Ameachi's aides, council chiefs begin horse trading ahead of 2011


WITH backstage schemes for 2011 polls gradually gaining momentum in Rivers State, public

functionaries in the state are currently in a seeming desperate horse trading in a bid to remain

relevant, says a news report by AkanimoReports.
To this end, some local government council chairmen are turning a blind eye to the

unwholesome activities of revenue officials at the grassroots.

For instance, in Oyigbo Local Government Area of the state, petty traders and store operators

are being harassed agents who claimed to be working for the council to pay ''Development

Levy'', a levy which was outlawed by the state government.

The said levy ranges from N3,000- N5,000. For those who could not cough out the levy, their

valuable properties like goats, electronic items among others were impounded.

Around Nwafor and Imo streets, some of the victims fingered a female council official to be

behind the raids. At Afam, the council headquarters, on Tuesday, officials said the council

Chairman, Mr. Precious Oforji. knows nothing about the raids on residents and petty

businesses for the levy.
Efforts to get the Commerce and Industry Commissioner, Mr. Ogbonna Nwuke, fore comments

did not pay off as he was said to be at a ''crucial meeting''.

The harassment in Oyigbo is coming as Governor Chibuike Amaechi vowed to meet soon with

the leadership of the ruling party in the state to take decisions on the type of disciplinary

measure to be meted out to erring council chairmen in the state.

In the mean time, the directive by the governor that all Special Advisers and Special Assistants

to him who were either late or absent at this month's Inter-Ministerial Meeting, should be

relieved of their appointments immediately is being seen as a political talk.

Analysts say the governor needs some of his aides for his re-election plans in 2011. Already,

the affected officials including council chairmen are said to be reaching out to some influential

political forces behind the Amaechi administration to get him to recind the order.

Sources at the Government House, Port Harcourt said, ''there is a high wire horse trading

currently going in some quarters on the matter''.
Also, Commissioners and Permanent Secretaries who were equally absent at the meeting on

Monday without permission, or that came late after the roll call should be queried and

disciplined accordingly, while the Secretary to Government has been directed to ensure that all

SAs affected are served their letters.
Governor Amaechi gave these orders on Monday at the monthly Inter-Ministerial Meeting in

Government House, Port Harcourt. He said he will meet with the leadership of the ruling party

in the state to take decisions on the type of disciplinary measure to be meted out to absentee

council chiefs.
Governor Amaechi who was unhappy that the appointed officials could treat with levity such an

important meeting that is convened monthly to collectively move the state forward.

“I am supposed to be in Abuja with my colleagues, but I had to stay back because of the

importance I accord Rivers State, so I will not accept any excuse for this”, he said.

The governor equally directed Commissioner for Power, as well Urban Development

Commission to commence the demolition of all structures under the Power Holding Company of

Nigeria (PHCN) high tension lines to avoid a future occurrence of the recent incident of

electrocution of people in Port Harcourt.
In the same vein, he directed the Commissioner for Environment to demolish structure built on

Oil and Gas pipelines' right of way, to avoid the hazards associated therein, should there be

any incident, to safeguard loss of lives.
Amaechi said the PHCN incident should be a lesson to the residents of Port Harcourt, and

advised property owners including private homes, public buildings, markets, and even

properties owned by religious groups to cooperate with government agencies in their overall

The governor observed that his efforts to carry out reforms in some institutions are being

frustrated by certain bureaucratic bottlenecks, and stressed the need to outsource the

management of the new hospitals built by the present administration.

He warned that any private school in the state that does not cooperate with the Ministry of

Health on immunization of children, will be shut down, as the government effort to eradicate

infant killer diseases cannot be compromised.
Governor Amaechi explained that the rationale behind the inter ministerial meeting was based

on the fact that cabinet input was not enough to give adequate direction to the government,

hence the expansion of the meeting to harness more inputs.