The man who was believed to hold the Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi camp together, Dawari Ibietela George, who resigned last week, has emerged the gubernatorial flag-bearer of the African Alliance (AA) in a replacement primary election on Thursday, August 11, 2022.
His emergence is seen as a defining moment in a state full of political acrimony and splinter group fracas.
In his acceptance speech, George, a former commissioner under Amaechi, tried to connect with what matters most to the people of the state; peace, harmony, inclusiveness, and economic development.
He said: “Today, after wide consultations across different strata of society, and in line with my personal conviction of a divine call to service, I accept my election as the flag bearer of the Action Alliance (AA) and consequently offer myself to the electorate and the good people of Rivers State to contest for the dignified office of the Governor of our dear Rivers State. 2023 offers a defining moment for us as a people to take a significant leap towards the actualisation of the dreams of our founding fathers who envisioned a united and prosperous State for all – indigenes and residents.”
He said he came to the race with ‘Character, Competence and Commitment’ to work for the rapid and wholesome development of the state, where everyone can aspire to achieve their dreams in a serene environment with the support of a responsive and responsible government.
According to him, “Rivers State must get back to the path of planned development and peaceful coexistence. This was the course charted by His Royal Majesty, King Alfred Diette-Spiff, the first governor of the old Rivers State. We intend to progress this course and build the State of our collective dream through programmes that promote inclusive governance, by offering equitable and unhindered access to government services. Development is a function of programmes, which define the appropriateness of projects. A major deviation from global best practice, which has been the bane of effective governance in our clime, is the execution of projects as an end in itself. This focus on immediate results without a clearly articulated programme that serves the long-term benefits of our people is ultimately a disservice and a setback in the development trajectory.
“The task before us is daunting. Indeed, some may doubt that we would be successful because of the historical profile of the so-called ‘Big Parties’. To these persons, I assure you that there is nothing to fear. The masses have known better and are now more willing and determined than ever to take their destinies into their hands. It is for this reason that I joined a party that verbalises its intention in its slogan, ‘Let the Masses live’. To get to where we are, we have dared to fail many times and have succeeded many times. We are therefore not afraid in our quest to perpetuate the will of God for His people in Rivers State, knowing that He who called us has long prepared us for this time and we are ready.”
He called his platform a bridge, probably referring to the violent and acrimonious ways the state has progressed since the 2012 political crisis that pitched Amaechi and his henchman, Nyesom Wike, against each other.
He said he offered himself as the bridge probably because those he preached to for peace seemed to spurn it. His bridge is to connect Rivers people from where they are to the brighter future that they desire and deserve. “I want to be that Bridge that is placed above the troubles that have plagued us as a people and take us into our divine destiny as a people. Yes, I want to be the bridge to connect the old and the young; the bridge to connect our cultures and languages.
“Truly I will be that bridge that will connect our State from an analogue economy to a tech economy providing limitless opportunities for our youth to secure the destiny of future generations of Rivers people. I lend myself willingly to be the bridge that binds and heals the wounds of our differences and enmities, and restores the cordial relationships that existed in the times of our founding fathers. While we work to restore the glory of our dear State, I want to be the connecting bridge that will mobilize our people behind a common and shared vision for the future. This dream is attainable and I have the will and eternal commitment to this shared vision to deliver a shared prosperity for our people. This is a faith-walk that is beyond human rationality. If we believe, together we can achieve the greatness that we truly hope for.’
George said his unshakable belief in Rivers State is born out of his personal experience. “I am a proud Rivers son, who has seen it all in this State. I was born and bred in Rivers State with only a short stint outside the State while serving at the National Assembly in the Federal Capital Territory.’
He tried to connect to the Rivers sentiment of true citizens that have paid the price, saying; “I grew up knowing what it truly means to offer sacrificial service to humanity. Having gone to public schools all through my educational career in this State, I have a clear understanding of what standard public education is. As a thorough-bred Port Harcourt boy who traversed the streets of Port Harcourt, I understand what a garden city really is and how sanitation and security are priceless outcomes of planned government programmes.
“As a youth leader in the State, the first two-term Chairman of the National Youth Council of Nigeria, Rivers State, at a time when youth activism was about resolute engagement with authorities of government and speaking truth to power, I understand the plight and yearnings of the youths of Rivers State who simply ask of their Government the right atmosphere for self-expression for the demonstration of their ingenuity and creativity for the provision of innovative solutions to the needs of society. Yes, I served at a time when youth activism was about resolute engagement with authorities of government and speaking truth to power.”
He said he has garnered wide ranging experiences from the investments of the good people of Rivers State on me. Now, with deep understanding of the workings of government from my time in the Local Government Management, the State Executive Council and the National Assembly, he said he is prepared to navigate government bureaucracies to make them work for the people.
“As a development expert with research and private sector experience in third world development, I have developed workable models of development that suit the peculiarities of our beloved State. These form the major policy thrust in our blueprint of governance, and I would be sharing them with the electorates when the ban on political campaigns is lifted’, he stated.
George went on: “Even though the light seems to have dimmed over the expectations of the citizens of our dear State, their hopes of a a serene, secure and decent State where hard work is rewarded and where all persons can truly aspire, I find hope in the words of Hugh Brown that ‘night never had the last word’ but “the dawn is always invincible.”
“I have been involved in the politics of our state; I understand that our hunger pangs are real. I realise that we are tired of the bickering, the disappointments and our inability to get our government to listen to us. That is the promise I bring. A promise to listen to you; young and old, male and female, regardless of political, religious or ethnic affiliation.”
He pledged to usher in a new dawn. “Your new dawn; your interests and desires will shape our governance. We will not be selective in our choices. Our people and their needs will be central in the design of government policies and programmes. Ours is leadership that you can trust, one which restores hope blighted by the actions or in-actions of several governments. We are convinced in the assurance that we offer our people; “Its morning again in Rivers State,” he stated.