Eze Presents 59 Garlands To A Visionary Leader, Astute Politician, And Lover Of God And Humanity, Rt. Hon. Barr Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi In Commemoration Of His Birth…Exposes how AMAECHI intended to make Rivers State the Food Basket of Nigeria and how Wike came and destroyed this VISION

By

Eze Chukwuemeka Eze,
08022049770, ezemediaconcept2020@gmail.com

“….To Amaechi: “The current problem we are having in Nigeria is tied to poverty and unemployment. I believe that one solution to this insurgency is education and employment. The easiest employment is farming, because a large number of our youths are not educated and skilled. I applied it here in Rivers State and it worked. We created the Banana Farms that have created jobs for over 2,000 persons. We revived the Risonpalm; it was dead when we came, and it has employed over 5,000 workers. Also, the Songhai Farm has employed over 2,000 workers, while Five Fish Farms in strategic locations have been completed. We have done all that to create employment opportunities for our people….”

If this is not revolution then I am at a loss on what revolution means

PREAMBLE

Finally and to the Glory of God the auspicious day of 27th May, 2024 is here with us at last. A day that God in His infinite Mercy and Love for humanity decided to bless us with one of His Best ever created human being, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi CON

My friend and brother, Dakuku Peterside PhD, Author of Strategic Turnaround, Story of a government agency, turnaround expert, leadership coach and columnist who wrote the Foreword of my book titled, “Amaechi: His Feats, Inspirational and Revolutionary Leadership Style” exclaimed and explained the book and the main subject of the book thus,

“Vintage Eze, through this book, provides a wealth of knowledge and insights about how the master political leader in CR Amaechi was able to navigate political landmines and rose to the pinnacle of leadership. Chief Eze’s account provides stories that have not been told before in this way and at the same time brings clues that make the total picture clear.

This book essentially is a new perspective and a compelling first-hand authentic story that only a master storyteller can share.

Chief Eze, through this work, has taken us through the most significant highlights of the Rotimi Amaechi personae in public life. This account is outside the imagination of those who thought they had information on the Amaechi years.

Chief Eze brings a fresh dimension that clarifies and takes the reader to the inner recesses of how Rt. Hon Amaechi accomplished excellent results despite artificial roadblocks and other challenges.

By reading this book, I am sure you will understand how others view Rt. Hon. Amaechi and what makes him loved, respected, appreciated but also dreaded. Most importantly, it will be for you as it is for me the beginning of a deeper exploration of the quintessential Amaechi.

Few persons are more qualified to document Amaechi’s impactful and definitive leadership than Chief Eze. He is a prolific commentator on national and international issues, an accomplished journalist, an excellent reporter of events, steeped in background facts not available to any other storyteller, opinion moulder and people’s advocate.

Eze’s account goes way back to events that shaped Amaechi leading to his(Amaechi) journey of transformational leadership before becoming a political colossus and a national leader of stature. In his days as Governor of Rivers State, as Director-General of President Buhari’s Campaign Organization and as Minister of Transportation, Chief Eze was there and witnessed his numerous battles. He has access to all the political gladiators that no other person within the political ranks has.

Most importantly, he acts out of conviction and deep understanding of the complex web of events that shaped critical historical events in the life of Amaechi.

Finally, I thank Eze for giving me the privilege to read his book before others and an even more incredible honour to write the foreword.”

In line with the submission of this great mind who would have turned Rivers State into a paradise if he was allowed by agents of darkness to progress on some of the feats and foundation laid by AMAECHI and most importantly in commemoration of the historical 59th birthday of AMAECHI, I Herby present Chapter Ten of this great book highlighting Amaechi’s Feats in Agricultural Revolution when He Held Sway as Rivers Governor. His vision and revolution of the Agricultural Sector was to make Rivers State the Food Basket of Nigeria

But sadly the Locust and his evil administration came and uprooted not only this VISION but ensured that this vision was left in comatose State until he left office

Permit me therefore to present Chapter Ten of this book exposing Amaechi’s agric sector revolution

Chapter Ten

Amaechi’s agric sector revolution

1.
“In a world of plenty, no one, not a single person, should go hungry. But almost 1 billion still do not have enough to eat. I want to see an end to hunger everywhere within my lifetime.”
– Ban Ki-moon, a former United Nations Secretary-General

2.
“If there is food for all then we have a rich nation but when we don’t have food for all then we have a poor nation.”
– Owelle Rochas Anayo Okoroacha, erstwhile Governor of Imo State

With the above postulations therefore, the importance of providing food for Nigeria’s large populace needs not be over-emphasized.

