Rivers State Governor, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, has vowed to go ahead with governmentâ€™s plan to demolish the waterfront in Port Harcourt and its environs, as part of measures to check the wave of criminality in the state capital.
He came face-to-face with Okrika chiefs, elders and inhabitants of the area who are battling his government over the demolition in the law court.
Governor Amaechi who said he would go ahead with the demolition during the town hall meeting with the people of Okrika, said the decision to demolish the waterfront settlements was in the interest of peace and tranquility of all persons residing in Port Harcourt and the state.
He said: â€œAs governor I can drive to my village without escort. But I challenge former to top public office holders from Okrika who are residing in Abuja today and are attacking government to dare visit their village without tight security around because they negatively impacted on the people.â€
He explained that Government has the responsibility to protect lives and property and one way to achieve this was by demolishing the waterfront settlements since they serve as safe haven for criminals.
He recounted the bold steps he took on assumption of office to restore security and night life to Okrika land, adding that the only condition on which government would not demolish the waterfront was for the Okrikans to sign an agreement with the government, emphasizing that they would be held responsible for any criminal activity perpetrated at the waterfront.
Governor Amaechi reminded the Okrika people that in the heat of the insecurity challenges in Okrika land, government decided to take over the parcel of land that was occupied by hoodlumsÂ at Okochiri calledÂ â€œthe Evil Forestâ€ at Okrika to prove that government was in place, emphasizing that â€œthe test of governance is the ability to take the right decisions, no matter who is affectedâ€.
The governor, who reminded the people of Okrika that their sons, who held several positions of trust in the past, were unable to bring development to the area, said he deserved commendation from the people because within two years he has done what their sons could not do for them throughout the eight years they were in government.
Dr. Abiye Sekibo the former Secretary to the Rivers State Government, SSG during Dr. Peter Odili’s administration, and later the Minister of Transport; Chief AdaÂ George, former Governor; Alaiye Eremie, a former Commissioner and other top public office holders were from Okrika.
Throughout the Odili administration, most Okrika prominent sons and daughters fled their homes for safety of their lives.
According to Amaechi, â€œyou had a ring road that was not started, I did not cancel it, when I became governor you asked me to do the ring road and I awarded it to one of your sons, expanding the scope and contract sum from the original N900 million to N3 billion,â€ the governor remarked, assuring them that the road would be completed before December this year.
He further explained that government was building a Skills Acquisition Centre in Okrika to address the problem of unemployment among the youths, and urged them to make use of the centre when completed to improve their lot.
While calling on the people of Okrika to donate land for the building of the Model Secondary School in the area, Governor Amaechi directed that all structures within 20 meters around the Model Primary School at Ogoloma be demolished, and compensation paid to owners of such structures, to create room for conducive learning environment.
Answering questions during the interactive session, Governor Amaechi assured the people of Okrika that they would be linked to the Eleme Gas Turbine when completed to boost electricity supply to the area, while government was also embarking on land reclamation project for the people at Oba-Ama.
In his introductory speech, the Secretary to the State Government,Â Magnus Abe, said the forum was intended for the people to interact with the governor on how to fast track development in the area, enjoining them to maximise the opportunity to bare their minds on issues that affect them.
Earlier, the Chairman of Okrika Local Government Council, Tamunokuro George-Oba, promised to continue to serve the people well and thanked the governor for the visit.
The governor and his entourage had earlier paid a courtesy call on the Amanyanabo of Ogoloma, Chief E. T. I. Obudibo and also inspected the Model Primary School at Ogoloma.
â€”Okafor Ofiebor/Port HarcourtOkafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt