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Amaechi: The Man Ahead Of His Time And His Audacity (1)

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Amaechi

By Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, ezemediaconcept2020@gmail.com, 08022049770

Preamble

Former Governor of Rivers State, Rt Hon Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi a Nigerian of Ikwerre extraction, an international figure of repute, a recipient of the prestigious national award of Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) and an Associate Fellow of the United Nations Institute for Training & Research (UNITAR), Geneva, Switzerland; was born on May, 27, 1965; but due to exigency of his office as Federal Minister of Transportation, he was outside the country on this auspicious day of his birthday attending to issues pertaining to how to improve the nation’s transportation system. But Nigerians – particularly his political associates under the auspices of the Conscious Reformers Assembly (CRA), in collaboration with some other associations – gathered together in Port Harcourt on June 17, 2017 to honour this great son of Nigeria, whose love and zeal for his fatherland is legendary. The highlight of the occasion was the 52nd Birthday Lecture and Symposium entitled “Amaechi: The Man Ahead of His Times”.

I must confess that I was so fascinated by the arrangements for this epochal occasion that was beamed to the entire world through the Channels TV Network. The theme of the colloquium was ‘Amaechi: The Man Ahead of His Times’. The fact remains that the speakers, and those in attendance, did justice to the man, Amaechi, who is ahead of his time. But sadly most of the great views postulated by the Guest Speakers was not properly and widely published by the Organisers as expected of such a great event and as one of the authorities on the Rivers State politics particularly with biasness on the issue of who Amaechi truly is, I will be doing injustice to the world if I fail to appropriately address and present the issues that actually make Amaechi as a man ahead of his time in the proper perspective, which warranted this treatise. Apart from this, the need of this attempt becomes imperative at least to correct the erroneous impression been put across mostly by the PDP Chieftains with Governor Wike of Rivers State as the major culprit that Amaechi’s eight years as the Governor of Rivers State was totally a waste.

Amaechi’s Humble Beginnings:

The family of Amaechi in Ubima, Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State, was on May 27, 1965 blessed with the birth of a son who unbeknownst to all would become a force to reckon with in Nigeria’s political firmament even before his 52nd birthday. He was named Chibuike, which means ‘God is all Powerful’ and Rotimi, an abridged version of Oluwadurotimi, meaning ‘the Lord stands by me’, while Amaechi means ‘who knows tomorrow?’ Remember the popular phrase, what is in a name? One does not need to be a sage to know that all the meanings embedded in his name are playing out in the acts and arts of politics in Amaechi’s life.

Rising from obscurity and state imposed persecutions to Limelight – the story of Amaechi

Amaechi, as he himself has unequivocally said on several occasions, was not born into opulence. As a child his family experienced real hardship and he admits going through several challenges that have helped to shape his perception of life. His determination to ensure equal access to education for every Rivers child and bridge the gap between the privileged and underprivileged children in the state is unprecedented. Whenever the occasion demands, Amaechi would not hesitate to point out that though he came from an underprivileged background, his was a modest family that inculcated in him the virtues of honesty, humility and sheer doggedness to succeed.

To give an insight into some of the experiences he had to go through in order to be educated and which perhaps may very well be the reason behind his passion to provide free education for all children in Rivers State, rich and poor during his period as Governor of Rivers State, Amaechi said in an interview: “I grew up in Port Harcourt as a young boy, had my primary, secondary and tertiary education in Port Harcourt and so I can speak firsthand about this city. I was not from a rich home. I used to pick food from Olu Obasanjo road – ‘Man must wack’ as we called it then. I hawked at different times for my parents in this city. After God, I owe my growth to Port Harcourt. I don’t know how many people in my cabinet that could have experienced poverty like I did. I grew up at No.18, Chibu Street. I moved from there to Nnamdi Azikwe road. Later, I lived with one of my friends in one of the creek villages near Port Harcourt. And I knew that my parents suffered a lot. With tears, they were looking for money to pay for my school fees, buy me uniforms, bags and all that. When I was in the university, I used to tell the girls that ‘none of you looked at my face because I was wearing one shirt, one pair of trousers almost every day with a sandal’. On Fridays, we would wash it and we wouldn’t move out at all on Saturday to enable it dry; Sam Okah and myself. Then it would dry on Saturday, but on Sunday, we were back to life; wearing the same shirt and the same trousers. How many of those in the cabinet passed through that?” This is the pathetic story of the man that is driven by unquenchable passion for a better Rivers State and greater Nigeria.

Amaechi: The Man Ahead of His Time and His Audacity

Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi a humanist, administrator par excellence, visionary, egalitarian, radical, respected, a pragmatist and exemplary leader is an alumnus of the University of Port Harcourt in Rivers State. He was the Rivers State Speaker of the State House of Assembly from 1999-2007; Chairman, conference of speakers of State Houses of Assembly in Nigeria (1999 – 2000), Governor of Rivers State (2007 – 2015), two time Chairman of the Governors’ Forum in Nigeria from 2011 to 2015. A winner of several awards including the Commander of the Order of the Niger, CON and is currently the Minister of Transportation of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. These feats alone put him ahead of his time but read on to see other facts that truly mark him as a man ahead of his time.