This chapter strives to unravel the strategies adopted by one of the most visionary leaders ever from the shores of Nigeria, to beat hunger.

As obtainable in other states in Nigeria, agricultural policy was almost nonexistent in Rivers State at the start of Governor Amaechi’s administration. There was therefore no vehicle upon which the sector could be driven. The sector appeared to have suffered from total neglect by previous administrations, leading to the following:
•The parastatals and companies were in a state of decay, e.g. School-To-Land, Delta Rubber, Risonpalm, ADP, etc
•Non-release of approved budgetary provisions
•There were no functional projects
•Agricultural infrastructure was in deplorable state
•Counterpart funding on the part of the government was poor
•Staff training or capacity-building was non-existent

With the coming of Governor Amaechi, all those woes faced by the agricultural sector were confronted headlong. He succeeded to the extent that most world leaders that visited Rivers State commended him for his vision and commitment towards the development of agriculture in the state.

The first major step Governor Amaechi took was to initiate an agricultural policy that was to guide his administration in his vision to create another economic base for the state outside oil.

(i)

Agriculture under Amaechi

In a broad sense, the policy of government on agriculture was to encourage full private sector participation in order to attain food security, sufficiency and best practices. Government was also to be strategically involved in creating the necessary agricultural environment for farmers by way of providing facilities and promoting programmes in collaboration with external agencies, institutions and governments for the development of agriculture in the state. It equally committed itself to investing in agriculture as a foreign exchange earner and use the sector to generate massive employment opportunities for its citizens.

The second step Governor Amaechi took in his vision to revolutionise agriculture in Rivers State was to appoint a very young, vibrant, unassuming and well focused leader in the person of Mr. Emmanuel Chinda as the Commissioner of Agriculture. This versatile, workaholic, egalitarian, well exposed politician and a University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) graduate was all that Governor Amaechi needed to make much impact in this sector.
(ii)

Amaechi: The agric revolution; remarkable feat

The administration of Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi introduced several programmes to revamp the agricultural sector and encourage people to go back to farm. According to Amaechi, agriculture could not be separated from the state’s overall development plan as the sector was being developed to equally stimulate the state’s economy. His administration established the Songhai Centre, Fish Farms, and the Banana plantation as well as revived the Risonpalm, the state-owned palm plantation, in addition to other initiatives to improve agricultural growth and output in the state.

Under the Agricultural Development Programme (ADP), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the World Bank, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Amaechi-led administration provided farmers with credit, subsidies and incentives to boost their output and develop agriculture in the state. He saw early the zeal of the international community to help oil-producing states in Nigeria move away from dependence on oil and gas revenue and reduce militancy by supporting sound initiatives that would mop up idle youth population This initiative consistently provided farmers in the state with high-yield and disease-resistant varieties of crops and other planting materials, including providing professional guidance and assistance to fish farmers.

Apart from food security, the robust agricultural programmes of the Amaechi’s administration were designed to generate employment for the teeming unemployed youths in the state by encouraging them to go back to the land.

(iii)

Amaechi’s practical steps to promote agriculture

Songhai Rivers Initiative Farm (SRIF)

Songhai farm, located at Bunu-Tai/Ban-Ogoi in Tai Local Council, covering over 314 hectares of land, was introduced after studying the Songhai Centre in Porto Novo, Benin Republic. The Songhai Rivers Initiative Farm (SRIF), which is 20 times the size of its prototype in Porto Novo, recorded huge successes in its operations while Amaechi lasted in office. This farm that was put under the supervision of the Rivers State Sustainable Development Agency, RSSDA, was the biggest agricultural training project/programme in the country.

A good number of Rivers people, mostly youths, had benefitted from the government’s scholarship programme at the Songhai Training Institute in Benin Republic while others had been trained internally to work at the SRIF, fulfilling part of the goals of the initiative.

Such goals included creating employment opportunities, promoting enterprise development especially amongst the younger generation, promoting research in new agricultural techniques and varieties, encouraging skills transfer and adopting appropriate technology by local farmers. Others were enhancing agricultural production and value addition, building interest in commercial farming and facilitating agro-tourism in the state.

Another major aim was to diversify the economy of Rivers State by moving away from dependence on oil and gas, encourage export and serve as a model for developing rural cities in the state as well as make the state the centre of agro-based export free zone.

The Songhai Rivers Initiative Farm was an integration of livestock, aquaculture and agro-tourism. The Centre was designed as a place of excellence for training, production, research, demonstration and development of sustainable agricultural practices. It was tipped to become the number one hub of agricultural development in Nigeria.

