Opinion

The Agriculture Revolution in the Niger Delta: The story of a Farming General

Posted on August 14, 2017. Filed under: Opinion |

The Agriculture Revolution in the Niger Delta: The story of a Farming General 

By Paul Boroh

As an officer in the Army, I took to farming believing that is the future of the country and that on a personal level, I could better sustain my family. Our lands are so fertile that I did not need much fertilizer; the inputs were minimal and the yields were much. Our climate, by God’s grace is predictable; it rains when it should rain and the sun shines when it should; so why not take advantage of what nature has freely given us as Nigerians.

When in July 2015, His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari appointed me Special Adviser on Niger Delta and Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, I had the primary responsibilities of streamlining the Programme and transforming it back on track, working for peace in the Niger Delta and sustainably reintegrating some 30,000 Amnesty beneficiaries back into society. Although we have various integration programmes which include education, vocational training, professional training in Aviation and Maritime, automobile engineering, entrepreneurial training and tourism and hospitality; I had no doubt that the best way to integrate such a huge number of beneficiaries quickly and sustainably, is through aquaculture and agriculture.

However, I also realized that this requires a lot of planning and painstaking implementation; like other programmes, we had to conceptualize, plant, culture and water the ideas to the germination and harvest stages. We approached a number of agencies and embassies especially the Israeli Embassy. We have also gone into partnership with various Agricultural bodies. But as a basic step, we had to get the beneficiaries interested so they can buy into the Programme.

In keying into the Federal Government’s Agriculture Initiative, we presented our ideas and the facts on the ground. The facts are that agriculture creates mass sustainable jobs and empowerment; advanced technology and high yield varieties ensure good harvest, and costs can be drastically reduced by building locally fabricated integrated feed mills which rely entirely on local products. Also, our country of over 180 million people is a huge market in itself and additionally, the ECOWAS (West African Region) provides a market that is more or less limitless. On the national level, we know that in taking to agriculture, the country is moving towards food self- sufficiency and security.

I am happy at the level of enthusiasm for agriculture amongst Amnesty Beneficiaries and to harvest this, we had turned to the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) with an agreement to train an initial one thousand beneficiaries and youths at its Bio-Resource Centre in Odi, Bayelsa State. Unfortunately, budget delays have not allowed us to take full advantage of this agency which uses technology and the principles of science to produce high yields in farming. However, the Presidential Amnesty Office has trained and began to empower Amnesty Beneficiaries in crop farming, fishery and poultry. As at June, 2017, 1,000 Amnesty beneficiaries across the nine Oil-Producing States are being trained in agriculture and will be empowered to establish their own farms. These include 105 Beneficiaries undergoing training in Agro-Business with the Songhai Rivers Initiative at the Songhai Farms, Rivers State, and 100 Beneficiaries training in fish farming under kabocastle Services at its Perecastle Fish Farm, Patani, Delta State. Also, an average of 25 Beneficiaries each are being trained in fish farming in six centres including the Delta State University by Gedisco Energy solutions, Infinite Farms in Ozoro, Delta State and Orus Resources Farm, Aluu, Rivers State.

At the Institute of Oceanography, University of Calabar, Cross Rivers State, 96 Beneficiaries are undergoing training in fish farming. The Ma-Atari Farms, Port Harcourt are training some Amnesty Beneficiaries in agriculture and poultry farming, the Ogbebor Leadership Institute, Ologbo, Edo State is training some in rubber processing, TSC Services is training 24 in General Agri-Business at the Edo State College of Education, Iguoriakhi, Edo State while Eunirusk Investment is training 18 in Cassava, Corn and Oil Palm at the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Ondo State. Forty eight Amnesty beneficiaries are being trained in crop farming by the Faculty of Agriculture, Imo State University. The training in agriculture is designed as a full value chain ; from farming, production, processing, packaging, marketing to Agri-Business Management.

By our planning, each farm will require the services of at least four farmers. This has the prospect of creating 4,000 farm workers in the Region under this phase. Also, some leaders of the Amnesty Beneficiaries have bought our argument that building houses is not sustainable as they have to be serviced and maintained, but in contrast, taking to agriculture is a money-yielding venture.

So many of them have bought into the agriculture revolution. One of them is into large scale rice farming in Bayelsa State while another which has taken to plantain cultivation, is emerging as the biggest farmer in Bomadi, Delta State. It is not only the consciousness of the Amnesty Beneficiaries that need to be transformed but also that of the Niger Delta and country as a whole; oil is a wasting asset, it may dry up in the foreseeable future. In contrast what the future foresee is that agriculture would enrich us all. So let us start with the basic policy of eating only what we grow, and growing what we eat. Change should begin with each of us.

 

Brigadier General Paul Boroh (Rtd) is the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme. A professional peace practitioner and now a farmer.

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Re: The futility of Dakuku’s Appointment- a treatise by Wike

Posted on August 12, 2017. Filed under: Opinion |

Re: The futility of Dakuku’s Appointment- a treatise by Wike 

By Dr Chimele  Eze Amadi

We have read the above titled piece endorsed on behalf of Governor Nyesom Wike by his aide on Electronic Media one Simeon Nwakaudu.

Our first reaction was to ignore the poorly written and misleading treatise  but on a second thought, the need to put the records straight made this response imperative.

First, it is common knowledge that Nwakaudu’s job may be at risk  following the dissolution of the State Cabinet and the endless sacking of Political appointees by the Governor.The timing of the article clearly suggests that the author would have concocted  these lies, half-truths and outright mischief as a smart way of warming his way back to the heart of his pay master. Even though we do not begrudge the author for desperately seeking to retain his job, we had expected him to do so decently.The fear of idleness  should not lead him into concocting wild allegations against the impregnable reputation of Dr.Dakuku Adol Peterside, an acclaimed international figure.

Being a media practitioner, the author cannot claim not to know that the reason Dr.Dakuku Peterside is a household name in Rivers State today is on account of his (Peterside’s) several achievements as Council Chairman, Commissioner for Works and Member of the House of Representatives.Records which scare Wike like  Armageddon.

Assuming his ignorance is pardoned for not knowing those facts which are ordinarily in the public domain, can the author also be forgiven if he  feigns ignorance of the trail blazing achievements of Dr.Peterside since his appointment as the Director-general of NIMASA?Perhaps,it is necessary to remind those suffering from selective amnesia like the author of the following facts:

  • That as Commissioner for Works, Dr.Dakuku Peterside had more projects to his credit than the present Rivers State Government in terms of quality, viability and spread.

It is important to remind the author and his master, Gov Wike that it was during Dr.Dakuku’s reign as Commissioner for Works that nearly all the major roads leading into and out of the state as well as the several internal roads across the LGAs, some of which Wike is resurfacing and inviting  people to commission were initiated, designed and constructed. Nkpogu bridge, Rumuokwurusi – Eneka road,Rumuokwuta-Mgbuoba-Choba and Peter Odili- Abuloma- Akpajo  Roads and flyover just to mention a few, are some of such projects. It is ironical that Wike is working hard to take credit for these and other projects through fanfare. In case the author and his master may have chosen to forget, we wish to further  remind them it was same Dr Dakuku Peterside who initiated and supervised most of the roads constructed in Wike’s village, Rumuepirikom and LGA, Obio/Akpor.

  • That as a member, House of Representatives, Dr.Dakuku Peterside personally sponsored more local and over sea scholarships for the youths of Rivers state than the government headed by Governor Nyesom Wike.It is very sad to recall that  Gov Nyesom Wike  has the ignoble record of recalling  Rivers youths studying abroad and  disbanding the State’s Academic scholarships instituted by the Rotimi Amaechi government . Indeed, Wike’s hatred for education is the reason he  has done everything humanly possible to destroy education in the state . Under Wike, the free Education policy and the model schools constructed by the immediate past administration have been abandoned  for two years running, Governor Wike’s government has been unable to draw up clear-cut direction and policies on Education. We expected that he would have been bold enough to copy from Dr Peterside’s famous Roadmap to prosperity.
  • That as the Director-General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside’s achievements in the Maritime sector  has brought honor and pride to Nigeria ,the reason for which the African Maritime Administrators Association unanimously elected him Chairman during its conference recently in Abuja, the first time Nigeria would occupy such position and host such strategic conference in more than 50 years.

It is common knowledge that under Dr.Dakuku Peterside, NIMASA has distinguished itself in its primary responsibility of Port and Flag state control functions. By re-committing itself to the enforcement of the Cabotage regime,  NIMASA has opened a vista of opportunities for Nigerians. The new NIMASA management has successfully moved away from the usual public perception as a corrupt agency into a world class Maritime regulator playing leading roles in  putting in place a new maritime  security architecture to secure Nigerian Waterways against Sea pirates and other criminal elements,a  feat that was recently acknowledged by the Federal Government and other Maritime stakeholders.

  • That as D-G NIMASA, Dr.Dakuku Peterside does not move around with Naval personnel neither does he have a need to. A man like him who is at home amongst his people would not need Naval personnel to protect him. He is by far more popular and loved in Rivers state and across the country than a governor who has made it a duty  to under develop the state by  promoting insecurity, massive corruption and owing Pensioners and workers under the guise of unending biometrics.

The fact of Dr Peterside’s acceptability in his home base is supported  by the fact that his party,the APC has never lost elections in Opobo/Nkoro LGA since the abracadabra elections perpetuated by Gov.Wike and others in 2015 through Mrs Patience Jonathan. The loss of the LGA Assembly seat to the PDP at the Court of Appeal in very mysterious circumstances is a puzzle the Nigerian judiciary is yet to unravel. We challenge the author to show evidence on the contrary to these facts.

  • That at no point did Dr.Dakuku Peterside ever escape with results of elections in Ikwerre LGA neither will there ever be need to. Being the LGA of the Honorable Minister for Transportation, Rt.Hon.Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and considering his monumental achievements in the area as Governor, it is self-over reaching for the PDP to imagine it can manipulate the mandate of Ikwerre people as freely given to the APC
  • That describing the Buhari/Osinbajo led Federal Government as a failed Government smacks of his master’s mischievous nature.A character who only recently sought the Acting President, Prof.Osinbajo to commission some substandard, low-key projects to turn the around the next minute to disparage that same government fits exactly into Gov.Wike’s dubious nature as an ordinary con man who deceived the Chief Justice of Nigeria into flagging off construction on parcels of land being contested before a competent Court of Law.
  • That we urge Mr.Simeon Nwakaudu to advice his master, Gov.Nyesom Wike to focus on redeeming whatever is left of his already battered image. Rivers people eagerly await explanations on the allegations of attempted murder, forgery and manipulation of the judiciary leveled against the government by its former ally, Mr Livingstone Wechie

Our advice to Governor Nyesom Wike whom by all means appear confused is to set pride aside and consult Dr.Dakuku Adol Peterside on how best to tackle the massive insecurity, flooding, under development, unemployment, massive exodus of companies from Rivers state, financial secrecy and recklessness which have become the hallmarks of  the state under his watch.

Finally, we re-assure Rivers people in particular and Nigerians in general  that their worthy Maritime Administrator, Dr.Dakuku Adol Peterside would continue to make them proud both at home and abroad through greater accomplishments and ingenious creativity, he is too focused to be distracted by the antics of the author and his pay masters.

