Of FOOPP, Ikanya & Amaechi

Source: Dr. Brian Wilfred

On 25th June when the Forum of Organized Opposition Political Parties (FOOPP) Rivers State was inaugurated, one statement that the Governor of Rivers State, Rt. Hon Chibuike Amaechi made through the state's SSG, Mr. Magnus Abe who represented him was that he would soon meet with the FOOPP members, and this had come to pass.

11th July, 2009 was it when a delegation from the FOOPP led by its leader and Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Prince Tonye Princewill paid a courtesy call on Governor Amaechi at the Government House, Port Harcourt. Prince Tonye Princewill was accompanied by the Chairman of the Forum, Chief Dr. Davies Ibiamu Ikanya, Barr Osima Ginah, the Urban Development Commissioner, Chief Williams Igweh, the SA to the Governor on Inter-party Affairs, Chief Eric Aso the ANPP Guber Candidate, Rev. Odota Ndubisi, the Guber Candidate of ARP in the 2007 general election, Chief Tamuno Roberts the Chairman of RS CNPP and Secretary of BOT, Chief Harry Alaye the Vice Chairman, Comrade Garshon Benson of DPP, Secretary; the 43 Chairmen of participating political parties and officials of the Forum. In his response, the Governor Conveyed his sincere appreciation for the hand of support and Partnership extended to him by Prince Tonye Princewill since assuming office in 2007. He commended Prince Tonye for this initiative that will hopefully promote a formidable political partnership and joint collaboration between the government and the organized opposition in Rivers State. The governor expressed satisfaction for the valuable assistance by way of the suggestions extended to his government by the FOOPP.

FOOPP informed the governor that the formation of the Forum had become expedient in the light of the Governor's passionate commitment in tackling the difficulties of the Rivers people whilst contending with the challenges bedeviling development in the state and oppositions acknowledgement in this regard. They also asserted that the government would stand to benefit from most of the Forum's activities which will revolve major around goal-driven collaboration between the government and the organized opposition. Speaking on behalf of the FOOPP, the Secretary of the Forum, Comrade Garshon Benson, Barr Iyke Echie of AC and Hon. Finebone Chris of NMDP commended the Governor for his giant strides in governance since assuming office on the 26th October, 2007. He reassured the Governor of the FOOPP's commitment to providing sound, objective and result-oriented political opposition in the state.

Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi was further commended for instituting a truly unity government which in itself has created an enabling environment for Opposition to thrive. It appreciated Amaechi's purposeful commitment to the unity government evident in the appointments of Chief (Dr.) Davies Ibiamu Ikanya, ersthwhile Commissioner for Special Duties, Barrister Osima Ginah, Commissioner for Urban Development, Chief Williams Igweh, Special Adviser on Inter Party Matters and Mr. Suage Badey, Member Governing Council, Rivers State University of Science and Technology respectively.

Governor Amaechi reiterated governments zero tolerance for all forms of criminality and his administration's commitment to reinstating sanity. Promising to work with the opposition, he rounded up his response thus, “I will give the opposition every support to monitor the Government's projects as it is truly tiring for me to monitor most of the projects in the State. On Funding of opposition parties, I will in the next stakeholders meeting of PDP move the motion for adequate funding of the opposition if we are to move forward democratically, socially and developmentally.” The icing on the cake followed shortly “Finally, if your request is for me to reappoint Dr. Davies Ibiamu Ikanya, your wish is my command”. In addition to the suggestions made to the Governor, the Forum solicited for the re-appointment of Chief (Dr.) Davies Ibiamu Ikanya, its amiable chairman into the Rivers State Exco and in the same vein appealed for at least, three (3) more slots in the Exco to be filled by members from the Opposition.

Dr. Ikanya's re-appointment is a welcomed development following his contributions to bettering the Amaechi-led government which his party, like the AC, joined in the Unity Government as soon as Amaechi reclaimed his mandate in faraway Oct. 25 2007 with the help of the court. Since then, Dr. Ikanya had never gone back it the good things of the government. And this was why many Rivers people were angry when he was removed as commissioner and his re-appointment seems to hit the rock. There is no better man who would have led the FOOPP if not Dr. Ikanya to tell Amaechi that beyond the walls of excellent inter-party relations under his amiable leadership, Rivers State has recorded great strides of progress with landmarks in urban development and renewal, infrastructural development, health, education, peace and security, human capital development, and the conscious effort to enlarge the political space and citizen participation through elimination of the so-called upland/riverine dichotomy in Rivers politics. There is no other better man who would have told Amaechi that they salute his courage and conviction and hope that posterity will number his term in office with an unambiguous verdict of success.

Dr. Ikamya pointed the way forward for the FOOPP whilst acknowledging the governor's giants strides thus far with the Forum's three spokespersons. Under the FOOPP leadership of Dr. Ikanya, the forum said that the government should support independent project monitoring teams drawn from the opposition. The team(s), we believe, will promptly deliver to the governor's table at mutually agreed times, the true and exact position of activities on project sites. We have a moral responsibility and the personnel in place to provide an objective assessment. The government policy and programme for urban development and renewal, including the demolition of inner city illegal structures and the waterfronts, though commendable, should of necessity, include wider consultations with Rivers people the government should liaise with the Federal Government to site key industries in Rivers state and as a matter of urgency re-vitalize economic activities at the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) PH and the Federal Ocean Terminal, Onne to create jobs for our teeming youths.

As if that was not enough, Dr. Ikanya and his men told the government that it should reactivate the moribund state owned companies such as the Delta Rubber Company Ltd at Etche, RisonPalm Ltd. etc. Agriculture should be placed on the front burner as a means of providing food and jobs for our people. Particularly, RISONPALM which should as a matter of urgency be turned around and returned to its glorious past when the State earned income from its produce. The government should consider it expedient to tackle the issues of Public amenities such as Power, Portable Water and Traffic congestion in Port Harcourt metropolis and its environs. On traffic congestion, Government should engage additional traffic marshals, equip them with communication gadgets, special motorcycles and vehicles; open link roads between Silver Valley Estate, Trans Amadi and Aba Road , Bori Camp and Rumuigbo by MCC, after due consultation with the Nigerian Army. Same should also apply for Oginigba-Elekahia-Waja (beside the Rail line); expansion of the Waja bridge/Trans Amadi-Elikahia Road. We also suggest that Government should commence a modern intra city water transport scheme with terminals at Abonenema Wharf axis, Iwofe and Choba bridge (Emohua end). A modern motor park at the Emohua end of the bridge will cater for travelers to Emohua, Kalabari, Ahoada, Bayelsa and beyond. For most commuters, the long hours wasted between Isaac Boro Park and Choba Bridge will be saved and on the other hand, the number of commercial vehicles presently plying the Ikwerre-Mgbuoba and Rumuokoro-Choba Roads and beyond will reduce drastically. The government should, as a matter of urgency, commence the implementation of the White Paper on the ESO TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION REPORT.

Dr. Brian Wilfred writes from Port Harcourt