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Amaechi’s 54 Birthday: The Role Of Exemplary Leadership In Governance With Secur by NwaorguF: 1:27pm On May 16, 2019
Amaechi’s 54 Birthday: The Role of Exemplary Leadership in Governance with Security as a Case Study (Part One)

By Eze Chukwuemeka Eze


On the 27th of May, 2019, Rt. Hon. (Dr) Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, erstwhile governor of Rivers state, incumbent Minister of Transportation and the undisputable leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the South-South region of Nigeria, will be celebrating his 54th birthday. According to the organisers of this year’s birthday celebration, which theme is “The Role of Exemplary Leadership in Governance”, the great Obi of Onitsha, His Royal Majesty, Igwe Nnnaemeka Alfred Achebe, CFR, MNI, will be expected to chair the epochal event, while the keynote speakers have been carefully selected: H.E. Nasir El-Rufai, the Executive Governor of Kaduna state; Senator Olorunnimbe A. Mamora, the Managing Director of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA); Prof O. Georgewill of the University of Port Harcourt; Barr. Bele Tariah, a beneficiary of Rt. Hon. Amaechi's Undergraduate Scholarship Scheme; and Hon. Nancy Stephens, former Deputy Mayor of Port Harcourt local government area (PHALGA) will moderate the epochal event.

Though the great minds mentioned above, expected to speak on the theme are all well qualified and very capable to do justice to it, however having followed the politics of Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi these past thirteen years, I will be doing a great injustice to the world if I fail to bring to the fore what made this enigma of a man, not only unique, but a true example of what leadership is all about.

To assist me achieve this, Israelmore Ayivor, one of the greatest critical minds that ever lived on this planet earth stated “Leaders decorate the world: they live exemplary life and make the world better than they found it”. What else is the best way to describe Amaechi, whose life only depends on how not only to better the lots of those that cross his path, but to ensure that he gives out his best in any assignment he is charged with. My great Philosopher Israelmore Ayivor, with Amaechi still in his mind, further highlighted, “service introduces you to the leadership throne. Service to mankind is the vision on which leadership is mounted. You serve and in your service, you train more leaders by becoming an example”. Amaechi is the epitome of humanity and selfless service.

As if my lecturer, Ayivor, has not been able to describe Dr Amaechi very well enough and throwing more light on the inability of any writer to actually dissect this living legend, the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Prof Yemi Osinbanjo (SAN), once stated “Ameachi is also a man of big ideas and very insightful, he understands how to live long in the hearts of men. His education policies in Rivers state and all of those children he gave real hope and opportunities to will always keep him alive in their hearts as he will be remembered long after he has left this earth.” In the same vein, Admiral Murtala Nyako, the erstwhile Executive Governor of Adamawa state, once challenged me and said “Chief Eze, don’t mind the simplicity and unassuming nature of this man (Amaechi); he is the most influential politician we have in Nigeria today”. Amaechi epitomises what a true leadership is all about.

The Main Aim of This Treatise

The main aim of this attempt therefore is to unravel the insecurity and security challenges facing Rivers state in Nigeria, particularly now that Chief Nyesom Wike, the Governor of Rivers state, in his recent interview with The Channels TV, compared his regime with that of his mentor, benefactor and predecessor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi.

It not only behoves, but becomes imperative for those of us who witnessed both the eight years of Amaechi and four years of the regime of Governor Wike to present the correct records accordingly.

In doing this, I will present the security episode during the period of Amaechi’s administration and how he was able to curtail the brief moment of menace, then write of what has become of the regime of Governor Wike and leave it all for you the reader to judge.

With the above, let me therefore reiterate once again that the main treatise of this attempt is to review the strategies adopted by the Rivers State Government under the watch of Rotimi Amaechi, in tackling the menace of insecurity in Rivers state, prior to his assumption of office on the 28th of October, 2007 and how Wike, the incumbent governor, instead of adopting the model Amaechi used to tackle insecurity in the state is playing politics with the peace of Rivers people.

For purposes of clarity, Rivers state is the hub of oil industry in Nigeria and very rich in hydrocarbons from which the nation draws its major revenue and because it was confronted with key security challenges, especially the challenges of illegal bunkering, piracy, kidnapping and armed robbery, this attempt is embarked upon.

