Omuma Local Government, LG, was created in 1996 out of Etche LG. The LG shares boundary with Osisoma LG, Abia State. The people of Omuma are predominantly traders and farmers because of their land. From being the least developed LG in Rivers State; there were no good roads, potable water, simple social amenities cannot be found in the LG. But the story has changed as Hon. John Nnamdi Anucha, a journalist and Chairman of Omuma LG with the backing of Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has transformed the local government positively. Hear him: “His Excellency ventured into massive development in the state while Omuma LG was not left out [and] to complement our governor’s vision on development I took up challenge to copy my master”. Hon. Anucha who had held different positions in Rivers State, shares his experience as the helmsman of the council, achievements, challenges as well as Governor Amaechi’s contributions to the growth and development of not only Omuma LG but Rivers State in general. Excerpts:
Can you share your experience as executive chairman of Omuma LG?
I came on board by the special grace of God when His Excellency Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi appointed me as chairman, Caretaker Committee of Omuma LG in 2007. I was first out of 23 chairmen His Excellency find worthy to resign as chairman and contest for the position of Executive Chairman; I did so and won the election in 2008. After my first tenure as executive chairman, I ran for the second tenure and won again and I am almost completing my tenure.
It is very enormous and tasking because my LG is the least developed in Rivers State. There were no good roads, potable water, simple social amenities cannot be found in my LG. We were tasked to build and develop Omuma LG and as a focused administration we keyed in. His Excellency ventured into massive development in the state while Omuma LG was not left out; to complement our governor’s vision on development, I took up the challenge to emulate him.
What are your major achievements?
Rural electrification, 38 villages were electrified. Since the creation of this LG my people only see light in Port Harcourt or any of the neighbouring states. Omuma was in total darkness. As we settle down I started consultation within and outside this local government because we share boundary with Abia State. I contacted a traditional ruler, late Chief Egne in Osisoma LG in Abia State. After getting in touch with them they gave us condition of electrifying four of their villages in Abia State with laying of concrete poles, high and low tension wires and provision of transformer which my council did. I also paid for some economic trees cut down along the line. The project alone from Abia State villages cost us N40 million. Today the council which I head has created conducive environment for artisans especially barbing and hair dressing salons, welding. Many who had left town and settled down in the village; this development kept our people busy. You cannot talk of industrialisation without electricity.
Construction of modern and tastefully furnished secretariat. Renovation of old council secretariat building is ongoing. Building of two markets and modern motorpark with lock-up shops, car wash section, restaurant and offices.
Construction of road that can stand test of time at local government headquarters. Fifty-seven-kilometre fielder roads graded annually and the gesture is extended to Abia State being our neighbour.
Procurement of 10 buses for Omuma people to ease transportation challenge. Three modern town halls were constructed and empowerment of 48 Omuma youths with sum of N200,000 each. Empowerment of 700 Omuma youths through functioning committee with monthly allowances; 40 people were empowered to start petty business with sum of N200,000; 20 people were given cars for empowerment while 30 motorcycles were given to people, over 54 cars were bought for management staff and political office holders in Omuma LG, five cars bought for reverend fathers to encourage our people to shun social vices in our society and get to close to God. Payment of bursary to Omuma students annually.
Construction of two-star hotel is also ongoing. The governor gave us conducive environment to operate; no deduction of our allocation. We don’t have any reason or excuse not to perform. Today there is no local government chairman that are not performing under the administration of Governor Rotimi Amaechi in Rivers State.
What are your challenges?
High level of insecurity, kidnapping and some social vices. The highest time ever was between 2009 and 2010. The first incident was 2009 when a construction company’s expatriate staff was kidnapped and his aide was shot dead. I said to myself that this kind ugly incident cannot continue so I went to His Excellency, and told him that my people in Omuma could not sleep with their two eyes close again. The state government spent N26 million on security men deployed to Omuma; logistics like feeding was been taken care by the council. I thank the Almighty God that the thing is now history. Our people are now thanking their God that they have a government that care for the betterment of people.
As I speak to you, Omuma is the least paid in the whole federation, we don’t generate much revenue; our monthly revenue don’t exceed N30,000. We have 700 workforce excluding political office holders. By the time we pay all these people salary and other entitlement nothing remain, this is affecting development. I made a lot of sacrifices to keep the council moving. In fact I have a lot of political challenges here.
How would you assess Governor Amaechi’s performance in Rivers State?
A goldfish has no hiding place. Our governor is not a noisemaker; he backs his words or promises with actions. Since the creation of Rivers State apart from Diete Spiff, the military governor. There is no administration like this present one, Rivers State consist of 23 local councils and all the projects you see in capital city (Port Harcourt), are also replicated in all local governments in the state. From good roads, model primary schools, model secondary schools, His Excellency Governor Rotimi Amaechi has lifted us into developmental limelight. This is the first time Rivers people will enjoy massive scholarship scheme. Governor Amaechi runs the best educational system. He gave scholarships that took many Rivers students out of Nigeria to countries like Canada, US, Europe, UK and Asia at no cost to their parents.
He does not practice tribalism; everybody in Rivers enjoy equal benefit. Free uniforms are given out, sandals, textbooks, same structures. He recently employed 13,720 teachers based on merit without sentiment; medical practitioners were employed and post to all hospitals in all LGs to work.
Songhai farm are there. Fishing farms are all over the state to engage people. He constructed more roads to many local governments. Rison Palm were revived and engaged 5,000 people. His empowerment scheme is very fantastic. Most of our youths are engaged; 200 people from each LG collect N10,000 on monthly basis. While 50 coordinators per LG go home with N50,000 monthly. These can only be achieved by a man that has passion for development not radio jingle governor. He sponsors a lot of people to holy land both Muslims and Christians, no discrimination against any religion. He has done more than any governor in the country today.
In fact, I am very proud to call him my mentor because he is a pacesetter, indefatigable man, visionary and focused leader who have passion for development of Rivers people.
Apart from federal allocation, is your LG receiving any assistance from federal government and its agencies?
May God continue to bless our able governor and his family. Governor Amaechi influenced MDGs water projects for us by paying counterpart fund of N100 million for our council. My local government was shortlisted and benefited from MDGs water scheme and this relieved our people from water shortage. For this laudable project and other numerous one my people cannot forget His Excellency. This is only thing we got through federal government and its agencies.
What would you like to be remembered for by the time you will complete your tenure?
I will like to be remembered as somebody that gave light to my people and also someone that restored peace and security to my people in Omuma.
What kind advice would you like to give to people of Omuma?
My people should shun the politics of bitterness and violence. We are brothers and sisters we should not destroy ourselves. Development can only come under the peaceful atmosphere, without peace there won’t be any development.