What Men Who Were Ahead of Their Times said about Amaechi:

Men like Amaechi, who conquered their past and rose from obscurity to limelight, always survive to live their lives ahead of their times. This special specie of creatures have one common principle in life – selflessness in their services to humanity. This was expounded by former President of United States of America, John F Kennedy, in his famous quote, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” Another great child of this world, D. Suresh, made a statement that was not too far from Kennedy’s. He said: Don’t expect the government to find solutions for you. Assist the government in finding solutions.” In line with these patriotic statements by these great men who probably had Amaechi of Nigeria in  mind and the role he is to play in the political life of the nation, based on the fact that at a period Nigeria was at a crossroad, as regards her future in the hands of corrupt and visionless leaders and when it was risky to challenge the status-quo or the government of the day on any issue, Amaechi risked his life to team up with some other great leaders to rescue Nigeria from the dungeon she was, under the then PDP leadership. The pivotal role he played in bringing about the current political dispensation in Nigeria and the patriotic zeal and willingness to sacrifice his blood for a better and greater Nigeria, puts him among men who truly were/are ahead of their times.

Another man that lived ahead of his time was Booker T Washington. According to this great leader of leaders, with Amaechi in mind, he postulated: “I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has had to overcome while trying to succeed.” Like Amaechi who overcame rough and challenging obstacles to become what he is by today, Washington on the other hand was able to successfully rise above slavery to become a renowned educator, activist and Black America’s first power-broker. Although once a highly controversial figure, he was the most influential black leader of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Another man who lived ahead of his time was the former President of the Republic of Zambia, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda and during his visit to Rivers State described the leadership of Amaechi as the Governor of Rivers State as a focused one. Dr. Kaunda noted that with the focused leadership of Governor Amaechi, Rivers State would continue to be of service to humanity for many years to come.

The Deputy Speaker of Ugandan Parliament and Chairperson of CWP, Hon Rebecca Kadaga, lauded the developmental efforts and policies of Governor Amaechi, especially those geared towards improving the lot of children and women, saying that the issues already canvassed confirm that what the CWP was set to achieve are already in place in Rivers State.

Another great mind who commented on what makes Amaechi as a man ahead of his time was the former Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert and according to him: “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.”

While to the then United States Consul General in Lagos, Mr. Jeffrey Hawkins, while exchanging ideas with some journalists stated, “I must commend Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State for embarking on numerous people-oriented projects and showing enthusiasm on Niger Delta issues. We are very appreciative of all that Amaechi has done. We are quite clear that addressing the issues of the Niger Delta, the challenges require focusing on things like education development, agriculture, health, all sorts of issues, and the governor was kind enough to show us”.

Some of the few landmark cases that truly put Amaechi as a man ahead of his time.

  1. The Judiciary And His most celebrated Supreme Court ruling

I must reiterate that the issue that actually catapulted Amaechi into the national limelight and marked him not only as an institution in the politics of Nigeria but one whose inputs can’t be swept off the carpet was when he encountered his major political challenge after convincingly winning the PDP Rivers State gubernatorial ticket in 2007 but was denied to fly the flag of the party for the 2007 general elections under a very controversial circumstance of the K-leg episode. This again afforded him the opportunity to demonstrate why he is a man ahead of his time.

For avoidance of doubt, despite Amaechi’s landslide victory at the primaries, where he clinched 6,527 of the 6,575 possible votes while seven other aspirants that included political heavyweights like Hon Chief Austin Okpara, a former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, late Senator Martin Yellowe, Pawariso Horsfall and Mr. Chris Orji shared the remaining 48 votes among themselves. Amaechi’s name was subsequently forwarded to the INEC on December 14, 2006 in compliance with Section 32(1) & (2) of the Electoral Act 2006. INEC, thereafter, duly published Amaechi’s name as the gubernatorial candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in Rivers State.  The story, however, took a different turn when, speaking at the presentation of the party flag to its gubernatorial candidates at the Liberation Stadium, Port Harcourt, former President, Gen Olusegun Obasanjo (rtd), declared that Amaechi’s candidacy had ‘k-leg. Amaechi after this sought legal redress for his travails. Suffice to say, Amaechi went on self-exile to Ghana, and the powers that be further showed their contempt for him by selecting his cousin, Sir Celestine Omehia, who neither purchased nor filled a form, as PDP flag-bearer in his stead.

Amaechi’s vindication came with the October 25, 2007 landmark ruling by the Nigerian Supreme Court, declaring him as not only the authentic flag-bearer of PDP but also ordered that he be sworn-in immediately to replace Omehia, who had previously been sworn-in on May 29, 2007 as the Governor of Rivers State. Thus, Amaechi became the first and only person to occupy the office of governor in Nigeria without standing for election. In explaining the ruling, the Supreme Court has since stated that it is the party that contests elections and that the PDP won the gubernatorial elections, and that, consequently, Amaechi, being the rightful candidate, should assume power as the governor of Rivers State.

