My dear people of Rivers State
The February 25, 2023, presidential elections have come and gone, won and lost. We thank God for the peace that prevailed before, during, and after the elections. We also thank you for exercising your civic responsibility in voting for the candidates of your choice.
For us in the G-5, the presidential election was about fairness, equity, and justice. Our commitment was for a presidential power shift from the North, where it has been for the last eight years, to Southern Nigeria.
Thankfully, Nigerians have vindicated our stand, and we appreciate the electoral majority for strengthening the nation's unity with their choice.
We also thank and congratulate the All Progressives Congress (APC) Governors for their progressive and principled stand on power shift to the South for equity, justice, and national cohesion.
We appreciate the voters of Rivers State for overwhelmingly voting for the State's National Assembly candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
We are particularly elated with the emergence of my Deputy Governor, Dr. Mrs. Ipalibo Harry Banigo, as one of the only three elected women Senators of Nigeria for the 10th National Assembly.
Her election further demonstrates the commitment of our Government and the Rivers State PDP to advancing inclusiveness and women's political empowerment in Rivers State.
As the State's ruling party, the PDP's superlative performance and achievements are beyond question.
We have done tremendously well in all priority areas of security, infrastructure, education, healthcare, judiciary, urban renewal, and rural development.
Under the PDP, Rivers State is now one of Nigeria's safest and most secure States to live, do business, work, and raise our children.
In four years, we delivered 12 flyovers and several trunk-A roads across the State, including the first phase of the trans-Kalabari road, the Ogoni-Andoni-Opobo unity road, Sakpenwa – Bori – Kono road and phase one of the Ahoada-Omoku road.
The dualization of the Emohua – Tema junction road and phase two of the Ahoada-Omoku road, among several others, are also underway.
We have also changed the Port Harcourt city landscape and Obio/Akpor Local Government Area forever with a first-class road network, flyovers, and other impactful infrastructures.
We have tremendously improved access to quality education with the reconstruction and delivery of several primary and secondary education schools across the State.
We also expanded access to quality tertiary education with the delivery of four new campuses of Rivers State University at Ahoada, Emohua, Etche, and Sakpenwa.
We have provided full scholarships for Rivers State Students reading medicine and related courses at the Pamo University of Medical Sciences from the inception of that university to date. Over 500 Rivers youths have benefitted from this scholarship, which we have renewed for another four years.
We introduced and built the College of Medical Sciences at Rivers State University, adjudged as the country's best and most resourced medical college by Nigeria's Medical and Dental Council.
We have delivered first-class healthcare facilities for the State, including the Government House Clinic, the Mother and Child Hospital, the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, and the Dr. Peter Odili Cancer and Cardiovascular Diseases Diagnostic and Treatment Centre.
The reconstruction of Prof. Kelsey Harrison Hospital, the Dental and Maxillo-facial, including Ear, Nose, Throat, and the Ophthalmology Centre will soon be completed and opened for public use.
We have provided several rural communities with basic infrastructure, including internal and other roads linking them to other parts of the State.
Never in history has Rivers State witnessed the commissioning and flag-off of new projects up to the last weeks of an administration as we are doing.
Under our watch, nothing comes before Rivers State.
Rivers State is first, and everything else is secondary. We have never looked back on fighting for, defending, and protecting the economic and political interests of Rivers State and its citizens.
We fought for and secured the return of Soku oil and gas fields and Akiri and Mgbede oilfields to Rivers State, which now enjoys the derivation proceeds from these gas and oilfields.
We are still courageously fighting to decentralize the collection of value-added tax to States to strengthen fiscal federalism and enhance the economic viability of State governments.
Lately, we joined other pro-people State Governments in the struggle to challenge the Federal Government's obnoxious cash policy and thank the Supreme Court for its positive intervention to end the suffering of the masses.
We accorded equal protection to indigenes and non-indigenes and advanced the security and well-being of everyone who lives in the State without discrimination.
We have ensured the security of lives and property and provided a congenial business environment, including reducing taxes, eliminating double taxation, and timely issuing certificates of occupancy, enabling the business community to thrive in the State.
