On the hosting of West African Architecture Fair in Port Harcourt I sincerely thank the President of the Nigeria Institute of Architects (NIA) and his team. This ceremony was opened on Tuesday.
I was suppose to declare it open, unfortunately, I was away, my Deputy governor was away and I said it will not be proper for you to go back without us at least looking at your faces and finding out whether you are happy or not. So, we decided that, yes the Secretary to the State Government represented us, but it would be proper for us to sit down with you and unwind.
So, I must sincerely thank you for honouring our invitation. Let me also commend the NIA President that, I do know the problem you had to go through. Initially, people were scared because of the negative publicity by people who do not want the state to develop, the coup, the war against us. But, thank God that you were able to go through it and people can attest to the fact that it was a huge success. For us, we should be thanking you in the sense that, you have brought this array of architects, professionals from 13 countries .
I remember when the Rotary International came, those of them from California were amazed. This is the city that they heard or had been hearing; this is happening and this is not happening. And to them, they saw it was propaganda at work. Am sure, when our friends go back, they will tell the world that, this state is indeed a peace loving state. What you have done is not what money can buy.
You can go to the pages of newspapers and say Rivers State is peaceful, but having come and stayed here and seen , you can go back to say listen, this insecurity reports are not true. I was there, I participated, so am tired of reading all these junks, enough is enough. So, I thank you most sincerely for honouring us, using all these opportunities for you to see our beautiful state. And let me assure you, and the son of the soil, President of the Nigeria Institute of Architects, we shall continue to support you. And to tell those of you who are not from this part of the world, that for us, we have a covenant with our people, and that covenant is that we have to put smiles in faces of our people.
On Amaechi’s criticism that there is no road to the hometown of his political mentor , Chief Godspower Ake Somebody who was Governor of this state for eight years went to one burial today and the man who died was supposed to be close to the former governor. And then, he came and said, look, there is no road, by 2019, vote out these people. But somebody who preached a sermon at the burial said, haba! You were here for eight years, this man was very close to you. Eight years you did not remember this man .
For eight years you did not construct a road to his hometown . Now, this is a government that has stayed one year and a few months, you are saying that there is no road.
I don’t know whether you understand the point l am making. Eight good years, and when money came to this state, not now that we are in recession, even though, it is not our portion in this state to be in recession. Amaechi squandered the money of our people, using state resources to sponsor elections in other places. Because of the funds squandered by Amaechi, we are starting the development of sstatewide infrastructure afresh. For eight years, at a time that the state got approximately N20billion monthly, that administration failed to develop critical infrastructure.
G..U Ake was Amaechi’s political mentor. Yet for eight years, he denied his community the required access road. For us, we will continue to ensure the development of infrastructure in all communities of Rivers State , irrespective of the political leaning of the people Assurance of sustained development in Rivers State What I will assure you is that by the special grace of God, if you have the opportunity to come back to Port Harcourt next year, it will not be the same. We will further improve on the beautiful city you have seen. And so, for us, I want to challenge the institute. I challenge you to partner with the Rivers State Government for further development and infrastructural development .
Partnership with NIA Institutes can raise funds by coming to government to say listen, we can partner with you, not as individuals , but as a body, a body of desires, and I assure you that government will be willing to do that. So, you can raise funds to make the institute to be strong. So I want to challenge you. Continue with this door that has opened and partner with us. We believe you have the qualifed manpower, we believe you have the professionals that can work for government and government will be able to pay. And so, this state is a state that God has blessed. For me and for those working with us, we owe the state a lot and what we owe the state is to make sure that those who own this state, the founding fathers, who suffered, who labored for the creation of this state on 27 of May, 1967, whether they are alive or they are not, wherever they are, they will be happy that yes, this is our dream, they will be happy that yes, we are not disappointed that we labored for the creation of this state. We will continue to work for the development of the state.
I also want you as architects to look at what we have on the roads, those pillars, see how you can advise government and turn it, by using it as a museum or to use it as a play area for our children , because the money to pull it down, will be much more than what was used to build. So I challenge you. That is the first job I have given to you. Deliberate frustration of development efforts by the powers that be This state is a blessed state. But, let me tell you something that may interest most of you. I have told Nigerians that when once elections are over, we should be talking about governance. They should not be talking about political party. Everything has been done to see that we don’t move forward.
This is the only state for one year, we have had over six Commissioners of Police. Calculate it, on the average, 12 months should be one year, isn’t it? So, in every two months, there will be one CP (Commissioner of Police). Tell me how, if you bring a CP today which is October and you are planning with that CP on how to improve on the security situation in the state, and he brings his own ideas, and say this is how he is going to tackle the security situation. It’s okay. I said, the ideas are good, let’s see how we can work on it.
Unknown to the CP, this strategy is by November. December, when we are trying to implement the strategies that the CP has introduced, the next day, he will come to me in the night, His Excellency, I have been transferred. Then, the new one comes, he removes all the other DPOs (Divisional Police Officers) and brings his own DPOs. I said well, what will we do. He said, look, I have my own strategy to see how we can solve the security situation.
