On May 29 next year, the government of Dr Nyesom Wike will come to an end. It is not clear who will succeed him. Even, it is not yet clear if the APC will be on the ballot for the governorship election in Rivers State. But the state party chairman, Emeka Beke has given the indication that his party will survive all the legal hurdles and will be on the ballot and win the election. When that happens, according to him, the government of Wike will face a probe.
He also told TNN in this interview that his party cannot be intimidated by the PDP or by the governor.
Let’s know the position of your party in regarding the attack on Lee Maeba, the threat to close down campaign offices of some political parties and attacks from other political leaders of the opposition parties.
First, let me thank you for giving me this audience as the chairman of the party. The APC is geared to run election in Rivers State and one thing I want to assure you is that we are going to be in the ballot by the grace of God and one thing you must know, power comes from God, not man and as a party we are ready to take head on collation on anybody who thinks he wants to run election with us.
If you defeat us, we are going to congratulate you, if we defeat you, you have to congratulate us. But one thing you must be rest assured of is that the ruling government, the party in power in Rivers state is scared of other parties running election with them.
On the attack on leaders of the other party, I am not a member of their party, I’m not in PDP, I’m in APC but nobody, no one human being can attack any member of APC. If you do that, we are going to resist you. That’s the truth, no pretence about that, because no man has monopoly of violence in this country. As a party, Buhari came on board, and has kept to the rudiments of politics in Nigeria and nobody in the history of this country has been able to do that. We want to commend the Mr. President for what he has been able to do in this present administration of the APC led government in Nigeria and if you listen to the governors, they will always comment that Buhari has done very well, paid them all what belongs to them, paid the autonomy in local governments and all that, nobody did that.
For the other part you talked about, nobody can close APC in the state, nobody has that power because we are already in court, challenging those issues in the court and I don’t think anybody wants to disobey the court order. The PDP were in the court the other day and the police were in the court and I think that is why we are free to go but we are sure that we are going to win election in Rivers State, that is very clear, it is very clear, you can see the handwriting written all over the wall.
There is still K-leg around your governorship candidate. The court has not cleared him.
(Cuts in) Listen, you know, if you watch what has happened, it is only one judge in this country that has given all those negative judgements. One thing I want to assure you, just take it from me, we are going to be on the ballot, the governorship candidate Architect Tonye Cole will be on the ballot come 2023. Let’s see what happens between now and early next month, you would see what I’ve told you.
In other words, are you saying that PDP or Wike cannot intimidate you?
(Cuts in) Nobody can intimate me. In fact, I want to make it louder, nobody. We were born and brought up in Rivers State, no one person has the power to say the next person. When you talk about intimidation, what’s intimidation all about? He is in his party, I’m in my party, I decide who I’ll campaign for, who I’m going to stand with, and I stand with APC 100 per cent . He should stand with his own party. He cannot intimidate anybody, please.
Still talking about intimidation, he had said before you go to hold any rally, come and take permission.
(Cuts in) Which permission? What he said was government schools. I would not campaign in government schools and I would tell my party not to campaign in government schools. Election is not all about campaigning in primary schools; campaign is about who decides to vote for you. They’ve tested the leadership of Governor Wike as governor of Rivers state and tested the other side of Rotimi Amaechi as governor of Rivers state, they have to compare and contrast which one is the best bet for Rivers people.
So where are you going to be holding your rallies?
Don’t worry about where I’m going to hold my rallies. I can hold my rallies in my private house, I can hold my rally at my family’s fishing pond, I can hold my rally anywhere I want to hold my rally, that’s the most important thing.
But you are not to hold political activities in a residential area.
I would hold in my town. Don’t I have town square?
With what is happening in Rivers State, what are your fears?
I don’t have any fear as long as I’m a Rivers man and I don’t have any need to get worried concerning fear and all that. The most important thing is for me to win election in Rivers state. You saw what CBN has done that nobody can withdraw more than twenty thousand from the ATM and that’s to show those of them who are stashed funds in the house to buy votes. It’s going to be very difficult for everybody. Rivers people first would decide who is to be governor of Rivers state, not about me.
Do you see Anarchy looming in Rivers State, from the things that are going on?
What is anarchy? Wike becoming the governor of Rivers state, that is the Anarchy you are talking about?
What I mean is, I mean, if people are being threatened, if…
(Cuts in) No, he can only do that to people who probably don’t have the mind to fight him. He can’t try that (with us). Why will he come and intimidate me, for what? Are we in the same group, where he will come and say he will intimidate me? No, he can’t. I won’t take that from him. Clearly, no APC person will take that from him. He can only do it to people who probably were in his pay roll, who have benefited from him. He can’t do that to any of us. Have I had anything to do with them? Since he became governor, I’ve not had anything to do with them. Let him do it to those people who have benefited from him.
