BY JIMITOTA ONOYUME, Port Harcourt
GOVERNOR Chibuike Amaechi has dismissed allegation by his erstwhile Chief of Staff Government House, Port Harcourt and now Supervising Minister of Education, Mr Nyesom Wike that he was planning a return back to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
The governor who spoke Thursday night in Government House, Port Harcourt said there was no iota of truth in the allegation. According to him, there were too many points of departure between his ideology and that of the PDP.
While acknowledging that there were still some good men in the PDP, Governor Amaechi said he had been approached by some chieftains of the party to return to the party, adding that he declined on grounds of ideological convictions.
“I am not returning to PDP. I have finished with PDP”, he said. Reminded that he promised to return to the party if the oil wells allegedly ceded to Bayelsa state from Soku were returned to the state, Governor Amaechi said he would want to wait and see if the federal government would return the oil wells before his next line of action.
“Well, I had made a promise that if they returned the Kalabari oil wells I will return to the party, well that is a different thing. Let’s see that happen. The real thing is that there are issues that are fundamentally different between myself, the APC and the PDP. If I am progressive, I must be progressive and I must see it in the type of life I live, what I do and what I say and how I relate with the people, the type of governance. You can’t carry out a socialist programme like this free education, properly free education where children are given laptops, free uniforms, fed and sent home. There are so many of these things we run that are contrary to the ideology of PDP. But there are wonderful men and women there“, he said.
Continuing, the governor said it was not true as being alleged by opposition politicians in the state that his government was heavily indebted. Assuring that he would clear every kobo his government was owing before his administration terminates in May next year, Governor Amaechi said the government had already cleared most of its debt, adding that it had also put measures in place to ensure he handed over a debt free state to his successor.
“Why have you not seen the name of Rivers state among the states owing the country? We have paid down to eighty billion and we will finish paying that by June so we will be free from debt. The reason we are not on the list of indebted states is because we pay what we owe and put the rest on project. Just check, if we are so indebted why are banks chasing us around, wanting to give us money in spite of all the noise by the opposition? It is because they see the way we pay. “, Amaechi said.
On the new status of Port Harcourt as UNESCO world book capital 2014 Amaechi said the whole idea was to rebrand the state as a centre of intellectual hub and technology development, adding that the state government had earmarked four billion to effectively sustain Port Harcourt as world book capital for the year.
He said standard libraries and a world class centre for writers would be constructed in the state.
On Boko Haram insurgency in some states in the north, the governor said he had suggested that one percent of allocation to all states be used to set up a Trust fund to be managed by honest and responsible northern leaders to effectively fund education and agriculture, stressing that this would help resolve the security challenge to a large extent.
The governor recalled that when he came on board in 2007 there was thriving economy code militancy in the state and the region, noting that it took his empowerment programmes to put an end to it in Rivers state.
“I have said it at the National Economic Council meeting. I have suggested that they should take one percent of our revenue, i.e. all the governors in the country to set up a commission, a Trust to be manned by honest, truthful northerners. Not federal Ministry of Education, not state government but honest, incorruptible leaders in the north to invest in education and agriculture.
It was approved but abandoned. The suggestion was made because I felt if you educate me, I won’t let you interpret the Bible for me . I have a Priest if he says Jesus says kill two persons to come to heaven, I will ask where in the Bible. You must tell me.
Count your losses. You see a large army of unskilled labour. The best you can do for them is agriculture. It means if you establish thirty to forty thousand hectares of land, you can employ thirty thousand workers who would have been potential Boko Haram recruits, you have taken them off the route “, he said.