Posted by News Express | 13 June 2018 | 4,946 times
My treatise to celebrate the 53rd birthday of the icon and new face of democracy in Nigeria entitled “Amaechi: Nigerians Celebrate The Lion Of Niger Delta Politics, An Enigma, A Quintessential & A Resolute Democrat @ 53 (Part 1)”, can be accessed through any of these media links: http://www.theoctopusnews.com/amaechi-nigerians-celebrate-the-lion-of-niger-delta-politics-an-enigma-a-quintessential-a-resolute-democrat-53-part-one/ or https://www.theleadng.com/amaechi-nigerians-celebrate-a-resolute-democrat-53/.
In the foregoing, I tried to give account of the humble beginning of Rt Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi (CRA) erstwhile governor of Rivers State and incumbent Minister of Transportation and how he rose to become a key and influential player in the politics of Nigeria. In the same treatise, I gave an account of what Amaechi means to some elders and stakeholders in the politics of Rivers State, and the spiritual angle of his birth both to Rivers State people and children of Nigeria. The significance of his name was also analysed, accordingly. I stated that he was named Chibuike, which means ‘God is all-powerful’ and Rotimi, an abridged version of Oluwadurotimi, meaning ‘the Lord stands by me’, while Amaechi means ‘who knows tomorrow?’
Though I had thought of treating in this part two of my ongoing expository or discourse on the 53rd birthday of one of the greatest pillars of our current democracy experience, Amaechi, the immediate past governor of Rivers State and incumbent super Minister of Transportation on the current macabre dance going on in the Rivers State politics, where his erstwhile key political allies have united to plot not only how to destroy his person but decimate his political structure in Rivers State. After watching some of the recent comic and bizarre commissioning of projects in Rivers State by some prominent Nigerians - such as highly respected traditional rulers, prized political and religious leaders under the influence of Governor Wike – I feel compelled, as a close watcher of the politics of Rivers State, to straighten the records with facts, to avoid giving credit to a fellow who is trying to claim credit for what he has not done. The work on the current macabre dance in Rivers State politics, therefore, will be treated in part four of this discourse later this month.
Close watchers and followers of recent events in Rivers would have observed that Wike has formed the habit of inviting the high and mighty in Nigeria, with so much fanfare, to commission the Woji - Elelenwo - Akpajo Road and other roads that were dualised, excavated, stone-based with underground drainage constructed by the administration of Rotimi Amaechi, by pouring asphalt on most of these roads; thereby deceiving these respectable Nigerians that he executed these projects. For avoidance of doubt, let me reiterate that Wike has not initiated or executed any single three kilometre road in any part of Rivers State since assumption of office as the Governor of Rivers State on May 29, 2015.
I would not have disturbed myself with this write-up if Wike - in his submissions before those he invited to commission some of these projects - had told them these projects were hitherto initiated, completed and commissioned by his predecessor, Amaechi.
Let me state that the only project worth mentioning - which Wike can comfortably claim credit - are the two round-about at Garrison Junction and Weja Junction, which were initially designed as flyovers by the administration of Amaechi, which he claimed to have wasted a whopping sum of N17 billion to construct. This fraudulent act and total disregard for decorum, accountability and transparency can’t be accepted by some of us.
While other state governors are busy moving their states forward, Wike is here busy organising a comic showbiz of commissioning projects he never executed. It is on record that his counterpart like Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State is busy building a vehicle assembly plant. Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State is building a very mighty rice factory that will boost the agricultural sector of the state that will produce 32,000 tonnes every day. The Governor of Lagos is also set to launch 5,000 new buses in Lagos, in addition to several other feats. Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi has not only constructed thousands of road networks, but built three high-classflyovers. Governor Seriake Dickson of Baylesa is redefining governance in his State. Governor Atiku Baguda of Kebbi has achieved stable power supply in 16 LGAs, and also established the Rice Pyramid (Lake Rice) in partnership with Lagos. On his part, Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River can boast of setting up the biggest garment factory in Africa, the Rice City Project and Calabar Mono-rail, while Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom has set up the first pencil factory in Nigeria, lead factory and automobile assembly plant.
