by Stanley Azuakola
Nigeria’s first Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, personally injected herself into the clash between the Rivers governor, Rotimi Amaechi, and her husband, President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, when she publicly took a swipe at the Rivers governor, right there in Port Harcourt, the Rivers capital.
Amaechi was not present in the hall however when she made her comments.
Dame Patience Jonathan was in Port Harcourt on Friday and Saturday, where she attended the public opening of an Israeli school, and then the ceremony of Evans Bipi, one of the five state legislators opposed to Gov. Amaechi.
It was during that wedding reception, in the presence of dignitaries within and outside the state that the first lady decided to publicly hit at not just the Rivers governor,Rotimi Amaechi, but the state capital, Port Harcourt.
The first lady said Port Harcourt has lost its attraction during the tenure of Gov. Amaechi.
“During the time of Chief Rufus Ada-George and Dr. Peter Odili as governors, everybody wanted to come to Port Harcourt, which was called the Garden City, but I pray that it will return to what it used to be, so that we and our children can be proud of Port Harcourt,” she said.
Both Rufus Ada-George and Peter Odili were present at the ceremony. So also was the man who the first lady may prefer to transform the Garden City, Nyesom Wike. Wike was the chief host at the event, and the first lady used the occasion to profess her love for him: “I grew up in Rivers State, but I have never seen a gathering of the movers and shakers of this state like this. When I say I love Wike, people do not understand. If not for him, I would not have this opportunity to be here.
“It is good to be good. Both Rivers and Bayelsa are one, because Bayelsa State was created out of the old Rivers State (on October 1, 1996) and nobody can separate the two states, but the people must come together in peace and speak with one voice. Wike has brought us together,” she said.
Gov. Amaechi was not present at the church wedding which held at the St. Cyprians Anglican Church or at the reception which held at the Civic Centre in Moscow Road, Port Harcourt even though he was scheduled to be the guest of honour. At the church service, the governor was represented by deputy governor of the state, Tele Ikuru.
Port Harcourt was on virtual lock-down due to Jonathan’s presence as well as those of other dignitaries.
The first lady’s presence in town practically shut down the city and security operatives were deployed in various strategic places in the state.
It was gathered that the first lady met last night with the anti-Amaechi lawmakers.
Present at the occasion on Saturday were former Minister of Science and Technology, King Ebitimi Banigo, now the Amanyanabo of Okpoma in Bayelsa State, the Amanyanabo-elect of Ogu, Nicholas Nimenibo, former Governor Celestine Omehia and former Deputy Speakers of the House of Representatives Chibudom Nwuche and Austin Opara, Justice Mary Odili of the Supreme Court, a former Minister of Culture and Tourism, Alabo Tonye Graham Douglas; PDP National Women leader, Kema Chikwe; ex-Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Timi Alaibe; Dr. Abiye Sekibo, factional chairman of PDP in Rivers State, Chief Felix Obuah; Senator Lee Maeba, the National President of the National Council of Women Societies (NCWS), Chief Nkechi Mba; and the wife of the Bayelsa Governor, Rachael Dickson.