For some years now, the state has not witnessed the sort of crowd that thronged to the Elekahia Stadium for the second term public declaration of Governor Chibuike Amaechi on Wednesday in Port Harcourt.
The irony of the situation is that since that stadium was constructed in 1999, it has not carried its capacity to the fullest even in international football events.
By 10am, the stadium was full to the brim. The huge crowd outside according to the master of ceremony was more than what was inside the stadium. There was deafening blaring of trumpets, as bands and drums sounded to the highest crescendo and hand-held posters of different aspirants swam in the air.
Despite few hours delay to kick-start the event, the crowd was still in high spirit as there was no atom of quiet – the stadium was a cesspool of restless political gyration.
There was no doubt that Governor Amaechi has gotten the heart of the people considering the huge crowd that turnout for the event. It was also a sign of serious grassroots mobilisation, though it has taken the governor sometime before publicly declaring his intention.
Chairman of the occasion and former chairman, Board of Trustees of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Tony Anenih, captured the heart beat of the events, “When Amaechi finishes, that is, when he finishes his second tenure there would be no chance for others”.
Vice President Namadi Sambo said with the presence of such crowd, “the Rivers people have already endorsed the Governor”.
This was not the first time the Vice President was visiting the state to endorse the state governor’s bid. He was in the state precisely two weeks ago to attend the Ogbakor Ikwerre grand reception for the governor.
He said, “Whenever I come to Rivers State, I see development practical on ground”, adding that “Whether you are from the PDP or any party please return your form because there is no room for you”.
South-South Cordinator for President Jonathan/Sambo Campaign Organisation and Governor of Cross Rivers State, Senator Liyel Imokie said, “I have come to see with my eyes what I have been hearing about the transformation ongoing in River State”.
Just like the Vice President, Senator Imoke was also in the State during the CARNIRIV festival. He described Governor Amaechi as visionary and committed leader.
Endorsing Amaechi’s candidature for 2011, the Cross River State Governor observed, “Rotimi Amaechi is making a difference. I therefore urge you all to make sure that he returns”.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Odein Ajumogobia was also at hand at the occasion as he described the Governor’s activities in the past three years as unprecedented adding “as election is around the corner his declaration is just a formality. “… the schools are declaring for him, the infrastructures are declaring for him because things are getting better in Rivers State”.
Aside politicians that spoke at the occasion, labour leaders and ethnic groups equally endorsed the governor’s bid.
Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in Rivers State Chief Chris Oruge said Amaechi was among the first Governors that agreed to pay the workers’ new pay and therefore enjoys the support of labour.
Aside from Commander Alfred Diete-Spiff, Chief Oruge asserted that Amaechi has written his name in gold by embarking on laudable projects stressing that workers would vote for him.
Similarly, President of Ijaw Youth Congress (IYC) Kuromiena Miabiye, emphasised that the governor has done well to merit a second term.
Most importantly however he said the group has endorsed Amaechi because of his open support to President Jonathan pointing out that , “his developmental strides speak volume, so why should we look for another person”.
It is believed that not less than five different aspirants both from the PDP and the other parties would drag the position with Amaechi in next year elections but a prominent politician from Etche, Prince Emma Anyanwu was of the view that the Governor has no major contender.
Prince Anyanwu pledged the total support of Rivers East Senatorial District towards realising the mandate, Chief Ombo Isokariari pledged the support of Rivers South-West while Chief Ebere declared the support of South-East Senatorial District.
Since Amaechi started his second term bid, he has always harped on issue basec campaigns and he re-echoed it again during the event.
The issues he enumerated include education. On education, the Governor stressed, “if we are not educated, poverty would continue, crime would continue”.
Other areas that would be given attention immediately he retains office include health, power development and youth employment in general.
However, Amaechi hinted that a new drive to kick-start the micro-economy would begin in earnest with emphasis is on security in order to provide a budding environment for economic activities.
To cap it all, the governor declared, “I can only say one thing that our winning would be based on the ballot but let’s see who God would make the governor of the State”.
He urged the people to cast their votes based on what they see on ground “we would do everything possible that the election is free and fair for the people to choose their governor”.