Signed: Dr Chimele  Eze Amadi

President, The Future Rivers Initiative is based in Port Harcourt and can be reached via futureriversinitiative@yahoo.com

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Joe Igbokwe, Nnamdi Kanu and the Emperor’s New Clothes

Posted on August 7, 2017. Filed under: Opinion |

Joe Igbokwe, Nnamdi Kanu and the Emperor’s New Clothes

The story is told of an Emperor whose obsession with clothes is second to none. His love for clothes was so much that he spent all his money on being well dressed. He cared less about state functions like warfare, people’s welfare, recreation, going to the theatre, or going for a ride in his carriage, except to show off his new clothes. He reportedly had a coat for every hour of the day, and instead of saying, as one might, about any other ruler, “The King’s in a meeting,” here they always said. “The Emperor’s in his dressing room.”

The interesting this about this story, writes Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, in his The Emperor’s New Clothes, is that, unknown to the Emperor, the King’s council members an equivalent of today’s cabinet, for fear of being seen as unfit for their positions, have perfected the art of making the King believe he’s always on new clothes. The members of the Council and his weavers who cannot get quality fabric, the Emperor thought he “…could tell the wise men from the fools.”

Incidentally, we have a new Emperor in town in Nigeria today. He has been referred to in different names by his most fanatical supporters. Some have described him as John the Baptist, laying the foundation for the coming of the Lord. Some ridiculous ones have even put him in the place or on equal footing with the Lord Himself. He is regarded by others as the “Supreme Leader” of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) or the Igbos. He can do no wrong. His word is Law. If he issues any “command”, such “must be obeyed” without question. This new Emperor’s name is NnamdiKanu who dreams of leading a nation he calls Biafra!

Kanu, like his supporters, are deluded. His supporters are the most unfortunate. They echo whatever the Emperor says like a chorus. Like Boxer in George Orwell’sAnimal Farm who’s never tired of saying, “If comrade Napoleon says it, it must be right”. Boxer is about the strongest of the animals in the farm, even stronger than Napoleon himself, yet he’s one of the least intelligent. It is on the army of this mass that the Emperor derives his power. Their ignorance is his is his wisdom; their poverty, his wealth; and their death, his life; their misery, his happiness; and their loss, his gain!

Few days ago, Joe Igbokwe, one of the few Igbos that refuses to see new clothes on the Emperor published his story in obvious response to Kanu who called him a “slave”. Joe published his “rags to riches”story of how he came from his village in Nnewi to Lagos in search of better life and economic prosperity. He explains why he owed everything to Lagos and why he always appreciates the state.  He served three different Governors (Tinubu, Fashola and Ambode) in high capacities even though he is Igbo, a feat even “indigenous”Lagosians cannot boast of.

Rather than his supporters to tell the Emperor he is walking naked and urge him to publish his own story, if he has any, many of them went on to tell Joe to keep quiet. Some of us fell the Emperor should simply have told us how better he is than Igbokwe. He should have told us how he graduated from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He should have told us the businesses the Emperor engaged in while he was in London. We waited patiently to hear the jobs he did before he was appointed as director of Radio Biafra. It appears we will have to wait longer to hear all these. Some things are better kept secret!

Understandably, our Emperor’s won’t give up without a fight. On Friday 4 August 2017, I read an article under the title THE GAPS IN JOE IGBOKWE’S STORY by one OnyebuchiEmemanka published online by Scan News.

When I saw the captivating title “THE GAPS…” I felt it was time to demystify Joe Igbokwe. I thought it was time to see the lies, or exaggerations made by the APC  Lagos image maker. I became more excited I read the writer’s claim when he said, “For starters, I know Engr. Joe Igbokwe personally and I must say that he is a man I respect a lot.”

He went further to write, “For the seven years I spent in Lagos, I attended the same church with Igbokwe – St. Bartholomew’s Anglican Church AgudaSurulere, one of the most powerful Anglican churches in Lagos and indeed Nigeria, both in terms of the quality of membership and evangelical depth. A full time Igbo church in Lagos, St. Barth’s is in a class of its own with one of the most fiery and charismatic Pastors, The Venerable Ben Nwanekwu.”

My excitements depreciated as I went on reading Onyebuchi’s article. There were no real “Gaps in Joe Igbokwe’s Story” as the title claimed. There were no exaggerations in Joe’s story either. The writer also made no attempt(s) to introduce irrelevances into his own story when he brought in a time when Lagos PDP Gubernatorial candidate visited their Church which saw the “entire church erupted in applause when he arrived.” The question I asked myself was, What “gaps” in Joe’s story does this fill?

If Joe’s offence was that he served in APC’s government under three different political administration or that he doesn’t make much noise about “going home” like most people do, in my opinion, he committed no offence and the writer goofed. Is Joe not supposed to be an adult that has the right to freedom of association under the 1999 Constitution? Joe is the spokesman of the party in Lagos. He is the manager of a large government agency in Lagos. He lives, like many of us in Lagos. He has a job to do in Lagos, what do you want him to always say? These are no easy jobs!

For the records, I am Igbomina from Kwara state. My father moved to Lagos before Independence with nothing. By sheer efforts, he built nine houses in Lagos. His only house in Ajase-Ipo was built for his aunt. I was born in Lagos. Apart from my two-year National Diploma (ND) in Kwara State Polytechnic, Ilorin in 2006, I have not visited the state. Does that make me less “Igbomina”?

If the Emperor’s supporters are sincere, they should be able to tell he is naked rather than saying he has new clothes!

OlalekanWaheed Adigun is a political risk analyst and independent political strategist for wide range of individuals, organisations and campaigns based in Lagos, Nigeria. Email: olalekan@olalekanadigun.com,adgorwell@gmail.com.

He is the author of the new book, Witnessing The Change.

 

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Wike’s power drunkenness and recklessness: De-marketing factor for investment in Rivers State

Posted on August 3, 2017. Filed under: Opinion |

Wike’s power drunkenness and recklessness: De-marketing factor for investment in Rivers State

By Warisenibo Chris Finbone

Despite the best efforts by his media minders to downplay the cataclysmic negative impact of the sudden revocation of the Certificate of Occupancy (CoO) of Novotel Hotel over an alleged flimsy excuse of becoming a den of criminality, Governor Nyesom Wike cannot in good conscience (something he is known to be in short supply of) deny that his rather rash and draconian action will obviously send a terrible signal to investors – local and foreign.

 

It must be stated that the governor’s action loudly and robustly cancels out any expected gains from the expensive advertisements the Rivers State Government has been running on local and international media especially the CNN beckoning on local and international investors to come invest in Rivers State. Like his former Commissioner for Information and  Communication, Dr. Austin Tam-George stated in a reaction to his former boss’ action, “But it is a hostile signal to the business and investment community that Rivers State is a toxic environment, and that a 99-year land lease could be withdrawn impulsively at any minute, by the governor.” There is no question that Dr. Tam-George scored a bull’s-eye with that assertion which can hardly be faulted by anyone.

 

Expatiating further, Dr. Tam-George stated: “As Commissioner for Information in Rivers State, I held 41 media events, including world press conferences and television appearances, to make the case for the state as Nigeria’s best investment destination. Even now, the Wike administration is running an expensive advertorial on CNN, inviting foreign direct investment into Rivers State. If a business premises is suspected or established to be a crime scene, the police, acting on a court order, could move in to take control. It is extraordinary for a State government to revoke the certificate of occupancy of a business, simply because opposition politicians lodged there.”

 

History points to the fact that one of the biggest fears of investors, especially foreign investors is the penchant for some Nigerian political leaders to disregard agreements and act irresponsibly just like Gov. Nyesom Wike has done regarding the unjustifiable revocation of Novotel’s Certificate of Occupancy.

 

The stark reality depicted by the former Information and Communication Commissioner represents the real materials investors gather, analyze and decide upon in the course of whether to invest in a particular locale or not. Often times, investors do not trust colourful and superficial advertisements in the media. Rather, they rely on alternative information sourced from the likes of Dr. Austin Tam-George and other indigenous players who have in-depth knowledge of government officials, how their minds work and don’t.

 

The truth remains that given the fact that investors are usually smarter than those who attempt to lure them to make investments, Rivers State under Gov. Nyesom Wike is perhaps the least attractive place for investment in Nigeria today, not only for being the number one in politically and cult related killings and violence in Nigeria, but more importantly due to Gov. Wike’s reckless intoxication by power and his wanton and crude application of it. He is totally deficient in statecraft most probably due to lack of capacity and preparedness for governance.

 

The sad thing about it all is that the investing world knows all of this and perhaps much more. The result is that it will be easier for a full-grown camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for Gov. Nyesom Wike and his government to attract investors to Rivers State because the governor, by his own character and antecedents, is the greatest de-marketing factor for investment in Rivers State. Until he is gotten rid off through the ballot box, nothing is likely to change.

 

Chris Finebone, State Publicity Secretary, APC, Rivers State wrote in from Port Harcourt Rivers State

 

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The Politicization of a Depraved Ogoni Remediation Project

Posted on July 9, 2017. Filed under: Opinion |

To remediate is to correct or make right. Environmental remediation deals with the removal of pollutants or contaminants from environmental media such as soil, underground water, sediment, or surface water. An Ogoni elite Barinua Wifa (SAN), rightly puts it this way: “Remediation is when you put a person in the position he was before an injury.”

Before the deliberate destruction of Ogoniland by Shell, fishing and farming were the main means of livelihood undertaken daily by the Ogonis. The environment flourished with green vegetation, which supported families and small businesses. The Ogoni region, prior to the destruction was the largest food supplier in the entire eastern region of Nigeria and had the largest mangrove vegetation in the gulf of Guinea.

In 1983, as military head of state, President Mohammadu Buhari commissioned five hundred (500) units of fish farm in Bodo in Ogoni. Unfortunately, during the .flag-off of the Ogoni remediation project by Acting President Osinbajo which took place at the very same site where the fish farm was sited, no sign of those fish farms existed anywhere.

The cleanup had been launched by Acting President Osinbajo over a year ago. In a rather very lackadaisical style, HYPREP is attempting to psychologically manipulate the Ogoni public to accept a process that have been bereft of transparency, deploying heavy media campaign to mislead the public about the true situation.

While we see an uneasiness in HYPREP management to hurriedly get started with the cleanup, award contracts which will most likely go to political kingmakers and compensate for who will get what in the coming political dispensation, there is surely no place for the peasant Ogoni farmers, fishermen and residents whose livelihoods have been destroyed by Shell reckless activities.

The Ogoni cleanup must be organized, transparent and devoid of dishonest manipulation from political gladiators. It should commence with a health audit on the community dwellers, the improvement of all existing medical facilities, the provision of water for all communities, the construction of the Integrated Soil Management Center (laboratory) and the Center for excellence (training center) while adequate compensation is being worked out for the people whose livelihoods have been destroyed.

Nigeria must act right, allow the current process to be trusted and use the opportunity to also address the issues of political marginalization for there can truly be no remediation without a better relationship between the conflicting parties especially the government.

That way, Ogoni will, at least, find its footing and move along a more progressive path to renewed greatness.

By Anthony Aalo

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The Ogoni Cleanup and a Sense of Decency

Posted on June 8, 2017. Filed under: Opinion |

The Ogoni Cleanup and a Sense of Decency

Ogoni has become Nigeria’s latest image laundering parameter. At every opportunity, the country will announce it has launched the cleanup of Ogoniland – a project that is gradually degenerating to become another victim of Nigeria’s well acknowledged state corruption.

The progress made on the Ogoni cleanup is known only to the government. To many, a presidential approval of governing structures amount to progress though the people of Ogoni still cannot have access to safe drinking water, not to talk of electricity, basic schools and roads.

