Minister of Transportation and former Governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi says his greatest regret as governor of Rivers State for eight years is that the people of the state have failed to recognize his contribution towards the progress of the state.
Amaechi, who spoke at the Annual Lagos Traffic Radio Lecture Series in Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos also accused the incumbent Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, of driving away investors from the state due to growing insecurity and crime.
“The problem with Nigerians is that they forget so soon what someone had done for them. And that was one of my greatest regrets as the Governor of River State for eight years. I served my people but they did not recognise my contribution,” he lamented.
According to Amaechi, there was no way one would be encouraged to do more for his people if they did not appreciate what such person had done in the past.
The former governor, however, accused Wike of driving away investors from Rivers as he had not been able to tackle rising wave of insecurity in the area, which had led to the plunging of the Internally Generated Revenue, IGR, from N8 billion to N4 billion.
“Do you know that people are now migrating away from Port Harcourt? When I was the Governor of Rivers State, nothing like that happened. The crime rate in the state has now increased and the IGR dropped. As the governor, the IGR of the state was at N8 billion. And that was why I have often advised Nigerian public office holders not to play with figures.
“I was accused of owing 12 months’ salary but when I left office, I had paid up to 40 percent of the workforce. I believe that all public officers must tell the public the truth always. During my tenure, when my IGR begins to fall, I invite the Commissioner of Police and other security operatives in the state to bring the statistics of crime in the state.
“Due to the crime rate in the state, people have started migrating away from the state and the IGR has dropped to N4 billion. The state governor (Wike) now moves like chairman of a council, asking traders and others if they had paid their taxes. But when I was the governor, I don’t engage in that,” he said.
According to Amaechi, “Migration is either voluntary or involuntary. But in the case of Rivers State, it is involuntary. They are forced to relocate from the state. The man complained that I am corrupt but I have asked him to go to court but until today, he is yet to bring evidence forward to buttress his claims.”
Amaechi also said that the reason Lagos often experience gridlock was due to lack of roads in the state, saying, “How many times do you see traffic in Abuja? And the reason was that it had nexus of roads. There is need for the construction of more connecting bridges across the state.”
The minister, in his paper, said as far as mass transportation was concerned, there is evidence to show that inadequacy in transport infrastructure and services had contributed significantly to the prevalence of poverty across various Nigerian communities in both urban and rural areas.
He said the problems of Nigerian transport system had varied across various sub-sectors including air, water, rail and road transport in particular.
“The challenges confronting transportation in Nigeria are numerous but its greatest failure is attributable to poor governance which several Nigerians have identified, including a former Minister of Transport, Dr . Abiye Sekibo, who noted that “transportation occupies a central position in the socio-economic and political development of any nation” but “successive Nigerian governments have left the transport sector comatose as a result of total neglect”.
He listed excessive government monopoly, grounded rail system with inefficient, obsolete and deficient transport policy, under-developed inland waterways, ports and port services, as well as corruption, as being major problems of the sector,” he said.
“In achieving our mission of establishing a safe, efficient, affordable and seamless intermodal transport system, we will ensure that we achieve internationally acceptable standards and deploy the available resources in the private sector through public private partnership to build a sustainable transportation system. This goal is realizable and the advantage we have is the political will and incorruptible nature of our Team Leader –President Muhamadu Buhari. I therefore urge all Nigerians to give us their support and prayers,” he added.