The sayings that goldfish has no
hiding place, and that a good product sells itself, have again come to play in Rivers State. This is because youths of the state under the auspices of Rivers Youth Movement (RYM) and other well-meaning groups have been having sleepless nights to ensure that the Executive governor of the State, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi returns to office for second term in 2011.
The mood of the youths of the state today is not unconnected with the outstanding performance of the Governor in office, a performance underlined by the provision of people-oriented projects by his administration in the past three years. It is unarguably an administration that has brought the dividends of democracy to the doorsteps of the populace.
To this end, a group led by the Deputy Leader of the State House of Assembly, Hon. Hope Ikiriko stormed the Port Harcourt office of Rivers State Newspaper Corporation, publishers of The Tide group of newspapers on Monay, November 29, 2010 and had an encounter with The Tide Round Table. The group gave an insight into the activities planned by the youths to herald Governor Amaechi’s second term bid and ultimately sell him to the electorate. While declaring vehemently that Governor Amaechi is our Governor come 2011, Hon. Ikiriko disclosed that the 2 million-man-march billed for Friday, December 10, 2011 in Port Harcourt is expected to be the climax of the demonstration of support for the governor by the youths. Excerpt.
What do you mean by facilitator in political terms?
Facilitators are those who are backing and coordinating the progress of the programme without much hitches.
And that includes footing the bills?
However we all foot the bills together.
What is the 2 million-Man March all about?
The Two Million-Man March is a programme powered by the Rivers Youth Movement (RYM), just to mobilise the Rivers youths, mobilise Rivers people to demonstrate the support they have for him, and first of all, thanking him for what he has done for the State, appreciating him for good governance and then urging him to continue in office as we are about rounding off the first tenure, and we know in governance he has showcased integrity and we want him to come back to office in 2011 to continue to do the good works he is doing in the state, that is what the two million man march is all about.
We intend to mobilise a minimum of 2 million people in the state to rally round him and tell the world that we appreciate him and love what he is doing.
Any significance about two million?
We are considering the active population of the state which centres on the youths. If at least two million people should be able to come out and tell the world about the good works of Governor Amaechi, then it will be justifiable enough for him to come back in 2011.
In the not too distant time, there was a one million man march for Abacha, couldn’t the people behind the programme fashion out something else?
What you saw in Abacha days was a figment of imagination of the reality of this kind of march.
They wanted to paint the picture of canvassing support for Abacha. They were trying to imagine this kind of thing that is going to happen in Rivers State for Abacha to give the world the impression that an average of one million people are showcasing their support for him. In that case, the difference is they paid money for it. The Government itself brought out money to mobilise people, now in this, it is voluntary, those who want to trek from Rumuomasi to Borikiri will trek in support of the rally to appreciate the leadership of the Governor. Those who will pay their own transport from Ahoada will come. We make bold to say that Government has not given us anything, and we don’t intend to get money from government. The chairman of the central planning committee and the facilitator is ensuring that things are properly coordinated, we are going to mobilise both human and material resources to make sure we actualise it.
And this will be a precedence that we have set. We want to come all out to support the governor; we have not raised any memo asking for money or patronage from the government. We don’t want to stay at home and say Governor we support you or appreciate you, we want to come all out and let him know that the people really appreciate him.
Is the two Million Man March an all PDP affair?
No it is not all PDP, the Commissioner here who is the facilitator is not a PDP man. It is just recently that he is working with PDP. He has his supporters who are also from the other parties who work with him, but just to answer your question, there are lots of people who are not in PDP who are working with us. The RYM is not a party organisation, RYM is a social-cultural organization that comprises members of all the political parties.
This programme is achored on RYM platform and they are mobilising both PDP and non-PDP members. Obviously, when it comes to appreciating good governance, majority of the people, irrespective of party affiliation are behind Governor Amaechi. It is only those who are devilish and those who don’t want good thing that will say this government is not doing well. The roads that the Government is building, the other parties are making use of them, the schools that the Government is building is not for only PDP- members and their children. Same thing with the hospitals. Amaechi needs to be appreciated, and we thank God for blessing Rivers State with a leader like Amaechi.
We have passed that stage of campaigning just for party, we want to let the world know that we have come of age where individuals should be encouraged to keep integrity, be accountable to the people and be able to present them for election. In that case, it is like saying that good product does not hide.
It advertises it-self. Amaechi’s development projects in Rivers State are glaring. The Princewill political associates and the organised opposition are also partnering with the RYM to mobilise support for the Two Million Man March. The two million Man March is not only for Rivers State, every body resident in Rivers State, indigenes and non indigenes are involved. Our people from the South/South and the Niger Delta are saying that Governor Amaechi has set the pace and that they are in support of the mass mobilization to endorse him for a second term. Don’t be surprised that over six million people may turn out for the march, then you will realise that there are people who come from Delta, Yenagoa and Calabar, they are all coming to support Amaechi, and so we have a product that is even higher than what we are looking at. We want the Governor to continue with his good projects in the state so that the future of Rivers State in terms of development will be secured.
