Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike has insisted that he will never decamp to the All Progressives Congress (APC), no matter what. He, however, described two former Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members, John Bazia and Michael West, who recently decamped to APC in the state as political neophytes with slippery character.
A statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Mr. Kelvin Ebiri, said the two men, who served as commissioners in his cabinet during his first tenure, became disgruntled because he did not retain them.
Meanwhile, the governor has told President Muhammadu Buhari that his integrity would be at stake if he fails to honour invitation of the House of Representatives to address the growing concern about the spate of insecurity across the country.
He, however, accused PDP’s National Working Committee (NWC) of sowing seed of discord among PDP governors and jeopardising the party’s prospect to clinch the Presidency in 2023.
Wike, who stated this in a live television programme in Port Harcourt, yesterday, said it was regrettable that instead of capitalising on the inefficiency and maladministration that has characterised the APC’s five years in power, PDP’s NWC was deepening cracks in the party.
“Ordinarily, that is what opposition party ought to do. If you ask me, are Nigerians waiting for a change? Yes! If you ask me as a member of PDP, am ready to support PDP to takeover, but if you ask me currently, is the leadership of the party willing for us to harvest this opportunity for a change, I will say no.”
He explained that rather than focus on how to take advantage of the alleged growing disenchantment with the APC government, the NWC was sowing seed of discord among governors, using two former governors of Imo and Cross River states and a present senator from Benue State.
“We ought to be united to work and take over the affairs of government, because people are waiting for this opportunity, but the current leadership of NWC is not prepared for that, rather, they have constituted some people to sow a seed of discord among governors for their own selfish interest. And that will boomerang; that will consume them.”
The governor said because he lacks the ability to defect to the APC or another political party, he would continue to do what he can to ensure the survival of the PDP.
He stressed: “I will not allow anybody to kill PDP. They have capacity to move to APC. I don’t and I cannot move to APC. So, anybody that tries to do something to destroy PDP, I will not allow you. Anybody that I see that has the trait to destroy the PDP, I will not allow it.”
He described as disingenuous, the decision of the NWC to jettison the recommendations of Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom-led committee set up to reconcile the party in Niger and Plateau states, just because of its vested interest in Niger State.
The governor accused the NWC leadership of merely being interested in retaining current structure of the party to remain in power and not to win the 2023 election.
Wike said the level of insecurity, leading to deaths, particularly in Borno State and other parts of the country, ought to have compelled Buhari to keep his promise of honouring the invitation by the House, pointing out that it was APC members that control majority in the National Assembly that moved the motion to invite him to address them on what measures were being taken to tackle and end the spate of violent killings, to which he consented.
The governor said it was wrong for the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN) to turn around to subject the invitation to legal interpretation, instead of protecting the integrity of the President, which is now at stake.
“There is insecurity; people are dying. You don’t go by legal approach to solve that problem. If Mr. President had given the assurance, that decision was not taken without talking first to his inner cabinet.
“It’s not a question and answer session. You go with a brief to address the congress. For me, this is not the period to be legalistic; this is the period every Nigerian should be concerned about what is happening.”
He further stated that if he were Malami, he would have advised the President privately and urged him to write a letter to the House that he would come at a later day because of the exigency of his office.
To end the spate of violent crime in the country, Wike recommended the creation of employment opportunities for youths and drastic change to operational system of policing in the country, insisting that states must be allowed to be involved in community policing.
The governor said their decision to decamp to the APC was of no political consequence, because they were politically irrelevant, adding: “What are the qualities of people that defected? The two people, Michael West and John Bazia, who knew them in my cabinet? Have you ever heard them speak on behalf of PDP before? Have you ever heard them speak on behalf of our administration?
“You knew the position of Chidi Llyod when he was in APC. Ask the former commissioner of Transport (West), he contested PDP primaries with me and got only three votes, but because of politics of carrying everybody along and the money he spent, I decided to accommodate him. Ask him his contribution to the administration.”
The governor explained that during his first tenure, he almost sacked West as a commissioner for taking 13 luxurious buses belonging to the state government to Calabar for a spiritual programme and also diverting funds generated by taskforce on transport into his personal accounts.
“I called him and asked him his whereabouts. He told me he was in Calabar to see his father, the Olumba Olumba. I was amazed and said: ‘You took our 13 buses to Calabar without permission?’ I would have sacked him that day, but people prevailed on me to manage him till after the election.
“The taskforce were collecting money and paying into his private accounts. I called in the State Executive Council meeting and ask him: ‘How would you pay state money into your private account?’ I managed him till the end of my first tenure. You expect me to bring this kind of person back to my cabinet?”
The governor said the reason given by West for his resignation from the PDP was that they didn’t allow him to head his ward executive committee of the party, adding: “So, how can we give somebody we know that will be leaving the party the ward executive? So that when he is defecting, he will say has defected with entire executive? He thinks he is smarter than anybody? These are neophytes in politics; we all kept eye on them.”
Speaking on former commissioner for Chieftaincy and Community Affairs, Wike revealed that while serving in the state executive council, Bazia caused him so much embarrassment.
“During the 2015 presidential campaign, the President brought kola to the traditional rulers. You can’t believe what happened. The Chairman of Rivers State Traditional Rulers Council called me that the chiefs were waiting for their kola. I was amazed and asked, ‘which kola, you have not received it?’ They said no.
“The then commissioner for Information, who was the chairman of the sub-committee of our campaign, said they gave the kola to Bazia. Do you know what Bazia did? He took 80 per cent and brought 20 per cent of the kola to the traditional rulers.
“The then commissioner of Information and everybody was angry and compelled him to bring the kola. What an embarrassment.” The governor also narrated how he had to personally intervened and paid off 40,000 Euro debt Bazia owed, saying his administration has done several projects in both Tai and Asari-Toru Councils where the two decampees hail from.
He described as laughable, the allegation that he was constructing seven flyovers in Port Harcourt and Obio-Akpor Councils, declaring that he would be constructing additional three flyovers in Port Harcourt to ease traffic congestion.