When the government cannot find an excuse for delaying the restoration of the Ogoni environment, it inaugurates boards to mark years of delays, disappointments and failures.

We have just passed one year mark after the very costly, elaborate and seemingly deceptive launch of the cleanup in Bodo and just two months away to mark one year after the inauguration of the governing structures.

What has been achieved within the period? Not even the construction of the laboratory (Integrated Soil Management Center) which should support the geological investigations has commenced. Not a single water project has been fixed by HYPREP to provide water for the people. What we rather see are desperate attempts by government agencies like HYPREP to give a false impression about the real situation. But the fact is that Ogoni still drinks poisoned water and remains polluted and these cannot be changed by internal processes and media promotions.

So it makes no sense that billions of public funds are being spent on internal processes when the people whose lives are in danger are not attended to.

I see what Ogoni is passing through in Nigeria as the worst degenerative experience of humanity. In less than one year, these same people will return to Ogoniland seeking votes from people whose humanity and dignity have been violated by their own government, people who are not sure of their tomorrow, people who certainly will die of terminal diseases like cancer, people whose lives have become nightmares, whose resources have been ruthlessly exploited to build Abuja, Lagos and make corrupt public administrators super rich.

In the midst of all these, one Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) is busy canvassing to resume oil production in Ogoniland. What a shame!

We are tired of these gimmicks and we want action on the cleanup, We want Nigeria to respect us as Ogoni people and treat us as humans with rights. We also want the NPDC to stay away from Ogoniland.

Nigeria and Shell should as a matter of urgency, clean up their mess in Ogoniland and respect our rights to live a dignified life.

The author, Fegalo Nsuke is the Publicity Secretary of The Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) He wrote from Port Harcourt, Nigeria.

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Amaechi: The Quintessential Leader and His Endless Persecution

Posted on May 17, 2017. Filed under: Opinion |

 

“Nigerians can now attest that Amaechi stands as the most vilified, persecuted politician in Nigeria for his bravery, patriotism and commitment to work for a better future for our country. I remain convinced that God who has seen him this far will always safeguard him from the Wikes and Fayoses, whose favourite pastime is their obsession to plot Amaechi’s downfall – a satanic project which Almighty God will continue to frustrate to the shame of all the Wikes, Fayoses and Fani-Kayodes of this world.”

Amaechi: The Quintessential Leader and His Endless Persecution                              

By Eze Chukwuemeka Eze

Preamble

Today, in the politics of Nigeria, the only major assignment of most politicians as they strategise for the 2019 general elections is how to either castigate or fabricate lies to run down Rt. Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, the erstwhile governor of Rivers State and incumbent Minister of Transportation of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. If they are not doing this, these misguided politicians are busy on how to ensure that his political structure is dismantled. Today, in the politics of our country, Amaechi stands out as one of the most vilified, persecuted and harassed politician in the history of our country. As a concerned Nigerian and one who has followed religiously the politics of this enigma and misunderstood leader of our time, it behoves on me to attempt to x-ray some of these travails and current strategy being explored to ensure the irrelevance of this man come 2019. Sadly, this is a man that ought to be celebrated for freeing Nigeria and Nigerians from the calamitous shackles of an administration that trades more in the arts and acts of looting of our common patrimony with impunity, instead, he is being vilified by those who would have preferred the promotion and sustenance of an administration that would have collapsed this country by now.

Some of the facts on how Amaechi suffers in the hands of these politicians are presented below for you the reader to judge:-

When it was very obvious that Amaechi has nothing to do with the $43 million discovered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in a luxurious apartment in Ikoyi, Lagos State, the soon to be rested Ahmed Makarfi led Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) faction and her sponsors, in order to create sensation, they have to link Amaechi to the ownership of the said sum. Through her agents, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State and former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode who went to town shouting themselves hoarse to their shame and bewilderment of Nigerians that the fund not only belongs to Amaechi, that Amaechi is the owner of the said luxurious apartment. Governor Wike went to a ridiculous level by alleging that the sum was Rivers State Government fund looted by Amaechi when he was in office as Governor of the state. He threatened to sue the Federal Government, if it fails to return the money to the coffers of the Rivers State Government within two weeks. He claimed that he has documents to prove that the said sum belongs to Rivers State. It is now over a month after this threat; Wike is yet to sue the Federal Government in this regard.

The fact remains and it is on record that, apart from the Abuja residence of Amaechi, he has no other single plot of land in any part of this country, so linking him to the ownership of the contentious Ikoyi estate and the huge sum found in it is nothing but an invidious plot to give a dog a bad name in order to hang it. It is sad and shameful that a frustrated and disgraceful group, with Wike and Fayose as the key actors, should attempt to tarnish the hard-earned reputation of Amaechi just because he collaborated with other patriotic Nigerians to oust a regime that is now exposed as the most corrupt ever in the history of Nigeria.

Recently, Mr Felix Obuah, State chairman of the soon to be rested PDP faction issued a statement celebrating a phantom court judgment authorising the Rivers State Government to go ahead to set up a judicial commission to probe some aspects of the administration of Amaechi during his tenure as governor of Rivers State. Mr. Felix Obuah who was once saved from the pangs of death by Amaechi derives much pleasure these days in carrying out his master-task of ridiculing Amaechi and calling for his sack from the Federal Executive Council of Nigeria.

 

Recently also, these enemies of democracy have taken their trade to another level are currently strategising on how to dismantle all the political structures belonging to Amaechi. In this regard, they have engineered divisions in the Rivers State All Progressives Congress (APC) to ensure that the party is not united, strong, and viable to salvage the state from the hands of those that have turned the state into ‘Rivers of blood’. Today, the only thing we hear from Rivers State is Amaechi’s faction, Abe’s faction, Dakuku’s faction and, maybe, by tomorrow they will come up with Eze’s faction. Let me state without equivocation that Rivers State APC is one united family under the able leadership of Rt. Hon Amaechi as its leader as the factions only exist in the minds of those who want the continuous killing of our people with impunity. All these lies and attempts of a divided Rivers APC are aimed at setting confusion in the party that is being restructured and positioned as one egalitarian, viable, virile and credible structure to salvage the state from the hands of those whose only source and means of leadership is the ceaseless and senseless killing of Rivers State people.

It may interest you, dear reader, to know that all these desperate, mischievous, wicked, diabolical, evil attempts are aimed to run down an innocent man, whose only crime is that he led APC to defeat a party that prides itself as the largest political party in Africa. It is very sad and unfortunate that over two years that Amaechi led APC to dust PDP in the 2015 general elections; the soon to be rested PDP factional leadership has refused to forgive Amaechi for disgracing them out of power and salvaging our nation from a system whose corruptive tendency is not only contagious but legendary.

Let me state that this group not only is deadly but is ever ready and capable to do anything in order to ridicule, rubbish and bring Amaechi down including praying for the death of President Muhammadu Buhari if that will enable them get at Amaechi as soon as possible but they seem to forgot that they are not God who assisted Nigerians to elect Buhari as the President of Nigeria and that this God is very capable not only to protect but secure the life of Mr. President until it is his time for him to join his ancestors. Even as we know that the efforts and schemes of this group will amount to an exercise in futility if the spiritual meanings of Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi are anything to go by – Chibuike means “God is all Powerful and “Rotimi” an abridged version of “Oluwadurotimi” meaning “the Lord stands by me”, while Amaechi means “who knows tomorrow?”

Let me state that I intend in this treatise after formally presenting to you the reader the person and personality of Amaechi attempt to expose other steps both past and present this group has adopted in their single mission of destroying Amaechi and then leave you the reader to take your own stand.

Profiling Rt Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, CON, Hon Minister of Transportation

Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, who was on Nov. 11, 2015 sworn-in as Nigeria’s Honourable Minister of Transportation, was born in Ubima, Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State, to the family of late Elder Fidelis Amaechi and Mrs Mary Amaechi. University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT), Rivers State, was where Amaechi laid the foundation of his political life, participating actively in student union politics, especially in the National Union of Rivers State Students (NURSS), of which he was president, and the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS). After graduation, he cut his teeth in politics as secretary of the now defunct National Republican Convention (NRC) in Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State, from 1992 to 1994 he was Special Assistant to Dr Peter Odili, then deputy governor of Rivers State; member of the Board of West Africa Glass Industry as well as Risonpalm Nigeria Limited. He was secretary of the Caretaker Committee of the Rivers State Chapter of the disbanded Democratic Party of Nigeria (DPN) in 1996 during the transition programme of the Gen Sani Abacha junta.

In 1999, Amaechi contested and won a seat to become a member of the Rivers State House of Assembly to represent his constituency. He was subsequently elected Speaker of the House of Assembly as well as Chairman of Nigeria’s Conference of Speakers of State Assemblies. He was re-elected into the State House of Assembly in May 2003 and equally re-elected Speaker. A master’s degree holder, Amaechi’s assumption of office as governor of Rivers State, based on a Supreme Court judgement after the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) dumped him, despite his convincingly winning the party’s gubernatorial ticket, remains a mystery to many political watchers in the country. He was a two time Governor of Rivers State and two time Chairman of Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF). His unprecedented feats in the transformation of Rivers State have won him many international and local awards as well as the respect of great world and Nigerian leaders.

Amaechi was the rallying force behind mobilising the governors under PDP to support the presidential aspiration of Dr Goodluck Jonathan during the PDP Presidential Primaries that produced Jonathan as the PDP flag-bearer and during the 2011 presidential election proper ensured that President Jonathan got over 2 million votes from Rivers State – the highest by any state in Nigeria then. A misunderstood but an amiable personality; his forthrightness and boldness to stand by the truth attracts so much enemies to him, particularly those who cannot withstand his manner of approach to result-oriented feats. His numerous ‘sins’ will be highlighted later.

Amaechi, holder of the National honour of the Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON), is a Christian of the Catholic faith where he is a Knight of St John. Amaechi was appointed Director-General of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential Campaign. The team led the party to victory in the March 28, 2015 presidential election in which a sitting president was roundly defeated for the first time. He is the incumbent Minister of Transportation.

Amaechi and the wrath of his people

Apart from the fact that Amaechi may have incurred the wrath of his people and some vested powerful interest in Niger Delta, by spearheading the defeat of their brother (Dr Goodluck Jonathan) who performed so woefully as president of Nigeria, Amaechi supported and promoted a northerner and a Muslim against his Christian brother. To them, he must be destroyed by any means possible. But these people failed to understand that undermining Amaechi will ensure that the South-south does not have a strong voice in the administration of President Buhari.

Chief Nyesom Wike, sadly, allowed himself to be used as a tool by former President Jonathan, his wife, Dame Patience Jonathan, and their collaborators in their blind ambition to destroy Amaechi, whom they saw as a threat to their continued plundering of the common patrimony of our nation. The third factor was the gathering or unification of those that see Amaechi as a threat to the realisation of their political ambitions in Rivers State.. The last, but not the least, was the ambition of Chief Nyesom Wike to govern Rivers State, which many never knew until it was too late to stop him. It was his ambition and readiness to provide himself as a tool for the realisation of the goal – which was to destroy Amaechi by any means – that united all these other groups. They embarked upon this project with zeal without knowing the end but, knowing what future portends for Wike, Amaechi and Jonathan, I did my best to dissuade them from this unwarranted struggle; but Wike and Jonathan refused to see reason. The result was the failure of Jonathan to survive the 2015 general elections.