Explaining this great feat better  my good friend, Ken O.Olumati a legal counsel based in Port Harcourt in an article he titled, ‘Ameachi’s Debt to the Law’ captured what Amaechi has done to improve the judiciary in Nigeria. He stated that, “It is noteworthy that the various decisions of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal in Governor Amaechi’s case were reported in Parts 1040 and 1065 of the Nigeria Weekly Law Reports. In Part 1065 alone contains six decisions on Amaechi’s case; three by the Supreme Court and three by the Court of Appeal. This in itself underscores the significance of Amaechi’s battles through the courts. Few cases have enjoyed similar attention in the annals of Nigeria’s legal institution. Some of them include the case between Amodu Tijani V Secretary, Southern Nigeria, and the late Oba Oyekan’s legal battle for the Obaship of Lagos in the 1950’s, which went as far as Her Majesty’s Privy Council before a clear winner was installed. In recent memory, the case of the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi against the Nigeria Bar Association as well as his numerous court battles against the Military Government of former President Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida are cases that can be compared to that of Amaechi”.

If this feat alone doesn’t put Amaechi as a man ahead of his time then I wonder what else is expected of a man to gain ascendance to this special class of people.

  1. THE GREATER PORT HARCOURT CITY

Another area that marks Amaechi as a man ahead of his time was the bold step his administration took to initiate and build a new brand and mega City that has one of the best modern stadiums and other edifices only obtainable in modern cities of Europe after every effort to rebuild some of the creeks and shanties in Port Harcourt proved abortive. This man who was ahead of his time on assumption of office as the Governor of Rivers State saw the challenges of congestion in Port Harcourt and in 2009, ensured that a law was passed by the Rivers State House of Assembly so that his administration can spread development to the surrounding communities as part of the effort to decongest the Port Harcourt metropolis that was founded in 1912 by Frederick Lugard the then Governor of Northern Nigeria Protectorate and Southern Nigeria protectorate name after the then British Secretary State for the colonies, Lewis Harcourt.

After the discovery of crude oil in Oloibiri in 1956, Port Harcourt exported the first shipload from Nigeria in 1958. Port Harcourt became the centre of the Nigerian oil economy and it subsequently reaped benefits of its associations with the petroleum industry by undergoing modernisation and urbanisation. Port Harcourt’s growth is further due to its position as the commercial centre and foremost industrial city of the former Eastern Region ; its position in the Niger Delta; and its importance as the centre of social and economic life in Rivers State. Thus, to minimize consequences of rapid development, a master plan for Port Harcourt was produced with the primary task of providing the framework for physical planning, roads, housing, water system, electricity, drainage amongst others. Realising that the success of physical planning depends, to a very large measure, on the human factor, policies on health, welfare and productivity of its population were formulated ultimately for the development of the city’s total resources, as well as the country’s

Amaechi’s Greater Port Harcourt was to spread to eight local government areas that include Port Harcourt, Okrika , Obio-Akpor , Ikwerre, Oyigbo, Ogu–Bolo, Etche and Eleme with total population estimated at 2,000,000 as of 2009, making it one of the largest metropolitan areas in Nigeria.

Let us listen to what Amaechi said about his dream mega city; “The Mega City, also known as the Greater Port Harcourt City is one of the biggest most single construction project in this part of the country. The Greater Port Harcourt City dream is now real, despite slowing down due to dwindling revenue.
This project was planned an eight-year rolling budget knowing that the mega city is capable of growing the state’s economy by three per cent (GDP) through massive infrastructural projects such as the New Stadium, New UST, major roads, bulk infrastructure, sewage system, water, power, and housing amongst others.

Already, construction of the all-important M10 Road expected to be an economic highway from the Port Harcourt International Airport in Omagwa to Onne seaport which houses the world’s fastest growing oil and gas free zone. There is also the M1 Road expected to open the new city to the south. There are different housing schemes going on there including the 2500 unit housing estate as well as the 1080 Mixed Use Housing Units”.

Again, if this feat doesn’t put Amaechi in the class of men ahead of their times then we are not being fair to him.

  1. The making of Port Harcourt Book Festival

Another feat that marks Amaechi ahead of his peers was the making of Port Harcourt Book Festival, formerly known as Garden City Literary Festival remains one of the city’s most important and popular events since its inception in 2008. Established by the government of Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, the yearly gathering improves local literacy levels, promotes reading habits among denizens, and benefits exhibitors seeking wider audience. Throughout its annual run, Port Harcourt Book Festival has hosted renowned publishers such as Heinemann, Learn Africa Plc, Africana First Publishers and EPP Books Services. The festival currently continues to draw writers, literary connoisseurs, booksellers and publishers from every walk of life to the city. In July 2012, UNESCO, IPA, IBF and IFLA named Port Harcourt the
World Book Capital for the year 2014, making her the 14th city in the world to be selected as World Book Capital and the first in Black Africa.

