AMAECHI IN 'ALANTAN' DANCE AS HE GETS PARTY'S NOD TO CONTEST APRIL POLLS
By Jimitota Onoyume
FOR once, Governor Chibuike Amaechi put protocol aside last Saturday after the party's acting National Chairman, Dr. Bello Mohammed handed him the party's flag to fly in the April election. He went dancing. Yes. He did alantan (the latest dance step) to the admiration of the jubilant crowd.
His supporters in the arena also joined in the dancing fray. That probably was the first time many saw the governor in that jubilant mood. Some said even when Supreme Court ruled making him governor he was not seen dancing. The governor apparently gave reason for his joyous mood in the brief remark before the presentation of flags at the rally to governorship candidates of the party.
Amaechi, when he was called upon to speak sang a Christian song before delving into his brief comment. He recalled how he was denied a place on the politics a similar event in 2007 because former president Olusegun Obasanjo said his matter as the party's candidate had what he termed k leg. In his stead, his cousin Celestine Omehia was handed the party's flag to contest the governorship election in the state. All that is now history, but the governor recalled the event that day with so much emotion. According to him, those who wanted to play God made all effort to stop him from becoming governor but failed. He said they were at work again.
But it is a different …today with a fresh governorship election is around the corner. Where does he stand in the judgment of his Rivers people in the coming election? Residents of Rivers State speak shouting of his achievements in office: the Greater Port harcourt project; the remodelling of schools, improvement in security; massive road construction among others. Between 2003 to 2007 the security situation in the state was very bad, they recalled. Then cult groups held sway in the state. They were like laws unto themselves. Residents slept with two eyes literarily opened for fear of their lives. The ugly state of things forced most companies to close shop in the state. But things are turning around for the better now in the state.
They also rated the governor in the area of power. According to them there is an improvement in this sector since he came on board. Most of them also commented on the government success in the health and education sector. The administration has built over sixty primary health centers round the state and has also commissioned several model schools. He is also reportedly doing well in road construction in the state.
Yet, some others believe nothing much had been done to shore up quality of education in the rural areas. They argued that in some schools in the rural communities there are no teachers, these schools according to them are run by corps members. They also expressed bitterness with some of the demolitions carried out by the government in the early life of the administration. Some traders in particular complained very bitterly when Vanguard sought their view on the April governorship election.
Governor Amaechi will be slugging it out with twenty eight other governorship candidates of various political parties. Some of them are former Secretary of the state government and former Transport Minister, Dr Abiye Sekibo and deposed governor Celestine Omehia. While the former is contesting on the platform of the Action Congress of Nigeria Omehia is the standard bearer of APGA.
Omehia before he left as governor also made some impact in the state within the five months he served. Some of the achievements according to those who spoke to the Vanguard will also count in his favor in the April general polls.
The stage is set for a total of 29 governorship candidates to test their popularity even as different groups are coming out to throw their weight behind their choices.
One of such is the Diaspora Committee of Friends to re-elect Amaechi which in a statement said after critical analysis of projects, policies and legislation brought about by the Amaechi administration in Rivers State, it has resolved to galvanise support for the Amaechi re-election campaign.
This, according to it, is to ensure continuity in realization of people-oriented projects and programs in the next political dispensation.
'Amongst some of the key strides recorded were; massive infrastructural investments around the state, including road projects, schools, health centers, electrification, ongoing monorail project, rural development and implementation of Greater Port Harcourt Master plan,' it said, adding 'the attainment of relative peace and security as evidenced by first-hand experiences of some group members who visited Rivers State recently.'
The group however, asked Governor to conduct proper needs-analysis and feasibility study prior to embarking on further capital projects, then develop suitable strategies for equipping, staffing and efficiently managing the new educational and healthcare centers for sustainability.
It agreed to leverage the power of technology to sensitize voters and create visibility by spreading the message about success stories and accomplishments in the state.'
Speaking on the endorsement, Publicity Committee Chairman of the Amaechi 2011 Re-election Campaign Organisation, Mr. David Iyofor welcomed, saying it would boost and enhance strategy already being put in place by the campaign organization to ensure the governor gets re-elected in the April gubernatorial polls.
'This also goes to show the level of appeal Governor Amaechi has from Rivers people all around the world. He has performed creditably well in less than four years such that Rivers people everywhere are calling for him to be re-elected.' Iyofor added.