No doubt, the occasion of the 42nd Anniversary of the creation of Rivers State requires not merely an appraisal of the past, challenges of the present and projections into the future, it also requires a critical probe of the person on the driving seat of governance.
This becomes even more imperative when viewed from the circumstances of his ascendancy to power as Governor of Rivers State viz a viz his early pronouncements on the policy direction of the administration.
Yet less than two years in office, but conscious of the fact that the age now attained by the state requires more than the dangerous gambles of a political adventurer, one expects that Gov Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi appreciates or should appreciate not just the enormity of the task before him but indeed the urgency that addressing the many crucial needs require.
It is in this light that this writer wishes to probe into Amaechi’s immediate past few months, to know if actions thus far taken make him a politician or a statesman. To do this, let us quickly capture in what moral garbs each is clothed, the key distinguishing features being that while timid and interested politicians think much more about the security of their seats, the statesman think about not just the security of his state and country but also plans for the next generation, as enthused by Thomas Babington Macaulay in a speech before the British House of commons in 1842.
Such politicians, as distinct from statesmen, play to the gallery, very easily bend to the claps and cheers of the moment and regale in the euphoria of a success coated in ephemeral illusions. Not so with the statesman who at the risk of political popularity venture into area with immediate pains but greater gains for the future.
Where does Governor Rotimi Amaechi fit in all this? What has he ventured to qualify him either as a politician or a statesman?
After an indepth look, quite a few must strike a critical mind like mine. These are re-inventing the once glorious garden city years of Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital and its attendant immediate pains of demolitions upon demolition; the creation of no fewer than 155 Modern Health Centres all across the state and complemented with Doctors’ and Nurses quarters; an equal number of model schools to replace the rot and decay that have for years, characterised public schools; large scale infrastructural development and most importantly the bold attempt to build a Greater Port Harcourt City. In all these attempts, can be found, in good measure, the steel determination of one, earger to make not just a difference in the lives of men, but indeed a near mortal impression into the future, all geared towards the common good of many, not a few.
However, since all other projects are visible and at various stages of completion, the one that actually must determine Amaechi’s qualification as a statesman rest in his bold decision to plan for a better Rivers State by addressing the vexed one-city status of the state. In this, does this critic found enough reason for qualification as a statesman and not a politician easily given to the praise of the moment.
Perhaps the accruing benefits and other supporting efforts at leaving behind a more secure and prosperous Rivers State will help make the point even better.
The Greater Port Harcourt City, when, completed will impact positively on the lives of the people of Rivers State in a lot of plausible ways. Let me quickly list a few from the standpoint of a Development Economist and not an Engineer, my first love. It will, among others: Reduce the congestion in the premier Port Harcourt city.
It must be understood that whenever the designed traffic capacity of a road has been exceeded, there is no magic which either traffic wardens or the road marshals could perform to stop the build-up of hold-ups. This fact is evident on our Port Harcourt roads, many of which were designed for fewer vehicles by our erstwhile colonial masters in the 1950s. Past expansions or the widenings of these old roads have also long exceeded their R.O. Ws (Right Of Ways), but regrettably, not all the equally old houses on both sides of the roads can be destroyed for meaningful road construction. The only rational solution to the congestion problem therefore, is the expansion of the premier Port Harcourt city, much like the Greater London, Greater Paris and West Jerusalem, as distinct from the premier East Jerusalem (the old city) to name just a few. Also. a room or a flat meant for a family of two or three people are often overcrowded by squatters or extended families. This . type of congestion is not limited to houses in the Waterfronts and Diobu areas, instead, it’s observed all over the premier Port Harcourt city. Thus, the idea of Greater Port Harcourt is visionary, and we should salute the boldness of Gov. Amaechi.
