Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, and Nigeria’s Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, on Wednesday, literally exchanged hot words over the forthcoming rerun legislative election, scheduled for Saturday in the state.
Wike, speaking through the state Commissioner for Information and Communication, Dr Austin Tam-George, on Wednesday, said both Amaechi and the All Progressives Congress (APC) had been rejected by the Rivers people.
Tam-George denied allegation by Amaechi that Wike was using desperate means to ensure victory for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidates in the election, saying Wike had won the hearts of the people with his “impressive record of service delivery.”
He described as “sewage of lies” all allegations by Amaechi and the APC that Wike was behind the killings in the state and stressed that Wike did not need arms to defeat the APC in the state.
He warned that any “attempt to steal the mandate of the people on Saturday through the force of arms would be resisted and defeated once again.”
He said APC in the state was “suffocating under the weight of Amaechi’s disastrous eight years.”
“Amaechi is propably the most toxic political personality in Rivers because of his history of financial recklessness and visionless leadership during his time as governor.
According to him, funds meant for the payment of salaries of workers and pensioners were diverted to sponsor the political activities of the APC, thereby plunging millions of families into abject poverty and misery.
Dr Tam-George pointed out that Mr. Amaechi was indicted by a Court-approved Judicial Panel of Inquiry for misappropriating public funds.
The Commissioner asserted that while the APC-led Federal Government may have granted Amaechi unofficial amnesty, the Rivers people have a long memory, and would continue to reject Amaechi and the APC.
But Amaechi said he never abused his office as governor during his eight years as the state chief executive officer.
Speaking in Port Harcourt on Wednesday after his arrival for the election, Amaechi said he was “more popular than any Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) stakeholder, including governors” during his years as governor.
Amaechi, who presided over the state between 2007 and 2015, said his goodwill remained intact throughout his tenure because he never abused his office.
“During my tenure as governor, l never abused the office. The office of the governor is sacred and should be respected in all ramifications.
“When I was governor, I had over 75 per cent support from Rivers people and other Nigerians resident in the state. l am very sure l had more popularity than any PDP stakeholder including governors across the country.
“This is so because, as governor then, l overhauled the health and education sectors by promoting free healthcare system and free education, over 10,000 teachers were employed, including the building of critical infrastructures, roads and youth empowerment, making Rivers people and other Nigerians to experience change.”
He appealed to supporters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to turn out en masse for the rerun election, assuring them of their safety.
He accused opponents of his party of employing desperate means to secure victory, but asked the people to resist them.
“This is another opportunity for us to exercise our right to vote for candidates of our choices. You would recall that the last time the elections were held, members of the APC were brazenly, crudely and violently prevented from exercising their inalienable rights to elect those they wanted,” he said.
“Those same characters and forces that stole our votes by violently denying us the right to vote the last time are at it again.