Rivers crisis: Wike gives condition for peace with Amaechi

By The Citizen

The suspended chairman and councillors of Obio/Akpor Local Government in Rivers State must be recalled for peace to return to the state, the Minister of State for Education, Chief Nyesom Wike, said yesterday.

The minister, who is the arrowhead of the opposition to Governor Rotimi Amaechi, hails from the local government area.

Speaking to reporters yesterday in Port Harcourt after appearing before the Performance Assessment Committee set up by the Felix Obuah faction of the PDP to evaluate public office appointees and elected officials from the state, he denied heating up the political temperature of the state as alleged by the state government.

The government had accused him of violating the ban on campaign for the 2015 elections by circulating his posters for the governorship race.

The Chief of Staff, Government House, Port Harcourt, Chief Tony Okocha, said that contrary to the minister's denial, he (Wike) and his supporters were the brains behind the circulation of the posters.

However, Wike, reacting to the allegation, said: 'I was told that my posters are everywhere. These are politicians. They will just wake up one early morning and try to be mischievous. Do not bother yourself. We know their antics. We know this game. People just do what they like.

'One of them was even defending it this (yesterday) morning that I was the one who put the posters. As a good politician, does it make sense? I am a minister and I will be pasting my posters. Does it make sense? You can see that people are very mischievous, just to find one thing or the other to say.

'What utterances have I made that are heating up the polity? I said those who want to destroy Obio/Akpor LGA, they will not sleep. If you want to destroy my house, will I allow you to sleep?

'Those who are accusing me of not doing my work, are they those who appointed me? Has Mr. President said I am not doing my work? I do my work. From Monday to Friday, I am in Abuja. Then Friday, I come back home to see my people. What is wrong with that?

'For me is that PDP must go from strength to strength. We do not want PDP to lose any election. Nobody will take us by surprise. I am doing my work. Mr. President knows that. There is nothing you will do that people will not criticise. If you are quiet, they will say why is he quiet? If you are not quiet, they will say why is he talking too much?'

He also denied that he will be leading the state's delegation to this weekend's mini convention of the party in Abuja in the absence of the governor who is currently on suspension by the PDP.

'In my local government (Obio/Akpor), I know who the delegates are. I do not know the delegates from other LGAs. It is only the party chairman who can ascertain who are the delegates.

'Except those who are automatic delegates, like the governor, who is a member of the Board of Trustees (BOT), senators, House of Representatives members, party chairmen, assembly members. 27 (of 32 loyal to Amaechi) Rivers House of Assembly members have been suspended and will not be able to participate.

'Since they have been suspended from the party, they cannot take part in the activities of the party, until their suspension is lifted. It has nothing to do with me. Me leading the delegation is neither here nor there.'

On ASUU strike, Wike said: 'Am I not part of the negotiating team? My comment is what the Federal Government has done. We are pleading with ASUU members to go back to the classroom, with the N130 billion the Federal Government has released. Let us start from there and let them go back to the classroom.

'I do not know what you mean by force. Nothing can be enough. We are appealing to them (ASUU members). The Federal Government has done something. In the interest of our children and in the interest of our nation, they should go back to the classroom. Nothing like force. We cannot force anybody.'

Sources indicated that the performance assessment was to prevent the associates of the NGF chairman from attending the party's special national convention in Abuja on August 31, as they would be suspended before the convention.

The Rivers Deputy Governor, Tele Ikuru, ministers, senators; members of the House of Representatives, commissioners, five members of the Rivers Assembly loyal to Wike, LG chairmen, among others were invited by the committee for the three-day assessment, which commenced on Thursday, but Amaechi's loyalists refused to appear.

The minister of state for education, while commenting on what transpired between him and members of the Rivers PDP's Performance Assessment Committee also stated that nobody forced him to appear, but he was invited by the party, while describing the interaction as normal.

Wike added: 'They asked me, as a minister, what have I done for the PDP? I told them I am a minister, through the approval of Mr. President (Dr. Goodluck Jonathan), most of the PDP members today can say that they are members of federal boards. Not less than 15 of our people are members of federal boards, which is part of serving the country and people are happy.' The Nation