When he signed the
Rivers State 2014 budget of N485.52 billion into law on January 8 this year, the state governor, Rt Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi was not unaware that it was perhaps, the budget that was most critical to the consolidation of the legacy he was determined to leave in the development of the 47 year-old state.
Perhaps, the next youngest to govern the state after His Majesty, Commander Alfred Papapreye Diete-Spiff, the pioneer governor of old Rivers State, Amaechi, from the onset was determined to apply his youthfulness, education and patriotic zeal to redefine democracy dividend in the governance of Rivers State.
It was against this backdrop that Amaechi in the 2014 budget devoted the highest sectoral allocation of N60 billion to works, saying the budget was created to vigorously pursue the completion of all on-going projects while opening minimal windows of exigent and necessary ones whose lifespan must not exceed his tenure.
Indeed, in all his public engagements, the governor had never made any pretentions about the fact that his government had begun the process of winding down and would not swallow its word on the completion of all the projects and programmes initiated by his government which cut across the socio-economic spectrum of society.
It is commendable that Amaechi has shown the pro-activeness to drive the process of project completion in the winding down of his government, a foresight which many in his position do not have.
If the process succeeds, the governor would have gone down as arguably the one that had impacted most positively on the development process of Rivers State.
For, today regardless of partisan party inclinations, many in the state are agreed on the solid achievements he would be leaving behind when his tenure comes to an end, next year.
Can Rivers people forget in a long time to come that Amaechi brought Africa, Nigeria and Rivers State global recognition when on April 23, 2014 Port Harcourt became UNESCO World Book Capital- a centre of enlightenment and scholarship after beating 10 major cities of the world including renowned educational city, Oxford in the race?
In the health sector, the 2014 outstanding Government Healthcare Programme Excellence Award won by Rivers State is a fitting testimonial to the breath of fresh air the Amaechi government had infused into the healthcare delivery system in the state which the people will savour.
The Award which was received by the state Commissioner for Health, Dr Sampson Parker at the Eko Hotel and Suites, Lagos recently represents the highest honour for unparalleled excellence in the field of healthcare delivery in Nigeria.
Again, how can the people forget so soon the impact the government has created in human capital development through the Rivers State Sustainable Development Agency that had continued to train our youth in various reputable universities in the world where some, including the physically challenged, had won awards of excellence.
The Agency itself also brought honour to Nigeria when it was named in far away Washington DC, the African Government Agency of the year 2013 at the African Leadership Magazine International Summit.
According to Publisher of African Leadership Magazine, Dr Ken Giami the award “is given in recognition of the monumental work of the agency in developing the human capital in Rivers State, Nigeria.”
Other achievements of the present government include:
a) Raising Internally Generated Revenue profile from N2.5bn – N6bn monthly.
b) Raising electricity generation capacity of the state gas-powered turbine to 545 megawatts
c) Achieving 100 per cent routine immunization by World Health Organisation in 2013.
d) Building and completing 300 Model Primary schools out of 750 targeted.
e) Building, staffing and equipping 100 Primary Health Centres across the state.
f) Taking over payment of teachers salaries to reduce financial burden on the local government councils.
g) The building of a new Greater Port Harcourt City.
Even as it winds down, the Amaechi government has not shied away from taking over federal projects where the federal government showed lack of enthusiasm to keep faith with such projects.
A case in point is the 10 years old Bonny-Bodo road which the Amaechi government said it was designing a new route with which to execute the project. The new route will pass through Ngo-Oyorokoto-Ifoko-Bonny.
It is envisaged that the Ogoni-Andoni-Opobo Unity Road, the road leading to Akpajo from Dr Peter Odili Road and Garrison Junction as well as Woji and Slaughter Flyover would be completed this year. It is also envisaged that by 2015 when his tenure elapses, Amaechi would have provided rural communities in the 23 local government areas of the state electricity. This is because the government had since directed all local government chairmen to speed up the process of electrifying their villages, promising that the state government will reimburse on such completed projects.
The monorail is perhaps the only project of the Amaechi government that has attracted as much skepticism as praise.
But being focused and convinced of the socio-economic benefit of the monorail, Amaechi insists “we are committed to completing this project to give our people value for money and our city a deserving landmark. The project is novel but one that excites us because of its long term prospects.”
With the projects already executed and others on-going, the government is also ensuring the provision of legislations that would not only protect the business environment but also make the state an investment haven.
Among these are the Waste Management Bill and the Rivers State Taxes and levies Harmonisation Bill. When these are eventually passed and signed into law, government would have provided a solid basis for investment in development of the state.
One concern of the average Rivers man is the tempo of development after 2015. Will the state witness a sustained development along the path beaten by Amaechi? Will the feelings of the people be taken into consideration in the choice of Amaechi’s successor?
Mindful of the need to carry along all constituents of the state, the governor in a rare display of morality, equity and patriotism has ruled out his Ikwerre ethic group from the 2015 governorship race and has never tired of preaching the message to his people.
It is his conviction that he, having carried the banner of Ikwerre ethnic nationality for two terms in Government House, Port Harcourt, it would be immoral and insensitive to the rights and aspirations of other components to the governorship of the state to project another Ikwerre governorship candidate in 2015.
This again is a rare show of pragmatism and patriotism which will not only promote development but also unity of the state.
No doubt, every one that has had the divine mandate (leadership comes from God) to govern Rivers State, from Diete-Spiff to the present day, has made his modest contributions to the development of the state.
However, every of their contributions has been aimed at arriving at a state where everyone is gainfully employed and everyone is happy and contented. That is the Rivers of our dream.
When shall we get there?