  1. PORT HARCOURT AS UNESCO WORLD BOOK CAPITAL 2014

Port Harcourt, the capital of Rivers State of Nigeria under the tenure of Amaechi, played a historic role when it hosted the US-Nigeria Bilateral Commission on October 16 and 17, 2012, thereby becoming the first city outside the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, to do so. This event is a top bill in international rating and the strategic relevance of the Gulf of Guinea area makes the meeting in Port Harcourt even more important. The United States Deputy Secretary of State and two Assistant Secretaries led the US delegation. On the side of Nigeria, the US-Nigeria Bilateral Commission is viewed with seriousness, especially by the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) led by Amaechi.

It would be recalled that UNESCO, moved by the revolutionary feats of Amaechi in the education sector, crowned Port Harcourt the 2014 World Book Capital City in April 2014, beating ten other great cities that include Oxford in England and Moscow in Russia. For this to be achieved against all odds and challenges simply demonstrates that Amaechi was a visionary and focused leader who has received accolades in this regard by world leaders. His administration has, in addition, promoted overall United Nations activities in the South-South geo-political zone, through the provision of an outstanding facility that can house over 15 UN agencies in Port Harcourt. As a result, there are five UN agencies in Rivers State at the moment; and more are expected to follow in due course.

Port Harcourt’s reign as World Book Capital 2014 began with the handover by Bangkok at an impressive ceremony at Hotel Presidential in the Rivers State capital. Dignitaries at the event included former Governor Amaechi, former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar; Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka; UNESCO Director-General, Ms Irina Bokova; former World Bank Vice-President, Africa, Dr Obiageli Ezekwesili; wife of the former Governor, Dame Judith Amaechi; Engr Tele Ikuru, former Deputy Governor of Rivers State; Rt Hon O.D Amaechree, then speaker of State House of Assembly, members of Rivers State Executive Council, senators and members of the House of Representatives from the state. This feat by Port Harcourt in becoming the very first African city south of the Sahara chosen as World Book Capital based on public voting, beating ten other great cities that include Oxford in England and Moscow in Russia, is not only commendable but puts Amaechi as a man ahead of his time.

The remaining part of the feats that put Amaechi ahead of his peers will be listed in the concluding section two of this treatise to be released within the week.

EZE CHUKWUEMEKA EZE is a Media Consultant based in Port Harcourt and can be reached through ezemediaconcept2020@gmail.com, 08022049770

 

