The Rivers State gov
ernment under the leadership of Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has no doubt recorded some landmark achievements in certain sectors of the society which has ostentiously earned him high degree of respect among his peers.
Like a leader with a mission and vision, the governor’s education policy has attracted accolade from several quarters within and outside the shores of the country.
The State won the coveted first prize in the implementation of the Universal basic Education (UBE), programme and in the health sub sector, the maternal mortility rate has reduced drastically, thanks to the Policy of siting primary Health Centres closer to the people. Similarly, the security challenge met on assumption of office was tackled frontally with its twin brother, obedience to the rule of law which the administration addressed as a matter of priority and restored sanity back to the state.
During the period, the State suffered marginally as investors closed shops, workers were sacked and generally insecurity pervaded the entire environment. These success stories could not have been possible without a leader that is focused in realising the need for proper harnessing of human and material resources which is a sine qua non in determining the achievement that could be made.
Unarguably the selection of players sets the stage for what would eventually be the outcome of a team in terms of results because a good team has different traits, skills and capabilities which when properly galvanized by the leader through deliberate effort to upgrade where necessary will bequeath a people-oriented governance.
Recently, Governor Chibuike Amaechi submitted ten names of Commissioner nominees to the State House of Assembly for screening and approval to complete the constitution of his new cabinet which he began in piece meal.
The list has names of four former commissioners, Dr. Sampson parker, Barr. Marshall Stanley-Uwom, Charles Gogo Levi and Joe Poroma whose potentials have not been fully utilised and therefore made to return to enable the present administration actualise the vision of giving Rivers people an unparalled leadership.
One of the remaining new nominees include Mr. Chuma Chinye who hails from Delta State but described in several quarters as Delta State born Rivers man having lived a greater part of his live in the state. A lawyer of great repute who functioned as Special Assistant on Ethics and Good Governance to Governor, Chibuike Amaechi between January 2008 to may 2011 and served as Director, Finance and Administration to the Amaechi 2011 Campaign Organisation.
Obviously, the nomination is sequel to critical assessment of performance of Mr. Chuma Chinye as Special Assistant to the governor and the excellent manner in which he discharged assigned responsibilities may have endeared him to his boss.
However, if expressions at the House of Assembly gallery during the screening exercise is anything to go back, it means people were surprise as to what a non indigene could be doing in the hallowed chambers of the Assembly but the answer lies in the assurance of the state executive during his inauguration in May 29, 2011, after the landslide victory in the April polls, (ie.) to lead an all inclusive government.
Opposition Political Parties were invited to join the present government but probably ego and the need to have a strong opposition after the court cases could be responsible for the delay in buying into the system but suffice it to say that there is nothing absolutely wrong with giving non indigenes resident in the state a sense of belonging through their inclusion as Cabinet member.
We are aware of several non indigenes in the state civil service, parastatals and agencies, some have risen to be Permanent Secretaries and Directors.
As a product of the rule of law, Governor Amaechi appreciates section 193 (2) and 14 (4) of the 1999 constitution which provides that any Nigerian who lives in a particular area for upward of ten years and above should merit the same status as natives.
Following the governor’s action, Rivers State has again braced the trail in asserting its position as a cosmopolitan state and headquarters of the South-South Geo-political zone of Nigeria that allows people from all walks of life opportunity to contribute their quota to the overall development of the state.
Having received massive support during the re-election process that cut across religious and political divide as well as ethnic nationalities resident in the state, it is therefore not out of place to justify the contributions of “indigenes from outside the State” towards the economic, political and social growth of the state through their involvement in the governance of the state.
In this respect, therefore, Rivers State has joined the league of states that made appointments to non native residents as Commissioner with the underlying principle of using the best materials available for the greatest interest of Rivers people.
In the case of Lagos State, a non Yoruba descent has been controlling a sensitive Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning and the result of having a square peg in a square hole perhaps, accounts for the level of success recorded in Lagos State at present.
Also in Enugu State a Yoruba man was saddled with the responsibility of Managing the Media as Special Adviser to the former Governor of that State Chief Chimaroke Nnamani throughout his tenure while in America the government gives equally opportunity to people of all races provided the intellectual and moral ability to function is deposited on the individual.
