David Iyofor and his “Doctorisation of Amaechi”

by Odimegwu Onwumere

An article of the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Chibuike Amaechi
of Rivers State titled “The Doctorisation of Amaechi” was on December
1, 2012, published in many national and Port Harcourt-based
newspapers. David Iyofor talked about a ride he had with his boss in
the street of London and subsequently how Amaechi agreed as they
conversed that Rivers State was supposed to look like London and that
he was bent on going to do everything humanly possible in making sure
that the aim was actualised. Anyone who read that article would agree
that Iyofor is a media personality of intercontinental comportment
considering how he outlined some of the projects he saw that Amaechi
has achieved in the state.

Anyway, this composition does not intend to counter Iyofor and his
position as everyone is right in his or her own judgment or opinion;
but in a common sense it is not every judgment that is right and not
every opinion that is acceptable; neither is this tract meant to
disprove Iyofor or to right him, but it is right and an acceptable
norm to make observations in judgments and opinions as they go.

In affirmation with most things that Iyofor posited in his treatise,
the Ex-Israeli Prime Minister, PM, had in the news reports of July 6,
2012, said that Rivers State got some great latent qualities. This was
expressed when Ehud Olmert, the Ex-Israeli PM, rewarded Amaechi with a
courteousness visit in Government House, Port Harcourt. Olmert said
that he saw great potentials that are in-depth in the state. He showed
his unflinching poise in what was described as the dynamic leadership
of Amaechi. One thing that Olmert did not mince words to say was that
Amaechi should ad infinitum use the state’s potential to the people’s
advantage. Also in the spirit of good manners, Amaechi expressed a
position to partner with the Israeli government.

Thus, it would be better that we read the statements of Olmert in his
own words: “The impression that I always get when I come to Africa is
that these countries have enormous potential and your country and your
state (Rivers) have enormous potential and I think that you happen to
have at this time in history also, a dynamic, energetic and capable
leadership that can make the dreams of building up the state into a
reality of life for the 5.1 million residents in Rivers State that
want their lives to be of much higher and greater quality… I think
that there is a possibility that we will find ways to explore together
how to bring in investors, how to develop areas of interest that are
of importance to the development of Rivers State in agriculture, in
waste management, in water, in building up greenhouses, in growing
vegetables that will be of the highest quality as we do in Israel
instead of buying them overseas…”

In like manner, the Oyo State Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi had
apparently on Wednesday, December 5, 2012, described Amaechi as an
Icon. While Amaechi was elected governor on the platform of the
People’s Democratic Party (PDP, Ajimobi was elected on the platform of
the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). So, for Ajimobi to extol a
supposedly opposition counterpart put critics is disarray. While
speaking to journalists at the end of his two-day official visit to
Rivers State with his wife, Florence, Ajimobi had said that he was
doing what people call peer review – equate how Rivers State is, to
how Oyo State is.

In his own words, Ajimobi seemingly said: “Having been here now, I’ve
seen a lot and I think without sounding patronizing, I think the
governor here; Governor Amaechi is a blessing to Port Harcourt, to
Rivers State in terms of his achievements, in terms of his commitment,
in terms of his patriotism. I think he’s an icon from what I have
seen. I’ve gone round to see your farming, the agriculture, a lot has
been achieved and it has a multiplier effect on the economy of the
area in terms of employment, income generation and reducing poverty,
reducing thuggery, vandalism and all the associated nuances of low
economy. I’ve been to where you are producing electricity and with
what I’ve seen there, Port Harcourt is quite lucky with about a
requirement of about 500 megawatts of power. At least to date they
(the power plants) are producing almost 540 or something megawatts and
compared to our (Oyo) own where we require about 480 megawatts. We are
not producing (power) and hardly do we get up to 200 megawatts from
the national grid. So in terms of energy, in terms of agriculture and
of course to cap it all is the infrastructural development. I was here
couple of years ago but what I see now is a completely new state to
me. I saw the primary schools, the new model secondary schools would
easily pass for a university. I don’t know of any secondary school
that looks like this in Nigeria. In terms of sciences, ICT and in
terms of the ambience of the environment, the school is very conducive
for learning and children produced here will definitely do well. I’ve
also been to the health facilities and Amaechi is really doing a lot,
in fact it’s free health care services and you can see that the people
are happy. It’s something that everybody should try to emulate. All in
all, I think it’s a lot that’s been done here in Rivers State, it’s a
lot and I’m glad I came.”

