Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has accused some elders of ganging up against him because they did not scale through the primary to be the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state.
The governor explained that some of them, on his 2021 birthday, who indicated interest to fly the ticket, but failed at their bid to clenching it are now in Abuja plotting against him.
Wike spoke, last Monday, during the 74th birthday reception organised to honour the former Governor of Rivers State, Dr. Peter Odili, at the private residence built and donated to him by the state government in Old Government Residential Area, Port Harcourt.
The governor said those elders came to him in their own accord and showed a commitment that they would stay to see through what they came to convince him about.
“On my last birthday, 12midnight, some of our elders called me that they want to see me. They came to me and said they came to wish me happy birthday.
“Then, they presented me a letter that I should run for president. All of them including Dr. Abiye (Sekibo) signed the document.
“I say okay, you people too should go and give me someone who will be governor after me. They all sat there, looking left and right.
“I asked them, those of you who are interested to be governor should raise your hands. Everybody raised his hand. One person didn’t raise his hand, Senator Bari Mpigi. I asked why he was not interested, he replied, sir, let me hold what God has given me. I don’t want to lose the two.”
Wike noted that the elders also signed to a document that they would abide by whatever becomes the outcome of the governorship primary.
But governor expressed the regrets that since they were not successful, they have turned around now to allege that he was pursuing a third term bid.
“Some persons don’t know the history. They go and tell all kinds of story. But the truth is this; all of them (elders) signed the document prepared by O.C.J. Okocha that whoever I will bring, they will abide by it.
“But now, they went to Abuja that I must not be vice president. I also read, yesterday, when I was in Paris, one of them saying that I told him that if they do to me what they did to Dr. Peter Odili; that I will collapse the system.
“I am not an ungrateful person; and I will never be ungrateful in my life. What’s important is that I have done well as a governor. I am happy and I am leaving office a happy man.”
The Rivers State governor recalled that when Dr. Peter Odili was to run for the office of the president, he had a large crowd following, happily.
He noted that when the issue of governorship of Rivers State was to be decided and he did not give those who wanted it, they all left him, ran to Abuja to thwart his presidential ambition.
Wike, however, said he has been holding on to the advise of the former governor, hence he was not surprised at the turn of events and the outcome of the PDP presidential primary.
He described Dr. Peter Odili a true leader of men, who groomed many, and supported a lot of persons to political lamplight, particularly in Rivers State and across the country.
“There was a time every political class abandoned Odili. This is a man who gave us everything. Some people called him ‘Mr. Donatus’. There was no abuse he did not get. Everybody he tried to help their families, at the end of the day, all betrayed him.
“For us, we have used him as a school, and we thank him for making himself available for us to use him to learn so that we won’t be shocked of whatever that is going to happen.”
Wike expressed delight at the opportunity to have known Odili and being able to celebrate him.
He pointed to the several support and the gains from the political tutelage under Odili that had made him accomplish his political successes.
He reiterated that Odili’s benevolence made it possible for Ikwerre sons to emerge governors of Rivers State.
In his response, the former Governor of the state, Dr. Peter Odili said, himself and his wife, Hon. Justice Mary Odili (rtd) were overwhelmed by the birthday gift, courtesy of the state government.
Odili explained that during his tenure as governor, Wike was the best performing council chairman in the state.
He lauded Wike for investing in human capacity development, infrastructure and building the best law school campus in Port Harcourt.
In his goodwill message, Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, harped on the need for all Nigerians to work together to enthrone fairness, justice and equity in all facet of society, which Odili has always stood for.
Also speaking, Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, noted that Odili was a great leader who had impacted on many lives across the country.
Similarly, former Cross River State Governor, Donald Duke, commended Odili for being a role model and comporting himself very well after leaving office.
In his homely at the thanksgiving mass, Monsignor Pius Kii, said Nigeria missed the opportunity of having Dr. Peter Odili as their president because he would have used his farsighted ability, courage and adaptive capacities to solve Nigeria’s many problems.
Similarly, the Rivers State Deputy Governor, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo, felicitated with Dr. Peter Odili, as he celebrated his 74th Birthday, last Monday.
In her goodwill message in Government House, Port Harcourt, Banigo said as the father of the modern Rivers State, Odili has continued to be a great leadership icon, whose leadership style impacted positively on the lives of Rivers people and beyond during his tenure as the governor of Rivers State.
Banigo, who expressed gratitude to Odili for his support to the Wike-led administration, described him as a philanthropist per excellence, a great patriot and astute statesman.
The deputy governor while wising him many happy returns, prayed the Almighty God to continue to bless and keep Odili in good health.
Customs Suspends Rice Sale As Seven Die In Stampede
The Nigeria Customs Service has announced the suspension of the sale of foodstuffs following a stampede that reportedly killed seven persons at the NCS Old Zonal Headquarters in the Yaba area of Lagos State, last Friday.
A Chief Superintendent of Customs and National Public Relations Officer for Comptroller General of Customs, Abdullahi Maiwada, disclosed the suspension of the exercise in a statement on Monday.