The man Chinye as Special Assistant on Ethic and Good Governance for the first time effectively Coordinated quarterly interaction between the Governor and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), Community Based Organisations (CBOs) etc, through which avenue they contributed to the governance of the state.
It is expected that the University of Benin trained lawyer, Mr. Chukwuma Constantine Chinye, would bring his wealth of experience to bear on the new assignment to justify the confidence reposed on him for his inclusion into the State Executive Council and probably pace way for other non indigenes resident in the state to serve.
Infact, the irony of life is that the very enlightened citizens may be the ones to ponder about who comes from where but the common man on the street is not interested in who occupies what position because the paramount issue to them is service delivery that would improve the standard of living.
The Commissioner nominee, a son of the Niger Delta parades an intimating public service credentials and experience as the former Rivers State Coordinator of SERVICOM, former Special Assistant to the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, legal Adviser, Board member Federal Inland Revenue Service and the author of best selling socio-political Satire “The Nigerian Factor” among others.
It is on record that even some of our so called indigenous Commissioners well known to us had left a sour taste in the .mouth of Rivers people as a result of their abysmal performance in public office.
Therefore, it behoves a leader to guide and guard his loins as the duty of piloting the affairs of the state must be satisfactorily done with competent hands to achieve set targets.
We strongly hope that having functioned efficiently behind the scene as Special Assistant to Governor Amaechi which earned him the elevation Mr. Chinye would be propelled by the opportunity to redouble his effort and bring his wealth of experience to roast on the new assignment.
Okowa Sends Names Of 18 Commissioner- Nominees To Assembly
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State has forwarded the names of 18 nominees for appointment as commissioners to the state House of Assembly for screening and confirmation.
The names of the nominees were contained in a letter read by the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Chief Sheriff Oborevwori, during plenary of the Assembly in Asaba, yesterday.
The Tide reports that Okowa on May 18, dissolved the State Executive Council.
The 11 former commissioners that have been re-appointed and their portfolios, incelude: Mr Charles Aniagwu, Information, Dr Barry Gbe, Economic Planning, Mr Julius Egbedi, Agriculture and Mr Lawrence Ejiofor, Culture and Tourism.
Others are: Mr Ifeanyi Egwuyenga, Youths Development, Chief Arthur Akpowowo, Urban Renewal and Chief Festus Ochonogor, Housing, Mrs Flora Alanta, Women Affairs, Mr Churchill Amagada, Lands, Chief Fidelis Tilije, Finance and Mr Chris Onogba, Environment.
The seven new nominees are: Mr Jonathan Ukodhiko, Mrs Evelyn Oboro, Mr Noel Omordon, Mrs Rose Esenwu, Princess Shola Ogbemi-Daibo, Mrs Kate Oniawan, and Mr Johnbull Edema.
The speaker directed the nominees to forward 35 copies each of their Curriculum Vitae to the office of the clerk of the assembly on or before June 21.
He called on the nominees to appear for screening and confirmation on June 22.
The Assembly, yesterday, also screened and confirmed the appointments of Justice Theresa Diai as the Chief Judge of Delta State as well as Justice Patience Elumeze as President of Customary Court, Delta State.
The confirmation of the nominees followed a motion moved by the Deputy Majority Leader of the Assembly, Mr Oboro Preyor.
The motion supported by Mr Emeke Nwaobi, member representing Aniocha North Constituency in the state Assembly was unanimously adopted by the Assembly, when it was put to a voice vote by the speaker.
Anambra Guber: CLO Calls For Level Playing Ground
The Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), an NGO, has urged political parties participating in the November 6 governorship election in Anambra to ensure free, fair, credible and generally acceptable primaries, devoid of acrimony and manipulations.
The Chairman of CLO, Anambra, Mr Vincent Ezekwueme, made the appeal while speaking with newsmen in Enugu, yesterday.
Ezekwueme urged political parties to adhere strictly to the principles of participatory and constitutional democracy; thus ensuring the tenets of internal democracy.
According to him, it is pertinent for party leaders to be honest, transparent and selfless in the conduct of their various primaries.
He urged political delegates to the various primaries to get it right by voting for the most credible, God-fearing, articulate and most qualified candidates that would render selfless service to the citizenry.
The CLO boss advised party delegates to vote with their conscience and conviction, devoid of monetary inducement or influence by political leaders and stakeholders.
