Rivers State Governor, Mr. Nyesom Wike, in this interview with some journalists in Rivers State talks about some national issues, especially his ambition to contest the 2023 presidential elections. EMNNAUEL MASHA was there and presents the reports
In his recent interview, a former Governor of Niger State, Dr. Babangida Aliyu, suggested that you are the cause of the crisis in PDP because you want to be a dictator and a godfather. Are you a dictator?
There is no political dictator in Rivers State as far as PDP is concerned. That is why if there is any part of the country that PDP is sure of winning should there be election today or tomorrow that state is Rivers. That is not the case of Niger State Babangida Aliyu is a liability to PDP. This is a man who came out to say that he worked against the PDP in 2015. He said: ‘We Northern governors worked against President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015’ But people like Jona Jang of Plateau State and Sule Lamido of Jigawa State came to say ‘it is a lie, we never worked with you against our party.’
Babangida is a chronic liar, a serial betrayal. So, I am not aware of any problem in my state, if there is, it would be reported and the state leadership will take it up. The same Aliyu Babangida in 2017 was one of those who opposed Uche Secondus to be chairman of the party. Aliyu has no job. Can you see what we are doing here working very hard to see that we do not allow APC in Rivers State. Ask Aliyu Babangida whether he can do the same in Niger State. Today, if an election holds in Niger State, can he make PDP to win in the state?
As I talk with you now, no state congress of PDP has held in Niger State. Niger State is one of the states that have not held congress of the party. Why? It is because of the dictatorial tendencies of Aliyu. The people that the masses want he does not want them. This is the character that you compare with me.
All he does is to seek for committee meetings to attend. He has no job. He said he is a PhD holder. What he should have done is to offer himself to a university and say take me I want to contribute to the development of education. But he will not do that. He has come to become the Spokesman of NWC, a man who betrayed his party. Now he is saying the party should suspend me, I will be happy.
What does he have to offer the party? If Babangida Aliyu leaves PDP today, nobody will even bother. But if I decide to leave the party today, you know its consequences. Upon the PhD he claims he has, he cannot understand English. I did not say all NWC; I said some members of the NWC are acting as tax collectors.
Ordinarily, I don’t even have time to talk about Aliyu. Many of you have been to Niger, let him show you one concrete thing he did. All he knows when I invite people to come and commission projects in my state he gets angry that I don’t invite him. Why should I invite him when he does not merit it?
In 2015, he was governor PDP lost woefully. In 2019, PDP lost woefully in the same state, no house of assembly, no senator, no council chairman, no House of Representatives. What is the impact of such a person to the party? In 2019, even with the federal might against us, we were able to deliver all the assembly seats, all the Senate candidates. So who is more useful to the party? Is it the person who cannot win his immediate constituency? It is unfortunate.
People are working to ensure that PDP takes power in 2023, he is here talking. People like Babangida Aliyu are the moles we have in PDP. He is a mole in the PDP. These are people who get information and ignore the vital part of the information. If I say something today against PDP of course you know the consequences of that. What I am saying is that he is a liability to PDP. If I leave PDP, I will win the election in any party I join today.
Is there a problem between you and the National Chairman of your party, Uche Secondus?
We must always disagree. Is that what people see as a crisis? When we got to the local government we said look, we can’t continue to be this way, there is a need to go the other way in order to carry everybody along, you may agree, you may also disagree. If I have a problem with you, you and I know that I will not hide my feelings, I will tell you. If by tomorrow Secondus does anything wrong, I will tell him.
Is he God? Those who know me know that I do not need others to fight my battles. There is no one born of a woman that I cannot say that before him. So you don’t need to insinuate, you know me very well. I am not in the category of Babangida Aliyu, he knows that very well. If he is telling me that I have problem with Secondus, well Secondus has not come to the state to tell us that we have problem. If we have problem we say yes.
Is the National Working Committee of PDP actually playing the roles expected of a party in opposition?
Many people have said that it is easy for the PDP to take over in 2023. We have heard it. We said look, our party is not playing the real opposition role they are supposed to play. I don’t need to wait for this federal government to do something before we start criticizing,
I don’t need to wait. I am not speaking for the party. I speak as somebody who is in opposition. It is left for the party to say whether our national working committee is doing well. You are the public, assuming I come out to say they are not doing well, you will say because I have interest somewhere. It is left for you the observers to say whether we are doing well or not as an opposition party.
