By Josef Omorotiomwan
A MAN’S journey in life reminds us of the antelope and the lion. When the antelope wakes up in the morning, it knows it must outrun the fastest lion, lest it would be consumed. When the lion wakes up, it realises that it must outrun the fastest antelope or it would starve to death.
In either case, it is run, run, run. That also explains why when the wise man wakes up, he prays for all the crooked ways around him to be straightened.
There is nothing here to suggest that on that fateful morning of December 2006, Chibuike Amaechi did not pray before leaving for the Port Harcourt Township Stadium. It was the age of imposition and Emperor Baba Obasanjo had determined to anoint another candidate, Celestine Omehia, who did not need to have gone through the usual nomination process.
That was how Amaechi’s case quickly developed “k-leg”. For once, a very serious matter sounded like a joke and so jokingly did many people take it. But Amaechi knew exactly what was involved. He headed for the courts.
Normally, it is easier to destroy than to rebuild. It takes one person to make a mistake and many people to correct it. Ever since the K-leg pronouncement on Amaechi, things have not been the same. It took the Supreme Court to perform the first major surgery on the leg to enable Amaechi run around to seek more permanent remedy.
For Amaechi, it was clear that he had to work twice as hard as his counterparts with straight legs to be half as good as they. He realised that government is about service, the provision of which is the sole justification for government. Before the advent of this administration, Rivers was a one-city state. Port Harcourt was the only city, but as will be seen in the paragraphs that follow, this administration has changed the definition of Rivers as a one-city state with the spreading of development efforts throughout the three Senatorial Districts of the State.
Again, Aba Road was the only real thoroughfare across Port Harcourt. Other roads in the city were just narrow ravines that hardly took two cars going side by side. On a bad day, it was not unusual to be held up in traffic on one spot, on Aba Road, for upwards of four hours. Movement was absolutely horrendous. But Port Harcourt is now a driver’s delight, with the dualization and widening of Chief G.U. Ake Road, Okporo Road, Elekahia-Rumuomasi Road and Ken Saro Wiwa Road, among others.
The Rivers Monorail Project makes the boldest statement of them all. Twice in my life, I have seen Obasanjo open his mouth in absolute bewilderment and he had difficulty in closing the mouth: the first was when he visited the Tinapa Resort in Cross River State years ago; and the second was the penultimate week, when he got to the Rivers Monorail Project in Port Harcourt. Even in its present state as work-in-progress, we agree with Obasanjo that it is a joy to behold. He describes it as a “landmark project and a reference point”.
We are not about to forget the Afam Power Project, which by Obasanjo’s estimation, places Rivers above all other states in the country. Hear him: “Only Rivers State has the capacity to operate a monorail project. With the State generating about 700 megawatts of electricity, 200 megawatts can be allocated to the mono-rail project.” What a great projection!
In a single outing, the foregoing projects were commissioned along with the Model Primary Health Centre, Akpajo; Ambassador Nne Kurubo Model Secondary School, Eleme; the Songhai/Rivers Farm, Bunu Tai; the Model Primary School, Ban-Ogoi, Tai; the mini-football pitch at Niger/Bendel streets; basketball pitch, volleyball court, St. Andrew’s Primary School, Mile One Diobu; and Professor Kelsey Harrison Hospital, Diobu, Port Harcourt, each of which is solid enough to sustain an average administration in good stead for an entire four-year tenure.
These projects were picked by random selection for commissioning. Others are ready. This k-leg is working hard while others with straight legs are hardly working. If it takes the k-leg to work this hard, we may as well begin to pray to be k-legged.
We now see the rationale in inviting Obasanjo to come and take part in straightening the very leg he deformed.
Like the case of the antelope and the lion, there are those who earnestly pray that Amaechi’s k-leg never gets straight. They are many and they come in various ways. For instance, Amaechi believes that Dame Patience Jonathan “wanted to micro-manage governance in Rivers State but I refused”. The Jonathan administration went further to cede Rivers oil wells to neighbouring Bayelsa State where President Jonathan hails from and this, to Amaechi, amounts to gross injustice. He speaks further: “They took Soku oil wells from us and they took 41 oil wells from Etche to Abia State” and they expect the man to remain quiet in the face of these injustices.
One bad turn deserves another. While the case lasted, President Jonathan promised that the revenue accruing from the disputed oil wells would be kept in an escrow account but before Amaechi knew what was happening, all the funds had been released to his neighbours, even when Rivers State won the cases in court. It was merely a pyrrhic victory! Their only agendum is to suffocate Amaechi and his government to death.
When Jonathan is not sitting on that k-leg, his wife is doing so, as happened in Okrika, when an elected Governor was yet speaking, an unelected first lady, so called, reportedly snatched the microphone from him. And when the first lady is not on him, there is always an Mbu to unleash some onslaught! But to how much humiliation can one man be subjected? In spite of it all, he weathers the storm and he has now moved to the APC where good people are not in short supply! That is perhaps the final antidote to the k-leg!