Rivers State And The Insecurity Challenge

“It is the responsibility of the government to provide security for the people.” - Amaechi “Security, law and order are the major preoccupation of any government. Once a government gets this priority right, it has made the very first right step. Growing insecurity on the reverse side is the first sign of a failing state.” - Dr Dakuku Adol Peterside

“The three great ends which a statesman ought to propose to himself in the government of a nation are 1. Security to possessors, 2. Facility to acquirers, 3. Hope to all” - Samuel Taylor Coleridge

“Government must not be for one section of the society. It must be for the rich and the poor, emphasising the upliftment of the poor...” - Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi

“No doubt, our state has endured a tortuous political season, which saw political parties jostle and cajole Rivers people to make choices. Our state, which was known and respected as the Treasure Base of the nation, is now almost always in the news for the wrong reasons. This is not the Rivers State of our dreams” – Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi

"Any sound and concern lover of Rivers state must be worried by the tales of woes and the level of insecurity facing the state at the moment. Every day it is either a bus conveying passengers is kidnapped or people are being killed and beheaded or that foreigners and investors are rushing out of the State in droves or the state is rated as the number one state in Nigeria that harbours the highest number of unemployed youths" – Eze C Eze

According to Amaechi, “When we took over the reins of governance in the State we met a situation where people were being given cash, but we decided to take the extreme position of not giving money to people, but doing projects that would impact positively on the lives of the majority of our people”. This stand of the Amaechi to stop the method which was the practice hitherto of sharing State funds to some seasoned politicians and groups who in turn use it to sponsor militia groups that constitute security challenges in the State.

To Rotimi Amaechi, “inability of elected leaders to provide adequate security for the citizenry is an impeachable offence. The first offence governors commit is when they are unable to provide adequate security for the people. This is because the first oath taken by elected leaders is to protect life and property. It is the responsibility of the government to provide security for the people.”

The Type Of Rivers State Inherited By Former Gov Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi!

According to records, Port Harcourt, the State capital of Rivers State that Amaechi inherited was more like a war zone or aptly put a jungle where the fittest determines the fate of the lesser animals. It sounds pretty surprising but not unexpected that the city of Port Harcourt, a once very glamorous city, was ranked among the three most dangerous cities in the world by then. The human resources unit of New York-based Marsh & McLennan Cos. had ranked Port Harcourt with Baghdad, Yemen's capital of Sana'a and Khartoum in Sudan, as the world's most dangerous cities. Going by the ranking published by Bloomberg, Port Harcourt ranked with Baghdad as one of the world's most dangerous cities for foreign workers as criminal gangs and militia groups seeking greater control of energy revenue step up attacks.

Ahamefula Ogbu, a Journalist with Thisday Newspapers described one of the scenes in the State at this period in these words 'Rambo could not have done better. With automatic rifles in their hands and hate, revenge and murder hanging around their necks, warring cultists took Port Harcourt, Rivers State, by storm yesterday for the second day running. Pandemonium broke out as residents ran for safety. It was sorrow, tears and blood. At the end of it all—or, more aptly, at the interval, for no one knows the end yet—15 persons had been dispatched to their early graves' and true to this unsung prophet nobody knew the end as the next few days saw about eighty innocent souls wasted by an agitation uncommon to our people in the Niger Delta.

While to my late friend and brother, Mr. George Onah reporting for Vanguard Newspaper captured Port Harcourt before the assumption of office by Gov Amaechi in these words; “For many residents, the capital of Rivers State, hitherto the Garden City where life was lived to the fullest is no longer the place to live in as rivers of blood flow ceaselessly following an unending siege by militants, kidnappers, cultists, and criminals of other hue.

Violence in Port Harcourt, Rivers State has gone full circle and the guns are still booming. The casualties are pilling, even as blood of defenceless citizens’ flow endlessly. Neither the Police nor the government has answers to the brigandage. Security outfits do not have official figures, record or reliable estimates of casualties in the Rivers State orgy of killings.

Even the number of deaths during the Nigerian Civil War had a consensus of informed opinion on the number of deaths, on both sides, which hovered, realistically around 600,000 and below. But the rapidity of casualties in the onslaught by gunmen on Rivers State cannot simply be pigeonholed. The currency of killings is alarming and the growth of the economy of the state is heading for the deep”.

The pattern of the crime ranges from kidnapping of expatriates and children of wealthy parentage, to outright violent robbery. Cultism and political vices equally occupy a frightening position on the crime chart. The volatile atmosphere appears to have annulled whatever achievement of the peace and reconciliation committee of the government”.

As if both Ogbu and late Onah did not capture the picture correctly, Okey Ndibe, a respected opinion leader on national issues in Nigeria in his article during this period published by the Sahara Reporters one of the leading online media on Nigerian political activities titled 'a blood soaked city' described the happenings in Rivers State then in these words 'That the once idyllic Port Harcourt was now a scarred place, a war zone, a city soaked in blood; the city under siege with thousands of citizens displaced; that its once quiescent boulevards and avenues were now ruled by marauding militiamen and by the fierce soldiers deployed to dislodge them. Sudden death by bullet was now a generalized hazard for the city's trapped and hapless residents'.

