New PDP and APC Merger, My Constraints, By Governor Chibuike AmaechiArticles/Opinion, Featured, Press Releases Wednesday, November 27th, 2013
Being the statement of Governor Rotimi Amaechi on why he joined the All Progressives Congress (APC)
My dear people of Rivers State, when by God’s grace and with your kindness this administration took over the mantle of leadership on October 26, 2007, we made a promise to serve you “with humility and render transparent and accountable stewardship anchored on integrity and good governance.” We also promised to “use our God given resources to improve the quality of life of our present and future generations.”
We made this commitment to you, fully conscious of the fact that you were hungry for service delivery and that you had placed on us a burden to prove to the world that our beloved Rivers State had the potential to rise above the murk and redefine governance and leadership in our country. We understood your mandate very clearly and we remain resolute in our determination to make you proud.
In keeping with our pledge therefore to render transparent and accountable stewardship, it has become necessary that we brief you about the recent happenings in our state and my own position on the issues.
For me, no personal interest or ambition can be higher than the welfare of a people that gave me their mandate without conditions. While this crisis has raged, many have asked me about what drives my insistence that the Federal administration treats Rivers state justly and fairly. To these people I say: I am driven by my original vision to bring health to the sick, to extend opportunities for education to children of all classes, to bring opportunities for employment to the doorsteps of our youth. I remain stubborn in the hope that this state deserves the benefits of good governance. My disagreement is with some negative forces that stand against the entitlement of Rivers people to a better life.
It is an indisputable fact that I was elected on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party–a conglomeration of several individuals with different ideals but with a goal of edging out the military and ensuring a return to democratic rule. No one was under any illusion that this would be an easy task but that we have enjoyed an unprecedented 14 years of uninterrupted civilian dispensation is a demonstration of how far we have come in our democratic journey.
However, the vestiges of military dictatorship have also remained with us, especially within the context of managing our party but many of us kept faith. Even when the unfortunate incident of an attempt to deprive us of our lawful mandate occurred, we remained with the party urging our supporters to maintain party loyalty and discipline. In the face of great provocation we refused to rock the boat. Our hope was that even when we suffered personal injury our collective interests as a state would remain protected within the party we call our own.
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 in whom you had gave your mandate, I had cause to complain about the marginalization 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:
1) 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. Our chiefs and elders have attended several meetings and protested this injustice to no avail. As your governor entrusted to keep guard over your common wealth, we could not keep quiet and allow this grave injustice. For this reason, we have been vilified, threatened and blackmailed but we insist on discharging our responsibility to you, no matter the odds.
2) 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, was evident that there was not much to show for 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.
3) The federal government is actively discouraging investments in Rivers State. The Minister of petroleum has refused to allow the commencement of train seven of the NLNG that would have provided tens of thousands of jobs insisting that investors should go and invest in the Brass NLNG project rather than in the train seven project.
4) When boards and other appointments are considered at the federal level, Rivers State is treated with levity. Out of xxx councils of universities, no Rivers person was found worthy of becoming a university council chairman.
5) Internal party democracy has been sacrificed on the alter of personal greed and injustice as the Rivers State chapter of the PDP is being run by persons who neither collected forms nor indicated interest in running for office while the legitimate holders of the office are left in the cold. Our several representations and pleas on this matter to the party leadership at the highest levels have gone unheeded and unanswered. We are left in a quandary and have been denied the appropriate support to lead our party in line with acceptable democratic norms. The result of this is that politicians with questionable antecedents now hijack the PDP in Rivers State.
Given the foregoing, it has become clear to us that we will be unable to achieve our goals and aspirations as a people under the People’s Democratic Party as it is presently constituted. Our quest for a democracy where the people would remain the focus of government and governance is bound to suffer a stillbirth under the present arrangement. We are Nigerians and people of the Niger Delta, but we are also Rivers people and live in Rivers state. We are concerned that our well-being is not central to the leadership of the PDP. We do not find this satisfactory. We have therefore decided that it is in our best interest that we move to a party that shares the hopes and aspirations of our people and realizes and recognizes our right to exist and be treated as equal partners in our democracy. We are not and will not allow ourselves to be treated as a second rate poor cousin. We are equal stakeholders and daresay major contributors to the common wealth.
It is this mindset that will inform our action in the coming days. We will of course consult with all our stakeholders as we try to fashion out a way forward for us and for our people. We are convinced that as always you will trust our commitment to your mandate and to your service.
Finally, let me re-affirm my commitment to the emancipation of the long-suffering people of Niger Delta. I know their pains because I have lived it and I live it everyday. But let me also say that the pursuit of politics of self-interest at the expense of development is not the best way of ensuring justice and equity for the region. Drafting the police to cause confusion in Rivers State is not more urgent than completing the East-West Road or bringing in investments that will create jobs and prosperity for our people.
To the good people of Rivers State, we are grateful for your trust and will not treat it with levity. We promise you that as always, you will be our primary concern and our priority
Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, CON
Governor, Rivers State
Port Harcourt, Rivers State, November 27, 2013
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