How Amaechi became the rallying point for the decimation of PDP

John Maxwell and General Montgomery must have had Amaechi in mind when they stated respectively that, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way” and “My own definition of leadership is this: The capacity and the will to rally men and women to a common purpose and the character which inspires confidence”. These quotes by these great men simply attest to the ability of Amaechi to conceive the way and mobilise Nigerians to send packing a party that prides itself as the largest and biggest political movement in Africa. How did he achieve this uncommon feat is stated below.

The decimation of PDP commenced when in its desperation the PDP Leadership then embarked upon a journey codenamed “Why Amaechi must be destroyed”. This drive led to Amaechi’is departure from the party, alongside six other PDP Governors, to form the New PDP, with five of them later joining the mega opposition political party, the All Progressives Congress (APC). Explaining why he joined APC, Amaechi said: “Unfortunately, recent events within the PDP have given me reason to reconsider our collective interest as people of the South South and indeed as Rivers people. At various times, as the one whom you gave your mandate, I had cause to complain about the marginalisation of our State and our people despite our huge contribution to the national coffers and our unflinching commitment and support for the ruling PDP. While the political and economic importance of Rivers State cannot be contested, we continue to hold the shorter end of the stick.

“A few instances may suffice: Our demand that the Federal Government return oil wells belonging to Rivers State to us has gone unheeded and been treated with levity under this administration. Rather, our oil wells have been ceded to Bayelsa, Abia and Akwa Ibom states. Even after we got a judgment that the oil wells were wrongly ceded to Akwa Ibom State and should be returned to us; only dry wells that were no longer producing oil were returned.

“In the specific case of the Soku oil wells, despite a decision reached that the monies should remain in an escrow account till all matters concerning it are resolved, the Federal government continues to pay neighbouring Bayelsa State the revenues meant for Rivers State in a classic case of robbing Peter to pay Paul. It is indeed noteworthy that we have made several representations formally and informally on this matter.

“A second instance is the total absence of federal presence in Rivers State. The ‘National Good Governance Tour’ provided a good opportunity for the Federal Government to showcase its presence in Rivers State. The tour, if nothing else, proved that there was not much to show in a state that is the cash cow of the federation. The East-West Road remains abandoned, work has been deliberately slow on the Port Harcourt International Airport, the third busiest airport in the country, while all airports started along with it have long been completed and commissioned. The Bonny-Bomu Road that leads to the only functional liquefied natural gas project remains uncompleted. In the midst of all these, our administration went ahead to fix federal roads to the tune of N103 billion. Several representations and letters after, not one kobo has been repaid. The Federal Government is actively discouraging investments in Rivers State.”

Endless persecutions

Despite Amaechi’s great show of love to former President Jonathan, he was subjected to monumental humiliation by the Jonathan’s Administration. A few examples: The plane of the Rivers State Government was grounded for no just cause, the PDP Structure in Rivers State was taken away from him, and his election as the Chairman of NGF duly certified and acknowledged worldwide was annulled by ex- President Jonathan and his cohorts. As if that was not enough, Amaechi was suspended from a party he so much loved and spent so much to build. Indeed, if not for divine providence, he would have been illegally impeached by five legislators in a House of 32 members; a Police Commissioner by name Mr. Joseph Mbu was posted to haunt, insult and abuse him publicly, calling him a despot. What is more, some ex Governors that came to visit him were stoned by Wike’s boys! In the eyes of Nigerians, Amaechi stands as a great man while in the eyes of those haunting him he is a persona non grata.

Amaechi was ambushed and refused entry . . . into Ekiti by military personnel acting on orders from above and was made to turn back and return to Akure where his chartered aircraft was parked but was chased and rounded by armed soldiers and security personnel in Odudu, Ondo State. According to the captain who led the operation, he had orders not to allow the Amaechi entry or exit.” There was also an attempt later made to detain him at the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano, when he went to felicitate with the then new Emir of Kano, HRH Alh Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.

Wike’s single agenda

Chief Nyesom Wike’s desperation to drag Amaechi’s name in the mud in order to frustrate his nomination or appointment as a minster, made he (Wike) to sponsor a satanic documentary on Amaechi aired on Africa Independent Television (AIT). This satanic documentary was part of Wike’s propaganda war against Amaechi, for which he earmarked billions of naira in his wicked plot to destroy and decimate the person and character of Amaechi. Other propaganda tools planned and deployed during this period, in the war against Amaechi, include sponsored publications such as advertorials, columns, editorials and Op-Ed articles in major international, national and local print media; sponsored personality discussion programmes in the electronic media and sponsored special documentaries on television and radio through independent groups and organisations.

This insidious plot by Wike include commissioning a team made up of persons within and outside Rivers State to ‘initiate, formulate and contrive false damaging reports bordering on alleged corrupt practices by Amaechi, which were circulated to individuals and institutions within Nigeria and abroad with a view to damaging the incorruptible character and rising profile of Hon Rotimi Amaechi, in order to blackmail and put pressure on President Buhari not to appoint the former governor into his government. These cooked reports to the shock of many Nigerians was sent to the Senate and presented through one misguided Senator Thompson Sekibo, which the Senate referred to the Ethics Committee of the Senate, which caused the delay in Amaechi’s screening and confirmation as a minister. Amaechi has through both the immediate past Secretary to the Rivers State Government, George Feyi, and the Commissioner for Finance, Dr Chamberlain Peterside, and others denied any form of corruption against him by Wike and his cohorts.

Wike did not stop at these but went further to set up Justice George Omereji Panel, to investigate the administration of Rt Hon Chibuike Amaechi. Though the panel did not found any wrong-dealing, or corrupt practices by Amaechi, Wike went ahead to issue a white paper indicting him of embezzling the sum of N53 billion, How on earth can someone in his right senses describe funds withdrawn with the approval of the legislature and spent as prescribed by the state budget to be missing? Wike, in his desperation to stop Amaechi’s appointment as a minister, resorted to dancing naked in the market place.

But as God will have it, and contrary to the expectations of Chief Wike and his gang of miserable ingrates, their ferocious campaign to blackmail, disparage and portray  Amaechi as a very corrupt person unfit to be appointed as a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, failed to achieve the desired objective; as on September 30, 2015 President Muhammadu Buhari went ahead to list and submit the name of Chibuike Amaechi along with those of 20 other great Nigerians as ministerial nominees to the Senate for confirmation.

And to the shock and chagrin of Wike and his cohorts, the Senate, after three sittings on the ministerial screening of the ministerial nominees, screened Amaechi on October 22, 2015 and formally confirmed him on October 29, 2015. He was subsequently sworn-in with the 35 other ministers on Wednesday, November 11, 2015, by President Buhari, who as a further mark of confidence in the Lion of Ubima assigned to him the strategically important Ministry of Transportation.

Conclusion

Nigerians can now attest that Amaechi stands as the most vilified, persecuted politician in Nigeria for his bravery, patriotism and commitment to work for a better future for our country. I remain convinced that God who has seen him this far will always safeguard him from the Wikes and Fayoses, whose favourite pastime is their obsession to plot Amaechi’s downfall – a satanic project which Almighty God will continue to frustrate to the shame of all the Wikes, Fayoses and Fani-Kayodes of this world.

Let me urge and plead with the Wikes, Fayoses and their cohorts to try and listen to Thomas Babington Macaulay who postulated that, “To punish a man because we infer from the nature of some doctrine which he holds, or from the conduct of other persons who hold the same doctrines with him, that he will commit a crime, is persecution, and is, in every case, foolish and wicked” and try and leave Amaechi alone.

I will conclude this treatise by using the quote of Rita Levi-Montalcini a Nobel award winner, “If I had not been discriminated against or had not suffered persecution, I would never have received the Nobel Prize” to encourage Amaechi that he should not be dismayed as one day Nigerians will gather to celebrate him for offering himself as a rallying point to ouster an administration that never meant any good for this country.

Eze Chukwuemeka Eze is a Media Consultant based in Port Harcourt, and can be reached via ezemediaconcept2020@gmail.com

 

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The Audacity of Peterside: His Stewardship as NIMASA DG, Rise as Africa’s No. 1 Maritime Administrator & His 2019 politics

Posted on May 4, 2017. Filed under: Opinion |

President Muhammadu Buhari captured the mood and minds of most Nigerians in his congratulatory message to this enigma of a leader on his election as the new chairman of the Association of African Maritime Administrators, at the end of the third annual conference of the continental organisation in Abuja. The President noted: “Peterside’s unanimous election is not only a personal honour and affirmation of confidence in his ability to lead AAMA, but also places Nigeria in a pivotal position to rally other maritime administrations in collaboration with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) towards safer global maritime activities.”

The Audacity of Peterside: His Stewardship as NIMASA DG, Rise as Africa’s No. 1 Maritime Administrator & His 2019 politics

By Eze Chukwuemeka Eze 

Preamble

Carl von Clausewitz a Prussian general and influential military theorist noted famously for his military treatise Vom Kriege where he stated and I quote, “If the leader is filled with high ambition and if he pursues his aims with audacity and strength of will, he will reach them in spite of all obstacles.  In this treatise, I intend to unveil to the world a young dynamic Nigerian leader (Dr. Dakuku Adol Peterside) who has pursued his vision with audacity and strength of will to somersault all obstacles to become Africa’s number one Maritime Administrator.

John C Maxwell a renowned Philosopher may have had this new revelation in the leadership circle of Nigeria (Dr Dakuku Peterside) in mind when he postulated: “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way. In living this truism, prior to being appointed the Director-General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), the agency was more of cash-cow for Nigerian politicians, without any focus and direction, until he brought his Midas touch and changes the face and perception of the agency.

It was based on some of the feats by this new revelation in the leadership circle that brought the bests in maritime industry in Africa under the auspices of the Association of African Maritime Administrations (AAMA) on Friday, April 21, 2017 in Abuja, the Nigeria capital, gathered to honour and elect one of the newest and finest Nigeria leaders as the Chairman and President of AAMA during its three-day third edition of AAMA Conference, by maritime administrators from 32 countries, from 19th to 21st April 2017. It was a historical and epochal day when Nigeria made history through Peterside, the incumbent Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, to become the chairman and president of AAMA. Peterside succeeds Mr Sobantu Tilayi, who is presently the Acting Chief Executive Officer of the South African Maritime Administration.

President Muhammadu Buhari captured the mood and minds of most Nigerians in his congratulatory message to this enigma of a leader on his election as the new chairman of the Association of African Maritime Administrators, at the end of the third annual conference of the continental organisation in Abuja.

The President noted: “Peterside’s unanimous election is not only a personal honour and affirmation of confidence in his ability to lead AAMA, but also places Nigeria in a pivotal position to rally other maritime administrations in collaboration with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) towards safer global maritime activities.”

His spokesman, Femi Adesina, in the statement said President Buhari believes that given NIMASA’s encouraging performance under Peterside, especially in the fight against sea piracy through inter-agency cooperation, he has no doubt that his new position provides him with even bigger platform to forge ahead in doing the nation proud, by meeting the objectives of AAMA. The President, while wishing the new chairman of AAMA successful one-year tenure, expressed confidence that within this period, the Federal Government’s renewed focus on growing the Nigerian economy through increased maritime resources will be further enhanced.

This pride of All Progressives Congress (APC) and Nigerians started his public political life principally when he was appointed Commissioner of Works under the administration of erstwhile governor of Rivers State and incumbent Federal Minister of Transportation, Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, from 2007 to 2011, where he (Peterside) excelled, redefined and created most of the major roads, flyovers and bridges in Rivers State. Since he left office in 2011, Rivers State is yet to get a reputable replacement for that office till date. This was a man who used midnight for the supervision of most of the key projects under his watch.