Are you in support of the vote of confidence passed in the NWC by the party’s Board of Trustee (BoT)?
Now, that is what you see when people don’t even know anything. What does the Constitution of PDP provide for? That was an emergency meeting. Where is vote of confidence coming from?
A vote of confidence you have to send motion to people and then it will appear on the agenda of the meeting. You don’t call for an emergency meeting, probably to pass a budget, for example, and you begin to pass a vote of confidence. It is the handiwork of the same Babangida Aliyu, who always comes to meetings first to sit in the front, if the meeting is at 4pm, he will come at 2pm, to get a prominent seat. If I was in that meeting and there was such an application, I would have said don’t do this, what is the vote of confidence for?
That people made allegations, so what? Who are those that made this allegation? Call them, why are you making such allegations? Don’t you know you are embarrassing our party? You don’t rush things. When something happens there is panic in you let us do this, and that is why we will continue to make mistakes.
Does Aliyu hves the capacity to boast that the PDP would reclaim Ebonyi and Cross River states?
Now he is talking about PDP will recover Ebonyi and Cross Rivers states. What will be his contribution? What is the strategy for them to recover it? A man, who even in his place cannot provide a vote is telling you that PDP, will recover; recover your own first. Show the capacity first. You will first of all recover your own first. I can say so, because people have seen it. I don’t think if in his own state federal might had come the way it came here, he would even get two votes, he would have run away. But, I stood there. Nigerians saw everything that happened. I can say, Cross Rivers State and Ebonyi are PDP states,
PDP will take them back. Why will I say so because I know what is on ground. He does not know what is on the ground. It is not to talk for people to hear you talking, go and conduct congress in your state. What happened in 2019? He insisted that his boy would be the governor and PDP lost.
Who is then a dictator? Up till now the state congress cannot take place because they want to dictate who becomes chairman of the party. You can now imagine a pot calling kettle black. Look at me, I am the governor of Rivers State. If tomorrow I say I want to leave the party, for instance, I am not like any other people you think of, no. I am not a sycophant. I will tell you how I feel about it. The day I say I want to fight anybody in the PDP; I will come out and fight the person. I am not going to hide. I will come out. I don’t hide under any umbrella, for what? Is
there a need for an appraisal of your party’s NWC instead of calling for its removal?
Aliyu should be man enough to say that this person is calling for the removal of the NWC. Who did that person call? Was he one of those persons called? If I say for example, that an officer is not doing well, or you are corrupt. Is that his interpretation of saying they should get rid of NWC? For grace’s sake, if anybody says NWC should be removed, the person should give a reason why it should be so. And there is nothing wrong if somebody holds such an opinion and we can begin to justify that opinion.
That is what they call democracy. He is not man enough. It is not to wear ‘agbada’ that makes you a man. What makes a man come out to speak your mind before anybody in the morning, afternoon and in the night. What you say in the morning, should be what you say in the afternoon and night. Not when you say this in the morning, tomorrow you wear another ‘agbada’ and change your position. In the night you wear jeans, you change.
That is the kind of character Babangida Aliyu is. In everything you do you examine and re-examine. Even as a government, you do an appraisal. Where have we not done well, where have we done well.
That helps you to move on. As I am talking, we have given a timetable of activities. We will give account of our stewardship at the end of the day. Having given that stewardship, we will have to reappraise ourselves. In education are there things we did not do that we ought to do. In health have we done well compared to where we were. In infrastructure, where are we today?
If anybody calls for reappraisal of the NWC today, it does not mean that the person does not want the party to move forward. In fact the person, who say let’s have appraisal of what they have done, should be given credit. Aliyu Babangida is doing that because he thinks that the NWC will give him the chairmanship of the party at the state level, which he cannot win. So he has to do anything to manoeuvre. To be sycophantic is not to be a servant. If he has been using that to deceive people, go to Niger State and see the level of development under him. Remember that in 2015, the same Babangida Aliyu was one of those going round to bring down PDP and of course he was happy he did that. Today, look at the consequences. That is the kind of man that has the temerity, the audacity to talk to a governor, whose state produced the highest vote for the party in 2015; 1.5 million votes. The ruling party never had 25% in Rivers State. In 2019, the same state provided the highest vote for PDP, and the APC did not get 25%. Ask him whether we scored 25% in Niger State. Look at us making PDP proud everyday. That the PDP is surviving in this country is because of us, the governors.
