*Says he won’t allow Rivers to be hijacked by business partners* West challenges Wike for PDP’s ticket
BY AMAKA CHIDUBEM in Port Hartcourt*
The delay appears to have been strategic, rather than inspired by lack of support, or personal doubts, on his popularity among his supporters, or the people of Rivers State that the electorates will warm up to him again at the polls.
Even though, Governor Nyesom Wike, kept his declaration to vie for a second-term of four years as the chief executive of Rivers State in 2019, late, there was really no doubt that he would do so considering the outpouring of support from members of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) for him to contest.
The call for him to put his name forward for nomination in 2019, actually began in the second year of his first term. His foray into the construction of roads, starting with Port Harcourt Local Government and Obio-Akpor Local Government Area, dumbfounded even his harshest critics.
Wike’s infrastructural strides later earned him the sobriquet, “Mr. Project.” While the governor and his supporters enthused the projects, including the construction and rehabilitation of roads, hospitals, schools, and buildings, the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) insists that the projects are concentrated in Port Harcourt and Obio-Akpor local governments.
His critics have also accused the governor of implementing projects mainly in local governments of Ikwere ethnic stock, of Port Harcourt, Obio-Akpor and Ikwerre local governments.
However, the governor has also implemented projects in other local governments of other ethnic groups even though they may pale in comparison to projects in Port Harcourt and Obio-Akpor which comprise of the metropolitan cities in the state.
Governor Wike has often responded to his critics by saying that Port Harcourt and Obio-Akpor are the first places visitors come in contact with when they visit the state. Therefore, the metropolitan cities deserve to be transformed first, before communities in the other parts of the state.
On the strength of his achievement in the area of infrastructure, calls for the Wike to contest for a second term heightened. However, following the the publication of the timetable for the 2019 general elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) the call for the governor to vie for a second term snowballed into a din with scores of political and pressure groups calling on him to contest.
On Saturday, September 1, Wike eventually declared that he will run for a second term in 2019. He made the declaration during the commissioning of the office of the One Million Youths For New Rivers, a political pressure group that asserted that it w mobilise one million youths in the state in support of his second term bid.
The group was put together by two members of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Edison Ehie, representing Ahoada-East State Constituency 2, (chairman) and Major Jack, representing Akuku-Toru State Constituency 1 (secretary).
Wike declared: “Many groups have asked to contest in 2019. I said I will make me decision when I am reasonably sure those urging me to run are also prepared to protect and defend their votes. There cannot be successful elections without the active participation of the youths.”
“Now that the youths are ready to protect and defend their votes I will contest again in 2019. So, you have a lot work to do in sensitising the electorates to vote for the candidate who done well for the state. And be ready to protect you votes.”
Wike’s declaration re-echoed a statement he made in December 24, 2017, in Port Harcourt, when Apara Kingdom honoured him. “I will declare when you assure me you are ready to protect our votes.”
“I will continue to remain focused. Some people did not expect us to perform very excellently, but we have been able to put them to shame. The way Nigeria is going today, the APC – led Federal Government is only prepared to write results. But this time , the results will write them ”
Wike had noted at that event: “Even if there is fuel, there is no money to buy fuel . Today, the exchange rate of the dollar to naira has degenerated and prices of foodstuffs have gone beyond the reach of Nigerians. They deceived Nigerians with all kinds of lies , but today they are compounding the problems of the people.”
Even before Governor Wike declared that he will contest for a second term in 2019, the emergence of another governorship aspirant under the aegis of the PDP was unlikely. But strange things do happen in politics.