Question: Do you intend running for the governorship position in Rivers State come 2015, and if you are given the chance, what novel thing do you think you can bring to bear in the state that the incumbent governor has not done?
Answer: First of all, I would have expected that you wait for me to declare that I want to run, then information will flow from there. I have not declared yet . But frankly speaking, you look at government holistically and if you look at government hollistically, you find situation where so many things are wrong in the state.
Take for example in terms of infrastructure like roads, you can’t compare the kind of roads that are being constructed in AkwaIbom to that that are being constructed today in Rivers. Of course when you go to Rivers, you will still find out that you only can identify two major roads that have been existing for years, and they are Aba road and Ikwerre road. And for a city like Port Harcourt, the population is growing every day, you expect that there should be openings in order to ease traffic congestion, but that is not the case in Port Harcourt today.
The issue is: Why are there no new openings that will decongest traffic? So, we must have to pay attention to that. Secondly, when you talk about education, education is not simply building mega schools, some of us did not attend mega schools but we were able to be the best we could with the commitment and training of teachers.
In particular, if you go to Rivers State today, if you go to all secondary schools, there is no one you can say it is in good shape. What government is trying to do basically, is within the city, to put some primary schools that are eye catching. But if you go to the rural areas, the schools are nothing to write home about.
As I speak to you today, that is why we needed to intervene in schools. Take for example, go to Bonny local government, and see the facelift UBEC has done, go to Ogu local government, you will see the community school in Ogu, what UBEC has done there, go to Abonnema, you will see Abonnema Girls School, what UBEC has done there.
Today go to Rumuprikon, go to Abo Grammar school, you will see the intervention the Federal Government is doing through UBEC. Go to St. Acquinas, you will see the intervention, and so many of them. These schools had been abandoned. Apart from the basic infrastructure which has been neglected in these schools, it is not just about building mega schools of N3.17billion that makes you to think that you are tackling the issue of education.
What has happened to the teachers? What is the type of quality training they are receiving?
Again, look at the state, there is no rule of law where you can say that the judiciary ought to be independent on its own from the executive arm of government, even if they have to work in harmony to move the state forward. Today, there is no Judiciary in Rivers State. So what is the rule of law when there is no judiciary?
Look at the Assembly, which is supposed to check the excesses of the executive, is no longer functioning. Is that the way a state is supposed to be run? It becomes a private business.
Question: Why is the rift between you and Governor Rotimi Amaechi seemingly intractable?
Answer: What is the rift? He is in APC, I am in PDP.
Question: But he vowed to stop you from succeeding him as governor of Rivers State in 2015, don’t you feel threatened?
Answer: First of all, you can’t have the power of God. If a man says he will stop you, he is taking the power of God to stop you. It means the person has all the power, so God has no power. Two, is he in PDP? If he is in PDP, then he has a role to play but he is not in PDP. First of all he is not God, secondly he is not in PDP.
Is he saying that nobody will vote in the election? Is he saying its only his vote and his family votes that matter? So these things are not problems to us in PDP. If I declare to run, and I win the ticket of PDP, then let us see who wins the election. Not just saying I will stop you. By the special grace of God PDP is in charge of Rivers State today.
Some people thought that when the governor leaves, that is the end of PDP. But instead of PDP to die in Rivers State, PDP is growing every day. It will be difficult for you to beat PDP in Rivers State no matter the propaganda you embark on it will not work. So the issue of the governor saying he will stop me is neither here nor there, because he is not God and two he is not PDP. Only he cannot vote in that election, he cannot determine where people will vote.
Question: Also, Governor Amaechi was reported to have said that the Ikwerre people have had their chance of governing the state, that it will only be fair to allow other ethnic groups to govern the state in 2015. What is your take on this as an Ikwerre man?
Answer: That is the blackmail. Has he told you where he wants it to go? He has not. Why not allow the people to determine where it will go. If the PDP determines it is going to Ikwerre and see it as good for it to win, why don’t you shut your mouth? And so let PDP make that mistake and then you win. Why are you shouting it? If you know that PDP chose Ikwerre and you win easily, why don’t you keep quiet?
You don’t need to say it out. But he knows that I am a threat, he knows my capacity, and he knows what I can do. So all this is mere blackmail. Even if he says so, that is his opinion, allow the people to decide, allow the people to make their choice, it is not for you to say.
In his own party, where is he zoning it to? Why is he not making it known to the public?
Question: But there is this general perception that APC is more on ground in the state, considering the political structure of the governor. Do you agree?
Answer: It is a laughable thing. Perception, I like that word perception. Some perceptions are wrong and not true. Go to Rivers State and find out, ask yourself this question: Why is it that since we lost the former Speaker of Rivers State House of Assembly, Tonye Ezekiel Harry about a year ago, INEC has not conducted a by-election?
Why is it that he has stopped the Assembly from writing to INEC that they have lost somebody? You have seen INEC conducting by-elections in other states, why are they not conducting by-election in Rivers State? If APC is on ground, why would the governor not come forward to say: Look, we have lost somebody for one year we want to hold this election, why is he not doing it? If they are on ground, why is it that he does not want to conduct local government election? So these are things that will tell you: you don’t just sit somewhere because he is a governor: a perception, which perception? Which local government today will he say he is in full control?
Fayemi was a governor in Ekiti State, but was defeated in an election, so we should stop this perception. It depends on the state, in Rivers State, I can assure you today that PDP will still win Rivers State, that is what I can tell you.
Question: There are frequent clashes between APC and PDP in Rivers State. Is this not a pointer to what to expect in 2015 elections in the state?
Answer: First of all, the governor wanted to test the ground of his acceptability in the state. The governor has bastardised the traditional institution, and so he wants to go to the communities to test whether he is popular or not and the people say no we don’t want you in our communities.
