Rivers Governor, Rotimi Amaechi has opened up the first time on why he stormed the state House of Assembly during the fracas on July 9, as well as the origin of the crisis involving him and President Goodluck Jonathan.
Amaechi spoke while entertaining questions from an audience made up of Rivers indigenes in the diaspora, at Chatham House in London where he delivered a lecture on “Resource and Governance in Nigeria.” Let’s give you the lowdown of what he said.
Why are you having issues with the President?
Amaechi said the problems with Aso Rock started “based on the assumption that I want to run for the 2015 elections.” For the record, he did not confirm or deny the widely believed assumption, He however said that “there is no law that criminalises ambition in Nigeria. It is sad because people do everything to bring you down. If this crisis continues, one group will lose and that is the people of Rivers State.
“Should the state suffer for the so-called ambition of the governor?”
So why did you go to the State House of Assembly that day?
Amaechi’s story is that he went to the assembly to “rescue the lawmakers” when he heard that the police have been “compromised” following the attempt by five lawmakers, believed to be associates of Minister of State for Education Nyesom Wike, to impeach Speaker Otelemaba Dan Amachree.
“When I heard the members of the Assembly had been attacked by thugs, I went there with my security attaché to rescue them because the police assigned to the Assembly had been compromised. I abhor violence. The first people to condemn are the policemen who had refused to perform their duties of protecting the lawmakers.”
Away from the obvious mess that is Rivers, what else have you been doing?
On his achievements in office so far, Amaechi reeled off a list that included infrastructural projects, agricultural plantations, sending hundreds of students on scholarship to the UK and Canada and funding education. According to him, 500 primary schools had been built during his tenure and from October, 250 more schools would be commissioned.
A crowd of Rivers’ indigenes, obviously pleased with the governor’s job performance, bore placards of solidarity. Many of them were students enjoying the state’s scholarship scheme designed to improve manpower.
“The academic structure we inherited was very bad as many children could not stay in school and those who did got a very poor education. We are building schools and uniforms, sandals, bags and books are free. We send 300 every year to the UK and Canada on scholarships.”
On health care?
“We have built 60 health centres and 70 more will be commissioned before the end of the year.”
On the economy?
“We have established palm oil and banana plantations that employ workers. By the end of our tenure, we would have laid the foundation for a more robust and less oil-dependent economy in Rivers State.”