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Rivers crisis: I stormed Assembly to restore peace, says Amaechi

By The Rainbow
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RIVERS State Governor Rotimi Amaechi has broken his silence over his presence at the House of Assembly when five lawmakers attempted to impeach the Speaker. There are 32 lawmakers in the House.

Amaechi said he was propelled primarily by the urge to restore peace, which had ostensibly broken down,  when the five lawmakers, who are believed to be associates of Minister of State for Education Nyesom Wike, attempted to impeach Speaker Otelemaba Dan Amachree.

The governor spoke at the Chatham House in Central London where he delivered a lecture on 'Resource and governance in Nigeria'. But the audience asked him about the political crisis in the state, particularly why he went to the Assembly on July 9.

He said: 'When I heard the members of the Assembly had been attacked by thugs, I went there with my security attache to rescue them because the police assigned to the Assembly had been compromised.'I abhor violence. The first thing to condemn are the policemen who had refused to perform their duties of protecting the lawmakers,' the embattled governor told the audience at the Chatham House in Central London.

He was there to deliver a lecture on 'Resource Control in Nigeria,' but the audience there made up of Rivers' indigenes prodded him to talk about the political crisis in his state.

Amaechi, for the second time, publicly attributed the political crisis in the state to the perception  'that I want to run for 2015 elections.'

He said, 'But again, there is no law that criminalises ambition in Nigeria, It is sad because people do everything to bring you down. If this crisis continues, one group will lose and that is the people of Rivers State. Should the state suffer for the so-called ambition of the governor?' .

The event was chaired by the British MP Richard Fuller, the vice chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Nigeria in the House of Commons.

The session was part of Chatham House's African dialogue series. Home of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House regularly invites Nigerian politicians to the UK to participate in its discussions about how Africa is developing.

Outlining a catalogue of achievements his administration can boast of since assuming office in 2007,

Amaechi seized the opportunity to  point up a list of his achievements, which included infrastructural projects, agricultural plantations, sending hundreds of students on scholarship to the UK and Canada and the massive funding of education.

According to him,  500 primary schools have been built during his tenure and 250 more would be inaugurated starting from October.

Amaechi said: 'The academic structure we inherited was very bad as many children could not stay in school and those who did got a very poor education. We are building schools and uniforms, sandals, bags and books are free, while with healthcare, we have built 60 health centres and 70 more will be commissioned before the end of the year.

'We send 300 every year to the UK and Canada on scholarship and we have established palm oil and banana plantations that employ workers. By the end of our tenure, we would have laid the foundation for a more robust and less oil-dependent economy in Rivers State.'

Speaking about his recent political troubles, Amaechi said they all began when it was suspected that he had higher political ambitions for 2015. Stressing that he has not declared for any position yet, the governor said the impact of the clampdown was that several projects had been put on ice by the Federal Government.

Amaechi said: 'When the Federal Government suspects that you have an ambition, they do everything to bring you down. For instance, we have two helicopters to monitor security that they have refused permission to be brought into the country and they have frustrated plans we have to open a syringe manufacturing factory in Rivers State.

'Even if they have an issue with me, why should the whole of Rivers State suffer? We have numerous projects which we have signed agreements with the Federal Government to introduce and implement but since this crisis began, they have suspended all of them and the people feeling it are the ordinary people of Rivers State.'