In December 2015, as it became clear that a rerun election was going to hold in Rivers State, a seminar was organised by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state. Governor Nyesom Wike, who is the PDP leader in the state expressed confidence that the party would do well in the election. He however warned that they will not tolerate any attempt to rig the election, as in his opinion, Rivers state is a PDP state. Then he said, “Let them bring anybody as INEC official from anywhere that wants to be funny, I wish the person must have written his Will before he comes.”
It was a shocking threat and call to violence against INEC officials by someone who was meant to be the chief law officer of the state. The dangerous statement by Wike even looks worse when one considers that the Rivers rerun which was conducted two weeks ago was characterised by great violence and killings. Samuel Okonta, a youth corps member from Edo state who was serving as an INEC adhoc staff in the election was gruesomely murdered.
But Governor Wike is not the least bit concerned about the fact that he advocated for jungle justice and for supporters to take the law in their hands at a time when instructing his supporters to adhere to the rule of law would have been preferable. He defended his statement yesterday in an interview with Channels Television.
According to him, the statement was not evidence that he supports violence as he only said it to warn those with sinister plans, knowing that it will be difficult for another party to defeat the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state in addition to his achievements as governor in the short time he has been in office. In Gov. Wike’s opinion he was right and the call for his supporters to take law into their hands probably arose from an outraged sense of justice.
“It is difficult for anybody to defeat us in Rivers State because of the projects I have done in my short stay in office, and the fact that Rivers is a PDP state. The civil servants are happy with us. Nobody would be happy when, at the end of the month, they cannot take their wages home.
“We have done much to fulfil our campaign promises. If you go to Borokiri, where the former governor was living at Okaki Street, everybody was afraid to go there because of bad roads. But today, we have fixed the road and the people are happy,” he said.
Wike also said that reports of insecurity in Rivers were exaggerated. As evidence, the governor claimed that the state’s internally generated revenue (IGR) had increased from N4 billion to between N9 and N10 billion.
“We received N4 billion as (federal) allocation when our salary wage is N5.5 billion. How do we make up to pay salaries? When we took over, I had an IGR of N4 billion to N5 billion, but as I speak to you, we have improved our IGR to between N9 and N10 billion.
“This means nobody is running away from the state, because if people were leaving the state, our IGR would not have increased. And if the insecurity is much as is being claimed, why is our IGR increasing? Yet, if you read the newspapers, people would say the state is Rivers of blood.”
The governor, who pledged not to complete the monorail project started by his predecessor, said Rivers residents and other stakeholders told him to forget about the project and focus on another, which would have direct meaning on the people.
He said the monorail project consumed over N45 billion, adding that he did not want to have a headache over a ‘white elephant’ project.
Wike accused his former boss and Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, of allegedly attempting to destabilise the state because of his “desperation” to capture the state.