Create shelter for the ever-increasing population of the premier city
As we all know, increase in Port Harcourt-city population is mainly from three areas – influx of job seekers from the whole Nigerian federation, rural urban drifts, and increase in crude birth rates because of better medicare. If the Greater Port Harcourt could be delivered with affordable homes, then, the people of the State would have less worry and devote more of their time and resources to production activities. Thus, the Greater Port Harcourt is likely to promote economic growth.
Provide healthy and modern living environment
Happily, since Rivers State government is working out a scheme whereby the indigenes of the state are given preference or assisted to buy greater percentage of the houses in the Greater Port Harcourt, then the premier Port Harcourt city could be de-congested, and this would lead to improvement in the health conditions of the people, otherwise, the status quo would remain the same. How the Rivers State government handles the post-construction phase of the new city would to a very large extent also determine it’s usefulness to the people.
Our investigation shows that well over 50% of the houses Gov. Odili’s administration built are owned and occupied by non-indigenes of Rivers State.
We trust that Gov Amaechi will not toe such path but excel, by first pleasing the people of the state.
Create modern infrastructure
The Greater Port Harcourt with wide good roads complete with shoulders and drainage systems would appreciably reduce traffic hold-up and flash flood problems, among others. Also, networks of pipe borne water and electricity would service residential homes, companies, and the public. The unnecessary expenses borne in sinking water boreholes and buying of generators by private individuals and corporate bodies would be things of the past, besides, stand-bys and delays which companies suffer due to power outages would be drastically reduced. All these would have positive impact on the state’s economy and so raise the standard of living of the people.
‘Attract potential investors to the state
Potential investors both from Nigeria and the rest of the world would be attracted to the Greater Port Harcourt, replete with modern amenities and open spaces. Such a salutary development would give the state a new economic footing in the down-stream oil sector other than the present up-stream activities of exploitation of the crude oil and selling it cheaply through exports. Encouraged by uninterrupted water and power supplies, down-stream oil sector companies (companies that use the crude oil as raw material to manufacture other products would mushroom in the new city because of the availability of oil in Rivers State. The GDP of the state and indeed that of the Nigerian federation will surely increase.
Create employment opportunities
Thousands of jobs would be created for the unemployed, besides the technological diffusion the constructions of the new city would have on our workers.
Shows good leadership and commitment to service
Gov. Amaechi has demonstrated a high level of leadership and commitment to service through his relentless efforts in many areas. We have not had it so good in any previous administrations.
What then is my analysis of the security situation in the state today viz-a-viz what obtained in the eight-or-so years, before Amaechi since no meaningful development can take place without real peace, not that of the grave yard?
Gov. Amaechi’s zero tolerance to militancy and youth restiveness in Rivers State, more especially in Port Harcourt metropolis, will help the economy grow. This is because the inherent profit motives of private individuals that trigger off economic activities which in turn create wealth in any mixed economy, as ours, strives and strifes, paraphrasing Adam Smith’s 1776 time-tested and the honoured economic theory. In contrast, the enthronement of youth restiveness and its sustenance throughout the two terms of former Gov. Odili’s administration, and without once thinking of the negative effects, such would have on the economy presented the regime as an example of a as a politician, and the cruel type; for, while politicians think of the next election, statesmen think of the next generation – James Freeman Clerke.
Amaechi is indeed thinking of the next generation because it is now abundantly clear to all that he knows, “An ounce of experience is weightier than a pound of knowledge. “Who can forget so soon the kind of hell in the eight years of Gov Odili. This is why many, like me believe that Gov Amaechi is just the answer to our problems as evidenced from his track records especially the discretion to build the Greater Port Harcourt City.
Dr Wakama is also a Civil Engineer and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Trojans Eng.Nig Limited, PH
Kano Tribunal Judgment, Slap On Constitutionalism, Rule Of Law -NNPP
The New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) has described the judgment of the Kano State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal that nullified the election of Governor Abba Kabiru Yusuff as a slap in the face of constitutionalism and the rule of law.
In a signed statement made available to newsmen by its acting national chairman, Abba Kawu Ali, the NNPP said its candidate won convincingly in the March 18, 2023, election, which it described as free, credible, and globally acclaimed as a fair election.
