Onyedi Gabriel, PortHarcourt
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, at the weekend, said he desired that all the states in the South-South geopolitical zone be governed by the Peoples Democratic Party.
Wike spoke ahead of the September governorship election in Edo State, where Governor Godwin Obaseki dumped his party, the All Progressives Congress, to seek re-election on the platform of the PDP.
The governor, who spoke on Arise Television, said as a loyal party man, he would want his party to win election in Edo to bring the entire zone under the leadership of the PDP.
He said that the PDP was happy to have resolved the disagreement that ensued in Edo State before the governorship primaries.
The governor said when the interest of every party member was protected, nobody would feel aggrieved and the party would continue to remain united.
Wike said, “I have always said that politics is where you must carry everybody along. Sometimes there can be disagreements but the ability to reconcile everybody is important.
“Particularly, as an opposition party, it is healthy to have division. There is no need to make people think that you don’t want them. I told Governor Godwin Obaseki so and anybody who knows me understands that I am not against anybody.
“After the primaries now, everybody is very happy and Governor Godwin Obaseki, is at home. If we have allowed what was going on then to continue, you would be alarmed at the level of division that would erupt and it would be like what you see in APC.
“As a loyal party man of the South-South region, I would want the whole region to belong to one political group, which is what it is likely to be. If APC is in crisis, it’s not my business to help it.
“Remember, we also had our own crisis under Ali Modu Sherrif and they were jubilating. As a politician, I am happy that we have taken one more state from them. I will continue to pray that they make more mistakes.”
Wike described as unfortunate the silence of security agencies in apprehending some supporters of the Transport Minister, Rotimi Amaechi, who threatened to destroy the state.
The governor said the threat by a pro-Amaechi group, which went viral, did not mean anything to security agencies.
He recalled that the APC supporters threatened and attacked the State High Court because of internal party squabbles and the security agencies did not bring the perpetrators to justice.
Wike alleged that the pro-Amaechi supporters were courageous because their paymasters assured them of security cover.
He said, “It’s really unfortunate that some people can now want to destroy the state. They issue threats and the security agencies cannot come out to say we can’t tolerate such threat against the peace and existence of the state.
“I will not go to court against anybody because the threat is in the public domain. It is obvious, that they have the Police, Department of State Security, Air Force, Navy and the Army.
“Otherwise, how do you explain the long silence of the Nigeria security agencies over such threats already trending online? For whatever reasons, why won’t they bother about the person making such threats because of an internal problem within APC?
“Remember, for the first time in the history of this country when Chibuike Amaechi was governor, he shut down the courts for two years. Based on that experience, more threats and attacks are seen.
“The minister is now coming to say that he is not a man of violence, which is not true. We are not children to be so deceived. During the campaign leading to 2019 elections, he came to the state chanting war songs and nobody cautioned him.”
He said the police tried to frustrate the fight against COVID-19 pandemic, saying a deputy commissioner of police in the state worked to frustrate the implementation of an Executive Order.
He said because the heads of the security agencies cooperated with him to save lives in the state they were all transferred, a situation he said instilled fear in their successors.
He added, “I have said it always, that governors are not the real chief security officers. They are only chief logistics officers of their states providing funds for security agencies’ operations.
“For us, we are talking about covid-19 pandemic, which is commonplace across the country. The safety of the people is paramount and we signed an Executive Order but a deputy commissioner went ahead to flout it.
“In fact, the commissioner of police was transferred, including the director of DSS, and the Air Force Commander because they worked with me to enforce COVID-19 protocols. The new people they have sent are also afraid. Such double standards in this country is not healthy.”
Governor Wike called on Amnesty International to be objective in their activities and stop labelling states with alarming reports.
He described as incorrect the figure of deaths in the state as a result of cultism, which was published by the institute, saying that the menave was being fought to a standstill in Rivers state.
Wike added, “Why are they not talking about the insecurity across Nigeria, particularly the killings done by bandits in some states? Is it because those states are controlled by the ruling party?
“Today, Rivers State is comparatively faring well. We have fought cultists to a standstill. But you cannot say that is the case in Nigeria as a whole today. What has Amnesty said about killings by bandits in other states?
“If there is insecurity, you can’t see the level of infrastructural development activities going on in Rivers State. Multinational companies like Julius Berger, Setraco and CCECC are here working and none of them is affected by insecurity. Residents know that the state is moving on very well.”
The governor also said it was too early to be playing 2023 politics dismissing speculations that he was aiming at the Presidency in 2023.
He recalled that in the build-up to the 2019 election, people speculated that he wanted to be the running mate to the Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, because he supported his presidential aspirations.
He said, “In 2018 to 2019, when I was supporting my friend, it was speculated I was going to run with Tambuwal. That was my first term. I have not finished my first term and you are telling me to give away my second tenure to run for what I am not sure of.
“When you take a position on certain issues, people will continue to speculate. I am not going to run for the President of Nigeria for now. I am concentrating on developing Rivers State. I am not a party to anybody who says the problem of PDP is 2023.
“That can be a problem in APC because it is a ruling party. The president is going and so people will want to take over the seat of the President. In PDP, who are you taking over from? You are taking over from nothing.
“We just took over a year ago. And then you are talking about Presidency. When that enters your head, you won’t be able to provide the dividends of democracy to your people and that is the problem you see in APC. Everybody thinks of taking over from the President. So, instead of you to concentrate you are thinking of taking over.
“You don’t even know the minds of Nigerians. The point is that being a ruling party and with Mr. President being there, he won’t allow his party to lose out. So, how can I begin to contemplate running for Presidency when I know I still have time to provide for my state. It is a distraction,” he said.
The governor said he would support Amaechi, his predecessor, for Presidency if he clinched the ticket of the PDP, adding that to do otherwise would amount to anti-party activity.