BusinessDay

As Rivers AA inaugurates campaign council: Dawari George unveils economic super-pack, vows to pump money into Rivers’ economy

One of the governorship candidates in Rivers State has revealed his own passion for the state, pointing to the economy. Dawari George said on Thursday, November 3, 2022, that he would pump money into the economy of the state to turn it around.

George, son of a well-respected reverend, teacher and reputable scholarship fund manager, is now the governorship candidate of the Action Alliance (AA). He was a one-time commissioner of Power and Energy in the Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi administration, a respected think-tank member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) who helped to resolve conflicts and stabilize the party.

He said his move to AA is part of bridge-building strategies in the state that is now always in the news.

Inaugurating the governorship campaign council which he dubbed ‘The Bridge Campaign’ for the claim that many of those who are tired of political crisis in the state have openly or secretly endorsed the party for 2023, George said that what Rivers State needs now is play catch-up in the economic front, after many years of going ahead in infrastructure (roads and flyovers) as well as politicking.

Road to safe and prosperous Rivers State

He said what is needed now is to build roads to safe and a prosperous state. Safety and security would be given priority while prosperity through a bustling economy would take all the attention from an AA administration.

He thus called it ‘morning yet again in Rivers State’, saying volunteers are flocking from all parts of the state free. “The list is a collective action, not just the best. It is about capacity, passion, experience, etc, to rescue Rivers State. It’s on volunteer basis, not transactional. It’s a call to serve Rivers people and this is your own contribution.”

He reminded the many volunteers that the AA has a code of conduct to guide the campaign council. He said the leadership emphasizes on team play because they do not have supermen or women. “There is need to bring each person’s value to the table to form a big team. Some roles may flow into others or overlap. Let it not bring clashes. Rather, see it that the other person is helping you, so embrace it.

“This drive is not just to win an election but to create a system of governing the state after victory. It is the brand we create with Action Alliance that we brand Rivers State with. Let integrity be our brand.”

He said the Director-General (DG) of campaign council now has the chance and platform to deliver his dream organization.

He gave the focus of AA, saying it is to deliver a safe and prosperous Rivers State with an Issue-based campaign style. “We do not want toxic communication. Let our people not insult the sensibility of the Rivers people. We want to end toxic political communication. We will respect PDP and APC and other political parties. We will even commend anybody, even outsiders who criticize us on valid grounds. We hope when we too criticize them, they will welcome it.”

He said the team needs feedback from the masses through the campaign council members and that the team is building a consensus for a shared vision.

Dance of development

George said: “We want rise above optics in electioneering such as music and noise. If we dance, we dance the dance of development. We want the voters to know what AA stands for. It will not be about dancing at rallies but about discussing development options, the desires of the masses, and waxing their dreams into beats and tunes for the dance of development.

AA campaign council executives flank the flag-bearer and his running mate

 

“We will change the style of engagement through: Townhall system, political roundtable, and unit conversations. We want our people to challenge our proposition so we can explain and improve as we learn from their heartbeats.

“We want to start a new political culture in Rivers State of engagement, not about talking and running away without a talkback that leads to consensus.’

The candidate who faces a stiff challenge from most previous political associates of the same party such as Tonye Cole (APC), Magnus Abe now of SDP, Dumo Lulu-Briggs (now of Accord Party), and others reminded the members that the money to be used to carry out projects, programmes and to develop Rivers State belongs to the people, not theirs. For that, he insisted, the people will have a say how it is used.

“We give you one week to start fieldwork. The campaign council members are not to be paid, they are volunteers. So, treat them with respect.”

Rivers must become an industrial hub

George said his administration must get Rivers State back as an industrial hub. Let the Trans-Amadi types come back. We will not run policies that will allow thriving businesses to collapse.

“Capitalism has a human face too. Government can give waivers if this can help to create jobs. Some of the funds being spent on roads and physical infrastructure can be ploughed into economic ventures and even secure up to 20 per cent equity in those government-assisted economic projects. Whatever is needed to boost economic activities will be done.”

Environment: We will not tamper with Ecological Fund

On soot, flooding and other environmental disaster issues ravaging the state, the AA flag-bearer said Rivers State has suffered much in environmental crisis. “We will engage the FG and create agencies to deal with environment and be prepared for disasters.

“We will not tamper with the Ecological Fund. Instead, we will create an agency to manage the fund for the right purpose. We will rather add our own money to the fund to create robust solutions on environmental challenges. We will look out for and obey early warning signals. Our visit to the Ahoada areas showed that it has been happening. This is not the first time. So, it was preventable. Government did not act.”

Massive investments

The flag-bearer said there would be massive economic investments in the state and that businesses would be supported.

He went on: “Our government will prioritise investments. Technology will drive our investment schemes and create transparency. Any spending that cannot be traced to direct result is fraud.

“We want to be one of the world’s energy cities. We had this dream when I was commissioner for power and energy.”

He said the philosophy of his administration would move from a government of strong men to strong institutions.

Reward system: double taxes to go

Rivers State would develop a reward system that is transparent and is anchored on fairness and justice. “Rivers State has a duty to protect any citizen dwelling within it and further their interest. We will eliminate double taxes. Many businesses close shop in Rivers State due to taxes and migrate to where things are more conducive.

“The sad aspect is that some of these taxes do not end up in government treasury but into private pockets. Touting and harassment of SMEs are toxic to economic development of any state. Yet, these are the SMEs that create wealth, boost the gross domestic product (GDP) of any economy, and employ people.”

Pension crisis has a solution

The vexed issue of pension was mention. Rivers State pensioners have cried for years even as they say they watch their money being pumped to other states. He said his mother is being owed pension. “Many pensioners are in crisis. My mom has not been paid and many people before her have not been paid.

“We will come out with tech-based system to conclude a worker’s pension matter one year before retirement. Let the burden be on the government, not on the poor retiree. We will create partners that will work with us. Even if the money is not there immediately at the conclusion of computation, the partners will be able to pay the workers and get their funds back later.”

Foreign scholarship quagmire

George whose father was a reputable scholarship fund manager in the state said the matter poses the greatest quagmire. From how he put it, two schools of thought has emerged in his camp; one insisting on resumption of foreign scholarships, the other pointing at economic situation and forex troubles.

The candidate thus ruled: “This has been a serious matter. Many of our people desire restoration of foreign scholarship scheme but the money of about N5Bn each year to give foreign universities if pumped into the Rivers State University (RSU) per year, will boost the RSU and make it a top centre of excellence over time. With the Dollar rising so fast, sending students abroad looks scary.

“We will debate it seriously and see if we can rather bring in those foreign institutions to partner with us and make our institutions top class and centres of academic attraction all over the world.

“Some say we can run post-graduate foreign scholarships so that our people can still go out there and get the latest knowledge so Rivers State would not be left behind.

“The bottom line is that if we continue to go abroad and continue to bleed our treasury and starve our institutions and fail to create top study centres, soon, we will crash.”

Dawari means business – campaign Council boss

The chairman of the Bridge Campaign Council (BCC), a professor of political science, Kiiboye K. Aaron said Dawari George means business.

Aaron who said he was honoured to be chosen to lead the strong group, however, harped on what he called trust deficit in Nigeria and how it can affect group work. He said what has been given to him is a big trust.

Continuing, he said; “Some set up political parties to make noise and claim money and clear out but George is determined to win. Dawari has galvanized the AA the way Labour Party has been galvanized.

“Nigerians are becoming wiser, and votes will be cast in wise way. Good man leads to good governance which leads to development. I see that God is involved in this project, and so, surprises await Rivers people.”