He said the pronouncement of the 3-man tribunal is laughable and a pure miscarriage of justice, which is capable of eroding the confidence of the electorate in the judiciary.
He, however, called on the party’s supporters across Nigeria to remain calm as the party will appeal the tribunal’s judgement.
“The New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) receives with utter incredulity and disbelief the judgment of the Kano State Election Petition Tribunal on the March 18, 2023, Governorship Election.
“The reported judgement nullified the free, credible, and globally acclaimed fair election of our gubernatorial candidate, Engr. Abba Kabiru Yusuf, and brazenly awarded the election to the APC candidate, Nasiru Gawuna.
“The Tribunal arrived at this unjust judgment by unfairly subtracting 165,663 votes from the governor’s tally to enable it to unfairly award the result to the candidate of the ruling APC.
“In doing so, the tribunal obviously affirms its belief that the vote tally of the APC candidate was sacrosanct.
“The judgment of the 3-man Kano State Governorship Election Petition is laughable and nothing but a pure miscarriage of justice.
“The decision of the Tribunal is a slap in the face of constitutionalism and the rule of law and is capable of further discouraging the electorate from having confidence in the judiciary.
“The NNPP recalls with regret that this Tribunal has simply replayed the unholy script of 2019 by overturning the will of the people and awarding results to those who evidently lost the election.
“The NNPP will appeal this most unfair judgement.
We call on millions of our supporters in Kano and in the rest of the country to remain calm and maintain peace. A lopsided judgment cannot stand on the altar of justice”, he said.
Ondo Assembly Moves To Impeach Dep Gov
Indications emerged on Wednesday, that members of the Ondo State House of Assembly have commenced the process of impeaching the state Deputy Governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa.
This is coming following an emergency plenary session summoned by the House of Assembly on Wednesday, with heavy presence of security men at the Assembly gate.
The Tide source gathered that at least 23 lawmakers have already appended their signatures, supporting the impeachment notice against Aiyedatiwa.
A source disclosed that the Deputy Governor is under investigation for alleged gross misuse of office and might be eased out of office through impeachment.
According to the source, trouble started when Aiyedatiwa reportedly approved the sum of N300 million for the purchase of a bulletproof SUV for his personal use.
The source said the approval was allegedly given while the state Governor was recuperating in Germany and it was approved without the knowledge of the governor.
He said the Deputy Governor further complicated matters when he ordered that the N300 million should be sourced from the Palliative fund.
He said “This fund, provided by the Federal government, was intended to support states in addressing the needs of their citizens.”
The source said the impeachment proceedings underscore the Assembly’s commitment to accountability, even at the highest levels of state governance.
Further developments in this case were being awaited as the situation continued to unfold.
Bauchi Tribunal Upholds Gov Mohammed’s Election
The Bauchi State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal has upheld the victory of Governor Bala Mohammed in the March 18, 2023 governorship election.
Delivering the judgment on Wednesday, Chairman of the three-man panel of the Tribunal, Justice P.T Kwahar, dismissed the petition of the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakr (rtd), who challenged result of the election.
The tribunal held that the petitioners failed to prove their allegations of non-compliance with the Electoral Act, electoral irregularities as well as bypass of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (B-VAS) machines in some polling units of Toro, Dass, Zaki, Itas-Gadau, Alkaleri, Bauchi, Tafawa Balewa, Ningi, Dambam and Ganjuwa Local Government Areas.The Tribunal held that there was no tangible evidence to show that the BVAS was truly manipulated.The judge explained that the witnesses brought by the petitioner presented evidence based on hearsay as they were not present at the polling units, “they have failed to establish beyond reasonable doubt that the APC candidate won the election.”
“This court therefore returns the second respondent as the elected governor of Bauchi state by the first respondent in the conduct of the governorship election of the 18th of March, 2023,” he held.
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