“CLO decries with great disdain any attempt to impose candidates on the delegates or unjustifiably screen out or bar some candidates from contesting after collecting outrageous nomination and expression of interest fees, to pave way for emergence of anointed or favoured candidates.
“Significantly, it is only justice that will precipitate credible elections and guarantee peaceful atmosphere before, during and after the elections. This is the best and greatest yearnings and aspirations of all Anambrarians.
“Let all the stakeholders work harmonious with patriotism and selflessness for the conduct of free, fair and credible primaries and the November 6 governorship election,’’ he said.
Ezekwueme noted that any party that could not conduct free and fair primaries would be unable to guarantee and ensure a free election in the main gubernatorial contest.
The CLO boss, however, appealed to all the political parties to zone their governorship candidates to Anambra South Senatorial Zone.
“This appeal is in the spirit of justice, equity, morality and good conscience in tandem with the zoning formula propagated by former Gov. Peter Obi and which has helped douse political tension in the state.
“We commend the unique wisdom and political sagacity of Obi and we implore Anambra political gladiators and stakeholders to respect the zoning arrangement for the interest of peace and unity,’’ he said.
Ayade And The APC Albatross
Like Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State before him, Prof. Ben Ayade, Governor of Cross River State, did not take many by surprise when he eventually broke camp with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and pitched tent with the All Progressives Congress (APC), Nigeria’s ruling party at the centre on Thursday, May 20, 2021.
A pointer to the fact that Governor Ayade had long signaled his romance with the APC was evident in the statement of welcome by a party chieftain and one-time leader of the 7th Senate of the Federal Republic, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, when he noted that Ayade had “consciously navigated the ship of governance in sync with the APC-led Federal Government”.
Of course, for a long time, close watchers of the Cross River State Governor had noted how he had openly expressed admiration for the president and leader of the APC while overtly distancing himself from every criticism by the PDP, his party then, against the Federal Government and the ruling party. In fact, it was even obvious to casual observers that all was not well between Ayade and the PDP when he became consistently absent in the meetings of his fellow governors on the platform of the party and other high profile party engagements.
However, there has been some interesting political developments in Cross River State following the defection of the state Chief Executive, and leader of the PDP until that select group of APC governors and other top ranking party leaders stormed the Government House in Calabar to receive him into their fold. Buoyed by the gathering of members of his cabinet, members of the Cross Rivers State House of Assembly led by the Speaker, some National Assembly members from the state, Chairmen of local government councils and their councilors, and other stakeholders in the state including Dame Princess Florence Ita-Giwa and High Chief Asuquo Ekpeyong, Prof. Ayade boldly declared that by virtue of the event of his detection, Cross River State had become an APC state.
As if to prove the point that there could not be another party, particularly the PDP, without the government that he leads, the governor ordered the annexation of the PDP state secretariat and convert all its property into the use of the APC just two days after. Responding to the turn of event at the party secretariat, Christian Ita, Chief Press Secretary to the governor said the PDP could not claim to be the ones to continue to occupy the property as the rent was paid by the governor. He said the rent for the said property was only renewed recently by the same PDP that has now totally collapsed into the APC.
“The same officials of PDP who occupied the property when it was secretariat of the PDP still occupy it, having switched allegiance and moved to the APC with the governor”|, he said.
In a swift reaction, the PDP Federal Lawmakers and Stakeholders Forum in Cross River State dissociated themselves from the governor’s move. Addressing a press conference on Friday, May 21, 2021 in Abuja, the forum pledged to remain in the PDP and declared Cross River State as a stronghold of the party.
“As far as I know, till date, the National Assembly caucus remains intact. I don’t see any of us leaving. We are legacy members of the party who have been in this party for the past 15 to 20 years. So, we are not going anywhere”, Senator Geshan Bassey who spoke on behalf of the lawmakers said, accusing Ayade of not consulting them but insisting that even if he had “we will not follow him”.
On the same occasion, Senator Liyel Imoke, former governor of the state, on behalf of the PDP Stakeholders Forum in Cross River described Ayade’s defection as regrettable, even though not unexpected.
According to Imoke, an overwhelming number of Cross Riverians remains resolute with the PDP, emphasizing that “our key stakeholders, members of the national and state assemblies, and strategic grassroots mobilisers are still members of our great party. We, as a party, therefore, remain virile and strong. Our shell remains uncracked”.