We want to create a unique sense of identity for Rivers State, just like Lagos where residents can proudly say I am a Lagosian, we want people to be proud to say I am a man of Port Harcourt, we have non-indigenes who are Permanent Secretaries, we have non-Rivers indigenes as Special Assistants, and so this is a government that is all inclusive, what we are doing is not just for Rivers indigenes, we are doing it for every body who resident in Rivers State and we want to tell the world that we are selling a good product.
Amaechi will enjoy massive support and we don’t need to rig election, let every one who will challenge our product which is Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi come up, with one man, one vote, Amaechi is going to win. The Two Million Man March is in no way restricted to youths; everybody who is still strong to come out should demonstrate his or her support for good governance, by supporting Amaechi.
We don’t want to mortgage our future; we want to secure it based on the development already started by Governor Amaechi.
You said a good product sells it-self, don’t you think the Two Million Man March is unnecessary and puts the people under pressure and is he aware?
All we did was to be cautious to inform him as the Chief Security Officer of the State that such a programme is to hold in Rivers State, but we have not involved him in any way, we are doing it for him. This idea is outside PDP campaign, outside the actual campaign for the election. All we need to do on that day is to plead with him to be available to give us attention while we call on him to run for the election, 2011.
What we are saying is that the programme is voluntary, and if you believe in the Rivers project and on what the governor is doing, you should come all out to support him. Let us urge him to run for his second tenure, which constitutionally he is entitled to. People have voluntarily printed T-shirts, posters and banners, and these are the things we need. It is a challenge to the people, and it is expected of them to make commitment to support good governance.
In fact, we demonstrate commitment to say; His Excellency, we need you, His Excellency we appreciate you, how will the man know that he had done a good work? The Governor does not need to blow his own whistle; we have to blow that whistle to let him know that he has done well, and the only way to do that is to urge him to continue in office as Governor in 2011. There is a constitutional guarantee for right of association and one basic thing is interest, the interest of the Rivers people is the Rivers project, which is good governance, and good governance is, security, education, infrastructure, health. We can not mortgage the future of the state and allow the militants and other criminal minded people to take over, when Amaechi came into office in October 2007, you discovered that, there were, shootings and killings all over the state, but he came in and we started breathing fresh air. Night life has returned and there is relative peace in the state. You can see primary and secondary school buildings that look like Universities, you can see, health centres that look like General Hospitals. He has also gone further to say that, look because I am educated, and I want five million Amaechis in Rivers State, he declared free education in Rivers State. You have an environment which is conducive for learning and you don’t pay anything, all you need do is to send your wards to school and government takes care of everything. That is what we are showcasing.
Amaechi appears persuaded to contest in 2011, as he had already declared, don’t you think the Two Million Man March is belated?
There is one thing in deciding to run and another persuading him to run. We are mobilising those who believe in him and all those who have expressed satisfaction privately to see the Two Million Man March as a collective platform of endorsing the Governor so it is not belated. One of the things the Two Million Man March also intends to achieve is to enlighten the larger voting population; especially youths to register in the forthcoming voters registration, because you know that quite a number of us in the communities don’t know that until we register and have our voters cards, you can not cast your vote. Because just saying Amaechi, you are the man we need, will not make him to be Governor. We need to know that there is a time limit given for the voters registration and we must all register so that we can cast our votes.
As popular as U.S. President, Barack Obama is or seems to be, he worked hard to seek support to become the President. He went to the churches, the streets including areas dominated by blacks to show-case himself, persuade the people to vote for him. We don’t want a situation where people will say Amaechi is using the ‘Power of Incumbency.’ Amaechi has the support of Rivers people. He is the symbol of transparency in governance in the state, this is the only Government which every year, declares the amount received and the amount spent, including what he gave to the ministries and parastatals, the projects executed, and he gives the people the opportunity to verify his claims. No other government has done that. He needs to be encouraged.
If Governor Amaechi is given the chance to govern Rivers State again, what areas of development will you want him to give priority attention to?
We have worked with Governor Amaechi and we have seen how he has governed the state so far. All over there are living witnesses of how he had prudently applied the resources of Rivers State. Having gone this far, we will want him to bring what he sees in other parts of the world to come to play here.
Well, like social security, and consolidation of health sector reform.
Amaechi had put so much in the areas of construction, what about empowerment of individuals and civil servants welfare?
The resources of government is limited, he came into office and noticed a decay in the system beginning from infrastructural decay, in the next tenure some of these roads that have been built will not be rebuilt, if those things are done certainly, a man who has this passion to serve his people will not go to sleep. The federal government has approved N18,000.00 as minimum wage, and the first state to come up and say yes, we will pay is the Rivers State Governor. Government has budget for a better welfare package for civil servants in Rivers State.