A former House of Representatives member and immediate-past governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress in Rivers State, Peterside has demonstrated a sterling leadership quality that is by today acknowledged by the world and African leaders to warrant this type of elevation. He has proved that his appointment by President Buhari, based on the recommendation of Amaechi, was in order. He has by this feat proved that the Rivers State spirit is in him, by positioning himself as one of the new revelations in the leadership circle in Nigeria. I can now agree with our amiable President Buhari, who spoke through Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo – during the unveiling of the new of symbol of NIMASA – that Peterside has made Nigeria proud, by regenerating NIMASA and making it a centre of excellence for other countries to emulate.

An astute and charismatic politician and a seasoned administrator with an amiable personality, Peterside is a phenomenal reformist whose cult-followership stature among the youths and god-fearing people puts him as a leader to be admired, watched and associated with.

Peterside as NIMASA DG

The appointment of Peterside, the Rivers APC standard-bearer in the 2015 general elections as the Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime and Safety Agency (NIMASA) is well-deserved. It is a case of putting a square peg in a square hole.

As a tested and trusted reformist-minded administrator, who has all it takes to reform and transform NIMASA into the pride of Nigeria and Africa, Peterside has proven that his appointment was not misplaced.

“Dr Peterside who met a primitive NIMASA comes well prepared for the task of breathing a new life into NIMASA. Apart from boasting of a sound academic background that includes a degree in Business Administration (Management) and certificates in Leadership and Project Management, he holds a doctorate degree in Organizational Management with research interest in Corporate Political Strategy.

Dr. Peterside is reputed as an authority in corporate strategy and business-government relations. He acquitted himself creditably in all his previous assignments, including as Commissioner for Works in Rivers State and a distinguished member of the House of Representatives and Chairman, House Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream) during the Seventh Assembly.

He is a well-known champion of reform and strengthening of institutions as key to unlocking development potentials. Dr Dakuku Peterside, a legislator par excellence has served at all levels of government in Nigeria: local, state and national and, is fast establishing himself as a national reference speaker on oil and gas policy and legislation matters.

Peterside has been a most sought-after resource person in international conference: he was a major speaker at the 2013 Middle East Downstream Week held in Abu Dhabi in May, 2013 and the 2013 World Refining and Petrochemical Technology Summit in Doha, Qatar, among many other speaking engagements around the globe. I have no doubt in my mind that he will excel on his new assignment as the NIMASA Director General,”

President Muhammadu Buhari and the Minister of Transport, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi’s confidence reposed in Peterside, as evidenced in his appointment as the helmsman of a strategic parastatal like NIMASA and President of a big association like AAMA, was not misplaced based on his feats so far in this task.

His Mandate

To Dr Peterside, “our core mandate is to regulate shipping in Nigeria and promote indigenous shipping”. We have a presidential approval to set up new security architecture for four maritime domains. That is one area we have done well. In the areas of cabotage law enforcement, there has been a lot of improvement. We have more Nigerians on board cabotage vessel than we had one year ago. We have more cabbotage vessels than we had one year ago. One year ago we had less than 300, now we have more than 300 cabbotage vessels on our register. Now that we have a downturn in oil and gas, most cabotage vessels support oil and gas activities and so, if you ask me, vertically and horizontally, we have made a lot of progress. Nigeria is becoming a stronger voice globally in the area of maritime.

We have hosted the Association of Maritime Administrators in the 32 member maritime association in Nigeria in April 2017. We are also bidding to return to IMO council. Something we lost many years ago. Smaller nations are in the council. Liberia is in the council. We are not supposed not to be there. We drew attention to the fact that of all cargos headed to Africa, minimum of 60 per cent will end up in Nigeria and it means we have significant interest in the maritime industry. So, we are being acknowledged as the real voice of Africa in the industry.

In ISPS compliance, you saw that the Americans were here recently. Before now, we had achieved less than 12 per cent compliance with the ISPS code but in the past two years, they have rated us above 75 per cent compliance. The ISPS code is a very important instruction in the international shipping industry. We have been rated very highly by the US coast Guard.

 

Finally, we subjected ourselves to what is called International Maritime Auditing scheme and the IMO auditing scheme had had rated us highly. So, in every aspect, we are recording great successes that are undeniable. I think we have done well.

His Reforms

According to Dr Peterside, about a year ago, when we assumed office, we discovered that the agency was still struggling with the framework of the two federal parastatals that were merged to form it. This conflict of identity was inevitable as the two previous bodies had been separate entities with peculiar objectives, business processes and operational complexities. To merge them required a sustainable process for management of results and expectations. To achieve this, we set about what we christened the 3R model, which is to reform, restructure and reposition it for the new roles and responsibilities within our core mandate. We developed a strategic document which has short, medium and long-term components to serve as our roadmap.

This document has been approved by our board of directors. Within our first year in office, management ensured the promotion of staff, particularly those in management cadre. This was a legacy achievement because this type of promotion only happened once, in 2007.

We have injected into the agency a completely new work ethic and energy by creating a smart vision, a mission statement and core values. We have also introduced knowledge transfer sessions to improve on internal capacity at minimal cost.

One major part of our reforms at NIMASA has been the restructuring of the agency’s operation, leading to devolution of powers to the zonal offices. This is to remove avoidable bureaucratic bottlenecks while reducing time for business transactions with the agency. This is a work in progress and we are optimistic that the decentralisation will be amplified in the next 90 days.

His Challenges

Dr. Peterside in enumerating some of his challenges knowing very well that he has numerous associates and need to aid some of these followers, admirers stated, At the time we got here, several persons were coming to us: “award a contract to us”. It is distracting! It makes it impossible to concentrate on your core mandate, which is to regulate shipping in Nigeria and promote indigenous shipping. In the recent past, somehow NIMASA reared off its core mandate and went to award contracts, so people thought it is the standard. NIMASA’s functions do not include contract award at all.

We have absolutely no business awarding contracts, and so, it becomes a bit of challenge managing peoples’ expectations. And we are always inundated with all sorts of proposals. The one that relates to us and the one that are not related to what we are doing. Many persons will underrate the impact of that on what we are doing. Most of the time, we are dealing with what has no bearing with what we are doing.

His Feats and Giant Strides in Nimasa Just After One Year

Israelmore Ayivor foresaw many years ago the passion and audacity of Dr. Peterside in pursuance of any task set before him when he stated, Have a peculiar passion, audacity and boldness that see farther and further into the outer space.”

Peterside, who is known for his Midas touch anywhere he goes, is leaving no stone unturned at ensuring the agency gets a new lease of life and under him, NIMASA has witnessed mind-boggling transformation. Before Peterside’s assumption of office, it was believed that NIMASA was a money making agency with no direction and focus beneficial to Nigeria. Though the agency rakes in much money for the country, its effects and reasons for creation had not been achieved.

Meanwhile, within a year in office, NIMASA has started realizing its objectives with the new strides brought to the fore-front by the DG who insists it is not going to be business as usual.

According to Peterside, the reforms he will engage in at the agency were in line with the ‘change’ agenda of the Buhari administration which is committed to the diversification of the nation’s economy.

“On the public perception of NIMASA over the years, the agency under my leadership will completely change the narrative from the negative perception of corruption, inefficiency and abandonment of its core mandate to that of a Maritime Administration that is alive to its responsibility intent on making Nigeria the preferred destination for maritime activities in Africa”, he stated.

With this mind-set, Peterside began with the change agenda in NIMASA and his strides cannot go un-noticed.

  1. One of his major achievements is the total rebranding of the agency which was unveiled at Abuja on April 22 by President Muhammadu Buhari. According to him, the need to rebrand NIMASA was borne out the fact that the agency must align with other foremost maritime administrations in the world.

2,. Another area of achievement of his administration is the promotion of over 300 staff members of NIMASA in the last 12 months. People are familiar with the agency will know that several staff and directors had been stagnated for a decade. With his promise to rebrand NIMASA, Peterside came with a mandate to introduce a completely new work ethics and energy in the agency.

3…Taking into consideration the importance of hi-tech, the Peterside administration instituted a medium term strategy through digital transformation to hasten processes at NIMASA. The process allows stakeholders to register their vessels and transact all other transactions digitally with a click of a button on their laptop.

  1. Other achievements include the repositioning of Nigeria in the international maritime politics. Nigeria is said to be out of the Council at the International Maritime Organization, IMO, for over half a decade thus relegating the country at international politics in the maritime sector.
  2. Arrangements are concluded to recruit 1,000 rescue marshals to protect our water ways.
  3. In a bid to reposition the Nigerian maritime sector and make Nigeria a global voice again, the Heads of African Maritime Administration converged in Abuja in April 22 for the 3rd Association of African Maritime Administration Conference to elect Dr. Dakuku Peterside as its President. With feats like these, the Nigerian maritime sector has being repositioned to take the lead in the comity of maritime nations.
  4. For the Safety of the country’s waterways which is one of the core mandates of NIMASA, the agency under Dr Peterside’s watch has successfully hosted two sub-regional technical committee meetings to build a formidable regional network. The network has increased our level of alertness, thus improving our capacity to respond to distress calls, which has ultimately led to a considerable reduction in the cases of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.

In its qur quest to achieve a safer maritime domain the agency has been working on an anti-piracy bill. The agency has received the president’s backing to acquire assets that will be deployed at strategic locations, thus enhancing her ability to improve the safety of vessels within her maritime domain. Having realised the need to enhance the safety of boat users in Nigeria, the agency has secured the approval of the Minister of Transportation to increase the number of Search and Rescue marshals from 100 to 1000.

  1. In ensuring that Nigeria gets a seat in the International Maritime Organisation Council, Dr Peterside and his team are working hard to get a permanent seat in the IMO Council, on which they have received the backing of Mr. President. This will enable the agency assert herselves effectively in IMO. As a major step towards attaining a more effective global implementation of its conventions, the IMO Assembly in December 2013 made the Member-State Audit Scheme mandatory. The audit of Nigeria was successfully conducted by IMO in June 2016.
  2. For effective improvement in its surveillance and maritime domain awareness, the agncy under Dr. peterside now operates a 24-hour surveillance system, which captures all vessels in the Nigerian maritime domain, irrespective of weather conditions.she now achieve a complete profile analysis, which includes the flag, registered owner, operator, beneficial owner and movements over a specified period. This system enables her to take swift decisions, real-time, on any targeted ship. Currently, all offshore areas of interest have been electronically cordoned off with a guard zone via our surveillance system and we can at once view live-feed (activities), especially in the oil fields and on crude oil platforms.
  3. On empowerment of indigenous shipowners, the agency in consciousness of her mandate to promote the development of indigenous commercial shipping in international and coastal shipping trade is poised, more than ever, to achieving this obligation. According to Dr. Peterside, We understand it requires a great deal of capacity building, especially human, infrastructural and tonnage capacities of our indigenous shipping operators. We have reviewed the participation of Nigerians in the industry and are not satisfied with the outcome. The summary of our findings revealed a low indigenous participation in international commercial shipping trade in Nigeria. As far-fetched as it sounds, there are no Nigerian-flagged ocean-going vessels known to us. In the course of our review also, we observed the salience of cargo availability to the commercial fortunes of a shipowner/operator and to our national tonnage growth. We noted also that commercial shipping will less likely develop without conscious, proactive, well-structured and monitored government intervention, as is done in other sectors. One area of such intervention urgently needed is cargo availability.
  4. Developed maritime nations have at one time or the other consciously supported, and are still supporting, their indigenous operators in building their commercial shipping capacities.