So what makes your party to win is by providing the dividends of democracy. You see, he is now in Abuja. He cannot even go home. I challenge him, let him go and do congress in his state.
Do you have a presidential ambition or do you want to be a Vice-President?
When somebody has an ambition you must see him going from one place to another. Have you ever seen me? I have challenged all of them; if I want to run for presidency nobody can stop me. Nobody! They are so timid. They are so intimidated. Sometimes you hear that he is running for vice-president, does anybody run for vice-president?
Sometimes, they query themselves, his performance, why is he doing it? This is his second tenure if it is not for presidency why must he be performing like this? Is performance only for the first tenure? What kind of a country are we? Was I elected only for my first tenure? I have not told anybody I want to be president. Like I hear Aliyu does not have the strength to be a godfather. Godfather to whom? Aliyu was bold to say that he worked against President Goodluck Jonathan and you still allow such a character to be in your highest decision making body. It is unfortunate.
With all these attacks from some leaders of your party, are you still committed to rebuilding the PDP?
If I am a member of the party, to show that I am one, commitment must be there. Just like when Benue and Bauchi States had some crises, as a man, who loves the party I said look we can’t be here and allow the crises because that will affect the chances of the party.
I came out and said to them gentlemen we will resolve the problem, but Aliyu from the North Central never called the governor of Benue to see how that matter would be resolved with the governor of Bauchi. That is why I said when these things happen it makes them happy because they are moles in the party. If they truly believe in PDP, why will they not continue to work for the party? So why am I in the party? If I am not in the party then I will not work. But if I am in the party I will work.
How would you react to Aliyu’s statement that you are trying to control the party by throwing money around because your state has the money?
That is to tell you his level of stupidity, with all due respect. I did know him as an auditor. He is so empty. You try to support the party.
He said you have money to buy the party. I am not the first governor of Rivers State under PDP. But he should also know that when PDP was nearly killed, he was running around Sheriff and the rest of them. That has been his lifestyle. What is the money? Have I gone to him one day to offer him money to do this for me? Okay, we have agreed, since he doesn’t have money, let him run the party and let us see where the party will go to.
I cannot be member of a political party and I cannot support the party. If I am in PDP, I will continue to support PDP. Let him come and I will challenge him to a debate on how PDP can win election. If I call him tomorrow now to come and commission project in the state, will he not come?
I will send him global express now he will run down. But, I will not invite him because he did not do anything in Niger State. He does not qualify as somebody I should invite to commission projects because he never had any project.
Aliyu also suggested that you want Secondus out of the way to enable you to produce your successor?
Oh, my God! Can Secondus produce my successor? What kind of talk is that? Is Secondus trying to produce my own successor? Am I going to produce his successor? So, that is what they have been planning. Secondus told him that I want him out so that I will produce my successor. So, if Secondus is there, I cannot produce my successor, how will he do it? I think he should not put PDP into trouble. They want to sit down in Abuja and produce my successor, where will they come and campaign?
They will campaign in Abuja. Which venue in Rivers State will they campaign? The Wike you know, just tell me the truth, how will they survive it? How many of them have been to a political war before? Is to stay in Abuja and talk? What I will give you, you will run.
They will be in the hospital because their BP (Blood Pressure) will rise. How can you talk about your successor? I have said I will not impose anybody on Rivers people, I have said that. If I say I will not do that which national chairman will do that, who is the person? What is the name of his mother and father to tell me he will impose a governor here, who is that person?
How can anybody dream of that? I don’t think Secondus told him that, I don’t think so. Is it me that is an asset to PDP? Compare me and Aliyu, who will the PDP take? They should try it and see whether they will not lose 60 per cent. So, don’t talk about Aliyu saying this, he is a noisemaker. He is a perpetual blackmailer that is how he survives. No work for him now. He should better take his PhD to go and lecture students and be happy.
What is your party doing to capture more states?
