President Goodluck Jonathan today snubbed Governor Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi’s invitation to attend a symposium to mark the Port Harcourt Centenary, despite expectations that he would attend.
Instead, the president was represented by his special adviser on documentation, Oronto Douglass, who read Jonathan’s promise to the people of the city: to contribute to the development of the city.
Jonathan recalled his childhood days in Port Harcourt, saying that the city had done so much for its residents.
He, however, said that the struggle for political space in the city, had created unnecessary tension.‘’ I believe that this is not the best that Port Harcourt deserves.
“We call on fathers, mothers and leaders to do more to intervene and help douse the fire of partisan differences in order to preserve the peaceful glory of Port Harcourt,’’ he said.
Jonathan also said the abandoned Port Harcourt standard gauge rail system, would soon be restored as soon as the eastern corridors were rehabilitated.The President also said government was providing infrastructure for the University of Port Harcourt and Rivers government owned, Ignatius Ajuru University of Education to enhance research and instructions.
He said the N15 billion Petroleum Trust Fund’s skill acquisition centre, along airport road in Port Harcourt, would be completed in the second quarter of 2014.‘’
The centre will focus on human capital development, in the area of ICT and other diagnostic of heavy duty equipment.‘’ The federal government is also committed to modernizing the Port Harcourt international airport and upgrading it to befit the status of this great city,’’ he said.
Governor Chibuike Amaechi, the host restated his respect for President Jonathan, despite their differences.
He said he has no problem with President Jonathan. “I respect him as a leader . I respect him as an intellectual. I respect him for the office he is occupying. On behalf of the people of Rivers state, all I ask for is social justice,’’ he said.
Former head of state, Dr Yakubu Gowon, called for an end to political crises in Rivers.
He called on political leaders to embrace peace to ensure stability of the state and country.
“The nation’s leaders should work for peace and stability of Rivers state and Nigeria as a whole because if any part of the nation is not at peace; everyone will suffer grave consequences.
“So, I urge key leaders of thought to broker peace to ensure the unity and progress of our country, Nigeria,” he said.
Gowon said that Port Harcourt, which came into existence in 1913, had become the centre of the petroleum industry from which the country derives the bulk of its foreign exchange earnings.
The city, he also noted, Gowon is among the fastest growing commercial cities in the country.