Recently, a bipartisan bill was brought before the US Congress aimed at strengthening indigenous participation in shipping. The bill seeks to allow US-flagged vessels carry up to 30 per cent of the US LNG as a matter of both economic importance and security concerns.

On our part, plans are on to use our existing enabling laws to make public cargo available for indigenous shipping operators in order to improve their commercial fortunes and competitive advantage over their well-capitalised and established foreign counterparts. We are out to enforce sections 36 and 37 of the NIMASA Act 2007 towards building indigenous capacities in shipping. This is already at executive management level and we are determined to take it to the highest level of bureaucratic, legislative and executive engagements necessary. We shall also involve our esteemed stakeholders at the right time because we understand they have roles to play in the entire process.

  1. NIMASA will soon take delivery of the 5th largest modular floating dockyard on the African continent. This dockyard will earn the Nigerian government, at least, $100 million annually in direct savings from the dry-docking of vessels operating in Nigeria, which is mostly done outside the country at the moment. It is our desire to partner the private sector to run the dockyard.

More Facts about Dakuku Peterside

Peterside is widely accepted as a symbol of unity, visionary, egalitarian and most importantly a patriot whose love for Nigeria is infectious. In addition, he has earned a reputation as a charismatic and disciplined leader, creative and hard-working, a broad-minded fellow with strategic insight. He brings integrity, compassion, pro-poor perspective and intellectual dimension to bear in tackling tough national issues. His loyalty to friendship and bridge-building skills is remarkable. He is respected as one of the most result-oriented, meticulous, consistent, trustworthy and god-fearing political leaders in Rivers State today. In all the public offices he has held, he has brought innovation to bear and made remarkable impact that has endeared him to compatriots. He is a role model and mentor to several young persons, who look up to him for inspiration.

Peterside treads where even angels are afraid to tread. Even though the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State has made the state unsafe for opposition, and had severally attempted to assassinate him, he goes about as if he has a spare life. When I confronted him on why he is not scared about all the killings, harassment and intimidation in the state, he simply answered: “Chief Eze, if I get scared what do I tell my supporters? Besides, I am a Christian and my God is capable of protecting me in the hands of the evil-minded fellows in PDP.”

The Forces That Will Determine the Fate Of Dakuku Peterside Come 2019

Let us hear the answer from Dakuku Peterside himself – “That will be determined by my party and the Rivers people. Three things will determine whether I have my eyes on the seat or not. First is the Almighty God. Second is my political party and third, the people of Rivers State. If God says run, I will put myself forward and I have a relationship with the Almighty God.

The second thing is if the party says we won’t give you our ticket, I wouldn’t bother myself one day, despite the passion I have for Rivers State. I have totally subjected myself to group dynamics. Finally, even when the party says run, I have to see that Rivers people are really ready for change and if they are ready for change, then I will partner them to bring about that change for the good of the majority of our people.

What should matter to us is the interest of our people. Nobody should want to be governor for the pomp and pageantry of the office – for his own ego. I don’t have to be a governor for my ego. I believe I have attained a status that I deserve the kind of respect a governor gets, and so, I am not driven by ego; I am not driven by self-interest. You get to a time in life that you make up your mind to sacrifice your comfort for the good of the people and posterity. I am not in a hurry. God’s time is the best and He will always order our steps”.

Conclusion

Let me conclude this treatise by presenting the type of NIMASA Peterside intends to bequeath to whoever that will succeeds him at the end of his tenure, “I want to leave a model regulatory agency that will be a model of reference on the continent of Africa, an agency that understands that it is set up to serve the Nigerian people. If I accomplished that – an institution that understands that the force of authority that we have is the force of the Nigerian people – not for fun, not for show – that we have the force of authority of the Nigerian people to do good to the majority of our people. If I left an agency that is a reference model, I will be pleased that I have accomplished much”

Eze Chukwuemeka Eze is a Media Consultant based in Port Harcourt and can be reached via ezemediaconcept2020@gmail.com

 

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Abakaliki: The Rising Sun and Umahi Leadership Magic

Posted on March 23, 2017. Filed under: Opinion |

Abakaliki: The Rising Sun and Umahi Leadership Magic

By Philip Nweze

Yesterday as I drove casually along the not-so-busy streets of Abakaliki, I marvelled at how much more cars graced the refurbished roads. During my school days, there were fewer people, fewer businesses, fewer cars on the roads, and the hustle was there but it was mellow, unlike the crab-like hustle you feel, see and smell in Onitsha or Lagos.

Another thing struck me; the number of brand new cars plying the roads, the young mothers leisurely driving to meet up with school runs, the number of young father’s dressed professionally in suits picking up their young children from school lessons to get them home, have a quick lunch and then dash back to the office just in time before lunch break is over. A lot has really changed in my home state.

Real estate in this once sleepy civil service town is on the rise. Everyone is looking to buy, build, refurbish, sell, develop, and whatever one can imagine. All in all, the once sleepy town has awoken to the fresh and vibrant opportunity that lies within. Young people are no longer in a hurry to flee the coop as we had once done in the past. I recall in the early 80s and 90s, we couldn’t wait to pack our bags and bid the dusty red earth Igbo speaking populace a hearty farewell for a holiday trip to a favourite relative in the west or north. All that has changed.

Through audacity, far-sightedness and an ability to hold its nerve through financial crash, Abakaliki people have created a futuristic mega city; from the Abakaliki dust to what has now become a tourist draw in the South east. Abakaliki has sought to transform itself from a little satellite town to an investment and tourism hub. Today, she seems undeterred by the bumpy ride and continues to wax stronger, with a dozen mega projects underway to wow the hordes of visitors trickling into the virgin city.

As excitement mounts in the day time, wait till nightfall. As soon as the lights flick on in the salt city, you’ll be completely astonished by the exquisite transformation  in the metropolis. This serves as a cue to the ceaseless night activities that invite pleasure-seeking strollers.The state is brimming over with fantastic changes. After crowning the city with twin fly over bridges that dazzle the onlookers, the state government is still bent on turning the town to a cosmopolitan society with a wide range of attractions.

If you haven’t been here, you really do need to give it a shot. Someone I know was transferred here many years back, and he almost died from anger and resentment. Now, you couldn’t pay him  to move his family back to Lagos. Life is easier, has more quality to it, you live in a more comfortable place for less, kids are in good schools, you actually have time to mind the kids, and oh, you sure can have fun. Abakaliki has joined the league of delightful cities, a far cry from what obtained in the past.

Just few years ago, calling someone an Abakaliki man was equivalent to calling him a northerner. Every available indices at that time showed that Abakaliki people lagged behind, and in fact, in literacy levels, they were the worst in the whole of southern Nigeria. Ebonyians made up of old Enugu (Abakaliki zone) and old Abia (Afikpo zone) were victims of marginalisation in their old states. This was the main aim of the agitation of state creation. Government impacts were not felt in the old Abakaliki zone. Our entitlements were taken by our oppressors. This made us stagnant in terms of material and human development. A lot of scholarship opportunities belonging to us were traded to the highest bidder. Our job chances were sold, given to other people, while we were branded nitwits and laggards.

Today, we seem to be breaking through those negative opinions and continuing to make amazing progress in all facets of life. With what is obtainable in Ebonyi today, even Anambra may be overtaken by the sprightly young state in a couple of decades. The next generation of Ebonyians will move with supreme confidence, youthful exuberance and joyful pride among their contemporaries. Tongues will wag, mouths will drool and eyes will widen at the visible changes occasioned by the tons of architectural wonders dotting the state. The journey would be slow and steady. Abakaliki may hit notable snags over the comng years but she won’t be deterred. And never will be.

The Umahi-magic has paid off big. We have joined the realm of elites in all the magnificence of that term. Disciplined by childhood of deprivation, Governor Umahi has brought into governance a responsible financial management and a frugality that many consider crippling. His thirst for infrastructure and modernity might be mocked today by a cynical populace of sadists but posterity would judge him fairly, and delight in his achievements. Generations will sing his name like a favourite song. And history will appropriate him a well-deserved space.

Now I understand why the cars on the roads have grown in numbers, why new and modern buildings are springing up, why I see a lot of younger people behind the wheels and the old spectacle-wearing retirees slowly moving along while you time behind them with all your youthful impatience because the road ahead is free and you are late for your engagement. It’s the Umahin magic.

Ekubaroha is working!

 

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Amaechi’s 8 Years a Waste?: Insider’s Assessment of Security Situation under Amaechi and Wike

Posted on March 16, 2017. Filed under: Opinion | Tags: |

Amaechi’s 8 Years a Waste?: Insider’s Assessment of Security Situation under Amaechi and Wike

 

Written By Eze Chukwuemeka Eze

Preamble

 

It was Dr Dakuku Adol Peterside, Director-General of NIMASA, former Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on (Downstream) Petroleum and 2015 All Progressives Congress (APC) gubernatorial candidate in Rivers State who stated in an article titled ‘How to tackle insecurity in Nigeria’: “Security, law and order are the major preoccupation of any government. Once a government gets this priority right, it has made the very first right step. Growing insecurity on the reverse side is the first sign of a failing state.

Petersides’s view on security tallies with that of poet and political philosopher, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who had stated: “The three great ends which a statesman ought to propose to himself in the government of a nation are:

  1. Security to possessors
  2. Facility to acquirers
  3. Hope to all.”

 Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi concurred by stating: “Government must not be for one section of the society. It must be for the rich and the poor, emphasising the upliftment of the poor…”

With the above quotes, the main aim of this attempt is to unravel the insecurity and security challenges facing Rivers State in Nigeria, particularly now that Chief Nyesom Wike, the Governor of Rivers State. In his recent interview with The Sun newspaper described his mentor, benefactor and predecessor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi’s eight years administration in Rivers State as wasted years. It not only behoves but becomes imperative for those of us who witnessed these eight years to actually put the records straight and avoid the misconception before the public domain envisaged by the said interview.

Based on this challenge of putting or straightening the facts, my continuous efforts to appraise and review the activities of the enigma they call Amaechi, the indefatigable former governor of Rivers State and incumbent Minister of Transportation with much emphasis on his eight years tenure, continues this week with my torchlight beamed on the insecurity challenges in Rivers  during the period of the eight years administration of Amaechi and what the state has become since the departure of this great leader from the leadership of the state.

Although I have in the past two weeks attempted, in other articles, to put some aspects of Amaechi’s feats during his eight years administration in Rivers State in its proper perspective, to put lies to Wike’s commentaries in the said interview. And as I did promise, that henceforth I will be presenting on weekly basis some of the feats of Amaechi’s administration. In fulfilment of that pledge, I will by this week’s treatise use insecurity to further establish that Amaechi’s administration was not a waste, as being postulated by Wike and his cronies.

In doing this, I will present the insecurity episode during the period of Amaechi’s administration and how he curtailed the menace; and how Wike created the current insecurity in Rivers State and, for you the reader to judge if his eight years was a waste or not.

With the above, let me therefore state that the main treatise of this attempt is to review the strategies adopted by the Rivers State Government under the watch of Rotimi Amaechi in tackling the menace of insecurity in Rivers State, prior to his assumption of office on 28th October, 2007 and how Wike, the incumbent governor, instead of adopting the model Amaechi used to tackle insecurity in Rivers State, created the ‘Rivers of blood.’

For matter of clarity, Rivers State is the hub of oil industry in Nigeria and very rich in hydrocarbons from which the nation draws its major revenue and because it was confronted with key security challenges especially the challenges of illegal bunkering, piracy, kidnapping and armed robbery this attempt is embarked upon.

