Posted by News Express | 6 July 2015 | 5,330 times
Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, a veteran Media Practitioner and APC Chieftain, was for several years National Director of Publicity and Public Affairs of the famous Turaki Vanguard. He was also the National Publicity Secretary of the New PDP (nPDP), one of the parties that merged to form APC and which started the decimation and defeat of PDP during the 2015 general elections. One of the principal actors that gave birth to the formation of APC, the current ruling political party in Nigeria, Chief Eze is currently the Spokesman of Rivers State APC Chairman, Dr. Davies Ibiamu Ikanya. He recently spoke with selected journalists on burning issues pertaining to the politics of Rivers State, especially the running battles between Governor Nyesome Wike and his predecessor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi. FAUSTINUS NWAORGU was there and presents excerpts of the insightful interview.
Question: Please, tell us what you are both to the immediate past Governor of Rivers State, Rt. H on. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, and the incumbent Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike.
Chief Eze: I think the best approach to your question is to give a little background information of both Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and Governor Nyesom Wike. Principally, both are of Ikwerre extraction in Rivers State. From 1999 to 2007 Rt. Hon. Amaechi was the Speaker of Rivers State House of Assembly, an office he used to lobby and influence the election of Chief Nyesom Wike as two-term Executive Chairman of Obio-Akpor Local Government Council, one of the richest Local Government Areas in Nigeria. While Amaechi was the Chairman of the Council of Speakers’ Forum, Wike was the Chairman of the Local Government Councils’ Chairmen’s Forum in Nigeria.
From 2007 to 2015, Amaechi was the Governor of Rivers State with Chief Wike as his Chief of Staff from 2007 to 2011. Apart from all these, Chief Wike was the Director General of the Re-election Campaign Organisation of the then Governor Amaechi, which he executed satisfactorily, which made Amaechi to nominate him as a Minister to represent Rivers State in the then Federal Cabinet of President Goodluck Jonathan.
From the above, it should be very clear that Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi was the leader of his political dynasty with Chief Wike assisting him accordingly and those of us that found ourselves in this political family were submissive and loyal to these two leaders. I am very close to two of them if. I am to answer your question direct. During the 2011 general elections with Chief Wike as the Director General of our Campaign Team, I was in the Media Team, which Chief Wike wanted me to head. It is on record that I was the first person that showcased Chief Wike to the international community through my article titled ‘Wike and the politics of Anyanali’, in which I captured all his inputs towards the re-election of Rt. Hon Amaechi as the Governor and his type of politics in Rivers State.
On Amaechi, apart from the fact that he is my political leader, I am and will always be loyal to him as far as he maintains his stoic stand against evil, undemocratic elements and unprincipled actions of some of our leaders. He was the person that nominated me as the National Publicity Secretary of the defunct New PDP to the other six Governors and leaders that made up the New PDP. After that national assignment, he drafted me back to Rivers State as the Spokesman of the APC State Chairman. He is a brother in the true meaning of the word.
So what may have caused the rift between Amaechi and Wike?
A lot of forces contributed to the rift which will take writing a book to unravel but for the exigencies of this interview, I will only state that Chief Wike, sadly, allowed himself to be used as a tool by former President Jonathan, his wife, Dame Patience Jonathan, and their collaborators in their blind ambition to destroy Amaechi, whom they saw as a threat to their continued plundering of the common patrimony of our nation. The second factor was the gathering or unification of those that see Amaechi as a threat to the realisation of their political ambitions in Rivers State. The third factor was the Dr Peter Odili/Sir Omehia Group, which felt that Amaechi sent them on a forced exile to Abuja after the 2007 gubernatorial election. The last but not the least was the ambition of Chief Nyesom Wike to govern Rivers State, which many never knew until it was too late to stop him. It was his ambition and readiness to provide himself as a tool for the realisation of the goal – which is destroy Amaechi by any means – that united all these other groups. They embarked upon this project with zeal without knowing the end but, knowing what future portends for Wike, Amaechi and Jonathan, I did my best to dissuade them from this unwarranted struggle but Wike and Jonathan refused to see reason. The result was the failure of Jonathan to survive the 2015 general elections.
Who is Amaechi?
