Tony Ita-Etim, Port Harcourt
Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike of Rivers State has declared that the People’s Democratic Party, (PDP), has emerged stronger from the recent challenges because all leaders of the party are working to keep the party united.
The governor also said that he has lost confidence in the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, because the commission is too inconsistent, as it works to promote the interest of All Progressives Congress, APC, in Rivers State.
Speaking during his appearance on a televised programme, broadcast from Port Harcourt, Governor Wike said that the stakeholders have resolved their differences by placing the survival of the party above other considerations.
The governor said that the National Convention of the party will hold on May 21 as scheduled because shifting the convention will be dangerous as there would be no National Working Committee (NWC) after that date.
According to him the right processes have been followed and congresses held at different levels leading to the National Convention.
On an alleged court order stopping the National Convention, Governor Wike said as Chairman of the National Convention Planning Committee, he has not been served any such order adding that the said suit was filed on the premise of impersonation, hence the National Chairman has written to the court informing it of the fraud.
“There is no valid court order stopping the PDP National Convention. The suit at the Federal High Court Lagos was filed by an impersonator. As a chairman of the National Convention Planning Committee, I have not been served any court order. How can there be an order when I did not go to court?
“At the point we are now, we want everybody to be together to form a united opposition in the interest of the nation. When a Presidential Candidate emerges from the north in 2018, the Chairman of the party will come from the South”, he said.
Speaking further, the governor said: “We will no longer allow the imposition of candidates. We are encouraging every candidate to contest elections and emerge through popular votes. We will not allow impunity or imposition.
“I don’t have confidence in the present INEC. It is too inconsistent and acts outside the law”, he noted.
The governor explained that the APC in Rivers State has used INEC to generate tension by attempting to manipulate the electoral process for eight local government areas where INEC had already cancelled elections during the March 19, 2015 rerun elections.
He said it was unfortunate that INEC has set a committee to review already cancelled elections which will lead to avoidable crisis.
Governor Wike recalled that the APC had after the March 19 rerun elections issued statements calling for the cancellation of the elections, but pointed out that the same APC has made a U-turn by approaching the election tribunal asking it to declare its candidates as winners.
He regretted that INEC has tacitly supported APC by refusing to file defence for the declared results at the election tribunals.
He said the rerun elections in Rivers State proved that money cannot win elections as the ruling party had access to loads of money which made no impact.
Commenting on former President Goodluck Jonathan, Governor Wike said the former president was no longer in active politics as he only plays advisory role.
He said with the situation on ground in Edo State, the PDP will win over the state.
“From what we have seen on ground in Edo State, this is the best time to capture the state. We have sent independent assessors to the state and they have adjudged that the PDP has the opportunity to take over Edo”, he said.
While he maintained that the PDP is in the process of being rebuilt, the governor said that the party can no longer have one mega financier.
He said: “The party cannot have one person to be the sole financier. There is no need allowing the party to be in the hands of the money bags. We have handed over the party to the people”.
On leadership in Rivers State, the governor said there was no godfather, or god-mother, in the state as all stakeholders are important to Rivers’ development.
He noted that godfathers are detrimental to the development of any state, hence it will never be encouraged.
The governor said that since he became governor, he has judiciously used scarce Federation allocation resources which hovers between N4b to N5b to pay salaries and projects, while the immediate past administration left a backlog of salaries and abandoned projects.
He added that his administration will work with the Federal Government to clean up Ogoni land, if the Federal Government involves it.
He also warned against the politicization of the Ogoniland issue.