Rivers State Governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has described the prevailing peace in the state as what sustains the Rivers economy.
Governor Amaechi recalled that when he became governor, the state economy was at its lowest as companies and expatriates relocated to other parts of the country on account of insecurity in the state. But he said with steady efforts to tackle insecurity, his administration was able to restore peace to the state as the economy also bounced back. He assured that he will continue to maintain the peace in the state.
Governor Amaechi spoke during a town hall meeting with the people of Okrika at the Okrika Local Government Council headquarters on Thursday.
The governor said, “I will discuss security in line with what I consider my contribution to the growth of the state. When I became governor of Rivers State, you all know how Rivers State was. You know that it was bad. I hardly had time to sleep because if one group is not attacking here, another group is attacking there. They were all everywhere and it was like a war zone. And it occurred to me that as a young man if you don’t confront these young boys or young men, we would not have a state called Rivers State. Our economy was crashing, people had left the city, companies had folded up, whitemen had gone, we had no business again. When I took over, they used to pay them to come and bury somebody in either Okrika or Buguma or Abonnema. You must pay money. They will give you one or two hours to come and bury and go. So the micro-economy was going, that economy had crashed in the riverine areas. We sat back, we discussed with the military, we discussed with the police, we argued and argued and at the end of the day we took one decision – we will not pay anybody anymore. From today henceforth no more payment, because before I became governor, government was paying kidnappers N250million, N500million, so people were even arranging kidnapping”.
“I am a Christian, so I sat back and I prayed to God that this war is not mine, it is yours and you must fight to redeem your people and the people are Rivers people and that includes Okrika people and the first place we attacked was Okochiri(in Okrika). We needed to do that to be able to let everybody know that there is a government. So I felt that there was the need to come out and address that issue if the economy of Rivers State must kick-start again. So we started the battle to make everybody accountable for their actions. People were being killed every day. Young boys at 15, 18 were parading the streets with guns, people were scared. We were told that some people were buried alive here in Okochiri. We moved in. Today, what do we have? We have peace. We must thank God that we have peace. Now our parents can go about their business. Our mothers can go about their business. Our young girls who had run away before, now they are coming back home, nobody is being molested anymore. We will not allow this peace we are enjoying now to escape from us again, never again. We must hold it tenaciously”, he said.
Amaechi said his administration has constructed ten model primary schools in Okrika Local Government Area with six others to be completed soon. He named the completed ones to include State School, Ibuluya, Government State School, Okrika, Town School, Ogoloma, Town School, Isiaka, Government State School, Abam-Ama, State School, Kalio-Ama. Others include State School, Ndubuisi-Ama, B.S.S. Okrika, State School, Oba-Ama, State Primary School, Azubie and Ibaka Town School, Ibaka.
For the model primary healthcare centres, Amaechi named the completed ones already in use to include the one at ATC Ibaka, Anyungu Biri, Okochiri, Ogoloma and Ogan-Ama, disclosing that his administration has also constructed the Okrika ring road named after a former governor in the state, Rufus Ada-George. The governor disclosed that there is also ongoing land reclamation project at Oba-Ama community.
Amaechi promised to establish a fish farm in Okuma-Ama, Okrika which will also create employment for the people. The State government, according to him, will put in place a temporary water scheme in Okrika to provide potable water for the people, while waiting for the federal government that has promised to do a comprehensive scheme in Okrika. He also said his administration has offered scholarship to students from Okrika to study in universities abroad.
The governor equally said the state has disbursed N2billion to the Rivers State Microfinance Agency (RIMA) to boost microeconomic activities in the state by giving Rivers people business loans.
Earlier, the Chairman of Okrika Local Government Area, Barr Tamuno Williams in his address of welcome, commended Governor Amaechi for keeping his promises to Rivers people.
“Your visit is auspicious, your visit is an impeccable demonstration of a government that is alive to its duties and responsibilities. You are a faithful leader, a leader who keeps his promises, who is steadfast, who tenaciously holds unto ideals”, the Okrika chairman said.