BY JIMITOTA ONOYUME
OCTOBER 25 will ever remain green in the memories of Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State. It was a day the Supreme Court ruled that he be sworn in as governor of the state. And he took his oath of office the following day in Government House, Port Harcourt for his first term of four years.
Amaechi had gone to court to challenge his sudden substitution with his cousin, Sir Celestine Omehia for the general polls in 2007 after he had won his party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP’s) ticket for the governorship election.
It has been four years now since he came on board as governor of the state. And within this period he has made tremendous impact on the security situation in the state. He took over as governor at a time the state was under dusk to dawn curfew, a development traced to the reckless activities of criminals and cultists that masqueraded as militants. They literarily held the state hostage with their criminal and murderous activities.
Governor Amaechi effectively funded the Joint Task Force (JTF) under the Command of General Sariki Yarki Bello, thena Brigadier General, to dislodge the hoodlums from the state. The JTF smoked the criminals out of their hideouts. The governor has continued to sustain the new found atmosphere of relative peace to the admiration of residents.
Amaechi further endeared himself to the people when for the first time in several years, according to Miebaka Festus, they started seeing “movement of caterpillars and bulldozers” all over the state, an indication that the government was working.
So far, the government has constructed primary schools and health centres in all local councils of the state. It is also building state of the art model secondary schools in various parts of the state. The model schools have hostel accommodation for the students. The teachers are to also live in the schools, which have e-libraries, auditorium and other facilities to ease learning in a contemporary world.
The government has also recorded appreciable feat in the power sector. It had built some gas power plants and waiting for legislative power to be able to evacuate power to homes for consumption. Governor Amaechi at a forum said by the end of next year the state would generate about 560 megawatts of electricity while the state would need just 400 MW to meets its consumption demand.
He said his government had identified 500 communities in the state yet to be connected to power and assured that his government would address the issue before the end of its tenure.
Governor Amaechi at a forum in the state recently, said he was not the only governor caught in the problem of being unable to evacuate power to homes after construction of gas turbine stations.
He said he was going to appeal to members of the National Assembly to see how they could move power distribution to the concurrent list; he said if it was taken away from the exclusive list, it would empower governors that have invested in the power sector to distribute power to its citizens.
Vanguard findings revealed that one of the communities yet to enjoy power in the state is Ula Ikata community in Ahoada. The community has little or no government presence.
The government no doubt has made serious impact in the education sector but some residents said there is still much to be done. According to Azubuike Moses, most of the schools in the deep rural communities are run by corps members.
It is either there are no teachers or those employed have refused to do their jobs in these communities. A corps member in Ogubolo, who corroborated the foregoing said in his school you hardly find the regular teachers in the class room.
They only come around probably once or twice in a whole month, all of them prefer to remain in Port Harcourt. The corps members who spoke under condition of anonymity said for the effort of the government in the education sector to be fully appreciated Amaechi should set machinery in motion to ensure that regular teachers were employed for schools in rural communities. And measures should be put in place to see that the teachers are on ground doing their jobs.
Most residents of Port Harcourt, the state capital, also urged the government to use the coming dry season to make impact on most adjourning roads in the state which they said had grossly depreciated. The number of failed roads have risen in the last three months, apparently due to the rain. This, in their opinion has made the traffic very chaotic during peak periods.
On his part, the governor sometime ago blamed the situation on the rainy season, which he said made it difficult for contractors to cover serious grounds. He assured that impact would be made during the dry season.
Speaking during an inspection visit to Okporo road, Amaechi said he was also disturbed by the deplorable state of some of the roads. He directed the contractor handling the Okporo Road project to commence work immediately in spite of the rainy season.
Amaechi in the judgement of most residents in the state has given a new meaning to governance. According to a resident of Port Harcourt, since Amaechi came on board as governor every part of the state had been feeling government in action in one way or the other. Nevertheless residents still have advice for him: he should endeavour to complete most of the projects started by his administration before the end of his second term in office.