In 2015, the Lagos State Government partnered with Kebbi State to have the Kebbi farmers grow the rice and sell it back to Lagos for final processing. Today, Lake Rice is the beautiful testimony of a visionary leader. Still in 2015, the Taraba State Government partnered with CBN to secure a loan of N2 billion for the first greenhouse project in the entire North-east sub-region. Today, Taraba has a brand new green house farm, the largest in Nigeria. The project was initiated with an initial capacity to produce four exotic crops - cucumber, lettuce, pepper and tomatoes.
But, on Wike’s side, what did he achieve? He destroyed all the agricultural initiatives of Amaechi’s administration. Instead of emulating these great leaders, our noisy and unprepared Governor Wike is inviting and commissioning projects that he never executed. It is on record that in 2015, the Kebbi State government secured a loan from the CBN for rice production. Today, Kebbi has the biggest rice mill in Africa. But, sadly, the over N130 billion so far borrowed by Wike was wasted on sponsoring his cronies and cohorts to watch European matches and sponsoring the unfruitful activities of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), instead of developing the state.
Having been privileged to have worked under both Wike and Amaechi, I must state that no matter the thinking of any body, Amaechi stands poles apart from hundreds of Wikes, as his desire and love for a better Rivers is infectious.
Let us, therefore, take time to re-examine this visionary and egalitarian leader from Rivers State and some his feats.
1. On road projects, in the eyes of Chief Victor Tambari Giadom, immediate past commissioner for works under the administration of Rotimi Amaechi and his account dated August 27, 2015 entitled “Which roads did Amaechi build?” you may decide on your choice between these two leaders from Rivers State.
“From the inception of his tenure as the governor of Rivers State in October 2007, Amaechi directed efforts and deployed significant resources of the state towards the development of infrastructure. Against the backdrop of this commitment, the administration articulated its vision with respect to the road sector as ‘A Rivers State where all communities are accessible by quality roads…’”
This vision, by emphasising quality roads, implicitly acknowledged the finding of a study that there is a strong positive correlation between the economic development and the quality of the road network of an area.
Between 2007 and 2014, over 300 contracts relating to roads and bridges, land reclamation and shore protection projects were awarded. As at August 2014, 165 of these contracts had been successfully completed with the remainder at various stages of completion, with the exception of two in which the contractors were not mobilised before the end of the tenure.
The administration also completed 23 major bridges in different parts of the state, with six other bridges at various stages of completion. The completed bridges include nine bridges on the Unity Road (Ogoni-Andoni-Opobo), two steel bridges at Eagle Island, Ndoni Steel Bridge, three bridges on the Okrika Ring Road, a bridge at the Abuloma-Woji Road, Mbiama-Kinima bridge, Bolo Creek bridge. The on-going bridges include Woji-Akpajo bridge (70 per cent completion), Luwa-Bere bridge (50 per cent completion); Orashi Steel bridge (60 per cent completion), Tema Steel bridge (40 per cent completion) and two bridges on the Unity Road.
The administration completed two major flyovers: Agip Roundabout on Ikwerre Road and Eliozu on the East-West Road. It reconstructed the collapsed flyover on Aba Road, near the Nigeria Air force Base. Another flyover at Woji had reached 85 per cent completion level. Two interchanges were also completed at Rumuokwurusi (at the intersection between the Port Harcourt-Aba Expressway and the East-West Road), the area erroneously called “Eleme Junction”; and at Obiri Ikwerre (at the intersection between Prof Tam David-West Boulevard and East-West Road).
To evidence Amaechi’s concern for all the residents of the state, 70 per cent of the roads are located in the rural areas, with the remaining 30 per cent within the Greater Port Harcourt Metropolis. From the rural areas to the urban centres, no part of the state was left out in the development of good road network. The Amaechi administration expanded and completed the Okrika Ring Road. It expanded the Mbiama-Akinima Road. It constructed the Kpopie-Bodo Road. It substantially completed the Unity Road, which traverses three local government areas – Khana, Andoni and Opobo/Nkoro.