Prior to commencement of work at the farm in 2010, the Amaechi administration had dispatched to the Songhai International Centre in Benin Republic a group of 105 young Rivers men and women from the 23 Local Councils of the state to receive 18-month training in various specialised agriculture and agro-based areas and imbibe an entrepreneurial culture.

Fifty of the trainees were initially absorbed in SRIF as the first set of workers and were to have the opportunity to run their own farm units, sharpen their entrepreneurial skills and eventually set up and manage their own businesses with support from the centre.

Aquaculture projects

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed with ONIDA of Israel for the development of Fish Farms at Buguma, Andoni, Ubima and Opobo, all expected to be commissioned and operational before Amaechi would leave office in 2015. Sadly, Wike in his effort to run down the economy of Rivers State has made all these farms redundant. The project created employment in the hundreds, generated revenue for the state to pay back in about four years. It also had the objective of transferring technology to our local investors who were to replicate it in smaller units.

Strategy and future considerations

•Fish farming in Rivers was to improve local community income and alleviate poverty
•Services for the industry were to create more jobs around the farms.
•Food supply increase in the country
•Replace fish imports and enable local sustainability

Buguma fish farm

The Buguma Fish Farm was completed and commissioned and was ready for commercial production.
•A company, Buguma Fish Farm Nig. Ltd., was incorporated with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), to run it.
•Recruitment of qualified personnel into the company was concluded for the first batch of staff

Banana plantation development

•The project was for the cultivation, production and export of banana for commercial purposes in partnership with San Carlos Nig. Ltd
•A Special Purpose Vehicle (Precious Bananas Nigeria Limited) was formed for the project
•About 6,000,000 boxes of banana were to be produced annually and marketed locally and internationally
•2,000 hectares of land was acquired for the project at Khana and Tai LGAs.
•The value of the project was put at $45 million
•Out of this RSG was to contribute 40% while the partner was to contribute 60%
•The first phase of about 250 hectares was cultivated
•Production for the first stage was successful as harvest was made and local sales effected
•Land preparation for the second phase (250ha) commenced
•The farm made about 4,000 direct employment

Oil palm development in Rivers State: Risonpalm Ltd

•Agreement was signed with SIAT Nig. Ltd. for the rehabilitation and replanting of the 16,000 hectares of the Risonpalm estate under a lease arrangement for 35 years
•Rehabilitation of infrastructure and installation of new processing mills were completed
•Engagement of new staff in progress; Risonpalm to employ up to 5,000 persons when fully operational
•Value of project is N20bn in the first 10 years

Plantation

•Rehabilitation of the Ubima and Elele estates, i.e. about 14,972 ha of palm trees, done
•Rehabilitation of Oil Mill with present capacity of 30 T/Hr

New oil palm state
•The state sourced 10,000 hectares for the development of a new oil palm estate in Okwale, Luebe, Lorre, Wikue, Lueku and Kpaa Azuogu, Ndoki, Obete of Khana and Oyigbo LGAs
•Investors were being sourced for the project as at when Amaechi was still Governor, though discussions were on with a few investors that had shown interest

Rubber development under Amaechi

Delta Rubber: Rehabilitation and planting of the state-owned 7,000 hectares Delta Rubber Company Limited with provision of processing facilities. MOU was signed with private investor, SIAT Nig. Ltd., on lease of the company.

Rumuewhor rice project

•Planting/cultivation of a 10,000 hectares rice field with provision of modern processing facilities
•10,000 hectares were acquired for the project at Rumuewhor in Emhua Local Government Area
•Discussions with investors had gone far
•Project was expected to commence soon after

Rivers Fadama project

Fadama is a word for low lying seasonally flooded lands. The following were achieved in this area:

•Establishment of three new farm villages for the cultivation of various crops, chief of which was cocoa
•The project came with a central processing centre to achieve value addition
•MoU was signed with LR Group of Israel that was investor/partner
•Project was expected to employ up to 4,000 persons
•5,000 hectares were acquired for the project which was supervised by RSSDA with the involvement of the State Ministry of Agriculture
•Value of the project was about $140m

Small and Medium Scale projects

National Fadama Development Projects: Rivers State was benefitting from a World Bank Programme to develop the agricultural sub-sector of the economy supported by the federal, state and local governments to be implemented using Community Driven Development Approach.

Rivers State ADP had the following programmes

•Root and Tuber Expansion Programme
The programme was targeted at providing grants to farmers in the state to achieve sustainable increase in the production of root crops e.g. cassava, yam, cocoyam and sweet potato

Focus in the state was centered on the production and processing of cassava. Funding was by International Fund for Agricultural Development, IFAD, Federal Government of Nigeria and the Rivers State Government

25 Farmers Co-Operative Societies in the state received grants for this programme. RSG counterpart funding since 2008 was N23m

•Community Based Natural Resources Management Programme
This programme was for the empowerment and development of rural communities through community-driven approach in partnership with IFAD. The programme was implemented in 5 LGAs. Funding by RSG between 2008 and 2009 was about N101,200,000.