That is the duty of the National Working Committee. I am concerned with how Rivers State will continue to be PDP. That is why I am in charge here. APC has nothing to offer Rivers people. For us to have competition there must be alternatives. APC national cannot come to Rivers State and tell the people this is what we have done for you, not one thing. If there is mention one? Is it the standard gauge, is it there? Is it the Bonny Deep Sea Port?
So which one? But the PDP in the state has come to say we are doing these and that. That gives the people confidence. They have nothing to offer the people, but we have offered and they have seen it. The people have resolved that we will remain with the party, see what they have done.
They promised us they will do this. You promised us you will make naira to be equal to a dollar you have not done it. You said you will tackle insecurity. We have not seen it. So, for me in the state, we have made our state to be one party state.
Why, due to the dividends of democracy. We have said to them the only way to make the people still vote for the party is to let them have the dividends of democracy they are supposed to have. Look at infrastructure, look at education, look at health, so what can anybody say? We can’t say we have solved the whole problem, but we can make people have confidence in you and your party. This is not the case in Niger State under Aliyu Babangida, as a so-called leader. What is his strategy? How many people have defected from APC to PDP in Niger state in these years?
Mention one. Even those who defected before in 2019 have all gone back because of his bad style of leadership. How many people have left PDP in Rivers State? Anybody who has left PDP is the I sacked as commissioner.
When I sack you as a commissioner obviously, you know that you are not found worthy they have to run for alternatives. Mention one person who left PDP and went to APC. Is it the one that was indicted by the panel? But look at the ones that we are bringing back. We have collapsed APC in Rivers State.. Don’t hope on Rivers, don’t hope on Sokoto, don’t hope on Delta, don’t hope on Akwa Ibom, bring something from your own state to make PDP win the election.
You can’t take my own strength. I can’t be having sleepless nights here to make people win elections. Then you come and tell me that you are one of the founders of the party. A founder that has sold out the party, founders that cannot make his state win, then you want to rely on my own strength and you tell me you are the founder. As a founder go and win your state.
As a joiner, since I just joined, I am winning; you that is a founder lost everything. Who will the party rely on, the founder that has no hope or that man who joined according to him? As a founding father the shares of your company is going down every day, you cannot even stabilize your company so that shares can go up you are relying on us. I have said it all, it does not matter what anybody says.
The problem is that I don’t even need anybody to join me to fight the fight. The day I decide that I am going to fight the fight in PDP, I know how to do it, heaven will not fall. I have never done that because I have always concentrated, doing the work, but nobody can tell me that they own the party. Since 1999, I have been in this party in the state that has won the highest vote for the PDP. Everybody has a home, when you finish you come home. No election is won without home. You must go home and win. Is it not true?
Is he registered in Abuja? May be he is registered there, you never can tell. Nobody should bother you about this or that. We will continue to work for PDP. But if anybody thinks he can gang up against Rivers State, you are ganging up against your party. If anybody dreams of ganging up against Rivers State you are ganging up against PDP.
What I know Babangida Aliyu does not know. Information I have, he does not have it. The facts on my palm he does not have it. He is just shouting and talking. Let him continue to be popular under the NWC. I am too busy. I am thinking about the security problem, thinking on how to win election and one liability will come and be talking about political dictatorship.
Aliyu said the NWC should suspend me, I am willing. I have offered myself. You know, when they say police are looking for you, you go and report, okay, I am here. Please, NWC listen to the advice of Babangida Aliyu. Don’t only suspend me, expel me from the party. I surrender myself for expulsion. Don’t hesitate, do it in the next one hour.
What do you make of Saraki’s reconciliation committee?
Bukola Saraki and Shema, former governor of Katsina came to see me on Friday and they left on Saturday and a liability is talking that the NWC should have suspended me. Such characters are the ones that can help PDP?
Okay I have now surrendered myself so tell NWC now as police to come. If they do it I will be very happy that some of the burdens are now out. I have confidence not like that liability in Niger State causing unnecessary distractions.
What is your take on the issue of zoning?
I can’t air my views now. If I do, what will I say when I go to the meeting? I will not air my view now. I don’t owe anybody. I will speak my mind any day anytime. I am not a slave to anybody. So I speak my mind that is who I am. There is nothing this government has not done to me, so who am I going to be afraid of?