… As govt honours 127 Nigerians
From: TONY JOHN, Port Harcourt
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has stated that his predecessor, Chibuike Amaechi, did not merit the state award given to him because he was indicted by a Judicial Commission of Inquiry for misappropriation of the state funds.
This was even as the State Government, on Saturday night, honoured 127 distinguished Nigerians, who served the State meritoriously in different fields of human endeavour, which was the climax of the week-long Golden Jubilee celebrations.
Governor Wike, who personally presented the awards to the recipients or their representatives , which took place at the remodeled multi-purpose hall of the Alfred Diete Spiff Civic Centre, Port Harcourt, said organisers of the award nominated Amaechi based on his status as a former governor.
All civilian and military former governors of the State accepted the award, except the immediate past governor of the state, Amaechi, who rejected it.
Speaking further, Governor Wike stated that the law establishing the award would be amended to ensure that individuals indicted in any form for financial or criminal records, no matter their previous positions , did not get honoured from the State.
He pointed out that the immediate past governor was indicted by a judicial commission of inquiry into the sale of the assets of the State, pointing out that he did not merit the award, but was merely included in the list based on the law establishing the award, which recognised his status as a former governor.
Wike said: “You will agree with me that any person with such antecedents and formal indictments is not and cannot be a fit and proper person to be bestowed with State Honours.
” Accordingly, we queried the nomination of Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi on that premise, but conceded, albeit, reluctantly, when we were told that his nomination was fiat accompli under the State Honours Law by virtue of his position as a former Governor of the State.
“Now that our unusual magnanimity in the spirit of the Jubilee is unappreciated, we think it is proper to amend the law and safeguard its credibility from being eroded or undermined.”
Governor Wike presented three categories of awards to the distinguished personalities. They included: Grand Service Star of Rivers State (GSSRS), Distinguished Service Star of Rivers State (DSSRS) and Governor’s Medal of Honour (GMH).
Wike stated that the Excellent Achievers Golden Jubilee State Awards was instituted to appreciate all those, who worked hard to ensure the growth and stability of the State.
Some of the awardees were honoured posthumously for their outstanding contributions to the growth of the State at different times.
He said: “Rivers people are all proud of you.You are our heroes. You have inspired generations and we pray you continue to inspire us by upholding the finest values of hard work, courage, commitment, determination, competitive spirit, love for knowledge and love for your country, your State and the Nation. These are the time-honoured values that stood you out among the rest for this noble recognition.
“To the families of our departed recipients, we appreciate you for the lifetime achievements and contributions of your loved ones to the development of our people, our State and our Nation. Some of them died so that we can be free to pursue our dreams and aspirations. We are proud of every one of them and let this award remind you that we love them as much.”
The governor added: “You have all done well and we call on our youths to draw inspiration from your achievements and free themselves from the self-imposed and self-limiting sense of despair, hopelessness and helplessness.
” Let us never forget that we are a people of common heritage with a common destiny under God. As Government, we shall continue to promote, protect and defend the collective interest of Rivers State.”
Meanwhile, prominent among the awardees were: former President Goodluck Jonathan, his wife, Dame Patience Jonathan, first Rivers Military Governor, King Alfred Diete Spiff, former Rivers State Governors, Dr Peter Odili and Chief Rufus Ada George, former Deputy Speakers of the House of Representatives, Chibodum Nwuche and Austin Opara.
Late Ken Saro-Wiwa, Late Senator Obi Wali and Late Edward Kobani were among those honoured posthumously.
Responding on behalf of the recipients, former President Goodluck Jonathan thanked the government and people of the State for recognising him and other awardees.
He said they would continue to make their contributions towards advancing the development of the State.
He pointed out that the award occupied a special place in his heart due to his long time relationship with the State.
Jonathan praised the governor for his numerous achievements, which earned him the title, “Mr Projects “, and lauded the Governor Wike for instituting a 50-year strategic plan to develop Rivers State.