As Abuja Stands Still For Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi…

imageHis story is quite familiar. But remarkably, his is one of those poignant tales that seem to get even more interesting despite how often they are retold.

Born on May 27, 1965 in Umuordu-Ubima, Rivers State, Chibuike Amaechi attended St. Theresa’s Primary School, Ubima; Government Secondary School, Okolobiri (now in Bayelsa State), and the University of Port Harcourt where he obtained BA and MA Degrees in English language. As a student activist he exhibited great leadership qualities which led to his election as the President of the National Association of Rivers State Students.

Rt. Hon. Amaechi’s distinctive leadership legacies are deeply rooted across the length and breadth of Rivers State. His love and commitment to education, culture and youth empowerment found expression in his creating of enabling environments and infrastructure for the growth of educational and cultural activities in the state. Apart from driving rapid physical and intellectual development of the state, his efforts at ensuring security of lives and property yielded enduring dividends evident in the return of entertainment activities and night life in Port Harcourt, which was fast becoming a dreaded theatre of bloodshed before he took over as Governor. He also initiated and completed the construction of a 5-star international conference centre to boost conference tourism in the state. It was to the credit of his administration’s commitment to security of lives and property that Port Harcourt hosted, at various times, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association meeting, National Sports Festival, Miss ECOWAS Beauty Pageant and the African International Film Festival, to mention just a few.

Worthy of special note is his revival and elevation of the Rivers State Cultural Carnival (CARNIRIV) to international standards and physically participating in the carnival, always leading the entire state executive council and legislature in the carnival processions. His support for literary activities also boosted the Read Campaign in Rivers State, leading to the globally acclaimed Garden City Literary Festival, now Port Harcourt Book Festival. It was not surprising that Port Harcourt eventually became the UNESCO World Book Capital.

Amaechi has long carved a niche for himself as a far-sighted strategist whose convictions cannot be swayed no matter the contending forces or attractions. Rising through leadership ranks, he was twice the Chairman of Conference of Speakers of State Legislatures of Nigeria; an honourary member of the Louisiana House of Representatives, USA and recipient of many distinguished national and international awards, including the Man of The Year 2007 by The Sun Newspaper, Lagos. A strong advocate of value re-orientation for youths, he has been conferred with the Papal Knighthood of St. Sylvester by His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI.

Notwithstanding the controversies or varied sobriquets his political stand in recent times may have generated, Amaechi left an undisputed legacy of physical, socio-economic and educational development unparalleled in the history of Rivers State, for which he remains a role model to millions of Nigerians. The fundamental lesson of his political odyssey to date resides in the wisdom that, in pursuit of conviction, it is better to die for something than live for everything, as those who live for everything end up dying for nothing.

Being honoured in Abuja today by his colleagues, I proudly join other friends, associates and admirers to celebrate this rare icon of humanism and undeniable example of political courage. Congratulations, Your Excellency. May God continue to bless you with higher wisdom.

By Victor Nwokocha

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