From JULIANA TAIWO-OBALONYE and TONY JOHN in Port Harcourt
The Rivers State Governor and the Chairman of Governors’ Forum, Rotimi Amaechi has revealed that there was huge rivalry among the governors not in terms of politics but in terms of who has delivered on projects more than the other.
He disclosed this when he had audience with the Good Governance Tour Team led by the Minister of Information, Labaran Maku in his conference room in Port Harcourt. Amaechi, who admitted that Nigerian people in general and people of Rivers State in particular would be the beneficiaries of the tour, said the tour had made states to be upbeat and working, even if it was to put something on ground for the team to see.
He said contrary to belief that the Governors’ Forum focused more on politics, there was healthy competition amongst governors to deliver on projects. “There is a huge rivalry in the governors forum but unlike in the past when rivalry used to be political, now it is on who is outdoing the other in terms of projects delivery.
But we never quarrel over politics. We have never discussed politics in Governors’ Forum.” The Rivers State Governor also used the occasion to inform the minister that the Integrated Power Project (NIPP) at Eleme had been abandoned, urging that there was need to fast track on power delivery.
This is even as he has once again hit at the Minister of Niger Delta, Godsday Orubebe, over the East-West Road, insisting that the Rivers State Government had proof of what it had done in terms of fixing roads including some portions of the East- West Road compared to the section of Federal Government that had been abandoned.
Amaechi told the Maku-led team of some of the achievements of his government and also commended the Federal Government for keeping faith by delivering on some projects promised the people. ‘‘The idea of tour is to ensure development take place front seat in all the states of the federation and enable government at all levels answer questions from the citizens and also show them what they are doing to improve their lots.
Government is no longer about governance but about creating the enabling environment for private sector participation. “We promised our people 24 hour power by December 2012 but we didn’t but we have started delivering by January this year. “We cannot say we are providing 24 hour power supply yet until we have gone round all the zones.
We have to proof to Nigerians that this thing called power supply is not rocket science it is because of bureaucracy that is causing the delay in delivery. “When we sorted for the approval of the Federal Government to allow us do this, they wrote us a formal letter saying we will not. In my usual way, I went ahead without the approval of the FG to give our people power because I know at the end of the day they may acquire the equipment but the power belongs to the Rivers people.
“We are the only state with a state transmission line. Eighty per cent of our power is from state transmission line. We are the only state with 541MW. “The Federal Government’s NIPP is abandoned I hope they won’t rush there now that you (minister) are here and start working but even if they are working you will see our own transmission line completed on the left. Power is not coming from there yet because the transmission line has been damaged.
“You will also see the new power plant we have just completed at Afam 180MW, we have another 180MW we are building to get us to 715MW. “The idea is that Rivers State for now needs 400MW, when the needs surpass demand we will be needing 500MW, we think development will increase and the demand for power will also increase. So at all times we should always be ready to inject 50MW annually into the system.
Before we get to 715MW it should be four years and so the new governor will begin to build more power plants. “One way to solve health issues is through primary health care. Out of the 160 health centers we plan to build, we have completed 120, there are 120 doctors on ground and we have employed 200 more.
“In Abulama, we have a fish farm. We had borrowed N7 billion and rather than disburse via cooperative, we decided to use it to build projects that will create employment. The fish farm when completed in the next three months will employ close to 200 persons and will produce 900 tonnes of fish every year. And we have about five of those fish farms in Rivers State.
“In our education we are building 24 secondary schools that will take 1050 students, and two per room. By September the students will move in. “Our Songai farm is the largest in the world according to Songai because is on 300 hectares while that of Port Novo is 16 hectares.
“We have a sporting complex not a stadium that has all the facilities you can think of, the West African swimming competition was held there. “We have constructed numerous roads. That is why my response to our brother Orubebe when he said that we are doing nothing in Rivers state but diverting our money to campaign for presidency, is that facts speaks for themselves.
We took pictures of federal road from Owerri to Rivers to show that its been abandon and we showed the one from Port Harcourt to the boundary of Imo State done by us and completed at N36 billion. We showed the part of east west road done when going to uniport, I’m glad you will be passing by that road so that you will see how you will be dancing while in the vehicle.
We showed the inter-change of the federal road going to the airport. We showed the facts that we have. “By September our mono rail will start running for the first 3 kilometers while the 4 kilometers will be concluded. “I must congratulate you for this tour.
I believe the federal government is doing different things in different states and as important as minister of information to showcase these things. Is true the federal government might not be able to solve all the problems at the same time, is a gradual process.
“Even the disagreement on east west road was not a disagreement. There are areas of the east west road from Onne upto Akwa Ibom done by federal government that is very beautiful you will think you are in America. So we must praise the Federal Government for concluding that side of the east west road. “And I also hope we can fast track the NIPP project.
“So your visit will benefit the people of Rivers State and Nigerians. It has made states to be upbeat, everybody is struggling to work. I like the competition amongst governors on delivering projects now. There is a huge rivalry in the governors forum but unlike in the past when rivalry use to be political, now is on who is outdoing the other in terms of projects delivery. But we never quaral over politics.
We have never discussed politics in governors forum. My argument has always been compare oranges with oranges in states because some of them do not really have money to deliver on projects”. Earlier in his remarks, Maku said the tour was an initiative that demonstrates a clear example of how FG and states can work with each other irrespective of party affiliation.
“The tour is non partisan and remains impartial in accessing what has been done in each state visited. “When politicians fight development suffers.
“The most important aspect of this tour is the opportunity the citizens have to speak to the leaders and demand answers to questions . “Aside from federal and state projects, we are also interested in seeing LGA and private sector projects”.