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Rivers-State-Gov.-Mr-Rotimi-AmaechiRecently, the governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi sought for the issuance of an additional $200 million (about N45 billion loan) from the World Bank and the African Development Bank. This time around, the governor is planning to embark on water projects without considering the fact that he once embarked on projects in the state which have been regarded to as white elephant projects by the citizenry. Taking our mind back to some of the atrocities of the former speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Amaechi on the 29th of September, 2009 promised the people of Rivers State that he would embark on special projects that would touch their lives directly. At the commencement of his administration, the governor pledged to construct a mega specialist hospital worth a whopping sum of $150m which he boastfully said would make Rivers State the number one medical tourism destination in Africa but till date, the said hospital which was supposed to be constructed in collaboration with Clinotech Canada is nowhere to be found.

However, Amaechi, having forgotten that he had been granted some loan in the past which yielded no positive results as the projects he intends to embark upon all fell by the way side, is now seeking for the granting of another $200 million loan which the President of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan is vehemently frustrating its approval. Call it a political vendetta and perhaps you may be right, this is due to the current crisis brewing between Rotimi Amaechi and President Jonathan which may be the governor’s albatross towards securing the loan as the requirement has it that the federal government should be the guarantor for the loan. Do we now say that the World Bank/ADB loan ‘non-approval’ or delay by the Federal Government smacks of bluff, subterfuge, and depicts the extreme political chicanery that has invaded governance, at the expense of citizens?

Definitely, President Jonathan has suddenly lost trust in his in-law as the case may be because the president knew very well that Amaechi is full of lies and is also an inconsistent governor who likes to dabble his hands on multiple projects, majority of which would definitely be uncompleted (call him Jack of all trade and master of none).

Another major crisis rocking the administration of Amaechi apart from the Justice Karibi Whyte Mega Specialist Hospital is the $318 million worth of mono-rail. This perhaps will go down in the history of the southern Nigeria as the biggest white elephant project ever. As early as September 2010, the governor had doled out a staggering N11bn for the project. The governor assured that the monorail, not the entire project, not the phase 1, but the phase 1A would be completed by December 2013. After four years of award, less than 25 per cent of the project has been achieved. The governor promised his people that “the monorail would be the first of its kind in West Africa, and would be developed for mass transportation within the Port Harcourt metropolis, decongest roads in the city, and create job opportunities.” The project failed!

The state Ministry of Water Resources also developed a water master plan for Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpo since 2011. As usual, the governor promised to release N5 billion available for the first phase of the project, nothing happened. Presently, Rotimi AMaechi is now running around to secure another $200m World Bank/ADB loan knowing fully well that the state Water Board has been without form. The World Bank/ADB listed conditions for the loan, amongst which is that a reform must be undertaken to create an autonomous agency that will have its own board of directors and a finance management framework that is independent.

The governor directed the speaker to pass a bill for the creation of the Port Harcourt Water Corporation, Rivers State Small Towns Water Agency, and the Rivers Water Regulatory Agency. The bill was signed on 30th May 2012. Since then, like every other bill passed by the rubber stamp assembly of the state, it has remained just documentation. Only a billboard was strategically placed at the Rumuola Water Station in Port Harcourt.

The Rivers State Ministry of Water Resources has since advertised vacancies in these ‘demo’ agencies in the national dailies. Of course, these advertisements were also included in the documentation to the World Bank. But if you were one of those who applied, Sorry! Nothing is happening. It is all deceit. No such agencies exist in the state. Therefore, the most fundamental condition given by the World Bank/ADB has not been met. No board, no management, no organization, no structure. Rivers State has not met any of these conditions.

The Amaechi administration is desperate for the World Bank loan because it provided zero allocation for water in the state’s 2013 budget. Consequently, all water stations in Rivers State are grounded as we report. Would any responsible government allow things to get this bad because they are waiting for a loan?

Now, for any loan to a state/state agency to get the final nod of the World Bank/ADB, a key condition is that the national government – in this case the FG – must act as a guarantor. Considering the record of the Rivers State government in collaborative ventures like the few projects listed above, no one would recommend that the FG guarantees a $200m loan to a government that has been unable to deliver on any major project. As we are writing this, the question on the lips of Rivers State people is, what happened to almost N200 billion before embarking on another $200 million loan?

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