could also be captured in the words of Lucien Bouchard: “I have never known a more vulgar expression of betrayal and deceit.” According to Malcolm X, “To me the thing that is worse than death is betrayal. You see, I could conceive death, but I could not conceive betrayal.” In line with this fact of life among civilised people and happenings in Rivers State, an illustrious son of the state and one time Minister of Petroleum Resources, Prof Tam David-West, aptly described Amaechi’s “orchestrated travails” as unfortunate, in view of the fact that Amaechi has worked hard enough in restoring the glory of Port-Harcourt, also known as the Garden City of Nigeria.
For the avoidance of doubt, I served as a media aide to Wike, when he acted as the Director General of the Amaechi’s Campaign for his 2011 re-election. It was his position that I should head the Media Team of the campaign Team, instead of serving as a member of the Media Campaign Team. As our Director General, I did an article titled; Anya-Neli, in which I profiled and mentioned his type of politics. And I know that up till now nobody has done a better article on him than that article. I have to state this fact for the first time, just because of some of you that will be reading this article and thinking that I am either judgemental or biased. It is a common fact that most of Governor Wike’s current aides are not closer to him than me, That was why I laughed off those wooing me to Wike, so that I can assist him in his present task of ruining Rivers State, and work against a man who played key role in shaping our political lives, thinking that I have a price tag at my age.
Having stated this fact let me attend to the truism of this article, aimed at straightening the facts about the administration of ex-governor Amaechi. Though it will be foolhardy for anybody to do justice to the tenure of Amaechi as governor of Rivers State in a single piece but forth with, on a weekly basis, I will be presenting series of Amaechi’s administration stories, sector by sector, in order for the reader to understand the type of politics that Wike is now playing in Rivers State.
Before doing this, let me unequivocally state what Wike’s statement that Amaechi’s eight years as a Governor of Rivers State was a waste, entails:
1. It entails that Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, former president of Nigeria’s statement on Amaechi’s administration was false. During his visit to Rivers State, to commission some projects initiated by the administration of the Governor Amaechi, he said: “I came to see developments and I have seen developments, and I will confess developments. What I have seen is worth declaring. The area of health, education, agriculture, sports and road infrastructure is worth declaring. When I see development, I ear-mark, eye-mark and mouth-mark.” Yet, to Wike, Amaechi’s administration was a wasted years.
2. Wike’s stand also entails that the conferment on Hon Amaechi, with the prestigious “SERA’s award for his contributions towards the social development of Rivers State, in line with the objectives of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), especially in the areas of health and education” was false. Conferring the award on Amaechi, president of the Social Enterprise Report and Awards (SERA) jury, Mr Peter Oguaoro, said the recognition was an indication that there are still good Nigerians who are contributing to social development in the country.
3. Wike’s stand entails that, The Archbishop, Province of Niger Delta and Bishop of Niger Delta North Diocese, Most Rev Ignatius Kattey, who described Amaechi as a leader with inspiring leadership qualities and benevolence in several areas of human endeavours was false. According to this great cleric, Amaechi has demonstrated vision and courage in the leadership of Rivers State, as well as recognised that government and the church are partners in building the moral, economic and social well-being of the citizenry. He commended Amaechi for his infrastructural development in the state, particularly the quest to restore Port Harcourt to its Garden City state and provision of lasting peace in the state, and thanked him for the support to the Anglican Church.
4. Wike’s perception entails that the former President of the Republic of Zambia, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda, who described the leadership of Amaechi as a focused one was false. Kaunda, who made the commendation when he paid a courtesy call on the governor at Government House, Port Harcourt, noted that with the focused leadership of former Amaechi, Rivers State would continue to be of service to humanity for many years to come.
