·Seems to take stand on president to back
· Hits Atiku back, stops from use of stadium
·Opposition parties cry against attacks at rallies, but Wike hits them back
By Ignatius Chukwu
The presidential elections are near and Gov Nyesom Wike of Rivers State seems to have no time to waste in releasing his major blows.
The problem seems to be that he has many directions to hit at same time, the biggest being his party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
Wike promised in December 2022 to name the candidate his G-5 would back, but now in February 2023, he has not named anyone. Instead, he has accused the media of forcing to say what he did not promise to say.
He now says he has many ways to say who his people should vote for, in fact, he says his people have understood who he wants them to vote for.
Few days back, news went out he had instructed the local council chairmen to work for the success of Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), but inquiries at the council level drew blank as sources refused to be aware of such an order.
Soon, however, Wike loyalists are posting for support thus: The BATle is SIMple. This means the Wike faction of the PDP would vote BAT (Tinubu, APC) for president and Sim Fubara for governor.
With this message clearly understood, the governor seems to move heavily against any presidential candidate’s opportunities in his state (Rivers) and other governorship candidates.
He began by cancelling the approval earlier given to Atiku to hold rally in Port Harcourt. He had threatened them last week but has come out to stop them now.
He confirmed his decision saying that the Rivers State government cancelled approval given for the use of Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium to the PDP Presidential Campaign Council in order to safeguard the facility from vandalism.
The PDP national council has stopped Wike’s counsels pursuing cases to stop other parties in Rivers State from contesting the governorship and other seats. Wike retaliated by stopping Atiku from campaigning in the state.
The governor gave his stand at the flag-off rally of the Rivers State PDP campaign for Degema Local Government Area that held at Agri Field in Degema town on Thursday.
Wike described the claim that Rivers State government does not want PDP Presidential Campaign Council to campaign in the State as erroneous, since the State had earlier given approval to the party to use the Stadium at no cost.
“Don’t say we stopped them from holding rally, we didn’t. They applied to me and I gave (Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium) to them. They now went back and began to meet with the faction of the opposition, and you know that opposition has never held any rally without violence.
“And I said I cannot joke with Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium. Since we have this intelligence we will not allow it. Did anybody force us to give them before? Are we not the ones who gave them? Did they pay money? Go and see the place. I know they are happy because they know there is no way they can fill that stadium. Instead of them to say thank God for covering our shame.”
He declared that the unit-by-unit mobilisation of voters adopted by the PDP in the State is one of the strategies that will make it difficult for security agencies to rig the 2023 general election in the State.
The governor maintained that electorate will participate in the forthcoming election with unit by unit mobilisation, which will ensure that every votes count. Because people will vote, Wike insisted that, security agencies would find it difficult to rig election in where the voters will be mindful to protect their votes.
“This election is going to be by mobilisation. It’s not like before when anybody will go and bring soldiers to carry election materials. Now, election will be based on physical human beings. Votes must count now.”
Wike also said that his administration has delivered several development projects in the area in appreciation of the support Degema people have given to the PDP since 1999.
The governor stressed that his administration promised to execute phase one of the Trans-Kalabari Road, which has begun and construction work has progressed tremendously. According to the governor, the commissioning of the first phase is planned for February 2023.
Governor Wike assured that when his successor, Siminialayi Fubara, assumes office when elected, he will pay attention to starting the phase two of the Trans-Kalabari Road and reconstructing educational facility in Degema town among other life touching projects.
The governor therefore, urged Degema people to vote for Fubara and his running mate, Prof. Ngozi Odu, who will continue with the current development strides of his administration and consolidate on the gains.
Wike on police
The opposition parties took swipes at the police command and accused the commissioner of police of doing Wike’s bid.
Wike reacted by saying the Rivers State government would be compelled to deploy its Neighbourhood Watch Safety Corps to maintain law and order if the Nigeria Police continued to support some political parties to instigate violence in the State.
He noted with dismay the levels of encouragement that the Rivers State Police Command has continued to give to some political actors to act lawlessly with their political activities.
Speaking at the State Primary School in Elekahia, venue of the Rivers State PDP Port Harcourt City LGA Campaign Flag-off Rally, governor Wike said the command cannot support people who are breaking the law.
Governor Wike advised the State Police Command to rise to the occasion and safeguard the laws of the State in order to forestall a break down of law and order. According to him, if the command refuses, his administration will be compelled to direct officers of the Rivers State Neighborhood Watch Safety Corps to step in and ensure that the laws of the State are obeyed.
“And this is what I want to tell the Nigerian Police, Rivers State Command. You are the one supporting them to disobey the law to cause violence. Police, if you don’t want to do your duty, let us know. I will release our Neighborhood Watch Safety Corps instead.
“If you don’t do your work, we will take over your work from you. You cannot support people who are breaking the law. You know the truth of the matter. You are scared, so that they don’t transfer you. Your duty is not to be permanent anywhere. As far as you are a security man you can be sent to anywhere, any day.”
Governor Wike accused some political actors of disobeying the statutory laws of the State and yet alleging that they are being stopped from campaigning.
The governor said nobody is stopping any political group from campaigning, but if such political campaigns must be done within any public facility, then the required non-refundable security fee of N5M must be paid.
“If you want to use a school facility, if you want to use our stadium, you’ll pay certain amount of money so that if you destroy anything, government will be in a position to use that money and rebuild whatever you have damaged. And they say they will not pay.”
Categorically, governor insisted: “We as PDP (Peoples Democratic Party), we are in government, yet we are obeying the law. As we use here, we have paid the money to government coffer. How dare you, all these small, small associations. How dare to say you will not obey the law. If you don’t pay, we will resist you.”
Governor recalled that these same people who are now crying foul were among those who used the military during the 2019 general election to scuttle the will of the people of Rivers State, but were fiercely resisted by the people.
“Look at people crying now. They forget how they were using the military then. Was it not here when the military came to carry the ballot papers and results. Is it not here? They forgot how the military took over all collation centres to take away the materials if not because you stood firm.
“Now, they’re opening their dirty mouths because we abide by the rule of law. Tell them not to push us to the wall. If you don’t want to obey the law, you’ll face the consequences of it.”
Governor Wike also took a swipe at Dakuku Peterside, the former Director General (DG) of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), whom he described as a political neophyte, for daring him to name his preferred presidential candidate.
“Shameless politician. You had a position, yet you cannot help your people. You’re coming out to open your mouth simply because they did not give you second term to be the DG of NIMASA. You have guts to tell me I should name my presidential candidate. Are we at the same level. Failure and success, are they the same?”
He further added, “And let me also tell him, he does not understand the activities of G-5. I have told most people who don’t know, this fight we are fighting is like a gruella warfare. The more you look, the less you see.”
Atiku to go to UNIPORT?
As hints emerged that Atiku may take his campaign to the University of Port Harcourt, a federal facility, the university reacted by saying they had not granted such permit.