Before he left office, Amaechi ensured that the people of the Ancient Opobo Kingdom could get to Opobo by road. Anxious to ensure that all parts of Rivers State were accessible by road, the Amaechi administration entered into advanced discussions with the Nigeria LNG Ltd, with respect to the completion of the Bodo-Bonny Road, which had been abandoned by the Federal Government. The administration also completed the Rivers State end of the Port Harcourt Owerri Road, in order to create relief for Rivers people, in the same way it attempted to reconstruct the Rivers State end of the East West road, but was refused to do so by the then Federal Government. To improve movement of farm products and encourage trade and commerce, the Amaechi administration constructed a major spine road between Isiokpo and Omerelu.
The Isiokpo-Omerelu Road reaffirmed the high premium Amaechi’s administration placed on transportation. The criticality of some roads made them a compelling proposition for the Amaechi administration. These included the Ada George Road (Mile III Diobu to Mgbuoba) and the Port Harcourt - Owerri Road. The Amaechi administration constructed a dual carriage way from Port International Airport junction to the boundary between Rivers State and Imo State; the rehabilitation of Port-Harcourt - Aba Expressway (from the Rumuokwurusi interchange to the boundary with Abia State). The administration also awarded the contract for the Trans-Kalabari Highway, which construction had commenced before the end of tenure.
Within the capital city, the need to decongest Port Harcourt, Aba Road led to the conception and construction of a relief road before the ever-busy Rumuola Junction, to link Aba Road to Rumuomasi/Elekahia/Trans-Amadi. This relief road opened the area for residential development. The Old Stadium Road (renamed Ken Saro-Wiwa Road) was dualised. Similarly, the Old Aba Road up to Rumuogba (Artillery) was also dualised. Okporo Road was dualised to take traffic from Aba Road to the East-West Road.
To address access to the Industrial Area of Trans-Amadi, Amaechi’s administration dualised the Elekahia-Rumuomasi Road, linking Aba Expressway. It also dualised the Oginigba - Rumuobiokani Road. It dualised Nkpogu Road, which takes traffic to and from Eastern By-Pass. Save for a disagreement between the contractor and the ministry of works, the bridge that opens up the second lane of the road would have been completed before the end of term.
The administration conceived, awarded the contract and commenced the construction of another major spine road linking Garrison to East-West Road (Garrison-Trans-Amadi-Oginigba-Woji-Elelenwo) with an interchange at Garrison, three bridges at Waja River, Oginigba River, Woji River and underpass at Oginigba (near the Zoological Garden). The execution of the road project was phased.
The Woji section had attained a level of completion since 2014 that allows for reasonably unimpeded use by commuters. Work continued at the Trans-Amadi section before the end of the term. Within the same Trans-Amadi axis, Amaechi’s administration conceived, awarded contracts, and substantially constructed the Abuloma-Woji Road and the Woji-Akpajo Road. The objective of this road is to take traffic to or from Eleme axis (Akwa Ibom) away from Aba Road.
The administration also conceived, awarded the contract and commenced the reconstruction of the Rumuepirikom - Rumuolumeni Road, the Elioparanwo Road, the Iguruta-Eneka-Rumuokwurusi Road as dualised. The administration reconstructed the Ikwerre Road from Education Bus-stop to Agip Roundabout. To provide relief to Ikwerre Road for commuters from Rukpokwu, Iguruta, International Airport, the Administration reconstructed the G.U. Ake Road linking Aba Road to Ikwerre Road, close to Rukpokwu. The administration also conceived and awarded contracts for the dualisation and reconstruction of the Old Aba Road (Rumuogba) - Woji Road and Oil-Mill - Elelenwo-Akpajo Road (Old Refinery Road).
In summary, Amaechi gave significant attention to the development of good roads in Rivers State on the understanding of its many benefits to the socio-economic well-being of the state. His administration left a number of nearly completed roads that now serve as low-hanging fruits for the new administration. What is required is for the present government to build on the excellent foundation laid. Those who are resorting to cheap muck-raking, rather than face their work, are only wasting their time and that of the good people of Rivers State.