5 COMMENTS

  1. […] I have tried in part one of this treatise to present how this man succeeded in making Port Harcourt the Book Festival and UNESCO World Book capital City for the year 2014, making her the 14th city in the world to be selected as World Book Capital and the first in Black Africa beating 10 other great cities that include Oxford in England and Moscow in Russia. I have tried to assess the feats of this uncommon transformer as the only Nigerian leader to have initiated the setting up of one of the largest metropolitan areas in Nigeria when he embarked upon the construction of the Greater Port Harcourt City covering about eight local Government Areas of Rivers State; still it seems I have not started to write on what made this man to be a man ahead of his time. Having dealt with his feats in the areas of education revolution, the sewage challenge in Rivers State and how he plotted the unseating of a sitting and very powerful President in Africa, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan of PDP with all the powers of incumbency, NNPC, CBN, INEC, highly rated corrupt Political and Religious leaders with all the Security organs/apparatus in his pocket, yet people are still asking me if Amaechi truly is a man ahead of his time…” – EZE. Amaechi: The Man Ahead Of His Time And His Audacity (2)                                              By  Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, ezemediaconcept2020@gmail.com, 08022049770 Preamble Since the publication of the first part of this treatise, which I entitled, Amaechi: The Man Ahead Of His Time And His Audacity (1), that took the world by storm, I have not rested. There had been numerous e-mails, text messages, phone-calls from people who read the first segment of this epochal treatise, pleading for the concluding part of this insightful article that truly exposed the vision, feats, mission and true nature of Rt. Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, CON; erstwhile governor of Rivers State and incumbent Minister of Transportation. Most importantly, this great son of Nigeria, whose love and zeal for his fatherland is legendary, is a man noted for his honesty, visionary, egalitarianism, radicalism, boldness, fearlessness, pragmatism, inventiveness, ingenuity, respected, loved and only hated by those who doesn’t like his principles and high-level reasoning and operation that on many occasions defies human logic and understanding. To most of his admirers, he is accepted as the Lion of Niger Delta Politics. Two-time Speaker of Rivers State House of Assembly, from 1999-2007; chairman, Conference of Speakers of State Houses of Assembly in Nigeria (1999 – 2000); governor of Rivers State (2007 – 2015); two- time chairman, Governors’ Forum from 2011 to 2015. Amaechi is a winner of several awards, including the Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) and currently the Minister of Transportation of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.’ Reactions/Testimonies  Though reactions from those who read the first part of this treatise are so numerous, but I’ll highlight just a few: Uzomah, writing from Port Harcourt, stated: “Eze, I read the article you wrote on Hon Rotimi Amaechi as the ‘Man ahead of his times’, and must commend you for such an amazing and insightful article. The article is not only interesting, but a profound truth about this unassuming personality. Pls, kindly forward the second section of the article to me as soon as it is ready. I can’t rest until I read all about this great man and the factors that made him to be ahead of his time. May God grant you more grace and wisdom in all your efforts. Thanks.”  In my reply to Uzomah, I apologised to him and others for the delay in releasing the second part of this treatise. I confessed to him that writing on Amaechi not only gives me a lot of joy, but I must be on top of my game to do the type of job expected on such an ‘institution.’ In fulfilment of this pledge, I hereby release to the public the second section of this treatise, which I know will put Amaechi in the class of leaders where he rightly belongs.  The second reaction came from a renowned social critic and publisher, Monday Wehere, who said: “Chief Eze Chukwuemeka, from today you will be known, called and addressed as Prof Chief-Eze Chukwuemeka Eze (Image Laundry). You are creative and intelligent. Jokes apart, I like the way you handle the pen on matters relating to Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi (CRA), but stop running down ‘Mr Project’ (Wike). Just concentrate on building CRA with the power of pen. Continue with your good job. (Wehere)” In my reply to this great mind, I thanked him for finding time to read my opinion on what made Amaechi to be a man ahead of his time and assured Wehere that I am not running down Wike, only that he has tasked himself to mis-present facts on CRA and that places on me the task to present the facts the way it was/is, for the public to judge. Though, what Wehere and others that share his opinion that I am running down Governor Wike, do not know is that Governor Wike is my close friend and associate. In short, his love for me is overwhelming that made him to recommend me for various high positions during the tenure of Amaechi as governor of Rivers State. This, notwithstanding, one of my principles in life is to guide against injustice and protect the just, which is why I align with Amaechi in this struggle, knowing that Wike is vilifying him unjustly. This position was rightly captured by Nsirimovu, another great mind from Rivers State, a notable social critic and publisher in his reaction. He stated: “Eze, that is wonderful! Good one for the records. Out of all the reactions, the one that truly captured my attention was the text from Chief Godie Ikechi, a respected politician and opinion leader, according to him: “Chief Eze, you have always been consistent and committed to whatever you do, and I am not surprised of what you are doing for Amaechi and All Progressives Congress (APC). But seriously, come oooh, wetin Amaechi actually give you to chop that you disturb the nation on him on daily basis like this?” This view, I am sure, captures the view of a lot of people, because to them, one is not expected to do most of the things that I do without being heavily enticed or rewarded financially. As much as I can’t deny that Amaechi have been good to me, but most of the things are borne out of a sincere desire to help out a true friend that is in need. In my reply to Chief Ikechi, I told him: “Chief Ikechi, my Oga! I am sad that I am not even doing much to free this innocent man’s name from the mud being poured on him on daily basis by those he once risked his life to set up in higher places. To me, to describe Amaechi as a brother and friend, is to down-play whatever that it is that holds us together, as it is only God that knows the bond between us. And God actually is the force behind all that I do in his case. I pray every day for a new