The people are resisting the governor: we don’t want you in our communities, what are you coming to our communities to do now, you have been there for almost eight years, you have not come, why are you coming now?
What promises are you going to give to us now? You have how many months left, what promise are you going to make now? In any case why don’t you bring your own candidate, let us know the candidate. If PDP is not on ground, why will the people be telling him all these? That is to tell you that PDP is on ground.
Question: If you now declare to run for the governorship position, how do you fancy your chance at the PDP primaries?
Answer: As a politician, it is plus minus. If I contest today, there is no way I will not score 90 per cent of the votes.
Question: If you eventually pick PDP’s ticket, do you think you stand a chance of winning the governorship election?
Answer: Why do you think the governor and others are penetrating some PDP members to make sure I do not get the ticket? Why do you think so? It is clear for you that if I emerge, it is a problem for APC, and they know it well. They can come out to say it doesn’t matter, of course they have to say that but APC knows that Wike emerging, is a problem for us in that state and they know it.
And that is why the governor is doing everything humanly possible to see that if I declare to run, PDP does not give me the ticket. He is doing everything in penetrating some PDP members to say look don’t give him ticket. He is the only one who says Ikwerre man cannot be governor instead of allowing APC to pick the ticket and win if he is that confident, what is the fear?
Everybody knows in that Rivers State today of who emerges in PDP that can stand APC. Everybody knows who has that capacity to win that election, everywhere they have lost by the man taking them to APC. It requires the man who has that capacity, who knows all the local governments to be able to face APC.
APC knows if I declare today to run, and I emerge the candidate of PDP, APC is in trouble and there is no two ways about it. So they are doing everything: I can even tell you the governor has penetrated some BoT members in our state to cause problem. But we know and we are watching, but be rest assured that it has no effect.
Right from time, we know ourselves in that state, we know who does this and who does that, we know what individuals do, the characters of persons, we know. So, he knows that Wike emerging is a problem. If Wike declares today to run, and Wike emerges and picks the PDP’s ticket, then that is the end for APC. So he is doing everything, everything: zoning, telling people, meanwhile he has not come up with his own party to say this is where we are zoning this thing to, why is he waiting?
Question: What is your expectation from INEC, in view of 2015 elections?
Answer: I am not a pessimist, I always believe that we are human, we make errors, we make mistakes and so I think INEC is improving. In the last two elections, everybody has commended INEC. Well, people may say there are isolated cases but now in general elections we know they have the capacity, I believe that they should give them the opportunity and support INEC. That is my own belief, with the support the president is giving, I believe that INEC will come out doing a better job and I don’t want to sound pessimistic.
Question: In view of the insecurity situation in the country, are you not worried over 2015 elections?
Answer: Who will not worry when you have a problem in your house? However, the president is tackling the security challenges, security agencies are tackling it. It is not easy, mind you, fighting terrorism is not like conventional warfare. Mind you, you can even have terrorist in your house and you won’t know.
So it is not an easy thing, we should continue to support the federal government, we should continue to support the security agencies so they will achieve what they are set out to achieve. We must always know that it is not every time we come out: we blame the government, we blame security agencies.
This thing did not start today, it is something that has been long and they have got tap roots, it is not easy. But be rest assured with the way Mr. President is pursuing it with security agencies, I think that Mr. President will overcome the security challenges.
Question: Just recently, some Northern elders gave ultimatum to President Goodluck Jonathan to rescue the abducted Chibok schoolgirls from Boko Haram captivity or forget 2015, what is your take on this?
Answer: How can anybody start to set that kind of political agenda? That means they knew about where the girls are. That is bullshit, I don’t want to listen to that or discuss it, it is a none issue. The security agencies have been doing what they can, and nobody can come and say that if these girls are not freed president cannot contest, that is balderdash.
I don’t want to talk about it, it does not make sense. Who are the Northern elders? Who are they? Those are APC sympathisers.
Question: You are a barrister, are you comfortable with the nation’s judicial system with regards to electoral matters?
Answer: Well, like I say, keep on improving every system, there is no perfect system. What is important is commitment to whatever you are doing. Yes, all over the world, you cannot have a perfect system and if you look at the old judicial system, there are inherent problems which chief justice is trying to improve upon.
So, I cannot expect us to have perfect system, just as you don’t have a perfect system: call it executive or the legislature but I think they are improving. We believe that and continue moving on, and insist on progress, obviously we will get to the level where everybody will be happy.
To me, every system has inherent problems. It is the ability of leadership of that system to see how they can cure such problems that are inherent in the system.
Question: Your message to the people of Rivers and Nigerians as a whole as we head towards 2015?
Answer: My message to the Rivers people in particular is to be firm, to continue to support Mr. President, because Mr. President means well for this country. For us as a people, we have no choice but to continue to support Mr. President.
We have no choice than to continue to be with him, particularly at this moment of trial. And also to Nigerians to know that this is the first time we have a president that have more commitment and action to move Nigeria from where it is to where it is supposed to be.
And so what we should do for Mr. President at this point in time, is to continue to pray for him and not to criticise. And that is one thing I like American for, when America is in crisis, you see all of them come together and that is what we are supposed to do.
We should all team up with Mr. President and fight this insurgency, and not to criticise every steps he takes. Any time you see crisis in America, you see unity in America. Here, we are supposed to unite and support Mr. President and fight insurgency: we are only criticising, that is not the way a country should be.
So for us, Nigerians should continue to pray for this country, continue to support the president who has come out openly to say his target is to make Nigeria the leading nation. We do not need to run away from these security challenges, we should be together and give him that support so that we can overcome this security challenges.