Investment opportunities in agriculture
The mission of the Rivers State Government at that time was anchored on integrity and good governance. This, it hoped to achieve, using its God-given resources to improve the quality of life of its present and future generations and empower its people.

Rivers State Government, under Amaechi, promoted job creation through investing in its agricultural sector to promote businesses anchored on public private partnership.

In pursuing this goal, attractive and flexible investment incentives were available for investors eyeing the state. This package of incentives which was exclusive to Rivers State was further enhanced by other Federal Government investment incentives; and was mainly in the areas of taxation, fiscal policies and guarantees.

Potential areas of investment

Oil Palm
The state had over 10,000 hecters of land marked out for the development of additional oil palm estates on Public-Private-Partnership, PPP, basis. Investment in the industry was to yield high returns. RSG was sourcing for investors to leverage on that opportunity.

Rubber

The state was in the rubber zone of the country and it has enough land for rubber development especially at the Elele/Ubima and Etche axis of the state. Investment in the product would be highly profitable.

Banana/Plantain

Few regions of the world are as endowed as Rivers State in the production of tropical crops like banana and plantain. Investors need to leverage on this opportunity.

Rice

RSG acquired 10,000 ha of land for rice production/processing and was sourcing for investors to exploit this opportunity. Additional land was available especially in the upland areas of the state for rice cultivation. The soil is quite suitable for the cultivation of this staple food.

Cassava

There is enough fertile land for cassava planting/cultivation in all the upland areas of the state and some of the riverine LGAs such as Degema. A large market already exists for the product. Value-addition will increase the benefits of investing in cassava planting/cultivation.

Pineapple, orange, pawpaw, coconut

The Amaechi administration recognized that this was a key area of industrialization fruit juices which has not been fully explored. Enough fertile land exists in the state for their production.

Food processing/packaging

Investment in food processing/packaging would be rewarding in the sense that there is a huge market for such products in the state. The state capital, Port Harcourt, is a cosmopolitan city and Nigeria’s second largest commercial and industrial centre. With 23 LGAs, the Administration recognized that Rivers State is rightly described as the investors’ haven.

Aquaculture/Fishery

The Administration knew that Rivers Sate is one of the most endowed states in the country in terms of aquaculture/fishery. The state currently had just established four fish farms on PPP basis with a production capacity of 5,000tons/annum but this was just like a drop in the ocean considering the fact that about 2million tons of fish was being imported into the country annually. There was and still is a huge market for the commodity and investors needed to exploit this opportunity.

Other areas where investment opportunities abound

•Agro-tourism/Wild Life
•Hatchery, poultry and processing
•Feed production, packaging and marketing
•Livestock/meat processing and animal husbandry
•Horticulture/export of tropical plants and flowers
•Wood Processing, etc

To Amaechi: “The current problem we are having in Nigeria is tied to poverty and unemployment. I believe that one solution to this insurgency is education and employment. The easiest employment is farming, because a large number of our youths are not educated and skilled. I applied it here in Rivers State and it worked. We created the Banana Farms that have created jobs for over 2,000 persons. We revived the Risonpalm; it was dead when we came, and it has employed over 5,000 workers. Also, the Songhai Farm has employed over 2,000 workers, while Five Fish Farms in strategic locations have been completed. We have done all that to create employment opportunities for our people.”

If this is not revolution then I am at a loss on what revolution means.

Let me conclude this chapter, therefore, with a quote from Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, the former President of Nigeria, during his visit to Rivers State to commission some projects initiated by the administration of the then Governor Amaechi: “I came to see developments and I have seen developments, and I will confess developments! What I have seen is worth declaring! The areas of health, education, agriculture, sports and road infrastructure are worth declaring. When I see development I earmark, eyemark and mouthmark.”

Conclusion

Amaechi have proved himself as a leader ahead of his time. My only prayers is that God should not allow Nigeria and Nigerians to miss what He has invested in this man for our greater betterment

Happy birthday the Son of God!

Happy birthday the Great Iroko of this Political dispensation!

Happy Birthday the Master Political Strategist

Praying God to bless your new age and grant you greater and better years ahead IJN.

Eze Chukwuemeka Eze is a Port Harcourt based Media Consultant & can be reached on: ezemediaconcept2020@gmail.com or 08022049770.

Categories: Business News

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