insight to prove to him that not all those he once helped are betrayers.” To Hon Ken a notable politician from Omuma Local Govt Area of Rivers State, “Chief Eze, thanks and thanks for all that you are doing on our behalf, you are too much, carry go nothing do you. Great progressive, Great! Always up to date. Remain steadfast; God will continue to bless you. Amen while to Mr Samuel Ekpe a friend and brother from Akwa Ibom State, “Chief more oil to your elbows. You’re too much. Have no other words to qualify your publication!!!! More Grace !!!!” The reaction that made me to cry was the text from Pastor John Soberekon a respected man of God from Rivers State and according to him, “Chief, Man can not reward all the efforts you are putting into the course you believe in. Only God can repay you and I am sure that He will. He that said that “the labourer is worthy of his wages” cannot do otherwise. Keep doing it Sir, we support and pray for you”. Pst John. I don’t know what else to say but to appeal to all those who are chanced to read this treatise to assist me to ensure that the feats of Amaechi are not destroyed because of politics. Amaechi: The Man Ahead Of His Time and His Audacity (1) Before, I go further; let me highlight some of the key areas I postulated in the first part of this attempt to enable new readers of this to have a true grip of the issues at hand. I stated that what led to my embarking upon this study and expository was the gathering of the political associates of Amaechi under the auspices of the Conscious Reformers Assembly (CRA), in collaboration with some other associations in Port Harcourt on June 17, 2017 to honour Amaechi on his 52nd birthday lecture/symposium, entitled Amaechi: The Man Ahead of His Times. But, not minding the efforts of both the organisers, the great views postulated by the guest speakers, their views and positions were neither properly and widely published as expected of such a great event, and as one of the authorities on Rivers State politics, particularly with biasness on the issue of who Amaechi truly is, I have to attempt to unmask  and present to the world the issues that actually make Amaechi ‘a man ahead of his time’ in the proper perspective, which warranted this treatise. This attempt also was to correct the erroneous impression being put across, mostly by Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftains, with Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, as the major culprit; that Amaechi’s eight years as governor of Rivers State was totally a waste. In the first part of the treatise, I stated that the names of this man who rose from obscurity and state-imposed persecutions to limelight played significant roles in shaping his political fortunes. I stated that Chibuike, which means ‘God is all Powerful’and Rotimi, an abridged version of Oluwadurotimi, meaning ‘the Lord stands by me’, while Amaechi means ‘who knows tomorrow? In the first section, I presented the following areas that made Amaechi to be the man ahead of his time – His celebrated Supreme Court ruling Explaining this great feat better,  my good friend, Ken O. Olumati, a legal counsel based in Port Harcourt, in an article he titled, ‘Amaechi’s Debt to the Law’ captured what Amaechi has done to improve the judiciary in Nigeria. He stated: “It is noteworthy that the various decisions of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal in Governor Amaechi’s case were reported in Parts 1040 and 1065 of the Nigeria Weekly Law Reports. In Part 1065 alone contains six decisions on Amaechi’s case; three by the Supreme Court and three by the Court of Appeal. This, in itself, underscores the significance of Amaechi’s battles through the courts. Few cases have enjoyed similar attention in the annals of Nigeria’s legal institution. Some of them include the case between Amodu Tijani V Secretary, Southern Nigeria, and the late Oba Oyekan’s legal battle for the Obaship of Lagos in the 1950’s, which went as far as Her Majesty’s Privy Council, before a clear winner was installed. In recent memory, the case of the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi against the Nigeria Bar Association, as well as his numerous court battles against the military government of former (military) president, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida.” Greater Port Harcourt City Amaechi’s creation of the Port Harcourt Mega City, to decongest the city and building of one of the best modern stadiums and other edifices only obtainable in modern cities of Europe, placed him truly as a man ahead of his time. Amaechi’s Greater Port Harcourt was to spread to eight local government areas, including Port Harcourt, Okrika, Obio-Akpor, Ikwerre, Oyigbo, Ogu-Bolo, Etche and Eleme with total population estimated at 2,000,000 as at 2009, making it one of the largest metropolitan areas in Nigeria.  Port Harcourt as UNESCO World Book Capital 2014 Port Harcourt – the capital of Rivers State of Nigeria, under the watch of Amaechi – was declared World Book Capital City 2014. UNESCO moved by the revolutionary feats of Amaechi in the education sector, crowned Port Harcourt the 2014 World Book Capital City in April 2014, beating 10 other great cities that include Oxford in England and Moscow in Russia. For this to be achieved against all odds and challenges simply demonstrates that Amaechi was a visionary and focused leader who has received accolades in this regard by world leaders. For full details on the Part A of this treatise, read any of these media links – http://nigeriamasterweb.com/Masterweb/breakingnews-15717-amaechi-man-ahead-his-time-and-his-audacity or https://newsdiaryonline.com/amaechi-man-ahead-time-audacity-1/   Amaechi: The Man Ahead Of His Time And His Audacity (2) After due clearance from the Holy Spirit who authors most of my write-ups, it gives me a lot of joy to present before you my friends, brothers, sisters and associates, the second segment of this treatise: Amaechi: The Man Ahead Of His Time And His Audacity (2). At this juncture, it becomes imperative to highlight some of the other sections that placed this great revolutionist as a man ahead of his time. 1. Unseating a sitting President, a feat that positions Amaechi as a unique leader in Nigeria Late Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia’s famous words: “Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted, the indifference of those who should have known better, the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most that has made it possible for evil to triumph.” It is in fear of this truism that made Amaechi to defer the norms and even the security of his life when he decided to lead the removal of a sitting President who has all the powers to do and undo so far the politics of Nigeria is concern.     