5. It entails that the declaration of Port Harcourt as UNESCO World Book Capital 2014 under Amaechi was false and misplaced. It would be recalled that UNESCO, moved by the revolutionary feats of Amaechi in the education sector, crowned Port Harcourt the 2014 World Book Capital City in April 2014, beating 10 other great cities that include Oxford in England and Moscow in Russia. For this to be achieved, against all odds and challenges, simply demonstrates that Amaechi was a visionary and focused leader who has received accolades in this regard by world leaders, while to a little-minded fellow and a local champion like Wike, Amaechi’s eight years was a wasted years! Port Harcourt’s reign as World Book Capital 2014 began with the handover by Bangkok at an impressive ceremony at Hotel Presidential, Port Harcourt. Dignitaries at the event included Amaechi, former head of state, Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar; Prof Wole Soyinka; UNESCO Director-General, Ms Irina Bokova; former World Bank Vice-President, Africa, Dr Obiageli Ezekwesili, wife of the former governor, Dame Judith Amaechi, among others. This feat of Port Harcourt in becoming the first African city south of the Sahara to be chosen as World Book Capital, based on public voting, beating 10 other great cities, is commendable.
6. It entails that Port Harcourt, the capital of Rivers State, playing a historic role when it hosted the US-Nigeria Bilateral Commission on October 16 and 17, 2012, thereby becoming the first city outside the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, to do so. This event is a top bill in international rating and the strategic relevance of the Gulf of Guinea area makes the meeting in Port Harcourt even more important. The United States Deputy Secretary of State and two Assistant Secretaries led the US delegation. On the side of Nigeria, the US-Nigeria Bilateral Commission is viewed with seriousness, especially by the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF), led by Amaechi. His administration has, in addition, promoted overall United Nations activities in the South-South geo-political zone, through the provision of an outstanding facility that can house over 15 UN agencies in Port Harcourt. As a result, there are five UN agencies in Rivers State at the moment; and more are expected to follow in due course. To Wike, who have turned Rivers State to ‘Rivers of blood’, Amaechi’s tenure was wasted years.
7. Wike’s words entail disapproval of the construction – by the Amaechi administration in the educational development of Rivers State – of new 20-classroom-blocks model primary school, to commemorate the status of Port Harcourt as the current World Book Capital. Known as World Capital City Model Primary School, the edifice is located in Port Harcourt metropolis, and was already furnished and operational with commencement of classes for the 2014/2015 school year. In addition to classrooms and teachers’ offices, the model school is equipped with state-of-the-art facilities such as demonstration science laboratory, library, ICT, sick-bays and reception class. The former commissioner of education stated that construction of the 20-classroom blocks was necessitated to address the issue of out-of-school children in the state. The state government embarked on this project to ensure that every child in the state has easy access to the free education policy of the Amaechi-led administration. The project is in line with the Education for All (EFA) and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) vision of providing access to all children of school age by the year 2015. Samples of the 20-classroom blocks are built in all the 23 local government areas of the state, which include demonstration science laboratories aimed at giving children the opportunity to visualise what they are being taught in class. The introduction of laboratories is in line with the new national curriculum, which allows children from four years and above to be exposed to science education early, so as to better understand science courses in the future. The demonstration class is where the teacher demonstrates for the pupils what they are learning. It makes teaching and learning easier for both the teacher and pupils.
8. Wike’s position also entails that the visit by former President Obasanjo, who embarked on a two-day visit to Rivers State, to commission some landmark projects executed by Amaechi during his six years’ historical and revolutionary administration in the state; described some of the structures of education in Rivers as mind-boggling. The former president was so elated and astonished by the type of world-class projects he was asked to commission, particularly the Ambassador Nne Kurubo Model Secondary School at Ebube, Eleme – one of the 24 model secondary schools scattered all over the 23 local government areas of the state – which tops most of the universities in Nigeria in areas of facilities, structures and landmass. The former president shouted while addressing the Rivers State people in the assembly edifice of the school, saying that the k-leg of then Governor Amaechi has been straightened. Recall that President Obasanjo denied Amaechi the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship ticket in 2007, after winning the primaries of the party, until the Supreme Court reinstated Amaechi ‘as the duly elected governor of Rivers State.’ Obasanjo went further to hail Amaechi for his administration’s developmental strides. He stated: “I came to see developments and I have seen developments and I will confess developments. What I have seen is worth declaring! The area of health, education, agriculture, sports and road infrastructure is worth declaring. When I see development, I ear-mark, eye-mark and mouth-mark.”