I said fine, unknown to him, by January, not up to one month, by February, by the time we swing into action, he will come to me, my Excellency, I have been transferred. Like in such a situation, what will you do? So, everything has been done to make sure that this state does not move forward. But, we thank God Almighty that, but when God is with you, there is no fear. And we have refused to be distracted. That is why when Nigeria is talking about recession, Rivers State is talking about infrastructure. When people are talking about what to do to pay salaries, we are talking about how do we add money for them for Christmas.
So, your visit, you chose this state as a host and venue, you have done us a favour . So many activities have taken place in this state in the past three months. November 10 and 11, the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators will be having their International Conference here in Port Harcourt. So many conferences and workshops have taken place here, there is no problem. But when there is always contrived insecurity is when it comes to holding of election. Nobody has heard of any insecurity, but tomorrow, give us a date for election, what you will hear is insecurity in Rivers State. When oil workers are working, nobody has vandalized pipeline in this state, security is tight, but there are security problems , when it is time for election.
Unjustified postponement of elections
They have continued to postpone elections in the state on the premise of flimsy execuses. The Senate will be discussing the Petroleum Industry Bill, they are talking about Constitution Amendment, a state that produces the oil, cannot be part of that exercise and then you say it will be good. I produce oil and you deny me the opportunity to have a presentation on where you are going to discuss this issue. Nobody is representing Rivers State in the Senate, not one. They deny a whole state. You are talking of Constitution Amendment, nobody will speak for this state, and Nigerians are not worried. Why? It’s a minority state, we can trample upon them, nothing will happen.
The constitution said each state shall be represented by three Senators. We don’t have one. So, when you go back, you also ask your brothers and sisters who are involved , and say why you are doing this. What is so peculiar, why do you think that Rivers State should not have people at the Senate. The same people that said Rivers State is insecure, there is a problem, you come in the night to abduct a human being. When you abduct the person, on the road, you may kill the person and say , so, so person has been abducted and has been killed in Rivers State and people will say oh, insecurity in Rivers State. We only insisted on due process.
Nobody will support crime, nobody will support corruption, but we must follow due process in whatever we are doing. My thinking about change is that we must abandon things we were not doing correctly and do them in a correct way. That is my own thinking of what change means. I don’t know that the change they are talking about now is that don’t arrest people in the day time, arrest them at the odd hour. That is the change.
The reason behind the frequent postponement of Rivers Rerun elections
Look at the crisis in Nigeria, it is because some people want to take Rivers State. All the whole thing, you have been hearing are plots to take Rivers State. What do you want to take? Is it your own? Between now and 19 of March, 2016, let them do election, they only planned to get the members of Assembly, so they will impeach the governor and put their own man. In fact, the day they came here, Obama couldn't have had that number of security personnel .
They came here, when they saw how the whole thing was going, they sneaked out in the night and ran away. Since March 19 till now, every day, the election will be January, August, September, October, now they said its 10th of December. When it gets to 10 December, they will say its Christmas period, let’s keep it till next year. Election took place in Borno, election took place in Adamawa, election took place in Yobe where you have the insurgency . You were able to conduct elections and votes were counted.
Votes were counted, but here, the insecurity is too much, we cannot do any election.
You can do election in Sambisa forest and stay there and count votes, but here, you cannot do election, insecurity.
The flimsy nature of the excuse
You know, when you see a problem at a particular place, instead of you to work as a team to see how you can solve the problem, you say in Rivers State there are kidnappings. Today, you are seeing virtually in all the states they are now kidnapping every day, even to the point of kidnapping diplomats, even kidnapping an Army General. Rivers State is peaceful now. In other states where Kidnapping is taking place, they won’t put it on front pages, no. But if anything happens here, it will be on the front page. You ask them, who is benefiting, who really wants Rivers State to go down? But I can assure you, Rivers State will not go down.
Great opportunity to brief Architects from 13 countries
So, my dear brothers and sisters, let me thank you, because, this opportunity, we don’t see it all the time. Architects, now that we have told you what we are facing, you will go and meet your colleagues architects too, so that when they are designing, with what we have told you, the brief we have given you, and what you have seen, you can now design according to the environment. It is very, very important. Inform them. Tomorrow, we will see Chartered Institutes of Arbitrators, we will also give them brief and then with what they have seen they can now see how they can resolve the problem without going to court. So when we get the opportunity, don’t blame us. That is why I said no, tell them not to go, let us see them. Am not going to tell them how much we have spent on roads, no. This one is not important to me. They should know what we are suffering.
We are the only state that applied for bail out and they did not give. We are the only state and the way God works, they started deducting our money without giving us the loan. We have not collected the loan and they were deducting our money. We were paying back the loan we did not collect. See how God works. Sir, we did not collect the loan, why are you deducting our money to pay back the loan we did not collect. Ah! Is that correct, yes Sir. Look at it. Okay, you people should pay them that one and the loan. So, you see the way God works. So, I thank you for choosing Port Harcourt.