When on 9th September, 2013 my appointment as the National Publicity Secretary of the New PDP was announced to Nigerians the only brief I received was the 30 minutes encounter I had with this enigma they call Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi. During that encounter he kept repeating that whenever General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd.) accept to fly the flag of the emergent mega opposition political party in the country, the unseating of President Goodluck Jonathan and PDP would become a reality. I was deeply impressed by his strong belief in General Buhari. It was based on this that I went boldly into the field and with the cooperation of the G7 Governors and other leaders of the New PDP then, we were able to dismantle what was the famous and largest political party in Africa. At the time five out of the seven Governors joined APC formally and during the APC Convention, Amaechi and with the help of others, General Buhari was duly elected as the flag bearer of APC. In appreciation of his key role in making Buhari the Presidential Candidate, he was duly appointed to head the Campaign of Buhari and his feat in ensuring that Buhari was duly elected as the President of Nigeria will forever resonate in the country’s history.  Many people may not appreciate the risk; this enigma of a man took in salvaging Nigeria from the hands of looters whose intention was to loot the common patrimony of our nation with impunity. With the high level of corruption exposed by most of the key actors in Jonathan’s administration, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi need to be celebrated almost on daily basis as a man that truly is ahead of his time. The unique solution to the sewage challenge in Port Harcourt by Amaechi According to Dr. Ogu Emejuru, Amaechi’s SA on Environmental Health during Amaechi’s tenure as Rivers State Governor in a text to me appropriately captured how Amaechi handled the sewage challenge in Rivers State in these words, “Chief Eze, in your efforts to educate the world on some of the feats of Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi erstwhile Governor of Rivers State and incumbent Minister of Transportation, I have to remind you NEVER to forget the 1.3 billion Naira Sewage and Biogas plant that was built in Eagle Island. The plant one of its kind in the country and produced fertilizer and biogas used to power the premises. We processed more than 40 trucks of sewage daily. In fact we worked very closely with the Port Harcourt sewage association they clamored for more plants to be situated in other parts of the State. This plant was commissioned with fanfare amongst the Eagle Island community by the great late G. U. Ake just before the election in the presence of the former Commissioner of Water Resources who was very instrumental in founding the Port Harcourt Water Corporation.  Amaechi had a vision for a clean environment and part of that vision was trusting me and asking me to establish that plant. In fact the World Bank made several visits to the plant and actually is using it as a template for further work in the state to establish more plants. The plant is now an important asset of the Port Harcourt Water Corporation in Rumuola. As with all things in our politics, I get reports that the plant has almost broken down completely to the disappointment of World Bank officials who visited there weeks ago. Amaechi was an ENVIRONMENTALIST and as a paediatrician, I understand the importance of a clean environment in the health of our vulnerable children.  We should not forget that part of Governor Amaechi’s legacy”. If this doesn’t demonstrate a man ahead of his time then I do wonder what exactly we are talking about. EDUCATIONAL REVOLUTION IN RIVERS STATE UNDER AMAECHI On assumption of office in 2007, the Amaechi-led government declared a state of emergency on the education sector and completely took over the payment of salaries of primary school and junior secondary school teachers, hitherto the statuary function of local governments, to ensure that education takes its rightful place in the scheme of things. This intervention cost the state government N800 million monthly, to pay salaries of primary school teachers. To further strengthen and ensure qualitative education in the state, ex-governor Amaechi signed into law five bills brought for his assent by the State House of Assembly. Among them are the Rivers State Universal Basic Education Amendment Bill 2012 and the Rivers State Senior Secondary Schools’ Board Bill 2012. The then governor was upbeat while signing into law these bills, including the one on social services levy recently passed by the Rivers State House of Assembly. The government targeted building 700 model primary schools with 350 completed – each with 20 classrooms costing about N116 million each and equipped with ICT facility, modern library, science laboratory, football field, basketball pitch, volleyball pitch and nursery playground. These model primary schools were built to the standard of the United Nations as obtainable in developed parts of the world.  Another giant step taken by the Amaechi administration in the educational development of Rivers State was the construction of new 20-classroom blocks’ model primary school, to commemorate the status of Port Harcourt as the current World Book Capital. Known as World Capital City Model Primary School, the edifice is located in Port Harcourt Township and was already furnished and operational with commencement of classes for the 2014/2015 school year. In addition to classrooms and teachers’ offices, the model school is equipped with state-of-the-art facilities like demonstration science laboratory, library, ICT, sick-bays and reception class. The former commissioner of education, Barr Alice Lawrence-Nemi stated that construction of the 20-classroom blocks was necessitated to address the issue of out-of-school children in the state. The state government embarked on this project to ensure that every child in the state has easy access to the free education policy of the Amaechi-led administration. The project is in line with the Education for All (EFA) and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) vision of providing access to all children of school age by the year 2015. Samples of the 20-classroom blocks are built in all the 23 local government areas of the state, which include demonstration science laboratories aimed at giving children the opportunity to visualise what they are being taught in class. The introduction of laboratories is in line with the new national curriculum, which allows children from four years and above to be exposed to science education early so as to better understand science courses in the future. The demonstration class is where the teacher demonstrates for the pupils what they are learning. It makes teaching and learning easier for the teacher and the pupils. “Also Home Economics will be demonstrated in the Lab. The essence is to teach the pupils the basic ways of cooking, personal hygiene and general home-keeping. The schools are well equipped with books and e-books. The State Government is using the medium to promote reading culture among pupils and