A lot of people have this belief that the APC is gone in Rivers state
(Cuts in) No, no, that is not acceptable in any way.
So how do you convince people that APC is still alive?
Well, watch out what will happen, then you will know whether we are still alive or we are not.
I mean as we speak, how do you convince people that APC is still alive?
We are still alive, nothing is happening to any of us. We are still alive, 100% alive, strong and healthy.
Can you talk to Rivers people concerning what they are seeing, concerning what they are hearing, the things that are going on in Rivers state now?
Well, first, let me tell the Rivers people they have the right to choose who pleases them, not me and you and they know nobody should be scared. Get your PVC, go out to cast vote for the person you want to become the governor of Rivers state.
The PDP does not seem to be resting on its oars as far as this issue of non qualification of your candidate is concerned. They will go as far as the Supreme Court in an effort to stop Cole.
If you are popular, why don’t you not want anybody to run election with you? That’s to tell you they are scared. What is the business of another political party knowing what we are going to do in our party and what we are not going to do?
You said Wike is scared, scared of who?
Scared of everybody. He’s scared of everybody please, don’t ask me that question, who he’s scared. If you’re popular, why is it that you don’t want to allow other parties? It’s not about APC, it’s about all the whole political parties in Rivers state.
You are a Rivers man, Wike has been commissioning projects and inaugurating new ones
(Cuts in) Well, I wish him well on that. That’s just all what I’ll tell him.
No, but I mean, you didn’t allow me to even ask the question.
No no, you have said that and I said I wish him well. He is the governor, he can commission anything he wants to commission. I am doing five kilometers road in my community, did I call anybody to come and commission? You want to tell BBC? What are we talking about commissioning? I don’t want to talk about that please. He has the right to commission whatever he wants to commission, he can decide to commission a TV.
(Laughs) Okay. So if you were to face Wike right now, what would you be telling him?
Oh please, he is somebody I’ve known for years, somebody that we are close, even though we’ve gone our separate ways in politics or deciding the party who you are going to be loyal to and clearly he knows that I know him more than any other person, that would come and tell him and he knows I’ll always talk about him when it comes to issue of being scared and not being scared. If I don’t know him, it would have been a quite different thing and then he knows that he is one person that I would never be scared of. He’s a governor of the state, whether he’s wrong or right, he is the governor of the state. We must give him respect as the governor of the state. There are certain words I’ll never use and disrespect him because I don’t know what God has for me as a person but one thing I’ll tell you and he knows is that I will never be scared of him, that’s the truth.
Alright, did you listen to the governor when he said he has never touched one kobo of local governments?
I don’t know of that, I’m not in government to know that because I’m not part of them. It’s only people who are part of that would decide whether or not or when probably any local government chairman would rise up to say look, he has not touched our money. I’m not part of them. I won’t discuss that.
Alright, if the APC comes on board, what would they be doing differently from what Wike has done in the last eight years?
If APC is in government in Rivers State, first, insecurity will be our major focus, creating employment is going be our major focus, giving opportunities to every Rivers son and daughter to be able to do their businesses in Rivers State and be there. If you watch the last couple of years, a lot of Rivers people are no more in Rivers state, most of them are in Abuja, they are in Lagos and if you don’t say the truth, you are not being fair. You are a journalist and no matter how you paint it, you must understand that what Rivers state is, compare our IGR in the last eight years and compare now, they are not the same and as a government, we must make sure that the oil companies come back to Port Harcourt to do their major projects. You can’t have the headquarters in Lagos and you think is over for it, we would not accept that. You must come back here and give opportunities to Rivers people to partake in what belongs to us. We would give Rivers people that opportunity.
Do you think Wike has actually judiciously made use of the 13 per cent derivation funds?
First, you know there are certain questions you ask me, I’m not going to say I’m not part of the government. Yes, we have seen bridges but at the appropriate time, we would check how much is the bridge and what has come to Rivers state governor.
That’s if APC comes into power?
We would look at what and what has come into the state then, we can tell you this or that happened but now, I can’t say that because I can’t tell you what and what they’ve done.
In order words, the APC is likely going to look into the books of the Rivers state government under Wike?
It is our state, we belong to Rivers state. We must know what and what have happened to our funds, let’s not pretend about it. We must check what and what have come into Rivers State. The one we would let go, we let go, the one that we need to recover, we will recover. Afterall, federal government is recovering money from looted funds and all that.