Former Minister of State for Education and governorship aspirant in Rivers State, Chief Nyesom Wike, said Governor Chibuike Amaechi, recommended him for a ministerial position in order to whittle down his powers, especially with respect to selection of his (Amaechi’s) successor.
Wike made the claim yesterday, while responding to a question on Africa Independent Television (AIT) programme, “Focus Nigeria,” which was monitored in Port Harcourt.
He said his problem with Amaechi started even before he became a minister. According to him, some persons had told the governor that he was becoming too powerful and needed to be sent out of the state. He said: “People started selling certain ideas to the man, saying I was very powerful.”
Wike added: “Amaechi was told that if he wanted to have a successor without anybody disturbing him, there was the need to push me away from Rivers State, to go and be a minister, for my influence in the state to be reduced. It was not a promotion for me, rather it was a strategy to make me less influential and to lose base.
“They told Amaechi how I ran his campaign very well, the influence I wielded, that I was well known all over the state and that Rivers people no longer knew Amaechi as governor, but saw me as governor. They told him all sorts of stories, which caused problems.
“Amaechi needed a capable hand to do the work of director-general of his campaign organisation and somebody with capacity, which I handled very well, but some people were not happy.”
“After the election, transition committee was put in place without informing me. Amaechi asked: Must you know everything? When commissioners were to be appointed, he called a meeting and said each local government area must submit five names. Nobody was taken from my local government area of the five names we submitted. I laughed and said they were up to something. Can the governor nominate me for ministerial appointment and there will be a damning report from the Department of State Service (DSS) in your own state? We laughed over it.”
I knew what happened under. Becoming a Minister of State for Education, I never left my constituency.
But rather than his federal appointment reducing his power, the minster said the reverse was the case.
His words: “Succeeding Amaechi is certainly not my ambition. As events unfolded and time went by, a lot of things happened and I had to consult widely on whether to run or not. It is not as if I had the ambition all along to succeed Governor Amaechi.
In 2006/2007 in Rivers State, when we had the governorship primaries of PDP, I was the chairman of Obio/Akpor Local Government Council (of Rivers State) then and I was the rallying point for Amaechi’s nomination and I was his agent. I was the one who signed the primaries result. Thereafter, things that happened also happened (K-leg) and Amaechi travelled to Ghana and all the meetings were being held in my house in Port Harcourt. I was coordinating.
“At that point, you will know those that you can trust in life. As Amaechi travelled to Ghana, everything was centred on me. A lot of pressure and offers came to abandon him, but I felt it was not fair, since he believed in me that I would not sell out. You will know persons who cannot betray you, when you have problems. I gave Amaechi my word and I stood by him.
“Thereafter, I became chief of staff, because I stood firm and because the government needed a strong character to be the engine room of government. But in politics, a lot of things will come in. Within one year, we started having problems. It is not that we started having problems when I became a minister.
“Amaechi never discussed with me, that he was nominating me for ministerial appointment. Ten persons were nominated to be minister from Rivers State. I was the second person on the list. Atedo Peterside was the first person on the list. Tonye Cole was the third person.
“Amaechi said he was going to scrap the office of chief of staff and I said I was no longer going to occupy it again. I was the Director-General of his campaign organisation in 2011 and having seen what had happened, it would no longer be conducive for me to work in an environment of hostility. I was denied the opportunity of going to the Senate (Rivers East Senatorial District, currently being represented by George Thompson Sekibo) in 2011.”
On the controversial zoning of political positions in Rivers State, Wike said he stood by the position of PDP in the state.
“On zoning, I am a party man. I stand by what the PDP in Rivers State has said. No to zoning. The State Executive Committee of the party has said, in view of the peculiar circumstances we find ourselves, where the PDP won the election and the governor (Amaechi) has defected to the APC, which will lead to real battle. Therefore, we must allow it to be open, to allow the person with capacity to face Amaechi’s government/APC’s governorship candidate. The PDP in Rivers State said we could not do zoning.
“Some persons are saying upland/riverine, ethnic group or senatorial district, depending on where they find themselves. Delegates will cut across the 23 local government areas of Rivers State, involving many ethnic groups. PDP leaders from the 23 local government areas bought the nomination and expression of intent forms for me. All the PDP leaders in Rivers State are with me.
1999 election was between Dr. Peter Odili of PDP and Chief Ebenezer Isokariari, a Kalabari, who ran on APP’s platform. The election was very tough and not concluded on the first day. In 2011, Dr. Abiye Sekibo ran on ACN platform. Sir Celestine Omehia ran on the platform of APGA and Amaechi was PDP’s candidate. The votes for President Jonathan were more than the governorship votes.
“Amaechi has gone to APC and he has given us the opportunity to rebuild the party. Amaechi also gave us a notice that we should pack out of the PDP’s secretariat on Aba Road, Port Harcourt, but we went to court and got favourable judgment that the property belonged to PDP since 1999.
“PDP has offices in the 319 wards in Rivers State. I do not know of any state that can boast of that. Rivers State is a PDP state. In terms of resources, Governor Amaechi has it, but these elections have nothing to do with resources. How many times will Amaechi deceive Rivers people?
“The elections will not be a walkover, but PDP will still win in Rivers State. What will you tell Rivers people not to vote for President Jonathan? PDP will win the governorship and presidential elections in Rivers State. PDP is still on the ground in Rivers State. Almost 20 governorship aspirants have picked PDP’s expression of intent and nomination forms. It is not a do-or-die affair.
“What matters is that after the governorship primaries, if I do not win, I will volunteer to be the campaign manager of whoever wins. I also expect that if I win, those who might have lost should be part of what we will be doing, as loyal party persons. It is not just about if Wike emerges. What of if you emerge, why won’t I support you?”tweet Follow @@metro1