Amaechi, Contractors and the Future of Rivers State

By Odimegwu Onwumere

A time came in Rivers State when the contracts awarded in the state were mainly intended for the indigenes of the state. That was when Governor Chibuike Amaechi was leading the state with indigenous-biased coloration, being a man who loved his indigenous peoples he was close to before he became governor.

Amaechi exalted the indigenes of Rivers State and gave them rights and considerations. That was the period he said that the Rivers money was for Rivers people. But when the people he so-much loved were betraying him, he reversed his seemingly social stance to ‘Rivers money is for competent people’.

Contracts were being awarded in Rivers State and many of them were not completed or were abandoned or were politicized. Some of the contractors are those fighting Amaechi today in one way or the other even though that when you ask them to bring the proof that they completed the contracts that were given them to do, you see them bringing Kangaroo proofs that the contracts that were awarded to them were completed.

Amaechi seemingly did not tighten up how contracts were awarded in Rivers State. He might say that it was not in his office to award contracts, but since this concerned his government, the criteria with which contracts were awarded then to mostly indigenes, were not committed to assiduous supervision.

The contracts were like largesse to his indigenous fellows because in earnest, the governor loved his ‘pals’ to a fault. It is today not certain if Amaechi still remember his inaugural speech of Oct. 26 2007 after he won his case with the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the court that ousted Sir Celestine Omehia, when he said, “I will serve you with humility, and above all, with fear of God. I will listen to your opinion and will be guided by your views and together we will make Rivers State great again”.

Without trumpeting my own praise, I was one of the frontrunners that guided and guarded Amaechi when he served with ‘humility and fear of God’, when he was listening to ‘our opinions and was guided by our views’ as commentators. These attributes of the governor unfortunately have all been engulfed and gulped by politics of the Titans in the midst of those he once loved and assisted.

Many of the contracts were not reviewed if they were actually completed or not. I had written in my articles then that it was as if the governor had the indigenes of Rivers State at heart when he was making that inaugural speech, but many of them later betrayed him. He knows what I am writing about his ‘people betraying him’ if he would relax and reflect on the whole issue.

The ‘focused’ Ameachi then had put in excellent plans by restoring most of play fields particularly in old Port Harcourt Township and had all insisted on good sports arena for the new primary school buildings embarked upon in all the LGA of Rivers State. Today, is it not about President Jonathan and the presidency that Amaechi has focused all his attention to?

As ‘history would absorb me’ concerning my genuine contributions in Rivers State, I single-handedly fought for the integration of non-indigenes in the affairs of the government and many of them are today enjoying the fruits of that labour which I carried out through massive media briefs on the need non-indigenes should be incorporated in Amaechi’s government and he did not betray. The records are there!

At a point Amaechi was disappointed in the indigenous contractors. This was evident in the TheNEWS, January 18, 2010, with the article titled, “Amaechi’s Dilemma”. The paper succinctly stated that Amaechi expressed his frustrations and his government’s failures during a chat with Rivers stakeholders and the media.

Amaechi laid bare his feelings on the grim realities confronting his administration while presenting the 2010 proposed budget estimate of N429 billion to the state House of Assembly on 23 December 2009. Prominent among his worries was the drop from the state’s 2009 budget of N432.28 billion in the 2010 fiscal estimate.

This was heralded, as due to the reduction of revenue from the Federation Account, as a result of the ceding of about 200 oil wells from the state to Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa and other bordering states by the National Boundary Commission, NBC, and the Revenue Allocation, Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission (which that of Akwa Ibom 86 oil wells ceded to her have been reclaimed by Rivers State, 2011).

I had written then that not only how to shore up the revenue base of the state to meet the increasing challenge of sustaining the economic profile of the state should be the challenge confronting Amaechi in the face of many multi-nationals that fled the state in the wake of kidnappings and violent attacks on the management and staff of oil companies in the state, but, also, the plight of non-indigenes that had been left in abject penury in Rivers State. Today, I must say that it is the entire state that has been left in abject penury and not non-indigenes anymore.

When I look back, I’m yet to see the benefits of the many groups in the entertainment industry who were implored to stage shows in Port Harcourt, starting with ‘Diplomatic Unplugged’ by Akas Baba, followed by Friends of WAZOBIA FM, ECOWAS Beauty Pageant, AY Live, ION Film Festival and CARNIRIV 2009/2010, which was the Rivers’ government’s clone of the Calabar end-of-year Carnival. Other shows organised were CRACK YA RIBS by ace comedian Julius Agwu, THISDAY Musical Entertainment Night, and the 2009 version of Nite of A Thousand Laughs, entreated to pep up Rivers State. You may say, just frivolities!

His indigenous contractors conversely betrayed his government. Amaechi affirmed this again during an interactive session with the media one time at the Government House, Port Harcourt. Amaechi then frowned at the woeful performance of his administration in the hands of those he loved, in this regard: “I can confess that since I assumed office, waste disposal has [posed] a serious challenge to my administration. But the problems are that we inherited waste disposal contractors who are mainly (indigenous?) politicians in the state who receive between N4 and N5 million monthly but hardly evacuate the refuse.”

We once saw ex-militants who were camped at Aluu for training in various skills, near Port-Harcourt, after the amnesty programme of President Musa Yar’Adua was granted them, went on rampage, because of lack of adequacy to their welfare. This is the fate of the state today.

The truth is that Amaechi knew at the back of his heart that he had sacrificed the future of the state on the altar of indigenous political patronage of politicians who were in the corridors of power. The truth of the matter again was hinged on the fact that the individuals behind the brouhahas that Amaechi is today facing were those he could not look straight in the face and tell them how they betrayed the trust he had for them, hence pummeling the future of the state.

Odimegwu Onwumere is the Coordinator, Concerned Non-Indigenes In Rivers State (CONIRIV). Mobile: +2348032552855. Email: nirivpol@gmail.com

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