Amaechi, Contractors and the Future of Rivers State

A time came in Rivers State when the contracts awarded in the state were
mainly intended for the indigenes of the state. That was when Governor
Chibuike Amaechi was leading the state with indigenous-biased coloration,
being a man who loved his indigenous peoples he was close to before he
became governor.

Amaechi exalted the indigenes of Rivers State and gave them rights and
considerations. That was the period he said that the Rivers money was for
Rivers people. But when the people he so-much loved were betraying him, he
reversed his seemingly social stance to ‘Rivers money is for competent

Contracts were being awarded in Rivers State and many of them were not
completed or were abandoned or were politicized. Some of the contractors
are those fighting Amaechi today in one way or the other even though that
when you ask them to bring the proof that they completed the contracts that
were given them to do, you see them bringing Kangaroo proofs that the
contracts that were awarded to them were completed.

Amaechi seemingly did not tighten up how contracts were awarded in Rivers
State. He might say that it was not in his office to award contracts, but
since this concerned his government, the criteria with which contracts were
awarded then to mostly indigenes, were not committed to assiduous

The contracts were like largesse to his indigenous fellows because in
earnest, the governor loved his ‘pals’ to a fault. It is today not certain
if Amaechi still remember his inaugural speech of Oct. 26 2007 after he won
his case with the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the court that ousted
Sir Celestine Omehia, when he said, “I will serve you with humility, and
above all, with fear of God. I will listen to your opinion and will be
guided by your views and together we will make Rivers State great again”.

Without trumpeting my own praise, I was one of the frontrunners that guided
and guarded Amaechi when he served with ‘humility and fear of God’, when he
was listening to ‘our opinions and was guided by our views’ as
commentators. These attributes of the governor unfortunately have all been
engulfed and gulped by politics of the Titans in the midst of those he once
loved and assisted.

Many of the contracts were not reviewed if they were actually completed or
not. I had written in my articles then that it was as if the governor had
the indigenes of Rivers State at heart when he was making that inaugural
speech, but many of them later betrayed him. He knows what I am writing
about his ‘people betraying him’ if he would relax and reflect on the whole

The ‘focused’ Ameachi then had put in excellent plans by restoring most of
play fields particularly in old Port Harcourt Township and had all insisted
on good sports arena for the new primary school buildings embarked upon in
all the LGA of Rivers State. Today, is it not about President Jonathan and
the presidency that Amaechi has focused all his attention to?

As ‘history would absorb me’ concerning my genuine contributions in Rivers
State, I single-handedly fought for the integration of non-indigenes in the
affairs of the government and many of them are today enjoying the fruits of
that labour which I carried out through massive media briefs on the need
non-indigenes should be incorporated in Amaechi’s government and he did not
betray. The records are there!

At a point Amaechi was disappointed in the indigenous contractors. This was
evident in the TheNEWS, January 18, 2010, with the article titled,
“Amaechi’s Dilemma”. The paper succinctly stated that Amaechi expressed his
frustrations and his government’s failures during a chat with Rivers
stakeholders and the media.

Amaechi laid bare his feelings on the grim realities confronting his
administration while presenting the 2010 proposed budget estimate of N429
billion to the state House of Assembly on 23 December 2009. Prominent among
his worries was the drop from the state’s 2009 budget of N432.28 billion in
the 2010 fiscal estimate.

This was heralded, as due to the reduction of revenue from the Federation
Account, as a result of the ceding of about 200 oil wells from the state to
Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa and other bordering states by the National Boundary
Commission, NBC, and the Revenue Allocation, Mobilisation and Fiscal
Commission (which that of Akwa Ibom 86 oil wells ceded to her have been
reclaimed by Rivers State, 2011).

I had written then that not only how to shore up the revenue base of the
state to meet the increasing challenge of sustaining the economic profile
of the state should be the challenge confronting Amaechi in the face of
many multi-nationals that fled the state in the wake of kidnappings and
violent attacks on the management and staff of oil companies in the state,
but, also, the plight of non-indigenes that had been left in abject penury
in Rivers State. Today, I must say that it is the entire state that has
been left in abject penury and not non-indigenes anymore.

When I look back, I’m yet to see the benefits of the many groups in the
entertainment industry who were implored to stage shows in Port Harcourt,
starting with ‘Diplomatic Unplugged’ by Akas Baba, followed by Friends of
WAZOBIA FM, ECOWAS Beauty Pageant, AY Live, ION Film Festival and CARNIRIV
2009/2010, which was the Rivers’ government’s clone of the Calabar
end-of-year Carnival. Other shows organised were CRACK YA RIBS by ace
comedian Julius Agwu, THISDAY Musical Entertainment Night, and the 2009
version of Nite of A Thousand Laughs, entreated to pep up Rivers State. You
may say, just frivolities!

His indigenous contractors conversely betrayed his government. Amaechi
affirmed this again during an interactive session with the media one time
at the Government House, Port Harcourt. Amaechi then frowned at the woeful
performance of his administration in the hands of those he loved, in this
regard: “I can confess that since I assumed office, waste disposal has
[posed] a serious challenge to my administration. But the problems are that
we inherited waste disposal contractors who are mainly (indigenous?)
politicians in the state who receive between N4 and N5 million monthly but
hardly evacuate the refuse.”

We once saw ex-militants who were camped at Aluu for training in various
skills, near Port-Harcourt, after the amnesty programme of President Musa
Yar’Adua was granted them, went on rampage, because of lack of adequacy to
their welfare. This is the fate of the state today.

The truth is that Amaechi knew at the back of his heart that he had
sacrificed the future of the state on the altar of indigenous political
patronage of politicians who were in the corridors of power. The truth of
the matter again was hinged on the fact that the individuals behind the
brouhahas that Amaechi is today facing were those he could not look
straight in the face and tell them how they betrayed the trust he had for
them, hence pummeling the future of the state.

Written by
Odimegwu Onwumere
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