Sadly, Wike is currently plotting to lure President Donald Trump of the USA to come and commission some of these roads listed above, but I know with this exposure he may decide to shelve this notorious idea.
Other feats by Amaechi
2. Greater Port Harcourt City
Another area that set Amaechi apart from other leaders in Rivers State was his idea of building a brand new mega city that has one of the most modern stadiums and other edifices only obtainable in modern cities of Europe, after every effort to rebuild some of the creeks and shanties in Port Harcourt proved abortive. This man who was ahead of his time on assumption of office as the governor of Rivers State saw the challenges of congestion in Port Harcourt and, in 2009, ensured that a law was passed by the Rivers State House of Assembly so that his administration can spread development to the surrounding communities as part of the effort to decongest the Port Harcourt metropolis that was founded in 1912 by Frederick Lugard, the then governor of Northern Protectorate and Southern Protectorate, named after the then British Secretary State for the colonies, Lewis Harcourt.
After the discovery of crude oil in Oloibiri in 1956, Port Harcourt exported the first shipload from Nigeria in 1958. Port Harcourt became the centre of the Nigerian oil economy and it subsequently reaped benefits of its associations with the petroleum industry by undergoing modernisation and urbanisation. Port Harcourt's growth is further due to its position as the commercial centre and foremost industrial city of the former Eastern Region; its position in the Niger Delta and its importance as the centre of social and economic life in Rivers State. Thus, to minimise consequences of rapid development, a master plan for Port Harcourt was produced with the primary task of providing the framework for physical planning, roads, housing, water system, electricity, drainage amongst others. Realising that the success of physical planning depends, to a very large measure, on the human factor, policies on health, welfare and productivity of its population were formulated ultimately for the development of the city’s total resources, as well as the country’s, Amaechi’s Greater Port Harcourt was to spread to eight local government areas, including Port Harcourt, Okrika , Obio-Akpor , Ikwerre, Oyigbo, Ogu-Bolo, Etche and Eleme, with total population estimated at 2,000,000 as of 2009, making it one of the largest metropolitan areas in Nigeria.
3. Amaechi, the Great Magician of Nigeria
The Port Harcourt Book Festival, formerly known as Garden City Literary Festival remains one of the city's most important and popular events since its inception in 2008. Established by the government of Rotimi Amaechi, the yearly gathering improves local literacy levels, promotes reading habits among denizens, and benefits exhibitors seeking wider audience. Throughout its annual run, Port Harcourt Book Festival has hosted renowned publishers such as Heinemann, Learn Africa Plc, Africana First Publishers, and EPP Books Services. The festival currently continues to draw writers, literary connoisseurs, booksellers and publishers from every walk of life to the city. In July 2012, UNESCO, IPA, IBF and IFLA named Port Harcourt the World Book capital for the year 2014, making her the 14th city in the world to be selected as World Book capital, and the first in Black Africa.
4. Port Harcourt as UNESCO World Book capital, 2014
Apart from the above, Port Harcourt, the capital of Rivers State, played 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. 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. 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.
Port Harcourt’s reign as World Book Capital 2014 began with the handover by Bangkok at an impressive ceremony at Hotel Presidential in the Rivers State capital. Dignitaries at the event included former governor Amaechi, former head of state, Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar; Nobel Laureate, 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; Engr Tele Ikuru, former deputy-governor of Rivers State; Rt Hon O D Amaechree, then Speaker of State House of Assembly, members of Rivers State Executive Council, senators and members of the House of Representatives from the state. This feat by Port Harcourt in becoming the very first African city south of the Sahara chosen as World Book Capital based on public voting, beating 10 other great cities that include Oxford in England and Moscow in Russia, is commendable
In part three of this study, I will present other areas of remarkable feats by this enigma of our time before writing on the macabre dance in the politics of Rivers State that will expose to the world the facts why Rivers State APC lost the 2015 gubernatorial election, and the efforts to avoid its reoccurrence.
•Eze Chukwuemeka Eze is a media consultant based in Port Harcourt and can be reached on: email@example.com, 08022049770.
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