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State of the State: Address By Abiye Sekibo

I wish you all a very merry Christmas and happy new and prosperous new year in advance.
We, interestingly, are living in very interesting times. Now we don’t have to do too much talking. The situation speaks for itself. When you read the papers or listen to commentators at times on T.V. For instance, one man was talking on T.V and was saying that one of the best performing governors was the governor of Rivers State. ‘If you go to Rivers State now you will see that the place is much better than Odili left it. Everywhere there is unprecedented development’. And I ask myself, is this man talking about the Rivers State that I come from or he is talking about the Rivers State of the United States of America? If it is the Rivers State of Nigeria, then definitely, we are not coming from the same place.
You have had to ply your trade in this state, especially in this town Port Harcourt. I don’t know when just any of you visited Akwa Ibom state. That is a PDP state, so if I had said Lagos state, you will say it is ACN. I am comparing two PDP states. Go to Uyo and come to Port Harcourt. When you aggregate what Rivers State has received in the last four years plus, and what Akwa Ibom has received in the last four years plus, Rivers state has received almost twice what Akwa Ibom has received including what Akwa Ibom got from our oil wells that we have given to them, which by by God’s grace, we now have back. Go and see the level of development, see the roads, see the bridges, unprecedented.
For me, I’ll like to point out, I don’t share the ideals of PDP anymore, with anybody. The fact that governor Akpabio is PDP, as far as that is concerned he becomes part of the bunch that is destroying the nation. But having said that, I don’t close my eyes to the fact that he has worked. If Amaechi does the same thing in Rivers State, I will say the same thing, even if we are of different parties. But for God’s sake, whenever you come into Rivers State, land at the airport, getting into the seat of government, that is, coming from the airport to Government House, is a nightmare for anybody. For four years after? Talk about the primary schools he said he built, how many of them are in use? I still see these schools under lock and key. The schools are still under lock and key four years after. The children that were in these schools, where are they? Where are these children? Is anybody asking? Practically all the road projects that he inherited from the previous two governments under Dr. Peter Odili and Celestine Omehia, none of them is completed. The new ones he started not completed four years after. The so-called monorail that he says is his baby, nothing is happening. So, where is the money? The bonds that he has floated, almost N800 billion or so that he has taken as loan, what has he gone to do? Those who say that he is one of the miracle governors that the PDP has to show case, they should truly come out and say. So, asking me about the state of the State, this is the state of our State. But unfortunately a lot of people in this state have become cowed, they cannot talk. They are scared of talking. People in this state are scared of talking. There is fear in the land.
But we cannot run away from the fact that as we go around, we see a lot of wealth being exhibited. There is an exhibition of wealth in Rivers State by individuals. We have a permanent exhibition of wealth in Port Harcourt here. But shockingly, all those who are exhibiting these wealth in Rivers state are government appointees. All those exhibiting wealth in Rivers State today are government appointees, serving officers of government most of who have no visible means of livelihood before they got appointment. Suddenly, they have jeeps, there wives have, their children have. Their brothers and sisters have all over the place. They are suddenly moving from face-me I face-you to personal mansions, both in their villages and in Port Harcourt. Is that governance? Is that what it is supposed to be? And are we all supposed to keep quite when we see these happen? Whose interests are we serving? Are we serving the interest of Rivers people or are we serving our personal interests? Is that what governance is supposed to be?
I think that for the ACN as a opposition party, we have a duty to the Rivers people to continue to shout, to continue to call attention to the rape, in fact, to the invasion of the treasury of the people. Today, there is no difference between the governor’s personal property and government property. In other words, the government money has become the governor’s personal money. He can give it to whom he wills. He can take it from whom he wills. We are talking about employment. We have a large body of unemployed youths in this state. There is no visible action on the part of government that says it is seriously looking at the issue of unemployment among our youths. Yet we have so much money. Risonpalm which is in his backyard, Risonpalm is in the governor’s backyard. He knows, he has served in the board of Risonpalm long before this time. He knows the value of Risonpalm. He knows that, that company can engage thousands of youths. Why is the government not putting money into Risonpalm and ensure that as soon as possible it is turned around and made to employ our youths? Look at Okomoko, the rubber plantation there at Okomoko, Delta Rubber Company. The price of rubber in the international market has gone up and an investment in our rubber plantation which we have, our natural resource will give us a lot of money. It will employ a lot of youths. Why is the governor not putting money in those areas that would generate huge employment and income for the people? Why are we not facing infrastructure in various local government headquarters?
I don’t know how many of you have had the opportunity of going to other local government headquarters. Nothing is happening. Rivers state is experiencing the worst case of capital flight. The worst abhorrent type of capital flight that impoverishes our people, aided by the government itself. The revenue consultant for Rivers state, from our internally generated revenue, everything is based in Lagos. It has created employment for people in Lagos and no employment for people here. The bond that the said they have to raise, all the legal services on it, Lagos. If you pay the lawyers who handled that bond issue even 1% of the bond as their fee, it will generate employment for lawyers and other services in Rivers state. But unfortunately, no Rivers person was qualified to be the legal person for that bond issue. Everything is in Lagos. So we receive our monthly allocation in Abuja and moves to Lagos. All we do in Rivers state here is to raise memo in government House, pass it and approve it in government House, have the money disbursed in government House and probably give instructions and they are paid out in Lagos. That is not how to grow an economy. Port Harcourt is supposed to be the hub of the economy of the south south region of this country. Now, Lagos becomes the hub because the government of Rivers State has abdicated its responsibility and moved everything over to Lagos. That is not the governance.
I believe that every right thinking Rivers person must begin to think again, we should be able to tell the governor where he is not doing well and if we see anywhere he is doing well we should say yes, here he is doing well. But unfortunately today, by his own action, he prefers praise signers, so all those around him even within the party, within his own PDP, nobody can open his mouth and say your Excellency, this one is not in the interest of our state. Whatever he does, as far as it is he doing it, to protect themselves they have to accept, both the rich and the poor amongst them, out of fear. It is unfortunate for our state. But a few of us who have left the prison called PDP, have found the freedom that enables us to speak out.
I call the PDP a prison because I have been in it and as we build up to 2015 the PDP will become a maximum security prison and those who have the interest of the Rivers people should begin to bolt out of that party before it becomes a maximum security prison that will be for people.
Our state faces challenges. You are all living witnesses to the increased spate of robberies and kidnappings in the state. This time, who are they going to blame? We have a government that has continued to play politics with security. In this state, the state government plays politics with human security. Security of lives and properly for them is politics. Rather than face the issue, you look for who you will blame to score cheap political points. Now, this time around who will they blame? Is it Abiye Sekibo again? I think that we owe our people a duty. We owe ourselves a duty. We owe our children a duty, our grand children and those yet unborn a duty to begin to speak out, to stand for the truth and nothing but the truth. ###

Kenneth Amabipi

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