Amaechi, apart from what we all know about him politically, is the proper definition of what humility is all about. However, to some people who don’t know him very well he is an arrogant fellow who must be destroyed. Amaechi is an enigma that defies description. Engr Tele Ikuru, his erstwhile Deputy, who seems to know him better than most of us, tried to give an insight into who this man is when during the seventh anniversary of the Supreme Court Judgement that brought Amaechi to power stated: “Today, we have come to celebrate a resourceful leader, a dogged fighter, a political enigma, a change agent, people defender, transformer, catalyst, trail blazer, phenomenon of our time, His Excellency, the Rt. Hon. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, the Executive Governor of Rivers State. A leader whose word you can take to the bank. A trusted friend and ally, a man who stands by his friends and confidants, both in good times and in times of difficulties and challenges. A man of conscience who does not hide under the veil of circumstances to betray his friends and allies; a compassionate leader whose love for the development of the state and its people has no parallel. A sincere and honest leader, who rather than cart away the commonwealth of Rivers people entrusted to his care, has diligently applied it to the development of the state to the admiration of the true Rivers people and even his traducers. A visionary leader who knows and sees his people first.” I don’t know if any other person can beat this definition of the enigma known as Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi.
Who is Wike?
Chief Wike is a fellow who if he pursues a goal nobody or force – even if you are his benefactor – can dissuade him from achieving it. Whatever he needs to do to reach his goal he does it, whether good or evil. He is a philanthropist par excellence and kind to a fault and someone who is ready to sell his last property to get you to his side if need be. He also values friendship.
Is the current face-off between Amaechi and Wike necessary?
It is not necessary as both of them are assets to Rivers State but to those fanning the embers of the war within the various camps the fight must continue for their selfish goals to be realised. To those in the camp of Wike, they feel that Amaechi has been unfair to them by not giving them a share of the treasury of Rivers State. They are also bitter about the manner Amaechi stopped militancy through which most of them used to feed, as well as the way some of them were sent to Abuja on exile. Such people saw the ambition of Chief Wike as a rallying point to deal with Amaechi and probably hijack the treasury of the state and continue with the discarded system of sharing the State’s funds instead of investing it towards the general development of the state.
Governor Wike is alleging that the former Governor looted the Government House before leaving office. What is your response?
As I stated above, Wike is a character who can do anything to achieve his goal. Actually, there was no looting of any form in the Government House. I was one of the very few that left the Government House after Amaechi departed Rivers State to Abuja on 28th May, 2015 and I can confirm that there was no looting. Therefore, if there was any looting, it’s either in the imagination of Chief Nyesom Wike or he arranged the looting in order to portray the immediate past Governor, Rt Hon Chibuike Amaechi, in bad light. To me, this plot is very childish as Wike knows that Amaechi is a highly principled leader who can’t be involved in such a petty issue like looting. Besides, from the little I have come to know about Amaechi, he detest materialism. Check his record from his university days and you will come to appreciate this man as a unique leader. Chief Wike is a character who can go to any length to achieve a purpose, including running down anybody on his way – even if that person is his benefactor like Rt Hon Amaechi, who has shaped his political life.
A probe panel has been set up by Wike and mandated to investigate Amaechi. What does this portend for Amaechi? Some have argued that probe and accountability should be part of the change that APC preached during the 2015 electioneering campaigns.
Contrary to what Wike is saying, I wish to make it clear that the panel was principally set up to witch-hunt, tarnish the image and malign the hard-earned reputation of former Governor Amaechi. My happiness is that no Rivers man can be deceived by the antics of Chief Wike in this regard as they are fully aware of what Chief Wike and Rt. Hon Amaechi individually stands for. Wike affirmed my position when he stated and I quote: “Don’t forget that Amaechi likes pointing fingers at others; calling them names and claiming to be a man of integrity and a man who is not corrupt. As a governor then, he probed his predecessor and he did not see it then as a vendetta. So, let him help the public to know, between him and Rivers State Government, who is right or wrong.” It is, therefore, evident that the main aim of this probe panel is to indict Amaechi as a corrupt leader so as to soil his good name.