The Challenges and Causes of Insecurity in Rivers State

One of the major forces behind the menace of insecurity in Rivers State was class challenge and Lady Dorothy Alison captured this aptly when she stated, “The horror of class stratification, racism, and prejudice is that some people begin to believe that the security of their families… and communities depends on the oppression of others, that for some to have good lives there must be others whose lives are truncated and brutal.”

Affirming the truism by Lady Alison, former Governor Amaechi enthused, “When we took over the reins of governance in the State we met a situation where people were being given cash, but we decided to take the extreme position of not giving money to people, but doing projects that would impact positively on the lives of the majority of our people”. This stand of the Amaechi to stop the method which was the practice hitherto of sharing State funds to some seasoned politicians and groups who in turn use it to sponsor militia groups that constitute security challenges in the State.

Apart from class challenges as postulated above, insecurity in Rivers State was occasioned by greed for power; empowering and arming our youths with sophisticated arms in order to undo political opponents in the State. Another great influence of insecurity was the wickedness of the politicians in undermining the future of the youths and misuse of public and the common patrimony of the State. Instead of investments that will create jobs for the teeming youths, the funds are distributed amongst friends and relations.

To Rotimi Amaechi, “inability of elected leaders to provide adequate security for the citizenry is an impeachable offence. The first offence governors commit is when they are unable to provide adequate security for the people. This is because the first oath taken by elected leaders is to protect life and property. It is the responsibility of the government to provide security for the people.”

The Type of Rivers State Inherited By Former Gov Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi!

According to records, Port Harcourt, the State capital of Rivers State that Amaechi inherited was more like a war zone or aptly put a jungle where the fittest determines the fate of the lesser animals. It sounds pretty surprising but not unexpected that the city of Port Harcourt, a once very glamorous city, was ranked among the three most dangerous cities in the world by then. The human resources unit of New York-based Marsh & McLennan Cos. had ranked Port Harcourt with Baghdad, Yemen’s capital of Sana’a and Khartoum in Sudan, as the world’s most dangerous cities. Going by the ranking published by Bloomberg, Port Harcourt ranked with Baghdad as one of the world’s most dangerous cities for foreign workers as criminal gangs and militia groups seeking greater control of energy revenue step up attacks.

Ahamefula Ogbu, a Journalist with Thisday Newspapers described one of the scenes in the State at this period in these words ‘Rambo could not have done better. With automatic rifles in their hands and hate, revenge and murder hanging around their necks, warring cultists took Port Harcourt, Rivers State, by storm yesterday for the second day running. Pandemonium broke out as residents ran for safety. It was sorrow, tears and blood. At the end of it all—or, more aptly, at the interval, for no one knows the end yet—15 persons had been dispatched to their early graves’ and true to this unsung prophet nobody knew the end as the next few days saw about eighty innocent souls wasted by an agitation uncommon to our people in the Niger Delta.

While to my late friend and brother, Mr. George Onah reporting for Vanguard Newspaper captured Port Harcourt before the assumption of office by Gov Amaechi in these words; “For many residents, the capital of Rivers State, hitherto the Garden City where life was lived to the fullest is no longer the place to live in as rivers of blood flow ceaselessly following an unending siege by militants, kidnappers, cultists, and criminals of other hue.

Violence in Port Harcourt, Rivers State has gone full circle and the guns are still booming. The casualties are pilling, even as blood of defenceless citizens’ flow endlessly. Neither the Police nor the government has answers to the brigandage. Security outfits do not have official figures, record or reliable estimates of casualties in the Rivers State orgy of killings.

Even the number of deaths during the Nigerian Civil War had a consensus of informed opinion on the number of deaths, on both sides, which hovered, realistically around 600,000 and below. But the rapidity of casualties in the onslaught by gunmen on Rivers State cannot simply be pigeonholed. The currency of killings is alarming and the growth of the economy of the state is heading for the deep.”

The pattern of the crime ranges from kidnapping of expatriates and children of wealthy parentage, to outright violent robbery. Cultism and political vices equally occupy a frightening position on the crime chart. The volatile atmosphere appears to have annulled whatever achievement of the peace and reconciliation committee of the government.”

 

As if both Ogbu and late Onah did not capture the picture correctly, Okey Ndibe, a respected opinion leader on national issues in Nigeria in his article during this period published by the Sahara Reporters one of the leading online media on Nigerian political activities titled ‘a blood soaked city’ described the happenings in Rivers State then in these words ‘That the once idyllic Port Harcourt was now a scarred place, a war zone, a city soaked in blood; the city under siege with thousands of citizens displaced; that its once quiescent boulevards and avenues were now ruled by marauding militiamen and by the fierce soldiers deployed to dislodge them. Sudden death by bullet was now a generalized hazard for the city’s trapped and hapless residents.

Affirming the unfortunate state of Rivers State then, an icon and Prince of Niger Delta Politics, Prince Tonye Princewill in an interview during this period stated thus, “Rivers State, when Amaechi took over was a garrison state. Now that things have changed, people refer to him, like they do to Fashola as a performing governor though the only difference between the two is that Fashola had a foundation in Tinubu but in the case of Amaechi, it was not so!”

Strategies Adopted to Address the Menace Of Insecurity

According to Noam Chomsky, “the U.S. international and security policy … has as its primary goal the preservation of what we might call “the Fifth Freedom,” understood crudely but with a fair degree of accuracy as the freedom to rob, to exploit and to dominate, to undertake any course of action to ensure that existing privilege is protected and advanced”. The fact remains that it seems that former Governor Amaechi on assumption of office adopted this US security policy in tackling the menace of insecurity in the State as he went out exploiting every means humanly possible to arrest this ugly trend. Apart from declaring war on all the militia groups in the State and refusing any form of dialogue or negotiations with them, he ensured that the security organs in the State were well motivated and trained to tackle the menace of insecurity in the State.

Explaining further on how former Governor Amaechi handled the security challenges of the State at this period, Dr Dakuku Peterside stated as follows, “When I had the privilege of serving in the government of Rivers State under the leadership of Governor Amaechi, I observed that he placed high premium on security because he believed that security was the foundation upon which progress in every other facet of development depends. This is aside from government’s proactive disposition which drew substantially from intelligence gathering, surveillance and the fact that law enforcement agents could reasonably predict potential crime with near perfect accuracy.

Another interesting aspect of the Rivers model is the deployment of technology. Without sounding immodest, I can confidently say that the state’s security network is driven by excellent modern technology. Rivers was the first state to acquire a mobile scanning van known as back scatter. Around the Port-Harcourt metropolis, there are Gantry Scanners at strategic entry locations in Onne- Eleme Road, East-West Road, Choba Road, Oyibo Road, Ikwere Road, Aba Road and Mbiama Road among others.

Throwing more light on the postulations of Peterside, a security expert and CEO, MPD Security Systems, Engr. David Meyer stated as follows, “The first step we took in Rivers State was to raise capacity among selected police personnel, over 200, through local and overseas training in Israel and other parts of the world on modern crime fighting techniques and intelligence gathering,” Meyer explained. Working with modern gadgets and substantial logistics including an Israeli trained concealed weapon detecting dog, these crossbred police team had since been strategically placed at main outskirt check posts witnessing mass movement in and out of Port Harcourt City. Others lead a number of metro patrol teams responding to security emergencies around the town and environs. These are far as the public can see.

Beyond public view, as part of Rivers current long term vision of security, Meyer pointed to underground application of ICT aided security hardware and software helping the police to sense and react to security situations with dispatch. This network of technology managed by experts from a hub which Meyer would not disclose its location for security reasons, employs the C4I urban surveillance cameras watching over the city and active 24hrs of the day in Port Harcourt and environs.

The interactions between the seen and unseen infrastructures, according to Meyer, account for the recent security operatives swift bursting of some of failed organized crime operations, including an attempted raid of a bank in the Mile 4 area of the city last year. “These measures have been working well and while the public may not know, it has lead to several arrests and we have gained convictions against suspects on account of the improved network”, he emphasized.

Supporting the views of Hon. Chief Peterside and Engr. Meyer, His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Chibuike stated,. “We have done a lot about security. We are doing more. Before we came to office, kidnapping was a serious challenge. We have dealt with it substantially. We are finishing December, 2012 without a single report of kidnapping or armed robbery. We have specially trained policemen handling security. Barring any unforeseen circumstance, any moment from now, the Rivers State Government’s security web would be two surveillance helicopters stronger, laying foundation for a standing air wing to give the state 24-hour security coverage.. He said the helicopters; costing $30m (N4.5bn) with surveillance cameras to fly all over the city of Port Harcourt and other parts of the state would arrive at the end of December and commence operations in January, 2013. He stated that Rivers now has in place a technology reliable for tracking criminals and their hideouts. But sadly, Chief Nyesom Wike and former President Dr Jonathan ensured that these helicopters never arrived Rivers State until few weeks ago in 2017

The former Governor who is a major proponent of State Policing postulated, “If we have State Police, Rivers would be able to train its police the way it wants. It would not have suffered the loss of those 500 policemen it trained. Most states are spending a lot of money improving the police which are not under their control. States can use the same resources to fund their own police. Only those with something to hide are afraid of State Police.

The impacts of the Rivers of Peace under Amaechi

The results of the peaceful state of Rivers State under the watch of Gov Amaechi has resulted not only attraction of foreign investments but during this period Port Harcourt was the haven of both International and National championships. Apart from hosting one of the best organised National Sports Festival ever in Nigeria, the School Sports was hosted by the State including the Police Games. Port Harcourt apart from Abuja and probably Lagos was the only State to have hosted US-Nigeria bie National Conference. The city during this golden period hosted the Miss ECOWAS Beauty Pageant, Pan African Parliamentary; Garden City Literary Festival, hosted CARNRIV involving several foreign countries to showcase the rich culture, potentials and beauty of her people, the 2nd Dr Claude Ake Memorial Lecture, Rivers State Investment Forum and Governor’s Interactive Session with Rivers State Youths amongst several other meets the city has hosted to prove its acceptability as the most peaceful and progressive city in Nigeria.

Kudos of course must go to Alh, Suleiman Abba the then Commissioner of Police and former Inspector General of Police for his commitment and no nonsense approach to crime in the State; the then Brigade Commander, the Air force Commander, Director of SSS for their commitment in ensuring that Rivers State was recovered from the hands of these hoodlums! Kudos also goes to the then Secretary to the Rivers State Government now a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dist. Senator Magnus Abe whose office then was coordinating and spearheading this onslaught against insecurity in the State.

Wike’s ambition and creation of the ‘Rivers of blood’

Chief Wike’s ambition to succeed Amaechi as the governor of Rivers State may be shocking to most political watchers started from his days as chief of staff to the then Governor Amaechi. The fact remains that while Amaechi was busy providing dividends of democracy to the people, Wike, on the other hand, was busy undermining Amaechi and using all the connections and goodwill of the Rivers State Government not only to station his men in strategic positions in government, but to empower most of them financially through award of contracts, initiation and other means. He tested the ground of his ambition when he was appointed as the director- general for the re-election of Amaechi as governor of Rivers State in 2011. A position he ensured that only his men were appointed to strategic fields to serve as key mobilisers at the grassroots level. By the time he was appointed minister of state in the Ministry of Education, based on the recommendation of Amaechi to Dr Jonathan, Wike went further with his gubernatorial ambition plot by forming the Grassroots Development Initiative (GDI), a political pressure group he used to deceive the public, that it was formed to assist in the re-election of then President Jonathan; but, in fact, the outfit was formed to pursue his gubernatorial ambition. He used the outfit to formally recruit his foot soldiers for the battle ahead. Under our nose, this body was heavily financed and motivated, and its presence was established in all the constituencies of Rivers State.

