Because of the impressive record of the governor, it’s difficult to single-out one achievement as the ‘greatest’ so far, but from a fair assessment of his performance, security ranks top, Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi turns two and a half years in office this month – April 2010, having assumed office on October 26, 2007. The erudite and tenacious governor, has left no one in doubt that he is a man on a mission, loaded with vision for the well-being of the state and its citizens. Achievements trail him, even within one year in office and the achievements are so visible that even critics of the administration could not help but hold their peace. Yes, it is a common knowledge that criticisms that trailed the administration at inauguration have all percolated into the sands of time. Special Assistant to Governor on National Economic Council and Council of State Affairs, Mr. Wele Alex Wele put the Amaechi years so far in proper perspective in an interview with The Tide On Sunday last week in Abuja.
Wele told The Tide On Sunday: “…what the governor is doing in the state is common knowledge to everybody, he has been doing a lot (but) a lot of things are still needed; of course, you cannot solve the problems of a state in one day, you solve them gradually”.
Wele contended that because of the impressive record of the governor, it’s difficult to single-out one achievement as the ‘greatest’ so far but that from a fair assessment of his performance, ‘security’ ranks top, recalling the situation on ground in the state when Amaechi took over the mantle of leadership – a situation that portrayed the state as being under siege by militants – cum-cultists from the state (and other neighbouring Niger Delta states). “I recall the recent security situation in the state, when the governor assumed office. People will alight from their vehicles at check points, whether private or commercial, hands – up and were subjected to vigorous checks before being allowed to go back to their vehicles. There was palpable fear and citizens and other residents of the state feel largely insecured.”
He said it is a plus for the Amaechi government that it tackled the security challenges in the state frontally and tenaciously – and succeeded in restoring peace and normalcy to Port Harcourt, the state capital and indeed, the entire state. As a result, he said, “people now move about freely without fear of molestation and shootings, even at odd hours like 12 midnight and 1.00 a.m, except for those, who for their personal life styles do not want to keep late outside”. Thus, he submitted that security is indeed top on the administration’s ladder of achievements.
His words: “It’s difficult to say this is the greatest. Every achievement of Amaechi stands out so it’s difficult to say this is the greatest. But if you ask me, I’ll say ‘security’ because everything we’ve doing – building roads, hospitals, health centres and all these things – deal with security. It’s only when you know that your life is secured that you can even go to undertake or execute such projects so when you consider the value of security, I think security should be top”.
In putting Amaechi’s achievements in proper perspective these two and a half year of stewardship in Rivers State, the Special Assistant on National Economic Council and Council of State Affair said, next to security in infrastructural development, road construction and education, stressing that these are three key areas the administration is focusing on, and explained the rationale behind the emphasis on these three key areas thus: “How can you bring a state back to its glory without massive infrastructural improvement, road construction and education?”
He drew The Tide On Sunday’s attention to the dwarfing of high-level fences in the state, especially, in GRA areas of Port Harcourt, noting that before now a lot of criminal activities tend to go on in some of those places without anybody knowing but with the dwarfing of fences if any of those premises are invaded by criminals, rescue and help would easily get to the occupants as even passers – by would notice the presence of such intruders.
Wele applauded Governor Amaechi for undertaking road projects massively, especially, the expansion of roads which, he noted, “takes guts from a governor to do that (as) a governor that is not committed cannot do that because the amount of compensation that you pay alone, is capable of constructing more roads”. He noted that it is the government’s deliberate policy to ensure that “while you are constructing more roads, you must also expand existing ones”, hence the expansion of roads like Rumuola, Elekhahia, Ogunigba, Zoo, etc., adding “following the government’s road expansion programme, Elekhahia road now looks as if it’s a very big Express road; you can’t believe it’s the small Elekhahia road… we’re happy these type of things are coming to the state”.
The government’s greeter Port Harcourt vision which has culminated into the rolling out of a master plan and foundation – laying did not escape mention by Mr. Alex – Wele. He told The Tide On Sunday, “This thing is a project of about 50 years he’ll not be governor for 50 years, he’ll not be there to complete it but let the foundation be laid for successive administrations to build on”.
The government’s effort at developing existing committees was also pin-pointed, as a deliberate effort at decongesting the state capital. Mr. Wele paints a vivid picture of this vision, thus: “Take Bori for example. Bori is strategic, if it is developed, people from Akwa-Ibom State who are coming to Rivers State through that axis will stop at Bori to do their businesses and the people of Andoni, Opobo, and Nkoro- and all those on the axis of the Ogoni – Andoni – Opobo unity road will find it easier to come to Bori to do business, instead of Port Harcourt, thus decongesting Port Harcourt city”.
The issue of giving education a face lift and providing scholarship for Rivers students as well as accountability was also pin-pointed and emphasised by Mr. Wele as a cardinal objective of the Amaechi government these past two and a half years,” Wele said.
Justus Awaji, Abuja