Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi was welcomed with strong support from fellow Rivers diasporans in the UK during his recent visit. The governor was delivering a speech titled ‘Reform and Resource Governance’ at Chatham House in Central London. Students held placards outside the venue (pictures below) that praised Governor Amaechi and showed solidarity despite his involvement in the disunity and fighting happening with federal government. The students who are beneficiaries of the governor’s scholarship scheme designed to improve manpower in the state, claimed that they were there to show appreciation for the good work the governor is doing.
Home to the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House regularly invites Nigerian politicians to the UK to discuss how the African continent is developing. The session was part of the African dialogue series. Governor Amaechi outlin
500 primary schools have been built in Rivers State during his tenure and 250 more will be commissioned starting from October this year. Governor Amaechi said: “The academic structure we inherited was very bad as many children could not stay in school and those who did got a very poor education. We are building schools and uniforms, sandals, bags and books are free, while with healthcare, we have built 60 health centres and 70 more will be commissioned before the end of the year.” When speaking on the scholarships programmes he said, “We send 300 every year to the UK and Canada on scholarship and we have established palm oil and banana plantations that employ workers. By the end of our tenure, we would have laid the foundation for a more robust and less oil dependent economy in Rivers State.”
Governor Amaechi also addressed his recent political troubles during his speech. He said the trouble started when it was suspected that he had higher political ambitions for 2015. He explained that he has not declared any position yet and that the impact of the clampdown was that several; projects in Rivers State have been put on hold by the federal government. Governor Amaechi said: “When the federal government suspects that you have an ambition, they do everything to bring you down. For instance, we have two helicopters to monitor security that they have refused permission to be brought into the country and they have frustrated plans we have to open a syringe manufacturing factory in Rivers State. “Even if they have an issue with me, why should the whole of Rivers State suffer? We have numerous projects which we have signed agreements with the federal government to introduce and implement but since this crisis began, they have suspended all of them and the people feeling it are the ordinary people of Rivers State.”
The governor added that Rivers State is the second largest economy in Nigeria and that in his own opinion; good political leadership could improve things further. However, he said that the political culture in Nigeria where politicians believe they are doing the people a favour is a severe impediment as is the refusal of certain people to leave the political scene. He stated that certain politicians have remained on the scene despite no longer having anything to offer. He then joked that he intends to leave politics one day as he does not entertain the idea of sitting round a table arguing with his children.
Emphasising that the current crisis in Rivers State threatened security, Governor Amaechi said that some of the militant groups that have been disbanded have now been revived and are being used to cause mayhem and protest against his government. He said that on the day of the fracas in the Rivers State House of Assembly, many of these thugs were led in with the involvement of the police commissioner. Governor Amaechi said, “I used to be the speaker of the house and the law is that you are not even allowed to bring your walking stick in when entering. How did these people manage to bring in thugs, weapons, a fake mace and cause mayhem while the police were not only looking on but aiding them?”
He also pointed out that the violence started long before the recording that became viral on Youtube, it began when five assemblymen smuggled a fake mace into the Rivers State House of Assembly and used their hoodlums to create chaos. According to the governor, after the police commissioner refused to do anything about it, he went there with his security detail and it was them who eventually restored order.