Port Harcourt Stands Still For Amaechi


The celebration of two years in office of Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State was eventful and the city of Port Harcourt literally stood still for the performing governor. The celebration apparently started last Saturday when the governor with stakeholders and other august visitors traversed the state, inspecting landmark projects executed by his administration within the past two years. While some of the projects have been completed, several of them are still ongoing. Those that have been completed were commissioned while those at various stages of completion were merely showcased to the stakeholders and members of the public. The second anniversary of the governor’s administration got to a resounding climax last Monday morning at the prestigious Alfred Diete-Spiff Civic Centre along Moscow Road, Port Harcourt, when the governor gave his account of stewardship to the good people of the state as well as to residents of the state and some august visitors who were in the state to celebrate the excellent performance in office and good governance. It was at the event that the Port Harcourt metropolis and its environs literally stood to a stand still for the governor, as he dazzled and shone like a million stars. The mainbowl of the Civic Centre was filled to capacity as people started thronging the venue of the accountability forum as early as 8a.m. Even before the scheduled time of 9a.m when the event was expected to commence, the governor and his entourage including respected dignitaries drawn from far and wide had already taken their seats. Those outside the gates of the mainbowl were in their thousands, and security men had a hectic time controlling them. The crowd at the civic centre was as if all residents of the state, both men and women, young and old had turned up to listen to the governor and probably catch a glimpse of him, because in the past two years he has been on the saddle, he has been making a lot of waves, either for good or for ill. A mid way into the event when the governor ordered security men at the venue to allow those outside the mainbowl to move in, the tone of the event was clearly set, as that action in no unmistakable terms, proved succinctly that his administration was serving the ordinary people. It also proved beyond words that the Accountability Forum was targeted at the ordinary people in keeping with the tenets of democracy. Questions from these ordinary people including those from a young boxer who claimed that boxers from the state who won their championship bouts at a national contest were yet to be paid their entitlements, and a poor widow residing at one of the waterfronts in the city with her six children, marked the beauty of the Accountability forum. Their questions got instant response and attention from the governor. The young boxer in particular left the civic centre happier than when he came. Again, though the governor did not particularly address the concern of the widow and her six children, the administration’s stance on the planned demolition of the waterfronts was re-echoed, that such waterfronts must fall and the houses therein bought back by the government at their present commercial rates. Speaking with The Tide On Sunday shortly after the event, Hon. Augustine Ngo, the Special Adviser to the Governor on projects said the secret behind the success story of the present administration was the fact that it has remained focus. He further stated that in the coming months, the administration would be on the neck of contractors handling various projects across the state to ensure that they execute quality jobs, stressing that the administration would also ensure that all ongoing projects were completed next year. According to him, as a Rivers man, he was today proud of the achievements of the present administration. The Special Adviser also indicated that the remarkable achievements of the present administration would be clear to all Rivers people at the end of three years, as the government would intensify the supervision and monitoring of contractors handling various projects. Also commenting, Alhaji Ahmed Okiri, a Muslim leader in the state said going by the administration’s remarkable achievements, the governor deserves a second term mandate, but advised him to tread a middle course in the planned demolition of waterfronts in Port Harcourt. He explained that the Accountability Forum and various bold initiatives adopted by the present administration were novel to the state, and likened the achievements of Governor Amaechi to the achievements of Alfred Diete-Spiff. He, however, called on the government to concentrate on link roads across the state in the coming years to completely decongest traffic in Port Harcourt. Indeed, the Accountability Forum was a remarkable success as people came from all walks of life to grace it but the maiden edition of the NUJ platform which the governor featured as a special guest on Tuesday took the two years anniversary celebration of his administration to a different level. The event brought the governor face to face with media practitioners selected from different media organisations in the state. The fact that there were four panelists and a moderator at raised platforms, with the governor seated in the middle facing an audience which comprised senior journalists, made the NUJ platform different from a traditional press conference in which a public officer addresses members of the fourth Estate of the realm. From the blast of the whistle, starting with the moderator, our own, Editor of The Tide Newspapers, Mr. Soye Jamabo, the governor was asked a barrage of questions which he fielded without batting an eyelid. No doubt the general manager of the rivers State Newspaper Corporation, Mr. Celestine Ogolo who incidentally was one of the panelists actually gave a good account of himself, going by the quality of questions he threw to the governor. In all, the governor’s bluntness and his characteristic jokes and simplicity were not lost to the respected media practitioners. His comments on his Information Commissioner who apparently signalled him to adjust his posture while answering one of the questions, elicited laughter from the journalists. The point was clear. The governor has his own mannerisms, his idiosyncrasies if you like. Then, can you beat this? After the journalists finished firing from all cylinders, and the governor seemingly taking them to the cleaners, the amiable governor walked down the staircase, moved straight to the NUJ canteen and sat down with some media men sipping bottles of beer with which they were washing down plates of pepper soup. The governor ordered for a bottle of coke and gulped it down his throat before departing the Ernest Ikoli Press centre. Hold your breath because the gist has not ended. When he got to where his unmarked jeep was parked, he simply slided into the steering wheel and drove himself out of the press centre. He was also decked in a simple jacket with an ash-coloured shirt and a white pair of trousers to match, gestures from a governor out to demystify the office of governor. The platform was truly the journalist’s encounter with the governor, and it was truly remarkable. During the celebrations to mark the governor’s two years in office, Port Harcourt literally stood still for him. The city wore a festive hue. Pavements of roads particularly along the busy Aba Road were painted. The Rowland Cookey-Gam Drive, leading to the new Government House was adorned with colourful banners, eulogizing the governor. The terraces of the civic Centre revibrated with the echoes of his remarkable achievements and the hallowed chambers of the Evans osi hall ruptured with his principled stance on issues.


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