We have built an excellent relationship with the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and other faiths and religious bodies, including the Islamic faith, ensuring religious harmony and progress in the State.
The youths are the future of Rivers State, and our commitment to their progress has been strong since 2015. Apart from expanding educational opportunities, no State government has integrated youths and women into the political and governance systems as we have done.
From 2015 to date, Rivers youths have held and continue to hold elective and appointive offices, including party positions, local government chairmen, Deputy Local Government Chairmen, Councilors, State House of Assembly Members, Special Advisers, and Commissioners.
We have reopened the recruitment process and directed the Rivers State Civil Service Commission to employ 10,000 youths into the State's Civil Service within the next month.
We, therefore, enjoin our vibrant youths to take up lifetime careers with the Rivers State Civil Service and contribute to the development of the State.
As we all know, the rescheduled Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections will hold in Rivers State next Saturday, 18th March 2023.
With the quality of progress we have delivered in the last eight years, it is evident that Rivers State will be more outstanding and closer to fulfilling its purpose if the current development tempo is strengthened and sustained for the next four years.
Therefore, the successor we need is a Governor who will consolidate and continue with the new Rivers vision, defend and protect the State's interests, and propel it to more remarkable progress and prosperity.
This is precisely what the candidate of the PDP, Sir Siminalayi Fubara and his deputy, Professor Ngozi Odu, have committed to accomplishing with their blueprint for consolidation and continuity.
Siminalayi Fubara is a Christian, a Knight of St. Christopher, and an Accountant with over two decades of working experience in civil service.
He progressed to the zenith of his public service career as Permanent Secretary and Accountant General of Rivers State, where he recently resigned to contest as the governorship candidate of the PDP.
Siminalayi Fubara's running mate, Professor (Mrs) Ngozi Odu, is also Christian with an excellent public service career.
She is a former Permanent Secretary, Commissioner for Education, and university lecturer.
Both candidates are persons of impeccable character and knowledgeable technocrats with excellent public service records.
Both candidates are familiar with the workings of government, the standard public service rules, and the precepts of good governance, having worked closely with me in different capacities.
They also know the developmental challenges we face as a State and as a people and what we can do together to resolve them, having lived and worked in and for the State throughout their lives.
This is the first time former civil servants with knowledge, capacity, competence, passion and experience have been given a chance to administer the State and drive its development with their blueprint for the consolidation and continuity of the New Rivers Vision.
Therefore, this is the turn of civil servants to be at the helm of State affairs. It is a golden opportunity for every civil and public servant, serving and retired, to fully embrace and ensure that the next Governor and Deputy Governor come from their constituency.
We must agree that this election is about the future of Rivers State. It is about moving Rivers State forward to the next level.
It is about advancing the security and well-being of our people. It is about protecting and defending the interests of Rivers State.
Having come this far in our development journey, we cannot afford now to gamble with our future and vote for candidates with unstable and questionable character to govern our State.
The APC candidate fraudulently acquired the State's valued assets with his political mentor and business partner, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi. Both were indicted by a Judicial Panel of Inquiry.
They are currently facing criminal prosecution before a competent Court of law in Charge No: PHC/3673/CR/2022 (State v Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and 4 Ors) for diverting the State's $50,000,000.00 to themselves.
$50,000,000.00 at the current exchange rate is the equivalent of over N37 billion naira. But, instead of undergoing the trials to clear their names, if at all, they have been employing all kinds of manoeuvres to stall the trials.
Rotimi Amaechi and his protégé, Tonye Cole, actively opposed the demand for power shift to the South and worked against their party's presidential candidate in Rivers State.
When the President-Elect emerged as the winner, Tonye Cole rushed to congratulate him on his Instagram handle but deleted the post when he was criticized for his dishonest, hypocritical, and opportunistic behaviour.
Rotimi Amaechi woefully failed as Governor of Rivers State for eight years. He also could not attract any single development project to Rivers State as Minister for Transportation for seven years.
Recently, he threw caution to the wind with his irresponsible comments on the emotive “abandoned property” issue in a desperate attempt to deceive the Igbo population into voting for his uninspiring APC governorship candidate, Tonye Cole.