students. Every school has reading period and pupils are made to pick a book. Each pupil will summarise the book during book reviews at the end of the period. Throwing more light on his feats in the educational sector of the State, Amaechi stated, “our educational system witnessed transformation in infrastructure and service delivery. Although constrained by the reduction of our revenue by more than half, our administration is proud of undeniable successes in our educational sector such as infrastructure revolution: Building and equipping over 311 world class primary schools and five model secondary schools; The retraining and recertification of teachers with the involvement of the British Council in Port Harcourt; Total elimination of strikes and disruptions by takeover of payment of salaries of primary school teachers amounting to about N2bn per month; Recruitment of 13,210 teachers; Establishment of the Quality Assurance Agency; Introduction of Free Education up to secondary school level; Abolition of all fees in schools; Annual oversees scholarships in strategic branches of knowledge; Establishment of skills acquisition institutions to draw attention to self-employment and entrepreneurship; and above all, the outsourcing of management of schools in the state. The icing on the cake perhaps is the transformation of the UST from 79th to best state university in Nigeria and 12th over all best. There is also the establishment of a university of education. As part of the Administration’s deliberate academic growth policy, we sent our children to schools overseas, while working on improving our facilities in the state. Back home, we sent others to rated secondary schools and universities. We are proud of our achievements in the education sector; and are equally proud of our children who proved that given conducive locale, they could compete with the world’s best and brightest. We have given over 3000 scholarships to our deserving children within and outside the country. Even with mounting pressure and competing interests made the education of our children a priority as indeed it should be. N800,000 ( Eight hundred million Naira) has been released to the Rivers State Sustainable Development Agency in this light to enable it pay down some of its obligations to our scholars. ABBEY WRITES AMAECHI IN APPRECIATION OF THE SCHOLARSHIP THAT MADE HIM WHAT HE IS BY TODAY  Dr. Samuel Jonah Abbey one of the beneficiaries of Amaechi’s policy on education wrote and I quote, “It is with a deep sense of gratitude and appreciation that I write to humbly say thank you for making me what I am today. The background story might be too long for you to read Sir, considering your busy schedule. Sir, I had lots of aspirations as a child but the demise of my parents almost crumbled the skyline of my world. As an orphan, I completed my first degree in Civil engineering with upper class in 2010 at the University of Portharcourt.  My horizons were then broadened when I heard about your overseas scholarship scheme during your term as the executive governor of Rivers state. Sir, the transparency of your administration gave me the opportunity to be assessed and awarded the RSSDA scholarship on merit to pursue MSc Civil Engineering in the UK. I successfully completed my MSc with Distinction in 2013 and today your Excellency Sir, I have completed my PhD in Civil Engineering, Coventry University, UK and now addressed as Dr. Samuel Jonah Abbey.  Sir, I just want to say thank you so much for giving my life a meaning. Thank you so much. My entire family are ever grateful to you. May God bless you richly and protect you. May God shield you on every step and remain your pillar. May he protect your entire family in Jesus name, Amen. I will keep praying for you. God bless you my hero” Sadly, Governor Nyesom Wike the incumbent Governor of Rivers State not only stopped the scholarship scheme of the Amaechi’s administration, sacked the 13,250 Teachers employed by Amaechi and discarded all the great schools built by the Amaechi’s administration. He has so destroyed education in Rivers State that he has embarked upon vendetta against all the owners of private schools in Rivers State that over 1,500 private schools have been marked out for demolition in the State. Conclusion I never knew that writing on Amaechi as a man ahead of his time can be this tasking and assiduous. I have tried to x-ray this enigma in this regard on the areas of his feats as the first Nigerian to assume office as a State Governor in Nigeria while on self exile and the only Nigerian to have been a two time Speaker of Rivers State House of Assembly and chairman, Conference of Speakers of State Houses of Assembly in Nigeria. Two-time Governor of Rivers State for eight years and two- time chairman, Governors’ Forum a feat not common in any country and yet these seem not to be enough in presenting him as a man ahead of his time.  I have tried in part one of this treatise to present how this man succeeded in making Port Harcourt the Book Festival and UNESCO World Book capital City for the year 2014, making her the 14th city in the world to be selected as World Book Capital and the first in Black Africa beating 10 other great cities that include Oxford in England and Moscow in Russia. I have tried to assess the feats of this uncommon transformer as the only Nigerian leader to have initiated the setting up of one of the largest metropolitan areas in Nigeria when he embarked upon the construction of the Greater Port Harcourt City covering about eight local Government Areas of Rivers State; still it seems I have not started to write on what made this man to be a man ahead of his time. Having dealt with his feats in the areas of education revolution, the sewage challenge in Rivers State and how he plotted the unseating of a sitting and very powerful President in Africa, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan of PDP with all the powers of incumbency, NNPC, CBN, INEC, highly rated corrupt Political and Religious leaders with all the Security organs/apparatus in his pocket, yet people are still asking me if Amaechi truly is a man ahead of his time. Yes, you may say that I have nothing else to write but wait for the part three of this treatise that will deal on how this man curbed insecurity in Rivers State and for a whole year in 2010 there was no single armed robbery incident in Rivers State, as a foresighted man, he imitated the Monorail magic in Nigeria, his feats in the Agricultural, health sectors, his prudent management of public finance and how he managed to survive the onslaught of Dr Jonathan, Dame Patience Jonathan, Joseph Mbu then Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Nyesom Wike and Federal Government agencies and you can then tell me if Amaechi is or not a man ahead of his time. Eze Chukwuemeka Eze is a Media Consultant based in Port Harcourt and can be reached through:ezemediaconcept2020@gmail.com, 08022049770 […]

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