Nigeria Customs had said it was selling seized food items at N10,000 per 25kg to alleviate the people’s suffering as a result of the current high cost of living and other economic hardships.
Last Friday, a pregnant woman and six others reportedly died in a stampede after some suspected hoodlums attempted to force their way into the Yaba Customs office compound.
Some Lagos residents who thronged the NCS office in Yaba expressed disappointment on Monday following the suspension of the initiative.
However, in a statement on Monday evening, the NCS said the suspension became necessary considering “the recent unfortunate event.”
“We regrettably announce the suspension of this exercise until we establish what transpired on Friday, February 23, 2024,” the NCS spokesman said.
He explained that: “The disposal of the food items got off to a smooth start at about 0800hrs. We enjoyed the cooperation of the large crowd that obliged us, giving preferences to the elderly, people living with disabilities, pregnant women, and other vulnerable Nigerians who showed up for the exercise.
“This was the case up until about 1700hrs, as attested to by the over 5,000 beneficiaries and members of the press. However, unforeseen challenges arose when we ran out of stock and announced the continuation of the exercise the following day, leading to a regrettable outcome.
“The crowd became desperate and charged through our barricades in search of rice bags inside emptied containers. In the stampede that ensued, some fatalities and injuries were regrettably recorded.”
The Customs extended its “heartfelt condolences to the families of those who lost their lives during the unfortunate incident.”
The service said it was working with health authorities to establish contact and engage directly with the victims’ families on their next steps.
Court Dismisses Police Objection Against Fubara’s CoS …Restrains Police From Arresting Ehie
A Rivers State High Court in Port Harcourt, yesterday, dismissed the preliminary objection by counsel to the Nigerian Police, Celestine Dickson, challenging the jurisdiction of the Court to hear the fundamental rights suit by the Chief of Staff to Governor Siminalayi Fubara, Hon. Edison Ehie against the police for lack of merit.
The trial Judge, Justice Sika Aprioku, in a ruling, yesterday, assumed jurisdiction and held that the non-joinder of the Nigeria Police Force in a matter that the Commissioner of Police is a party to does not render the suit incompetent.
Justice Aprioku said the application by the Police lacks merit and thereby dismissed it with a cost of N100,000 in favour of Hon Edison Ehie.
Aprioku also granted the prayers of the counsel to Edison, Damian Okoro to restrain the Police from arresting, detaining, harassing, or inviting Ehie based on the trumped-up charges in the suit by Rt Hon. Martin Amaewhule in connection to the destruction of the Hallow chamber of the Rivers State House of Assembly.
Speaking to newsmen outside the courtroom, counsel to the Police, Celestine Dickson, said he would study the judgment and advise his clients accordingly.
Dickson stated, “That is the wisdom of the court and we cannot criticise the wisdom of the court. The outcome of court decisions must bind parties.
“If you are not satisfied I think you study the judgement and take the next step. The court made it clear that in a couple of minutes, we were going to have copies of the judgement. That will give us the opportunity to look at the judgement and advise our clients accordingly.
On his part, one of the counsel to the Chief of Staff, Ibioku Mac-Barango said the judgment reflects the position of the law.
Fubara Expresses Confidence In Tinubu To Address Labour Concerns
In the midst of the ongoing nationwide protest organised by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has expressed confidence in President Bola Tinubu’s ability to address the concerns raised by the organised labour and alleviate their fears.
Fubara gave the assurance during the NLC’s protest to the Government House, Port Harcourt, yesterday .
The State NLC, led by its chairman, Alex Agwanwor, had joined its counterparts in other parts of the country to protest against high cost of living in the country occasioned by the fuel subsidy removal by the Federal Government in May last year.
Recall that there have been a series of protests across the country over the cost of living, inflation, insecurity and hardship among Nigerians.
The NLC and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) had on February 8 issued a 14-day nationwide strike notice to the Federal Government over the failure to implement the agreements reached on October 2, 2023 following the removal of the fuel subsidy.
Responding to a letter of demands presented to the governor by the State NLC, Fubara noted that the grievances outlined by the protesters primarily fell within the purview of the Federal Government.
The governor, who was represented by the Head of the Rivers State Civil Service, Dr. George Nwaeke, said, “To all who listened to every presentation of the labour leader as it is being read out, we can find out none is local, not originating from local source here. They are all national issues and we have hope in the Renewed Hope Agenda of the Federal Government. We have hope. And I know Governor Fubara will also deliver this message as presented by you to the President.”
Fubara further assured the protesters that his administration remained committed to alleviating the economic hardships faced by the people of Rivers State.
He highlighted initiatives such as the provision of palliative buses in response to the fuel subsidy removal and the ongoing development of 20,000 housing units for low-income earners.
The governor also emphasized his administration’s dedication to improving the welfare of civil servants, citing measures such as the employment of 10,000 youths into the state civil service, promotions, and the provision of bonuses.
He affirmed the significance of the issues raised and reiterated his commitment to prioritizing the welfare of workers in the State.
He, however, assured that the NLC’s demands would be conveyed to the President as presented.
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