Igbo and Rivers people have lived harmoniously together for decades as brothers and sisters without any issues. We will continue to appreciate our Igbos brothers and friends as among the most significant investors and contributors to the development of Rivers State. Our fraternal ties will continue forever, as nobody can ever divide us.
Therefore, it is regrettable for Rotimi Amaechi to now thoughtlessly attempt to instigate hostility between brothers and sisters to advance selfish political objectives. His feeble denial is an afterthought and a confirmation of his unsteady character.
We must be wary of these devious, deceptive, and desperate politicians masquerading and projecting themselves before unsuspecting voters as leaders that can be entrusted with power.
Let us not be deceived by their campaign promises. They are political fakes, jokers, failures, never-do-wells, and opportunists desperate for power to loot our treasury again.
They have nothing to offer but lies, deceit, and empty promises. Tonye Cole knows nothing about governance and cannot give what he does not have.
We assure you that with the PDP, the future of Rivers State is bright and secure. Siminalayi Fubara and his deputy have the knowledge, capacity, character, passion, and experience to step into our shoes and deliver their blueprint for Rivers State.
Therefore, I appeal to you to vote for the PDP and all its candidates in the Governorship and State House of Assembly elections on Saturday, 18th March 2023, for consolidation and continuity.
We commend the leadership of the Labour Party for adopting and endorsing the candidate of the PDP, Siminalayi Fubara, as the candidate of choice for the Governor of Rivers people.
We also commend the leadership of the Rivers State Chapter of the Inter-Party Advisory Council for endorsing the Governorship and State House of Assembly candidates of the PDP for next Saturday's elections.
We implore you to mobilize the electorates in your constituencies to vote for PDP so that we can work together to protect and advance the interests and progress of our State.
We have received credible intelligence indicating the plans by Rotimi Amaechi and the APC to overrun and disrupt the elections in Rivers State with army personnel and civilian thugs and cultists dressed in army and police uniforms.
We have written to notify the Hon. Minister of Defence, the Chief of Army Staff of the Nigerian Army, and the General Officer Commanding the 6 Division of the Nigerian Army, Port Harcourt, and requested that no military personnel is released to Rotimi Amaechi or any other politician to interfere with next Saturday's elections in Rivers State.
Furthermore, we have noticed that the Anti-terrorism Unit of the State Police command continues to provide VIP security services to politicians in defiance of the Inspector-General's order to withdraw all police personnel attached to VIPs during the elections.
We, therefore request the Inspector-General of Police to enforce his order by ensuring that all political leaders are restricted to their polling units and prevented from moving about with police escort.
In addition, we have also requested the security agencies to arrest and prosecute the following local politicians who are plotting to disrupt the elections with armed thugs, cultists, and gangsters in military and police uniforms:
Dr. Lenoonu Nwibubasa
Dumbari Deezua; and
Dr. Gabriel Pidomson
Hon. Mike Amachree
Paul Lawrence Paul
Mr. Ogbams Ojimah
Baridi Edmund Katara
Solo Filiman Mon
Christian Don Pedro
Iworiabo Amachree, and
We expect the security high command to live up to their assurance of providing adequate security beef-of throughout the State to forestall any security breaches or breakdown of law and order during and after the elections.
We assure everyone that we will do everything within our power to resist and prevent a repeat of what happened in 2019 when the Nigerian Army was used to rig, kill our people and destroy property during the elections across the State.
We urge and hope that the Independent National Electoral Commission will guarantee and ensure that next Saturday's elections are free, fair, and credible, allowing the electorates to decide their leaders.
I hereby declare Friday, March 17, 2023, as a public holiday to enable all private and public sector workers to travel to their communities and vote in their polling units.
Finally, I thank the people of Rivers State for your prayers, support, and cooperation since we took over the levers of governance.
Please, come out and vote en masse for the PDP on the 18th of March, 2019. It is your civil duty and opportunity to constitute the next government and consolidate the State's progress.
May God bless you all and our dear Rivers State.