That been said, Amaechi has freshly assured the residents of the state
that the State Government was going to create compulsory free
education to all children of school age by 2013. Amaechi, as they say,
gave this hope during the closing ceremony of the Garden City Literary
Festival at the Banquet Hall of the Hotel Presidential in Port
Harcourt. He gave his word that children would go to school with law
requiring their parents to send them to school. In Amaechi’s own
word: “We are about to send to the state Assembly a bill that says it
is a crime not to send your children to school. The reason is when you
say education is free and compulsory, parents don’t take it seriously
until you say they will go to jail if they don’t send their children
and wards to school. We would not collect fees so it becomes criminal
if you don’t send your children to school. From next year we would
criminalise those who don’t take their children or wards to school
because we will try everything possible to ensure that we provide
infrastructure and facilities that will back our free education. Let
me tell you the things that will happen very soon. Those of you who
are in government schools that are not up to standard we are trying to
raise our government schools to the standard that we require… When we
get to that standard, we will in the next few months set up the agency
for quality assurance. If you don’t meet the standard, whether you
are government school or private school you will be closed down. All
primary schools must have Information Communication Technology (ICT)
including the ones that belong to the Rivers State Government. We
believe that the same thing should apply to the secondary schools.”

However, some residents have said that it was not today that they have
been hearing about Amaechi promising that his government would give
the state compulsory free education. They reiterated that even when
Amaechi might walk his talk, what they have got from the schools is a
shocker. In affirmation of this clam, one commentator in a forum
wrote: “Parents are not sending their wards to school because there is
no free education in Rivers state. I registered a girl in JSS 1 in

school in Abuloma in 2010 and I paid N5000. In 2011, I was asked to
pay N11000 for yet another one. I paid half of it and promised to pay
the balance but have so far refused to. And most times these young
ones were asked to pay all kinds of fees yet we were told there is
free education. If there is free education, why are the schools
charging pupils for inter house sports, exams fee, books, uniform
(which must be bought from the school), and all kinds of levies? One
of these girls has been at home for some time now because she could
not meet up with the financial demand from the school. And when you
hear of abject poverty, her family exemplifies it. Ameachi should sit
up and do his home work well before punishing parents who have no
means of paying the various levies charged by the schools. Or in the
alternative, he should come out with authorised levies to enable us
know what to and what not to pay. Rivers state free education must be
well defined.”

While that lasted, it was commendable when Amaechi voiced in the
papers of Monday, 03 December 2012 over the delay of cases that are in
the different courts across the country. In a town hall meeting with
members of the legal profession at the Rivers State High Court complex
in Port Harcourt, Amaechi was of the belief that people’s different
opinions during interaction would always bring a positive way to
solving any problem that has been waylaying them. He hinged his point
over the recalcitrant way the trial of former chief security officer
to late Gen. Sani Abacha, Major Al-Mustapha and two others, charged
with the murder of Kudirat Abiola, and have been handled with delay.

In his words, Amaechi had purportedly said: “Justice delayed equals
justice denied… Should a judicial system continue to adjourn a case
for 13 years without conclusion of the trial? That is what the
Nigerian judicial system has done in the matter of Major Hamza
Al-Mustapha and two others, charged with conspiracy and murder of
Hajia Kudirat Abiola… This ugly situation brings us to fore the
famous maxim: ‘Justice delayed is justice denied’. The legal maxim
requires that legal redress should be timely. Thus, if legal redress
available for a party that has suffered some injury is not forthcoming
in a timely manner, it is effectively the same as having no redress at

In another stratum, Amaechi had promised to support the Nigeria
Football Federation, NFF, to prop up sports development in the country
when the delegation of top officials of the NFF paid a courtesy visit
to him in Government House, Port Harcourt. Congratulating the NFF for
the qualification of the National Team, the Nigeria Super Eagles, for
the Africa Cup of Nations Amaechi had this to say: “You may think you
are not important in the nation, you are. If you see how many
Nigerians sit down to watch our football matches you won’t believe it.
There may not be people in the stadium as you may want because of
television so people sit at home to watch that match because if they
go to the stadium they have to pay, they have to buy drinks, they have
to struggle with people when they can sit down in front of the TV and
watch a match, that is exactly what happens. I know that I watch a lot
of matches that the Super Eagles play and let me congratulate you for
the Africa Cup of Nations. Also congratulate you for the qualification
of the other teams. What usually happens in Nigeria is even if other
teams qualify and the Super Eagles don’t qualify they don’t accept
that we have qualified. So, it’s important you realize that; I
congratulate you on that.”

Notwithstanding, David Iyofor should as a matter of fact and urgency
keep on feeding the world with information about the governor in his
own periscope. He should inform whether the observation by Olmert that
Rivers State got some potential, the potentials are explored or not.
Again, he should make a critical analysis that would inform us if it
is either Amaechi that is the Icon, as said by Ajimobi, or Rivers
State is included. Let investigations be carried out to ascertain the
claim that parents pay exorbitant fees in the much amplified
compulsory fee-free government model schools. Iyofor should as well
inform the people the reason majority of the people cannot afford to
go to the stadium and watch a live match as was narrated by Amaechi.
These observations would help clear the air and make wonderful and
remarkable analysis; they help critics and observers of the government
to relate very well with the governor’s social, economic or political

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