If Chief Wike is truly serious about probe, he should extend it to the period when he was the Chief of Staff to Amaechi from 2007 to 2011 – when he was in charge of most of the activities of government. During that time most of the contracts Chief Wike awarded to himself and his cronies were either executed poorly or abandoned while pocketing all the billions of naira. To me, Chief Wike is just playing politics with the probe issue as he knows very well that if there ever existed any sound and transparent Governor in Nigeria, Amaechi should be that Governor. Wike is playing this dirty game because he knows that the Election Tribunal will soon send him packing. His thinking and that of those promoting him is to present Amaechi as a very corrupt person whose candidate for the imminent fresh election should not be elected. They, however, fail to understand that the people of Rivers State have already made up their mind that Wike is not the type of character to govern them, especially at this time.
Yet another reason why Wike set up the panel is his belief that by demonising Amaechi, he would reduce his chances of occupying any sensitive position in the Buhari administration, which he believes will be detrimental to his interests and those of his newfound godfathers in the scheme of things at the national level. However, one thing Wike and his strategists fail to understand is that President Buhari is already aware of their desperation to victimise Amaechi and also knows the politics of Rivers State as he knows his fingers. Therefore, their game evil plot is an exercise in futility.
On what the probe portends for Amaechi, the fact remains that Amaechi has fought a lot of political wars and came out victorious and this will not be an exception. Oh yes, in APC we believe in accountability but when it turns to victimisation we vehemently resist the probe as in this particular case.
Why did Amaechi refuse to hand over to Wike on May 29?
I don’t need to waste much time on this. Let me quote Amaechi on this: “There was no truth in this as all commissioners and heads of MDAs submitted their handover notes to the Secretary to State Government, who forwarded same to the Head of the State Civil Service as is appropriate. Furthermore, I directed the then Deputy Governor of the state, Mr. Tele Ikuru, to be the liaison between the outgoing administration and the incoming one.” So who is saying that Amaechi did not hand over?
The former Governor has been accused of leaving behind a huge debt allegedly worth over N400 billion. How does Rivers APC feel about this?
Whoever that made such an allegation is not fair to Amaechi as he ensured that Rivers State was the least indebted state in Nigeria. According to Amaechi in his farewell address to the people of the State, “Today, Rivers State is the least indebted state with a loan portfolio of N17.7 billion to banks owed as follows: agriculture loan from the Central Bank of Nigeria – N2 billion; Zenith Bank Plc - N15.7 billion.” On the N15 billion owed to Zenith Bank, Amaechi noted that the repayment for the loan was via an irrevocable standing order, so it would have reduced as at today. On the N150 billion owed the Ministry of Works’ contractors, Amaechi has explained that he inherited a state that was comatose and in dire need of infrastructure due to years of militancy and criminality that had forced government and business in Rivers State to a standstill. As he made clear, by the time he was leaving office, he had completed 90 per cent of the Phase 1A of the Rivers State Monorail, completed two major interchanges, two flyovers, 25 bridges, and five shore protection projects and equally completed 890 kilometres of the on-going 1,424 kilometres of road projects across the state.
In addition, there are over six land reclamation/shore protection projects at Andoni, Opobo, Buguma, Abalama, Olumbie/Owukiri Island, and Oba-Ama-Okrika with over 1,140,000kilometres completed. Out of the roads completed, some of these were federal roads for which the Rivers State Government was owed N108 billion. As at when Governor Amaechi was leaving office, the debts owed the contractors in the Ministry of Works, which were for ongoing road projects totalled N44,942,354,44.10. So who ever that gave the figure of N400B is a joker
Is it true that Wike stopped former President Goodluck Jonathan from paying the Rivers State Government the N150b used to work on some of Federal Government projects in the State?
This is just the fact. This was one of the strategies Wike used to sabotage the development of Rivers State during Amaechi’s second term as Governor. It is on record that other states such as Akwa Ibom and Abia received repayment for the federal roads they reconstructed while such a gesture was never extended to Rivers State.
Under Wike, the courts have resumed operations after more than two years of being shut under Amaechi and APCs watch. How does the party feel about this?
Go and investigate why the courts were closed. Wike was part of it when they plotted to impose Justice Daisy Okocha as the Chief Judge of Rivers against the spirit and principles of the Constitution of the Federal republic of Nigeria and when they were bombing our courts left, right and centre, thus forcing the Judicial Council in the state to close the courts for the safety of our citizens. Now that they have taken over and reopened the courts, have you heard of any court being bombed?
