In this exclusive interview with PREMIUM TIMES’ reporter, Cletus Ukpong, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State opens up on the 2019 general elections in Nigeria, his quarrel with the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, and his many battles with the federal government and its agencies like the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
PT: Whenever your name is mentioned, the first thing that comes to mind is a man who is always standing up against the federal government.
Wike: No, that’s a misconception. I don’t stand up against the federal government; I stand up against injustice, I stand up against marginalisation. It has nothing to do with you as the federal government. If this government is not in place tomorrow and another government comes in and perpetuates injustice, I will stand up against them.
PT: You mean if it were a PDP government…?
Wike: (Cuts in) …. Of course, go and ask people! Now, let me tell you something. When (goodluck) Jonathan was the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Aminu Tambuwal was not the one that was supported to be the Speaker of the House of Representatives; Mulikat Akande-Adeola from Oyo State was the one PDP proposed and I said ‘Look, we are talking about how to move the country forward’ and I supported Tambuwal then.
Wike: Of course, it was not hidden! Even before Mr. President made me a minister! So, it has nothing to do with whether it is PDP or another political party in government. I have no delight to say because it is APC-led government I must, therefore, stand up against it. No! What is right must be done. What is wrong is wrong and what is right is right!
PT: You have constantly accused your predecessor, Rotimi Amaechi, of election-rigging. As one of the pillars that helped him to become governor, it could be assumed that you may have also taught him the art of rigging?
Wike: I admit I am one of those who helped him to win the election. But who is that person who contested against Rotimi Amaechi that would have won the election against him as at that time? People must be realistic in life. Who contested against him that would have won that election at that time? The issue of rigging does not arise. Who would have won the election against him as at that time? Abiye Sekibo? Under ACN? How would ACN have won election in Rivers State as at that time? You must take into consideration that Rivers State has been a PDP state since 1999. For you to say that the election was rigged, you must also know who contested against him. Is there any way ACN would have won election as at that time? Not possible!
PT: Will there ever be peace between you and Rotimi Amaechi?
Wike: I don’t have any problem with him. My concern is in the interest of the state which supersedes the interest of individuals.
PT: Some of the leaders in the PDP complain that you have a strong grip on the party because you are one of its major funders. And they are uncomfortable with it.
Wike: In politics, every governor supports the party. Most leaders support the party. Those who are complaining about me are those who are afraid because they are the agents of APC. We know those PDP presidential aspirants who are agents of PDP. We know them. The presidency and the APC have planted people within our party, and we know it. They planted Modu Sheriff and we fell for it. I bought into it not knowing it was a set-up. And then when we realised, we said no, we have to fight it. And we fought it. I cannot again fall the fool that I became under Ali Modu Sheriff. I know some of our presidential aspirants who are running on the sponsorship of the APC and the presidency.