• Not even at gunpoint
• Shocked at Akpabio’s defection
Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike has declared that he would never make a deal with the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government ahead of the 2019 general election. Wike stated this in an interview with THISDAY in Port Harcourt. He was reacting to rumour about an alleged deal with the Federal Government under which he would be allowed to retain his seat in Rivers State in exchange for enabling President MuhammaduBuhari to get 25 per cent of the votes in the state in next year’s presidential election.
The governor also said he was hurt and disappointed by the defection of his friend and former Minority Leader of the Senate, GodswillAkpabio, to the ruling APC.
Wike said he would be the last person to enter into a political deal with the Federal Government.
He said, “If there is one person that cannot have a deal with the APC-led Federal Government, it is me. It is Rivers State. So, how can anybody say so? The day I do that, then everybody has done it. You know it. Not even at gunpoint will I do a deal against my party. I will never do that.”
He said Rivers State remained a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) stronghold and there was no way APC would win the state. The governor said the state was ready to resist any attempt by the APC and security agencies working for it to rig elections in the state.
Wike stated that he was confident that his records would speak for him in his re-election bid in the next election, adding that the APC has not done anything in the state to warrant a change in the stable of leadership in the state.
“If they (APC) say we have not done enough, they were in office for eight years; we have been in office for three and a half years. Compare what we have done in these three and a half years and under this economic recession to what they did when they were in office when there was boom in the economy of the country, then you will know who is lying. So, it does not lie with them to say whether we have done well or not. We think that we have done well and people have appreciated us that we have done well,” he said.
On Akpabio’s defection from PDP to APC, Wike stated, “It really shocked me but you are dealing with a human being. When you are dealing with a human being you know anything can happen. Akpabio is one man I used to have respect for, but what he did shocked me such that it hurt. I think in this world and as a leader you say no matter what, this is what I am going to do and this is what I am not going to do. So. I wish him good luck. If he thinks that that will help him, no problem.
“But I can tell you that I am highly, highly disappointed. It does not matter how anybody can use the media to paint it, Akpabio used to be one man I respected a lot. He supported me when I was vying for this position. But I was hurt that a man who PDP gave an opportunity to be commissioner for six years, to be governor for eight years, to be minority leader, would all of a sudden turn around to say the party is not serious, I have never seen that in my life. It is very painful.”
On the invitation of officials of the state government by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over withdrawals from banks, Wike insisted that no official of the state would appear before the commission as that would be contempt of the court.
His words: “No Rivers official will appear before the EFCC because the law is clear, the court said we should not do so. We respect the rule of law. Magu celebrates how they secured conviction through the courts against two former governors, Nyame and Dariye, yet they will not obey court orders or judgements against them.
“The same court that rules in your favour you celebrate but when it rules against you, you disobey. That tells you the kind of country we are in. We are telling the EFCC that the law says you cannot investigate the expenditure of a state government. That responsibility lies with the state House of Assembly. Until the constitution is amended, there is nothing you can do about that. So, you cannot take over the function of the House of Assembly. There is a court judgement to that effect in 2007.
“EFCC has been struggling since 2007 to appeal but they have not successfully appealed that judgement till now. Instead of them to obey and abide by the ruling of the court, they want to say they are above the law; they want to show that they can disobey the court as they choose. That is why we are asking: where are we heading to? When an institution, an agency of government will not obey a court judgement, then that country is doomed; that country is heading to anarchy. So, we say we will not honour your invitation because that will be contemptuous of a court judgement. Any Rivers State official that goes there is contemptuous of a court judgement. We are following the law, they are not.”
• See full interview next week