By JIMITOTA ONOYUME
PORTHARCOURT— Rivers State governor and Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, yesterday, said that Minister of State for Education, Chief Nyesom Wike, who now leads a faction of the state Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, was too small for him (Amaechi) to discuss.
Speaking at the 60th birthday celebration of former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Chief O. C. J. Okocha, SAN, at the Emmanuel Anglican Church, Okoro-Nu-Odo Deanery in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, weekend, Amaechi added that majority of those, who betrayed him were from his Ikwerre ethnic group, whom he nominated for positions at various levels, including his former Chief of Staff, Nyesom Wike, who has now turned himself to his (Amaechi’s) chief opponent and former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Austin Opara.
Responding to questions put to him by the officiating priest, Bishop of the Anglican Communion, Niger Delta Diocese, Archbishop Ignatius Kattey, Amaechi said “His grace, this will be the first time I will be talking about my former Chief of Staff in public.
“My former Chief of Staff is too small for me to talk about. I don’t want to discuss him and I have never done that before. Today will be my first and last day.
“You know, there are different types of men. I hope you know that there are men with character and there are men without character. And you know that I have character. I don’t believe that money can solve all problems and I don’t worship money, my greatest fear is where am I going to, after here on earth.
“Let me also tell you that I have been betrayed several times in politics and majority of those who betrayed me are from my Ikwerre ethnic group.
“Before I became a Speaker, can we look back at Ikwerre history? We were crying, we wanted governor, we wanted this and that and the last ministerial appointment was Chief Emmanuel Aguma, a long time ago, and that was the last Ikwerre ministerial appointment. I became Speaker and by the Grace of God I got the Deputy Speaker seat in the House of Representatives to an Ikwerre son(Austin Opara), all with my sweat, I struggled for it.”
Amaechi stated that when it was time for Austin Opara to support him, he, instead betrayed him
“Again, you can ask Mr. President, I submitted his name(Nyesom Wike) as minister, where is he now? I, Amaechi submitted his name (Nyesom Wike) as minister to President Goodluck Jonathan, but where is he now? You must have character, you must be known for something.”
Speaking on the Nigeria Governors’ Forum crisis, Amaechi said a credible election was held where the governors exercised their franchise and re-elected him as Chairman of the Forum.
“There was an election. They are not denying that there was no election, they said before the election, some governors had signed documents for them and that they were 19 in number, and we conducted election, eventually, the 19 governors later changed their minds and voted for me. As a man of God, (referring to Bishop Kattey) now that you know, please tell the other Bishops and men of God, so that, I don’t have to be responding to these questions in public, if there was election or not?”
Amaechi also warned that nobody should give him conditions on matters relating to the Obio/Akpor Local Government Area executive suspension. He said he was patiently waiting to hear the final determination of the court on whether the Rivers State House of Assembly should be allowed to perform their legitimate, constitutionally enshrined functions or not.
“It is within the powers of the Rivers State House of Assembly to suspend the Chairman of Obio/Akpor. The same constitution gave me the powers to dissolve Obio/Akpor, but, I have not done that. The Rivers State House of Assembly suspended the Obio/Akpor council chairman and the councilors, which is within their lawful functions.
The reason for which they were suspended was corruption, so allow the Assembly to investigate. If they investigate and the chairman and councilors are not corrupt, they will call them back. And no court can say that the Assembly members have no right to carry out their lawful functions. However, whatever the court says, the Rivers State Government will obey the court. But outside that, PDP or anybody cannot give me any condition on Obio/Akpor council,” he said.
“We will continue to struggle for our rights, and that includes our oil wells.”
Governor Amaechi also called on the people of the state to choose credible candidates during elections, reminding them of the incidence of 2005 and 2006, where militancy and kidnapping metamorphosed into breakdown of law and order in the state.
“When election time comes, Rivers people will be given a choice to choose whom they want, do you want people that have served you before who will deny you of your resources? Do you want to go back to 2005 – 2006 when militancy was everywhere? Do you want to be kidnapped as they have just started again? It is your choice to make, between good and bad.”
Amaechi maintained that he would remain committed to the vision of his administration to provide accountable and transparent stewardship anchored on integrity and good governance.
“I have done a road to Opobo and if I drive to Opobo, will the people pursue me? I have also constructed a road to Andoni, will they pursue me for putting a road to Andoni? What about the road from Port Harcourt to Owerri Road and from Eleme to the boundary between Abia State, will they pursue me?
What about the schools. I met a school with 100 to 200 students in a classroom. But now, you have standard structures and conducive learning environment with only 30 students per class, and we are still building. The church owe us a duty to explain the truth to the people. The truth is that, you will either stand for the truth or not, am ready to stand by the truth,” Amaechi said.