Affirming the unfortunate state of Rivers State then, an icon and Prince of Niger Delta Politics, Prince Tonye Princewill in an interview during this period stated thus, “Rivers State, when Amaechi took over was a garrison state. Now that things have changed, people refer to him, like they do to Fashola as a performing governor though the only difference between the two is that Fashola had a foundation in Tinubu but in the case of Amaechi, it was not so!”.

Strategies Adopted To Address The Menace Of Insecurity

According to Noam Chomsky, “the U.S. international and security policy ... has as its primary goal the preservation of what we might call "the Fifth Freedom," understood crudely but with a fair degree of accuracy as the freedom to rob, to exploit and to dominate, to undertake any course of action to ensure that existing privilege is protected and advanced”. The fact remains that it seems that former Governor Amaechi on assumption of office adopted this US security policy in tackling the menace of insecurity in the State as he went out exploiting every means humanly possible to arrest this ugly trend. Apart from declaring war on all the militia groups in the State and refusing any form of dialogue or negotiations with them, he ensured that the security organs in the State were well motivated and trained to tackle the menace of insecurity in the State.

Explaining further on how former Governor Amaechi handled the security challenges of the State at this period, Dr Dakuku Peterside stated as follows, “When I had the privilege of serving in the government of Rivers State under the leadership of Governor Amaechi, I observed that he placed high premium on security because he believed that security was the foundation upon which progress in every other facet of development depends. This is aside from government’s proactive disposition which drew substantially from intelligence gathering, surveillance and the fact that law enforcement agents could reasonably predict potential crime with near perfect accuracy.

Another interesting aspect of the Rivers model is the deployment of technology. Without sounding immodest, I can confidently say that the state’s security network is driven by excellent modern technology. Rivers was the first state to acquire a mobile scanning van known as back scatter. Around the Port-Harcourt metropolis, there are Gantry Scanners at strategic entry locations in Onne- Eleme Road, East-West Road, Choba Road, Oyibo Road, Ikwere Road, Aba Road and Mbiama Road among others”.

Throwing more light on the postulations of Peterside, a security expert and CEO, MPD Security Systems, Engr. David Meyer stated as follows, “The first step we took in Rivers State was to raise capacity among selected police personnel, over 200, through local and overseas training in Israel and other parts of the world on modern crime fighting techniques and intelligence gathering,” Meyer explained. Working with modern gadgets and substantial logistics including an Israeli trained concealed weapon detecting dog, these crossbred police team had since been strategically placed at main outskirt check posts witnessing mass movement in and out of Port Harcourt City. Others lead a number of metro patrol teams responding to security emergencies around the town and environs. These are far as the public can see.

Beyond public view, as part of Rivers current long term vision of security, Meyer pointed to underground application of ICT aided security hardware and software helping the police to sense and react to security situations with dispatch. This network of technology managed by experts from a hub which Meyer would not disclose its location for security reasons, employs the C4I urban surveillance cameras watching over the city and active 24hrs of the day in Port Harcourt and environs.

The interactions between the seen and unseen infrastructures, according to Meyer, account for the recent security operatives swift bursting of some of failed organized crime operations, including an attempted raid of a bank in the Mile 4 area of the city last year. “These measures have been working well and while the public may not know, it has lead to several arrests and we have gained convictions against suspects on account of the improved network”, he emphasized.

Supporting the views of Hon. Chief Peterside and Engr. Meyer, His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Chibuike stated,. “We have done a lot about security. We are doing more. Before we came to office, kidnapping was a serious challenge. We have dealt with it substantially. We are finishing December, 2012 without a single report of kidnapping or armed robbery. We have specially trained policemen handling security. Barring any unforeseen circumstance, any moment from now, the Rivers State Government’s security web would be two surveillance helicopters stronger, laying foundation for a standing air wing to give the state 24-hour security coverage.. He said the helicopters; costing $30m (N4.5bn) with surveillance cameras to fly all over the city of Port Harcourt and other parts of the state would arrive at the end of December and commence operations in January, 2013. He stated that Rivers now has in place a technology reliable for tracking criminals and their hideouts. But sadly, Chief Nyesom Wike and former President Dr Jonathan ensured that these helicopters never arrived Rivers State until few weeks ago in 2017

The former Governor who is a major proponent of State Policing postulated, “If we have State Police, Rivers would be able to train its police the way it wants. It would not have suffered the loss of those 500 policemen it trained. Most states are spending a lot of money improving the police which are not under their control. States can use the same resources to fund their own police. Only those with something to hide are afraid of State Police."

Eze Chukwuemeka Eze is a Media Consultant based in Port Harcourt and can be reached through ezemediaconcept2020@gmail.com

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