By Kenny Adewole
To demonstrate the seriousness of Amaechi’s careful management of the resources of Rivers State, he immediately on assuming office in 2007 constituted his cabinet with men and women of integrity and seeing the decay in infrastructure in the state commenced his task by initiating and signing into law, Road Maintenance and Rehabilitation Agency Bill No. 3 of 2008, Sustainable Development Amendment Bill No. 1 of 2008, Procurement Public Bill, Saving Public Fund Bill, and even a bill excluding the office of the governor from signing and awarding of contracts. The fact remains that no other state in Nigeria has such laws in operation, excluding the governor from interfering and awarding of contracts and saving part of its revenue for the rainy days. With the enactment of these bills, the governor demonstrated early enough the type of governance he intends to bequeath to the State: Governance premised on accountability, service delivery and people-oriented government for the greater good of Rivers people.
According to Amaechi, “In order to lay a strong foundation for positive change in governance in the state, the administration has taken it upon itself to initiate very critical bills on fiscal responsibility to the State House of Assembly and virtually all of which have been passed into law and assented to by me. The Executive arm of government so far has credit for having at least 60 per cent of all bills passed by the House of Assembly, saying that virtually all the bills were designed to deal with the age long problem of financial irresponsibility and rascality and as far as the existing laws on fiscal responsibility are concerned, anyone in government who tries to have an over sight of the due process mechanism in the state would surely run into problems.”
“Amaechi believes in transparency and accountability. He was the first governor in this country to begin a Stewardship Account. He was the first governor to publicly say to people, this is what we have received, this is what we have spent; this is where we have spent it. He was the first governor in this country to take over the payment of primary school teachers, which is a local government function. Rivers State under Amaechi was the first state to have its own Procurement Act. The World Bank not only commended, but asked other states to go and see the Implementation of the Due Process regime in Rivers State and adopt the great works of Amaechi accordingly. He was the first governor to pass the Fiscal Responsibility Law to check government officials and exclude himself from award of contracts throughout his tenure as Rivers State Governor; this is the fellow that Wike is presenting in borrowed robe”
According to Dr Peterside the former Commissioner of Finance, since assuming office, efforts have been relentless to modernise the public finance architecture in the state to improve how we account for revenues and report our expenditure. It is on record that Rivers State remains the first and only state that maintains a dual international credit rating from Fitch, and standard and Poor’s under Amaechi’s watch. This is no mean feat considering the rigorous process of not only obtaining the ratings but constantly sustain and improving it. Compared to several states in Nigeria or sovereign entities around the world, as can be attested by these ratings, the state has maintained an enviable record of accountability, financial prudence and full disclosure. Our records are therefore verifiable and open from the regular rating reports and annual audited financial statements. One of the key pillars of transformation and modernisation of policies in the state is the enactment and operation of a transparent public procurement process that creates a level-playing field to all potential vendors and contractors in the state.”
Apart from initiating critical bills for the economic revolution in the State, the Governor inaugurated a high powered Economic Advisory comprising of the best brains in Rivers State the includes Prof Nimi Briggs as Chairman with Prof Tam David West, Engr. Tonye Princewill, Barr Ledum Mitee, Dr Chamberlain Peterside amongst others as members. Speaking while inaugurating the Council, Gov Amaechi said the task before the high-powered team was to make recommendations that would attract new investors and make old ones more profitable. The governor said the responsibility of the State government was to abide by the blue print for economic development of the state because government alone cannot be the sole producer of funds and employment. He noted that the present security challenges in the Niger Delta cannot be an excuse for mass poverty in the state. He explained that the present economic position of Rivers State was worrisome because a lot of companies have down-sized their operations while others have closed down completely.
The Governor hinted that the members of the economic council were chosen strictly on merit, as no consideration was given to where the person comes, adding that the challenges of the assignment which is remuneration free, was enormous but God has given the state competent, knowledgeable and capable persons.
Prof Briggs the Chairman of the Economic Team assured that they would examine the issues seriously and proffer solutions that would assist the State move forward while congratulating the Governor for the decision to find solution to the economic problems in the State.
Apart from the above, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi set up an agency called Bureau on Public Procurement alias ‘Due Process’ with the highly respected Barr Franklyn A. Nierum as its Director General. This is a man who due to his sterling and uncompromising attitude to corruption is hated by many of the government officials and contractors who see him as an enemy of the system but most certainly loved by Gov. Amaechi who sees in him the key to stopping corrupt practices in the State. This Commission is to monitor projects, ensure proper valuation and costing of contract in line with the market value thereby reducing corruption and inflation in the system and ensuring that credible and capable contractors execute government projects in the State.
“The policy thrust of the present leadership of Rivers State under the watch of Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi is to maintain a robust public financial management structure that could bring about efficiency and effectiveness. The position of government on prudent management and accountability were responsible for the successful execution of various ongoing projects in the State and the administrative policy of instilling financial discipline is appropriate and timely”
That the administration of former Governor Amaechi had embarked upon many unprecedented projects, including setting up of the Songhai Farms and the N20 billion Agric Scheme that revolutionised agriculture in the state; starting off of the billion Greater Port Harcourt City to decongest the present Port Harcourt City, and construction of one of the best stadia that hosted the last Sports Festival in the new city; building and equipping 180 health centres across the state; constructing many roads and schools; embarking on a mono-rail, first of its kind in Nigeria, which first two phases was completed by 2014. Upon completion, the mono-rail would transport 40,000 passengers daily but Wike has sat on its completion for reasons only him will one day explain.
