Rivers PDP: How Wike's Loyalists Flooded Congress Panel

Source: pointblanknews.com

Governorship aspirants on the platform of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State are shell-shocked on how one aspirant and immediate past Minister of State for education, Chief Nyesom Wike appointed all five members of the ward congress committee that conducted yesterday's primaries

Aside Wike, 16 other aspirants boycotted the ward congresses at which three delegates are elected from each ward. The delegates are expected to, in turn, elect the governorship candidate.

The 16 aspirants, among other things, alleged that the committee was populated by Wike's men.

PDP national secretariat had announced a five-man electoral committee for each state.

For Wike's Rivers State, the party appointed Deputy Executive Secretary of Universal Basic Education Commission, Dr. Yakubu Gambo chairman of the committee.

Members include Dr. Olu Ayewoh, who served as Wike's Special Assistant (Technical), Mrs Uzo Nwandu, whom the former minister appointed a member of the governing board of Federal College of Education, Gombe, and Suleiman Lawal Kaura, another nominee of Wike and member of the governing board, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.

Appointed to serve as the committee's secretary was Mr. Chuks Akwiti, Special Assistant to PDP's deputy national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, a known apologist of the former minister.

Wike, Pointblanknews.com checks reveal, was key in appointing Gambo deputy Executive Secretary of UBEC, one of the several juicy parastatals Wike directly supervised as minister.

Pointblanknews.com gathered that with Wike's support as Minister, Gambo became the most powerful officer in UBEC, above his boss, the Executive Secretary, Dr. Suleiman Dikko.

As Minister of State for Education, Wike, in flagrant contempt for administrative practice related directly with Gambo to the chagrin of Dikko and UBEC top management staff.

The relationship between the immediate past minister and Gambo reportedly made the latter gain unfettered access to the minister's office and Asokoro home. This influence Gambo rubbed in the face of a seemingly helpless Dikko, the Chief Executive.

The minister, UBEC sources revealed, had used Gambo as a “clearing house” for phantom contracts running into billions of Naira. Several of such contracts were given key members of the party's National Working Committee (NWC).

In return, Gambo reportedly exploited the bazaar by helping himself and cronies to contracts running into tens of millions of Naira.

So rosy had the relationship between minister and DES become that on a particular instance, Wike bought Gambo a mansion on House 5, Road 61, near Galadima Gate in

Gwarinpa district.
The cream colour duplex was reportedly bought off a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, who like Wike is seeking the governorship of Kaduna State on the All Progressives' Party (APC) platform.

Wike had reportedly advised the UBEC deputy Executive Secretary against paying for the N200 million property in cash, but through mortgage “in order to deflect suspicion.”

Pointblanknews.com gathered that since buying the massive mansion, the UBEC boss has redesigned the exterior with stone tiles, converting part of the garage into a guest house.

Family sources told Pointblanknews.com that Gambo has since April, when he acquired the property, invested close to N60 million “to bring it to the standard of a top presidential appointee.”

Remarked a friend of the UBEC boss, “apparently Dr. Gambo is in a hurry to compensate for the several years of the locust, years he spent in abject poverty.

“This sudden affluence of a man who for several years couldn't fuel his car, and who always borrowed from kiosk owners around his house which was up for foreclosure speaks volumes of the level of corruption in UBEC and related government agencies.

“Anyway, it is not for nothing that the man boasts that he would make as much as possible, in case President Goodluck Jonathan loses the 2015 election, or should the election break up Nigeria,” offered the source.

One PDP officer told Pointblanknews.com that he had warned on the impropriety of appointing Gambo and other Wike legmen members of the panel.

“Yes, we can overlook board appointees. But it is not only wrong to deploy Gambo, who is an full-time executive of a government agency to subvert the political process, but a flagrant abuse of office.

“We are aware he arrived in Port Harcourt on Friday, and even collected estacode from UBEC for a trip that has no relationship whatsoever with his agency. This abuse must be investigated and an example be set of such incorrigible public officers,” fumed one UBEC official.

Aside Gambo, Wike also reportedly wangled a Special Assistant to the deputy national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus as secretary of the committee.

The aspirants have consistently accused Secondus of covertly and overtly playing Wike's script.

Pointblanknews.com gathered from one “disenchanted” member of the Gambo committee that the former Minister gave them N100 million “for the assignment”, but that Gambo halved it and declared “only N50 million.”

An embarrassed Wike was said to have promised to “do something on Monday.”

UBEC sources told Pointblanknews.com that, following the expiration of the tenure of Dr. Ahmed Modibbo Mohammed as UBEC boss, governor of Gambo's home state, Dr. Jonah Jang had unsuccessfully pleaded with President Goodluck Jonathan to appoint his candidate Modibbo's successor.

According to the sources, Wike had for over a year deliberately stalled Gambo's appointment on account of being slighted that “Governor Jang didn't recognize his importance as one of the power brokers in the Villa.”

Sources told Pointblanknews.com that, confused that the appointment was taking longer than expected, Gambo had approached several friends of the former minister to intervene.

He had pledged to, if appointed into UBEC, “reciprocate at the appropriate time by conducting the PDP primary election in Rivers State and ensure that Wike wins by all means necessary.”

Less than week after offering to serve the minister's interests, Gambo landed the appointment, a development which automatically made Wike his godfather in UBEC.

The former Minister, sources offered, had promised to, if elected governor of Rivers State, ensure that Gambo becomes governor of Plateau State in 2019.

Contacted to comment on his alleged relationship with Gambo and members of the electoral panel, Wike blurted, “no comment” before switching of his phones.

On his part, Gambo failed to respond to text messages' enquiries on his alleged relationship with his former boss-turned governorship aspirant.

When the UBEC boss eventually opened one of his lines and was confronted with the questions, he feigned reception difficulties before quickly switching off.

Commented an aspirant, “This is broad day robbery. How could the national secretariat have allowed some elements so rubbish our party?

“Of course there is no way this can stand. By appointing members of the panel, Wike became jury and judge. The fact that persons linked to him are on the panel undermines its neutrality and integrity.

“The way forward is for the national secretariat of our great party to disband the discredited Gambo panel and set up a fresh one with credible men and women to conduct fresh congresses,” he submitted.

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