It was this group that he used to dislodge over 11 key Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members that wanted to contest the 2015 governorship election under the PDP platform. Those that wanted to play games were properly beaten up and molested at the party’s national secretariat at Abuja. Before this time, Wike, based on political exigency, tactfully suppressed his gubernatorial ambition from public view. Instead, he offered himself as a tool to spearhead the political battle between Jonathan and Amaechi. He gave everything within him to execute this, with the PDP ticket as a target.

Towards creating the ‘Rivers of blood’

Recruitment of militants

Apart from creating the deadly and infamous GDI, Wike, while serving as a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria paid visits to some notable former war lords from the Niger Delta dislodged by the Amaechi’s administration, soliciting their support for his gubernatorial ambition. In this regard, it was reported that he donated his six months’ salary to Tompolo Foundation. Stanley Azuakola of TheScoop, in his report entitled, Nyesom Wike donates 6 months’ salary to ex-militant Tompolo Foundation stated: “There are reports that the Minister of State for Education, Nyesom Wike, who is currently involved in a bitter struggle with the current Rivers governor, Rotimi Amaechi, has donated his salary for the next six months, which amounts to about N11.742 million, to the Chief Tompolo Foundation.”Link:http://www.thescoopng.com/report-nyesom-wike-donates-6-months-salary-to-ex-militant-tompolo-foundation/

Implication of the donation

An online media platform, Newsdiaryonline, which also reported the donation and its purpose said: ‘The donation by the Minister is seen as part of covert moves to consolidate plans to work with Mr Tompolo to disrupt the peace in his home state, Rivers State. This is seen as part of the plot to oust the incumbent Governor Rotimi Amaechi, who is seen to have parted ways with President Goodluck Jonathan. Reports indicate that Mr Wike has boasted that he will deploy his wide contacts within the judiciary to recruit everyone necessary to ensure he has his way in Rivers State. No one has yet made any response on behalf of Rivers State Government to this revelation. However, reliable sources reveal that residents of the state have sighted a gradual resurgence of ex-militant groups that had hitherto taken flight from the state due to the tough stance of the Amaechi-led administration on militant activities. Most of these militants had fled the state for more accommodating havens like Bayelsa and Akwa-Ibom states, and Abuja in the face of the onslaught on criminal activities by the Rivers State Government. With the frosty relationship between the governor and Presidency, and with the controversial complacent role of the State Commissioner of Police, these ex-militants are now finding their ways back to the state.

‘Some residents who prefer to remain anonymous have expressed concern that the sudden return of these ex-militants to the state hold very ominous signs for the state, and that their intentions cannot be good.’ This fear is now loudly very imminent in Rivers State today, as residents now sleep with two eyes wide open.

In another development, according to TheScoop publication of January 20, 2014 titled Amaechi has not started crying yet – boasts Nyesom Wike; Segun Odeleye reported that Wike was quoted as saying: ‘We are free of any arrest; no police will arrest any member of GDI or interrupt their activities or gathering in this state. Don’t forget, it is Amaechi who was ordering police to arrest GDI members anywhere they are gathering. Now he is the one crying over arrest and disruption of APC gathering in the state. He has not started crying: the police will continue to chase them until they learn how to follow the due process before hosting any meeting or rally. Rivers State is for PDP. The best thing for Governor Ameachi is to resign and have peace, because as long he remains the governor, he will never have peace.’ Link: http://www.thescoopng.com/amaechi-has-not-started-crying-yet-boasts-nyesom-wike/

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A versatile public commentator, Uche Igwe, a doctoral research fellow at Sussex Centre for the Study of Corruption, University of Sussex, titled “Of Nyesom Wike And President Jonathan’s Conflict Entrepreneurs”,  described  Wike as ‘a tough and undiplomatic man with a thug-minded determination and a deep-pocket that thrives in a policy of vindictiveness.’Known as Eze Gburugburu by his admirers, the former Chairman of Obio/Akpor Local Government is acclaimed to be a brutal schemer who maximised his position as chief of staff in Brick House to stockpile enormous financial resources for himself. The bulkily framed politician is also someone who understands and believes in the power of money and readily deploys it as a political tool to achieve helpful and, most times, unhelpful political ends. Another former loyalist described him as ‘a merciless politician with a limitless capacity for mischief.’

Sam Nda-Isaiah, a frontline APC Presidential candidate and Publisher of Leadership Newspaper, in his reaction to WIke and Jonathan’s absurdity in Rivers State in an article published by TheScoop of August 12, 2013 titled, “Why does the President enjoy the company of gangsters? stated: ‘The Minister of State for Education, Mr Nyesom Wike, who is at the centre of the crisis in Rivers State with the clear support of the President, Goodluck Jonathan, and the co-president, Patience Jonathan, now operates above the law in the state. To worsen the joke, he has even declared for the governorship of the state. It is very hard to believe that a serving minister would make that kind of statement and still be kept in the cabinet by the President. But that has been our lot since Jonathan became President.’ Link: http://www.thescoopng.com/sam-nda-isaiah-why-does-the-president-enjoy-the-company-of-gangsters/

Given the forgoing, why should blood not flow in Rivers?

Before and during the March/April 2015 General Elections in Rivers State, it was reported that about 100 members of All Progressives Congress (APC) were slaughtered, with their local secretariats at Andoni and Okirika bombed. The live telecast by Channels TV during the shootings on the APC Rally at Okirika should be very visible on the minds of Nigerians.

During the 2016 rerun elections of April 2016, the APC’s National Working Committee, in a press statement, noted: “APC members in Rivers State are fast becoming [an] endangered species.” That was after scores of members were killed in recent weeks. The committee released a list of 32 party members it claimed had been killed by a variety of methods: “several were beheaded, others clubbed to death and one man burned alive.”

Till date, under the watch of Governor Wike, about 200 Rivers State citizens have been killed.

Wike’s ‘Rivers of blood’

Kennedy Friday, a social commentator, in a recent presentation painted the present situation in Rivers State thus: “They were killed and beheaded in Ula-Upata community in Ahoada East Local Government Area. After that, their corpses were set ablaze! In this 21st century, this bestiality happens every day in parts of Rivers State, almost unchallenged. Insecurity is at its most rampaging level. Oh God, what is happening to Rivers State? We have this very dire challenge and people look the other way and pretend that all is well. This barbarity happens every day in one part of the state or the other. When will these killings stop?”

In the words of Ibrahim Modibbo, a social commentator based in Abuja: “Not even under the evil and satanic regimes of Mobutu Sese Seko, Emperor Fidel Bokassa or legendary Idi Amin of Uganda did we see such a fascist regime that displays optimum barbarism and primitive parochialism as in Rivers. The state is currently buckling under the full weight of a heartlessly ravenous political brigand, where life has lost its meaning and value. A cabal that swims in obscene opulence has made political power to be so critical to its survival that any opposition that stands on its way, even if it’s a fly, must be crushed with a sledge hammer. I am, therefore, not surprised that opponents are now hunted like a game: with many beheaded, clubbed to death or buried alive like chickens.

Jimitota Onoyume, Vanguard Newspaper Correspondent reported on May 17, 2016, how 5 cops, 6 civilians were butchered in Rivers. According to him, “Mortal fear has seized the people of Rivers State since last week when armed marauders murdered five police officers, including a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Muhammadu Halidu, and six civilians at Okobe in Ahoada West Local Government Area. The rampaging gunmen laid ambush for the police officers, attached to the 30 Mobile Police Force, code-named 30 MPF, Bayelsa State, on their way back from a national assignment in Yobe State and stole their rifles, after snuffing the life out of them.”

Reacting to the ugly scenario, Senator Magnus Abe stated: “But the point I want to make is that there are reasons here in Rivers State why we should not and cannot celebrate democracy day. Just yesterday, somewhere in Ahoada, I hear over eight people were killed, including the oldest man in the village. As we speak now, in my own village, boys are going around with guns; nobody slept last night. I was told they even chased somebody to a church, and macheted him right there in a church, with people scampering for safety. As we talk now, in Luawii and Kapnyo, several people are dead, houses burnt… You know, all over… Yesterday, a friend of mine stopped at a fuel station at Rumoula to buy petrol, and while at the filling station, some people brought out guns and robbed everybody, right there in Rumuola. This is what is going on all over Rivers State.

In such circumstances, do we really have much to celebrate? The first responsibility of government is the maintenance of law and order. If people are free and safe, they can look for water, they can look for light, they can look for food. But they cannot look for security if they’re not safe. So, I think the governor should really do something to address the issue of security in this state. And until he does that, there is really nothing to celebrate in Rivers State.”

The socio-economic impact of the insecurity challenges

Who else could explain the economic impact of the insecurity situation in Rivers State more than Hon Rotimi Amaechi, who threw light on this while speaking at the Annual Lagos Traffic Radio Lecture Series in Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos. He accused the incumbent Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, of driving away investors from the state due to growing insecurity and crime, which had led to the plunging of the internally generated revenue (IGR), from N8 billion to N4 billion. His words: “Do you know that people are now migrating away from Port Harcourt? When I was the governor of Rivers State nothing like that happened. The crime rate in the state has now increased and the IGR dropped. As the governor, the IGR of the state was N8 billion. And that was why I have often advised Nigerian public office holders not to play with figures. Due to the crime rate in the state, people have started migrating away from the state and the IGR has dropped to N4 billion. The state governor (Wike) now moves like chairman of a council, asking traders and others if they had paid their taxes. But when I was the governor, I don’t engage in that.”

According to Amaechi, “Migration is either voluntary or involuntary. But in the case of Rivers State, it is involuntary. They are forced to relocate from the state. The man complained that I am corrupt. But I have asked him to go to court but until today, he is yet to bring evidence forward to buttress his claims.”

If Wike is wise and interested to curb insecurity in Rivers State what stops him from humbly going to Amaechi for tutorial on how to govern a sophisticated state like Rivers State.

Conclusion

But not minding the above sad and negative reports on Governor Wike, the Rivers State chapter of Christian Association of Nigeria, (CAN) and SUN Newspapers applauded Wike’s style of leadership by given him ‘Apostle of Peace’ And ‘Governor of the year’ Awards respectively.

Reacting to these unfortunate developments, an icon and face of Media in Rivers State, Lady Oby Ndukwe described these awards to Wike in these words, “Yes, Wike deserves these awards! Yes, he won because he was in the news more than any other governor in 2016 in these nefarious areas – “Judiciary scandal, Electoral Fraud, Fake Amnesty, Rig and Die Threats, Excessive Bank Loans, Highest political fights with APC, FG, Army, Police and INEC, Suspicious Church hosting, IPOB links, Four CPs in two years, Audio evidence of rigging and death threats, Avengers, and a whole lot more. The SUN correspondents must have filed more stories about him than his colleagues did in other states!

The bottom line is, to win, make headline news either in popularity or notoriety!
The latter suits the best reason for this misunderstood SUN NEWSPAPER MAN OF THE YEAR AWARD!

I have nothing else to add than for you the reader to judge between Amaechi and Wike whose tenure is a waste in Rivers State.

Eze Chukwuemeka Eze is a Media Consultant based in Port Harcourt and can be reached through ezemediaconcept2020@gmail.com

 

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