Imoke said “We understand that the people of Cross River, who have stood firmly with the PDP since 1999 and other lovers of the state are deeply disappointed by this move made by a governor, who has won all his elections under the platform of the party. Given the overwhelming support which he enjoyed under the PDP and the fact that PDP has undeniable strong grassroots in the state, we affirm that Cross River remains a PDP state”.
As developments have shown, Governor Ayade may not have had the support of all his close functionaries in his voyage as he has had to offload not less than four of his commissioners and a number of aides believed to still be loyal to the PDP.
In a press statement signed by his CPS/Special Adviser Media and Publicity, Christian Ita, the governor, relieved the appointment of Mr Mike Usibe, Commissioner for New Cities Development; Rita Ayim, Commissioner in charge of Women Affairs, Mr Asu Okang, Commissioner for Information and Ntufam Donatus Etim, Commissioner for Climate Change and Forestry.
On the part of the PDP, the regrouping of forces, especially the return of the likes of former governor Donald Duke, has not been without hitches.
Recently, the state caretaker committee chairman and secretary of the party were constrained to issue a warning to party stalwarts to restrain themselves from unguarded statements capable of causing division among their ranks. “The party will like to caution all stakeholders that this is a time for rebuilding, restoration and reconciliation. It is not a time for trading blames.
“The larger purpose of the development of Cross River State should remain our unwavering focus and should insulate party stakeholders from all other distractions”, the statement said in reaction to unauthenticated social media post by Ex-Governor Donald Duke accusing his successor in office, Senator Liyel Imoke of running a dictatorial administration.
The party, however, commended the courage of former governor Duke for returning to the party at such a time as this, hoping that his return would further strengthen the party to face the new threat posed by the APC and Governor Ben Ayade.
“We congratulate His Excellency Donald Duke for finding the courage to re-join the party on whose platform he twice contested and won elections as governor of Cross River State.
“It is our firm belief that his coming back to the party is not only indicative of the party’s strength in the state, but more importantly, will help in rebuilding a strong and virile party”, the statement said.
Prof Ben Ayade may have left the PDP but it is difficult to say if the PDP has left Cross River State. With the regrouping of battle-tested war horses in the state under the umbrella, the governor and his new party may have to work extra hard to dislodge the deep roots of the PDP in the state.
Asked how the governor’s move will affect the fortunes of the PDP in coming elections in the state, Senator Imoke said. “I think in the past, you would see that states that have that type of strength, irrespective of a defection, tend at all times to remain strong. There’s a reason for that. What you perceive as power will determine how you lead. If you perceive power to be a political party, then you will be moving from one political party to another, but if you understand that power ultimately is the people, and that it belongs to the people, you’ll appreciate that it’s not about the party.
“PDP in Cross River State has always been about the people and I think we still remain about the people; so the party has endeared itself to the people and as such a movement by the governor does not, of its own, translate to the people moving into another political party because they have already identified strongly with the party-the PDP. It is sort of like what you have in the United States and other countries where there are strongholds – a state like California, it is defined as a Democratic stronghold. Cross River State is a PDP stronghold”.
Even Ayade himself is without a doubt that Cross River State is a PDP stronghold but for how long this stronghold will hold is what is now being put to test as the governor has already made inroads into the traditional institution from whom he has extracted the same commitment and support they had always given to successive governors and their political agenda.
However, politics is about politicians and Victor Ndoma-Egba tells Ayade: “As you join us in the progressives fold, my expectation is that your coming will enrich our internal democracy and I enjoin you to be consultative, inclusive, democratic, transparent and accountable because these are the hallmarks of the All Progressives Congress family. I also expect that your presence in the APC will further strengthen the party and improve our electoral fortunes in Cross River State”.
Ndoma-Egba’s expectations are not just his expectation and those of the members of the APC in Cross River alone, they were the same expectations of the party faithful in Rivers State in 2015 and the ones in Edo State through the reign of Adams Aliu Oshiomohole. Whether the APC members in the Peoples Paradise will have a different experience remains to be seen.
What is certain is that the South-South region has not been a welcoming environment for the APC and it does not appear as it is ready to change that disposition just yet because of Prof. Ayade. He may just soon find out that what could flourish in the Southeast may require humongous effort to sprout on South-South soil.
By: Opaka Dokubo
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