Governor or Rivers State, Mr. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi Monday again opened up on the role he played in the emergence of Barr. Nyesom Wike as a federal minister, stressing that President Goodluck Jonathan initially rejected the choice of Wike, but he (Amaechi) consistently pleaded with the president to reconsider his position.
Wike, who was Amaechi’s former chief of staff, eventually got appointed as Minister of State. He is presently the supervising Minister of Education.
Speaking at the convention of the apex Ikwerre body, Ogbako Ikwerre, in Emohua Local Government Area of the state, Amaechi said President Jonathan, initially rejected Wike when he recommended him for ministerial appointment.
Amaechi lamented that his reward for his efforts at creating political visibility for his kinsmen in the country had been gross betrayal. He also recalled that it was through his influence that Austin Opara, another indigene of the state, was made Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Wike and Opara are today sworn political enemies of the governor.
He said: “When you see Nyesom Wike, tell him I nominated him to be a minister. And I have one witness sitting here today (yesterday). Chief Sampson Agbaru is my witness. He led other prominent sons and daughters of Ikwerre to see President Jonathan and the President told them that he had not known Nyesom Wike from Adam, that when Amaechi brought Wike’s name, he (Jonathan) opposed it. The President opposed the appointment of my former Chief of Staff as minister.
“He (Jonathan) rejected Wike and I begged President Jonathan several times and consistently because I wanted Wike to be appointed a minister. But today, Nyesom Wike has betrayed me for selfish reasons. Also, by the grace of God, I made Chief Austin Opara Deputy Speaker of House of Representatives. God used me. Prominent politicians met me and told me that there cannot be two captains in a boat, if I make Austin Opara, Deputy Speaker, I might not be the political leader in Ikwerre. But I said, I want my people to benefit and I picked Austin’s name and we battled to make him Deputy Speaker of House of Representatives in 2003”.
Amaechi, who is Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum, also recalled how Opara master-minded his arrest and detention in 2006
His words: “In 2006, I was arrested through the machinery of Austin Opara and was detained for one day. Meanwhile, he was supposedly one of my supporters to be governor. Among those I have also helped who are now fighting me is Prof. Achinewhu, Vice-Chancellor of Rivers State University of Science and Technology. Achinewhu was sick and at the point of death, when I flew him out of the country for medical treatment, but he is now one of those accusing me and writing against me in the media.
“As for those I gave contracts, they are so many for me to mention. But, if they deny, call the Ogbakor Ikwerre Convention and summon them, I will go there and mention them one after the other. For instance, Paul Nwonodi is one of them. He is now fighting me, writing and signing all sorts of petitions against me”.
The governor also spoke extensively on the impact he made in the development of Ikwerre areas in the state, adding that he also awarded scholarships to several Ikwerre sons and daughters as part of his human capacity development programme.
He said: “Gradually, we are beginning to wind down in government and I have started counting either my blessings or losses as governor of Rivers State, not just for all Rivers people but for those from Ikwerre ethnic nationality. I have started asking what I have done for Ikwerre people and I am convinced that the Ikwerre history cannot be complete if my name is not mentioned.
“I am not saying this because I am the governor. As Speaker of Rivers State House of Assembly, I ensured that most parts of Ikwerre had roads. The ones that didn’t get then, when I became governor they got roads.
“Only a few communities may not have roads in Ikwerre now, and before we go, I will make sure they have roads like most parts of the state. We will ensure that those communities have roads. As Speaker, I asked for the grading of the Ogbakiri Road”, he noted.