9. President Muhammadu Buhari in a statement during his visit to Rivers State on November 5, 2013, described Amaechi as a hero and a great leader: “PDP decided to target some governors that are progressives and we feel will make a difference. We seek your support through Amaechi. I lived in Port Harcourt during my military career. I was a Staff Officer to Gen (Theophilus) Danjuma in 1973. Rivers State has produced great men such as Prof Tam David West. 2015 will be another watershed in Nigeria. Amaechi is a great leader. We decided to come together to save Nigeria from mis-governance. We must come together and make Nigeria move forward. Amaechi has given Rivers people responsible leadership. The schools he has built will give Rivers children a better tomorrow, while women and children stand to benefit from the standard health centres he has built. He has also carried out physical rehabilitation of infrastructures in the state. People like Amaechi should join the All Progressives Congress (APC) to move Nigeria forward.” This was the major sin of Amaechi against Wike and his misguided supporters.
10. Wike’s stand cancels the commendation by the United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) of Amaechi, for the strides recorded by his administration in the health and education sectors. Country Representative of UNICEF, Ibrahima Fall, who described as tremendous the progress made in these sectors, noted: “This is the most exciting news for every mother, for every child and for every family in Rivers State.”
11. Wike’s stand entails that the former Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert was wrong when he made the following statement: “The impression that I always get when I come to Africa is that these countries have enormous potential, and your country and your state (Rivers) have enormous potential and I think that you happen to have at this time in history also, a dynamic, energetic and capable leadership that can make the dreams of building up the state into a reality of life for the 5.1 million residents in Rivers State that want their lives to be of much higher and greater quality.”
12. In extolling this great revolutionist, the United States’ Consul-General in Lagos, Mr Jeffrey Hawkins, told journalists: “I must commend Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State for embarking on numerous people-oriented projects and showing enthusiasm on Niger Delta issues. We are very appreciative of all that Amaechi has done. We are quite clear that addressing the issues of the Niger Delta, the challenges require focusing on things like education development, agriculture, health, all sorts of issues. And the governor was kind enough to show us, on the ground, some of the projects the government of Rivers State is working on, so we are very deeply appreciative of his support.”
13. Wike’s interview entails that his new revelation in a recent ceremony contradicts himself about Amaechi’s; feats when he stated: “How can Amaechi build polytechnics and call them Model Secondary Schools? I will convert that of Saakpenwa to a polytechnic.”
14. Wike’s satanic stand entails that The Sun Newspaper’s Man of the Year Award in 2007 and the Compass Newspaper Award for Security in 2008; Governor of the year 2009, “Award for Leadership, Award for Excellence – 2009” chaired by former Head of State, Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar (retd), in Abuja were all flukes.
15. It entails that the remarks by former President Jonathan while on inspection tour of the Port Harcourt – Owerri Road, constructed by the administration of Amaechi 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. Besides 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.”
16. It entails as false, the remarks by the former Governor Shekarau of Kano State: “I feel highly fulfilled by coming here today to hear and see the dividends of democracy, as I urge Governor Amaechi to build more of such schools which he described as vehicle for change. But for time, I would have borrowed a leaf from Amaechi by replicating the quality of schools I have seen here in his State.”
17. It entails as untrue, the statement credited to the former Governor of the old Rivers State, from 1967 and currently, the Amayanabo of Toun Brass, Bayelsa State: “Yes, I am attributed to be the father of the old Rivers State but, without sounding immodest, let me reiterate that Governor Amaechi can be described as the builder of the modern Rivers State, if all the infrastructure he has put in are anything to go by. I am so proud of his feats and if he continues like this, Rivers State will be a pride to all Nigerians.”