What are the party’s chances at the Election Tribunal?
A good General does not disclose his war strategies, so it would be unwise for me to give details of the facts at our disposal with which we shall unseat Wike at the Election Tribunal. Let me, however, say that the election that brought Wike to power was such a charade that in some places the figures ascribed to Wike were higher than the number of voters accredited by the Card Reader.
It was reported that while there were 292, 878, voters, INEC allotted a whopping 1,029,102 votes to Wike, representing 87.77 per cent of 1,228,614, being the conjured number of total accredited voters. With this alone, Wike is a goner. If the recommendations of the Ahmed Joda-led Transition Committee to president Muhammadu Buhari are anything to go by, Governor Nyesom Wike should be somewhere else but not at the Brick House.
As for the imminent re-run guber election, we have all the documents that will shock the world when released; Chief Wike and his corrupt nature will be tabled before Rivers people to enable them make a wise choice on who will govern them during this dispensation. We are confident that Dr Dakuku Peterside, the APC candidate, will surely be formally elected during the re-run election as comparing him with Wike is like comparing darkness and light.
Prince Tonye Princewill, Wike and Peterside, all your good friends, contested the 2015 Rivers State guber election what is your relationship with each of them?
I accept the fact that Princewill, Wike and Peterside are my friends but one thing many don not know is that we are brothers and, as God would have it, we were all born on 1st January, making us family members of Capricorn. Apart from this, we are all products of Amaechi’s political dynasty. Apart from me, the other three were core members of the Economic Team of Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi. We are such a family and what affected any of us affected the others – until we were divided by our recent political differences. Four of us all are sound leaders in our own rights.
Why are you so hard on Wike not minding his love for you?
If not for the immorality of Wike’s governorship ambition nobody would have had any problem with him. His candidature is morally wrong in three ways: One, it was promoted by those who want to destroy his brother and benefactor in many ways. Two, both Amaechi and Wike are of Ikwerre extraction, and it is totally wrong that after eight years of Amaechi’s governorship another Ikwerre man would succeed him. Three, his candidature is not acceptable by any sound Rivers man due to the expectation that leadership in the state should rotate amongst the upland and riverine areas of the state. Two upland leaders in the persons of Dr Peter Odili and Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi have governed the state for 16 years to the detriment of the riverine area. Assuming that Wike succeeds to be the Governor of Rivers State after the rerun elections it means that the riverine area will not taste power in their own state for 24 years!
The manner in which Wike was imposed on PDP was unconstitutional and morally wrong. I have, therefore, decided to sacrifice my relationship with Wike for the general interest of the people of Rivers State, which I believe should override any personal interest.
Why should you ditch Princewill when he needed you most?
On Princewill, I don’t want to discuss his issue until at the appropriate time. Even so, let me say that one major issue is that his latest politics of supporting Jonathan, who has no room for the emancipation and development of Rivers State, against Amaechi, who has done his best to promote him politically, differs from my own political stand of supporting Amaechi, whose love for Rivers State is unparalleled. Besides, Princewill is in Labour and I happen to be one of those that formed APC, so we cannot possibly be together at the moment.
Why are you supporting Peterside to the detriment of others?
On why I am supporting Peterside, apart from the fact that we are in the same political party, we decided to remain with Amaechi, who has been unjustly treated by the forces supporting Wike. Besides, Peterside has a richer CV, a far better record of performance, and his vision and programmes for the emancipation and development of Rivers State by far dwarf those of all the others you mentioned. The Rivers State interests were aptly captured via the Four-Point Agenda of Dr Dakuku Peterside, which serves as his commitment to revolutionise governance and take the state to the next level. The Four-Point Agenda, also known as ‘Road Map to Prosperity’ aimed at taking Rivers State to the next level, include Public Sector Accountability and Security of Lives and Properties; Employment Generation and Wealth Creation; Social and Human Capital Development and Empowerment; as well as Institutional and Physical infrastructure Development and Food Security
What is the future of Rivers State?
The future of the state is bleak under Wike but we are hopeful that Dr Dakuku Peterside will repay the damage done by Wike when he eventually takes over the reins of governance in a few months’ time.
•Photo shows Eze Chukwuemeka Eze.
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