Others include offer of scholarships to over 2,000 students in Nigerian Higher Institutions and spending of about N5 billion for students in foreign institutions; all these have been stopped by the Wike’s administration. Building a world-class university which was at its completion stage before Amaechi left office and intended to turn out well-equipped graduates that will hold their own in any field and compete with the best in the world; building in Rivers State University of Science and Technology a hostel that will accommodate about 6, 000 students and accommodation for all the lecturers of the university. The university will be fully ICT-compliant. It’s important to point out here that the Rivers State Government is among the few states in Nigeria that offer free education and free health delivery to its people, but stands apart as the only state offering free education, free sandals, free books and free uniform in Nigeria. About 200 primary schools have been set up in 200 communities, a feat that no other state is yet to accomplish. Wike has rubbished all these educational feats by turning most of these schools into hide-outs for rats and criminals.
Health: So far, about 100 medical doctors have been employed to staff most of the health centres in the rural areas. The Rivers State Government has currently embarked upon the exercise to eradicate malaria vectors from the state. The Health Centre at the Rivers State University of Science and Technology ‘will soon be opened to the public.’ The state was lauded last year for its daily commissioning of a health centre over a 60-day period in 60 communities in its 60-60-60 initiative. The Dental Hospital located in the Garrison area of Port Harcourt will soon be opened.
The Rivers State Government has invested over N100 billion per year from 2008 to 2011 in provision of roads, bridges and social amenities. In this regard, the government has engaged in the construction of 800 km roads with 250 already completed. Ten major bridges under construction, with three already completed; 20 minor bridges under construction, with four completed; two flyover/interchange under construction; six land reclamation/shore protection projects at Andoni, Opobo, Buguma, Abalama, Olombie-Owukiri Island, Oba Ama and Okirika, with 1,1400,000 km, with two completed; two major markets and a shopping mall under construction (Phase 1 of Mile 1 market housing 960 shops and two banking halls completed).
Apart from all these, the Rivers State Government built three power stations at Omoku (150 megawatts), Trans-Amadi (130 megawatts), and Eleme (75 megawatts). By June, 2011, capacity will be increased to 500 megawatts under the $195 million dollars 180mw gas turbine awarded to Saipem. Seven transmission stations (132/33 kilo volts) and seven distribution injection sub-stations 33/11 kilo volts built. The security and freedom the people of Rivers State are enjoyed under the watch of Amaechi can only be appreciated if the scenario and state of Rivers State before Amaechi assumed office can still be remembered by our people.
It is on record that Rivers State has again been affirmed a ‘B’ international rating by leading international financial analysis agency, Standard and Poor’s (S & P) in a report released recently. The long-term outlook for the state is revised upwards from last year’s rating of ‘Stable’ to ‘Positive’, on the strength of significant ongoing infrastructural investments (in roads, ICT, health care, education and urban renewal), and relentless efforts to transform the public finance framework. All this would help lift the state’s social and economic status in the long-run. The agency in its 2010 credit analysis report on Rivers State, noted that the state currently had a high credit quality, owing to its strong cash holdings, low debt and a healthy operating balance.
More important, the state’s efforts towards modernising public sector administration, which included information technology upgrade and an improved transparency and accountability in administration is a plus to the administration. Standard and Poor’s also noted that Rivers has a strong liquidity base, with no substantial debt burden. According to S & P, as of July 2010, Rivers continued to enjoy a very comfortable liquidity position. It had N43.9 billion in local currency and $11 million in US. dollars. By this overview, cash holdings in the state at the end of 2010 should be around N50 billion, based on Standard and Poor’s assumption of N200 billion.”
In appreciation of all these feats, the Rivers State Governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has been conferred with the prestigious “SERA’s” award for his contributions towards the social development of Rivers State, in line with the objectives of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), especially in the areas of Health and Education.
Apart from the above feat, Rotimi Amaechi instilled financial discipline in the ministry of transport and its agencies and provided safety measures at the nation’s airports.
To Dr Chamberlain Peterside, “Amaechi was a stickler to due process, transparency and accountability. He took us to task a lot of times to ensure financial transactions are properly documented and our accounting practices are above board. That was reflected in the various reforms and automation projects in the public finance sector (ministry of finance and BIR). His masterstroke was the monthly reserve fund savings program. Without that to fall back on, the state would have gotten into real hard times from mid 2014 and things might have been even worse today”.
This are achievement by Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi
(1) dualisation of Rumuokuta-Choba East-West Road, Obi Akpor ,
(2) construction of Eleme junction flyover,
(3) construction of Omofo-Agaba Ndele Road, dredging works/Roads at Opobo New Layout,
(4) construction of Ozuzu to CSS Isu-Ogida Owu Egbu.
(5) construction of Okeh-Mba-Umuaturu-Akpoku Obite,
(6) dualisation of Rumukrushi-Eneka-Igwuruta Road,
(7) construction of Abuloma-Woji Road Bridge among
(8) Dualization of Airport-isiokpo/omarelu road
(9) Dualization of rumuola/ rumuokuta road
(10) Dualization of firstbank/ rumuomasi Road
(11) Dualization of stadium road
(12) Dualization of slaughter -trans amadi/ rumuobiakani Road etc…
(13)Songhai farm in bonu tai
(14)Banana farm in khana LGA
(15) 110 health centers located in many communities in the state
(16) Prof, Kelsey Harrison hospital & new mile 1 hospital etc
(17)Expanded the afam, omoku and trans-Amadi power station.
(18)New mile 1 market.
(19) building modern primary schools in every community in Rivers State
(20) Modern Secondary School in each Local Government in the state,’’