18. That the invitation to Amaechi – as one of the three high profile speakers at the Commonwealth Observance Day held at the Westminster Abbey, London, because of what was described as his “incredible achievements at the national level, personal commitment to policies that encourage enterprise and create opportunity and not least his personal engagement” – was a fluke.
Wike’s major feats
1. The 13,000 teachers employed by the administration of Amaechi were not only denied their salaries for months but were later sacked by Wike. The Rivers State indigenes offered foreign scholarship by Amaechi’s administration to study various courses to boost the future of Rivers State were not only recalled but Wike threatened to deal with them.
2. He turned most of the schools built by Amaechi into hideouts for criminals, and reverted pupils and students to schools already discarded.
3. Amaechi’s free scholarship scheme to the people of Rivers State from primary to university level was maliciously uprooted and stopped by the Wike’s administration.
Amaechi’s ‘Rivers of peace’ vs Wike’s ‘Rivers of blood’ where human life no longer count
1. The result of the peaceful state of Rivers State under the watch of Governor Amaechi resulted not only in attracting foreign investments that Port Harcourt became the haven of both international and national championships. Apart from hosting one of the best-organised National Sports Festivals ever in Nigeria, the School Sports and the Police Games by March 2013. Port Harcourt, apart from Abuja and probably Lagos was the only state to have hosted US-Nigeria biennial National Conference, Pan African Parliamentary, Garden City Literary Festival, hosted CARNRIV involving several foreign countries to showcase the rich culture, potentials and beauty of her people; the second Dr Claude Ake Memorial Lecture, Rivers State Investment Forum and Governor’s Interactive Session with Rivers State Youths.
2. Apart from the above, other major events hosted by Rivers State under Amaechi’s watch include the ION Film Festival where the world’s best film producers were feted with the hospitality of Rivers State; Miss ECOWAS Pageant, Garden City Literary Festival, Guild of Editors, Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP); a trade delegation from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on an enlightenment 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.
3. While under Wike’s watch, International organizations, corporations and Intuitions in Rivers State are relocating to Lagos because of insecurity in the State.
Finally, I laughed when Wike and his funny companions presented the following issues – in which he worked assiduously against during the sad regime of Dr Goodluck Jonathan – before the Federal Government, during the visit of the Acting President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Prof Osinbajo:
1. Soku Oil Wells must be restored back to Rivers State
2. East-West Road needs to be attended to
3. Development of the Niger Delta
4. Clean-up of the Ogoni oil spill
5. Legalisation of bunkering and refining
6. Synergy between Rivers PDP and APC national
7. Peace and unity in Rivers State.
Thanks to the Acting President, Prof Osibanjo who assured that these issues that Wike collaborated with former President Jonathan to deny the Niger Delta region will be tackled by the President Buhari’s administration
I hope that I have succeeded to expose the lies in Wike’s wicked interview and can comfortably state that Amaechi’s eight years was not wasted but can be described as the golden age of governance in Rivers State
As I stated earlier, I can’t in one piece state who Amaechi is or what he achieved for Rivers State during his eight years rule, but will kick-start the series of Amaechi’s feats in the area of education by next week, pick up the health sector, agriculture, security and other sectors in that order. I will also assist the public by throwing light on the ‘Rivers of blood and Apostle of Peace’, as well as Wike and his betrayal mission against Amaechi.
Let me conclude this treatise by quoting Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo: “Ameachi is also a man of big ideas and very insightful; he understands how to live long in the hearts of men. His education policies in Rivers State, and all of those children he gave real hope and opportunity ensures that he will always be remembered long after he left this earth.”
Eze Chukwuemeka Eze is a Media Consultant based in Port Harcourt, Rivers State and can be reached through, email@example.com, 08038199163