Amaechi's Greatness In Rivers - By Odimegwu Onwumere
For a month or so now I decided to shift attention from commenting on the politics and developments in the Governor Chibuike Amaechi-led government of Rivers State. I purposefully did that because it could be dilly-dallying and foolery fighting somebody
continuously, who keeps on pleading to/with you that he is guilty. We can see that Amaechi continued to plead with residents to exercise patience with his government. But the more I keep my cool, accusations continue to come direct to me from friends and fans and detractors that I have been given 'bribe' by the government that was why I stopped to comment. I always laugh whenever I was confronted with this owing to the gesture that this government continued to beg for money and plead for human patience to augment its governance's incapacitation. Can such a mingy government like Amaechi's give somebody 'bribe'? I wouldn't know. Even, the government hardly empowers its indigenes, let alone a bloody non-indigene like me. But it is surprising that during elections, we are all incorporated as indigenes.
These people didn't take the case of the 'bribe' seriously. I guess. But I could sense the level their propaganda could go if I do not clear the air because of posterity. I am not 'cost-effectively' as at when I should comment or not. There is no ruling out the fact that Amaechi has initiated massive road constructions and rehabilitation projects in Rivers State, yet the whole city has clamped down. You might not read this on the newspapers. Tune to your radio and be sorry with the cry of the people, asking; 'Is this 'the change we can see'?' I am not cynical and will not fail to admit that Amaechi is doing something. At least, each of the schools that would accommodate about 1,000 students cost the state government about N4.5bn. You understand what I mean?
The problem is that Amaechi is battling with cultural, politics and developmental flaws in his government. He needs to be pitied and needs to be praised for leading Rivers State to the condition of inertia, at least, for whomever that will succeed him to know that governance is not a newspaper work but a practical thing. Amaechi is just realizing it that he was supposed to owe power to the people, but unfortunately this mentality he lacked brewed cold political wars in the state, been carried over to an era where he nearly became actually only a governor in name. His praise singers didn't advise him better. And I found it nauseating when the praise singers went nuts simply because they wanted to please him and make money. Some of us who criticize the government, our names are in the government's 'Black Book', but not our critiques, as some of our suggestions are been used by the government without any payment, and I am not worried or interested about payment; let's leave it that public opinion is part of government. But on a different note, people should be acknowledged if they do the right thing. For example, you see newspapers companies in Nigeria giving both merited and unmerited awards to the 'distinguished' persons in the society without awarding same to the opinion writers whose elbows have greased government policies and make the editors smile to the bank. I, for one, have seen nothing exceptional performance that should attract outlandish praise to Amaechi. It is the critics of his government that deserve the eccentric praise, either.
Some people can be fooled with/by mere pictures, but not everybody can be fooled. While I reserve my comment on this, the government should not reserve the strength to work. But if the outrageous amount of money we hear Amaechi spends on most of the projects were misused in the Middle East, the present day Israel that was started after the 2 nd World War (1945), would not have developed. Upon the equivocal amount of money used on projects, it is still a miracle for the infrastructural development to catch-up with a human face. This makes some people to find it hard to be impressed with structures such as those, no matter the amount we hear that were used in setting them. There is something unsettling about the structures.
We started getting Amaechi's head swelling with all these praises in the earlier time before some of us understand him and said that we do not need any more - 'he has tried' - which is the way here to get favour from those occupying public offices. We have heard that 'Rome was not built in a day' but this is nearly four years Amaechi mounted the saddle, yet we are building 'Rome.' Did you hear praise singers say 'Amaechi is doing great works in Rivers State?' Great, indeed!
Like the anti-financial crime agencies are making us to understand today, this 'Rome' has refused to be 'developed' because our (Nigerian) leaders steal money and use an infinitesimal amount of it to pace around on below par white elephant projects therefore giving us the hope that they are doing us great favour. When they get this into our head, some of us praise them to high heavens. Some of us who tell them that they are stealing from us but mercifully giving us little back are 'marked.'
This is Amaechi who was out to boast, claiming that things were rubbish before him and he is the one out to do all the repairs and improvements, but we have met the state worse, except he will prove us otherwise. Upon his boasts, the average Rivers person is yearning for a Messianic change. With the way things are in Rivers State, if Amaechi is given way, he could be clamouring for a third term aspiration, because he has seen that he has not met the expectation of the people, and as a result, he resorted to begging for the citizens' patience.
How many projects have this government initiated? It is a known fact that most of the projects the government is executing were projects that were initiated by the previous administration, but the news we hear today make us feel they were Amaechi's brainchild, when he came into office. The Braithwaite Memorial Specialist Hospital (BMSH) being harped on about by the Amaechi-led Rivers State Government wasn't even initiated by this government. We continue to suffer in Rivers State because this government has only succeeded in personalizing and building glorifying individuals, but not lasting institutions. This is the problem! Given the revenue flowing into the state coffers, you can see that when the government boasts about achieving development, you only but laugh that it is at the lowest ebb of development.
Today, the work Amaechi's boys and girls have found pleasure in doing is to engage the internet chat rooms and forums to glorify him. They perhaps thought that there is a distinction to be made on those internet forums, without any transparent works on the ground. They will not tell the people that kidnappers have returned in Rivers State and other crimes. Amongst others that have happened, we recently heard the story of a driver and a police officer in a Hilux van that were shot dead around the Mile market axis by 'unknown gunmen.' This is the glimpse of insecurity here, but hardly would Amaechi admit that insecurity in the state has increased more than it was. You cannot say that the militants were dismantled, so insecurity has gone. There may not be incessant broad daylight firing of guns by any group as were the experiences here, but it does not make the state a secure atmosphere.
It is dangerous to give kudos to a step in the wrong direction, because we have leaders with the type of thinking that they do not need to commit the states' resources to proper use. They just do 'something'. This mentality, perhaps, has been the reason our standard in Rivers State have been too low. Have they been allowing the money gets used for the purposes it was intended, not that the money was poorly or inefficiently allocated?
It is laughable and absurd how "Rome' will not be built in a day in Rivers State. The proponents use it to console their ineptitude. They say that so that critics will cover their faces in shame whereas the government initiated tedious and gruesome corners and setbacks. Excuses upon excuses! These were the 'democrats' blaming the military for the country's under-development but see the 'democrats' dogmatic fiat. People are just taming their vulture's patience. We thought that Amaechi's tedious, painful and gruesome development and his spate of demolitions will get the residents out of the beggars-kind of suffering majority of the people are going through here. The government is just giving a cursory peep on development and you begin to ask where is 'developed' in Rivers State if what you see is a collapsed environment. I am yet with an in-depth comprehension of Amaechi's perspective to the whole scenario. So, I wonder where the issue of 'bribe' came to play.
Odimegwu Onwumere is the Coordinator, Concerned Non-Indigenes In Rivers State (CONIRIV). Mobile: +2348032552855. Email: