WASHINGTONâ€”Rivers State governor, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, has restated his commitment to making a fresh start, anchored on development and enforcement of law and order in Rivers State.
Amaechi spoke in Washington DC, United States of America, during a town hall meeting with Rivers State natives residing in North America at the weekend. He met with them for over seven hours in North America on Saturday, and on Sunday held a breakfast meeting with leaders of the various Rivers State ethnic associations in America.
Amaechi told his audience that when he took over as governor that the rot in the state was enormous and the developmental foundation laid by the first governor of the old Rivers State, Alfred Diete SpiffÂ had been dangerously weakened because past governments paid little or no attention to building on theÂ developmental base laid by Spiff.
â€œWhen we came in, the state was in chaos. If you can still recall, people were then walking the streets of Port Harcourt with their hands raised.
There was a dusk to dawn curfew. Businesses were fleeing the state. Social and night life was completely dead. Hotels were battling to stay afloat because there was no business. Our health, education and infrastructure had nothing, they were all gone. We had to start from the scratchâ€, Amaechi said.
â€œWe had to start by re-laying and building a new foundation for the state. For instance, I had to declare a state of emergency on the education sector after a thorough and comprehensive look at what we had then.
“We have to start all over again by building new schools, 750 new primary schools in all, 25 new secondary schools, moving the old university to a new site.
Shouldnâ€™t we be renovating or adding new ones? But because there was nothing to build on in the first place, we had to start all over.
â€œIt means we are laying a fresh foundation for our people and the state because the foundation laid by Diete Spiff is weak and gone, nobody built on it, and if you donâ€™t build on it, to consolidate and protect it, what will happen? It will collapse.
â€œSo, we are rebuilding a new foundation for our peopleâ€¦ Same thing in the health sector and other sectors, a new foundationâ€¦ Spiff had a wonderful policy but others came and were doing whatever they like with our collective wealth, feeling funky being governor and emperor, and people were clappingâ€¦â€
Governor Amaechi, who went to the meetings with his senior adviser on Media and Publicity, David Iyofor, for several hours took questions and told his audience what he is doing to reverse the rot he met and set Rivers State on the path of growth and development. He told his Rivers’ people that his key areas of focus are education, health, infrastructure and the enforcement of law and order.
â€œWe are building new schools from primary to tertiary level. We will equip these schools to make sure that they are of international competitive standard and will train and continue to retrain our teachers.
You are free to come home any time to see the ones that are completed.Â We are building and fully equipping 150 new health centres all over the State, two new hospitals are ready and a third one inside the state university is nearing completion.
We are building a Specialist Hospital in the new cityâ€¦ We are building new roads, expanding old roads and connecting communities separated by rivers. For instance, we are doing a unity road that will connect Opobo, Andoni and Ogoni communities.Â This is the first time Opobo will be connected by road to the rest of the word.â€
Governor Amaechi urged Rivers people in North America to partner with his administration and come together for the collective good of Rivers people and the State. He admonished them as brothers in diaspora to always look out for each other and be their brothersâ€™ keepers.
Speaking on behalf of Rivers people in North America, the chairman of the occasion, Dr, Rueben Jaja, hailed the tremendous efforts of Governor Amaechi geared towards rebuilding Rivers State. He agreed with Amaechi that the foundation that was laid by Diete Spiff was so weakened before Amaechi came in as governor.
He thanked him for inviting some members of the Rivers community in America to join in the task of rebuilding the State and laying a fresh foundation.
These persons who were present at the meetings and serve in various capacities in the Amaechi administration include Joe Poroma, Tex Wariboko, Ogu Emejuru, Goodlive Nmekini, Robert Ella, Nyema Weli and Chamberline Peterside.Â Dr. Jaja pledged the continued support of Rivers people in North America in the daunting task of rebuilding the State.