by Paul Osas
The Minister of State for Education, Mr. Nyesom Wike, has dared the Rivers State Governor, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, to carry out his threat to leave the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Wike, who stated this in an interview with journalists in Abuja on Wednesday, also faulted the governor’s claim that he (the minister) betrayed him.
The governor, had at the 60th birthday of a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Joe Okocha, described Wike and a former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representative, Austin Opara, as betrayers. He also threatened to dump the PDP, if he was “suffocated” in the party.
Amaechi said, “I lead the people of Rivers State and I will lead you. If they suffocate us in PDP and we need to move, we move!”
But dismissing the governor’s threat on Wednesday, the minister said, “I don’t observe fasting; I have started fasting so that he would leave the PDP. Let us meet in the field. Let us convince the Rivers State people. Let him leave the PDP; he is getting too late. Let him leave now. Let us meet at the election.”
He said he was the rallying point for Amaechi’s supporters at the PDP governorship primaries in 2006. The governor was denied the PDP governorship ticket in 2006, but was proclaimed the PDP candidate by a judgment of the Supreme Court in 2007. Wike said he led the struggle to ensure that Amaechi regained his mandate.
Faulting Amaechi’s allegation of betrayal, he said he stood by the governor when he could have betrayed him.
Wike stated, “When Amaechi was in Ghana, most people had given up the hope (that he would become a governor). I was chased by the EFCC. There was nothing that was not done to make me withdraw my support for Amaechi. I had everything with me to terminate Amaechi’s ambition. There was no offer that was not made to me, but I said ‘no’.”
The minister said most of those wining and dining with Amaechi now, abandoned him when he was struggling to reclaim his mandate.
He said, “I know those who were in the night going to Omehia’s house (the governor of the state in 2007) to beg him to make them ambassadors.”
However, the Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, disagreed with Wike and maintained that the PDP would lose if Amaechi dumps the party.
Semenitari said, “That Governor Amaechi is loved, well respected locally, nationally and internationally is a known and obvious fact. The PDP would certainly lose a lot if Governor Amaechi ever leaves the party, which is more than anyone can say of the minister who incidentally is a beneficiary of Governor Amaechi’s benevolence.”