Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi and Briefcase Journalism

Published on 15th December 2011

Rotimi C. Amaechi, Governor of Rivers State  Photo courtesy
Mudsling and propaganda seem to be a permanent feature of Nigerian politics. As the political season draws near, those who are in the business of such peddling grab headlines and feed fat. Their strategy is to create the fire and position themselves before the vulnerable, for consultations on how to extinguish it. That is how it works.

Nigerian politics has failed to deliver development for so long that anyone who dares to break the rule gets all the attention. He threatens his peers and can easily be made a scapegoat because of it. It is a crime to raise the bar because that will naturally threaten the status quo. Desperate moves will be made to tarnish the person’s image and ridicule his achievements.

Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, the Executive Governor of Rivers State is unarguably such a leader. It is no surprise at all that any opportunity to splash mud at him is never spared by his detractors. One of such moves is the recent article written by one Ifeanyi Izeze, an Abuja based media consultant and published on Sahara Reporters on the 6th of December 2011. Let me make something clear, every leader that is spending public money ought to be asked questions. Transparency and good governance are hallmarks of leadership.

Mr. Izeze’s article is yet another subset of a ‘pull-him-down’ agenda of a disgruntled ‘consultant’ seeking attention. The word ‘consultant’ is one of the most frequently abused words among the Nigerian pseudo elite, lately. It is reportedly a mask for unemployment. One of the most convenient things to do after looking for job endlessly in Abuja is to turn to a consultant. Media consultancies (most of them fake) proliferate in their scores in Abuja, just as estate agents. Ifeanyi Izeze and his likes belong to this lot. They are often seen loitering around many five star hotel lobbies in Abuja looking for politicians to hoodwink, cajole or blackmail in the name of consultancy.

Amaechi will not fall for those machinations. Contrary to the claims of the article, Rotimi Amaechi is not given to profligacy. Indeed he has a reputation of being very tight fisted especially to those who have nothing positive or productive to offer.

On the issues of armed robbery and security vote raised by Mr. Izeze, it is important to state here that the security vote is supposed to be used by Governors to maintain security in their states. The cases of Rivers State in the past few weeks have been quite surprising. I will not be stunned if a committed Governor decides to spend a bit more to equip those in charge to do their work and quickly reverse this trend.

Agreed, Amaechi is the Chief security officer of the State but Rivers State does not own the Police, the Federal Government does. His role as Governor, in my view, is to work with security agencies to put together a strategy and give them adequate logistics to do their work. The robbery incidences are very recent and cannot diminish the huge improvements that have been recorded by Amaechi’s government. If Mr Izeze wants to be like a ‘watchdog’ journalist, he should direct the same questions on security vote to Governors of all the 36 states.

The fact that Amaechi has hosted several big events in Rivers State like the National Sports Festival and Rivers State Investment Summit without a single incident is indicative of the security progresses made already. Could anyone have dreamed of such feats before 2007? Mr. Izeze’s timid reference to anarchy is therefore both laughable and unintelligent. Apart from his clear allusion to a possibility of sabotage, the ‘consultant’ completely forgot that Rivers State is surrounded by other states like Abia and Imo States. Without making definite assertions, there could be a possibility that these hoodlums might be coming from across the borders of Rivers States. Often, perpetrators of kidnapping in Rivers State have been traced to nearby states. Although this does not absolve Mr. Amaechi of blames completely, it leads a fair minded analyst to call for increased political will from neighbouring states in the fight against criminality in the old south east zone.

Having said this, can I ask Mr Izeze to tell us how temporary and surmountable security challenges can reverse things like quantum infrastructural leap of the Amaechi administration? Will those roads, power plants, world class secondary schools and health centres built by Governor Amaechi disappear as a result of one robbery incident? Does Mr. Izeze not know that Rivers State is the only state that is currently self-sufficient in power generation in the country?

A few weeks ago, a British journalist visited Mr Amaechi and asked him for a drive around the town. What was supposed to be an interview session was almost turned to a carnival. Rivers people are happy with Amaechi. Anyone who has lived in Port Harcourt in the last ten years will have the same confession. The results of the 2011 elections are there for everyone to see. No doubt, the interventions are far from perfect, the projects are too many and need to be completed as soon as possible, but that is the philosophy behind a developmental state.  That was exactly the path the Asian tigers took at the immediate aftermath of the World War II.

I have visited Rivers State several times in the last two years and I cannot allow the falsehood contained in the article of Mr. Izeze to go unchallenged. The role of the media in the expansion of the Nigerian democratic space must be acknowledged. However, the media has also created rooms for rag tag opportunists like Ifeanyi Izeze who go around trying to hoodwink gullible politicians. He missed the point completely in his attempt to mislead the public through his article. The Rotimi Amaechi I know will not succumb to machinations and cheap black mail by a brief case media consultant. His verifiable achievements in Rivers State remain self-evident.

By Uche Igwe

The author lives in Washington DC. He can be reached on uchigwe@gmail.com


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