By Simeon Nwakaudu
I watched the 2015 Defeated Rivers State Labour Party Governorship Candidate, Mr Tonye Princewill on Channels Television Political Programme on Sunday Night and I must admit that in a split second during that interview, Princewill confessed the truth.
That this happened on live national television only confirms what Rivers people and other Nigerians already know about the political scenario in Rivers State.
Asked pointedly by the anchor if Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike can be dislodged given the present strength of Rivers APC, Tonye Princewill confessed that as things stand today, nobody can defeat Governor Wike. He, however, claimed that before 2019, the APC would have gathered momentum to challenge Wike.
It is on the second leg of his statement that I disagree with Princewill. Let me say it clearly without being immodest that the political connection between Governor Wike and the ordinary people of Rivers State is growing by the minute. By 2019, it would have reached its fever pitch and the revalidation of the people’s mandate would be the extension of a working social contract.
In the said confessional interview, Princewill claimed that one of the points that the APC would use in dislodging Governor Wike if they eventually wake up from their slumber is the riverine-upland dichotomy.
We can forgive Princewill because he is not in tune with the reality on ground in Rivers State. This is understandable. He has been travelling around the globe participating in film festivals, with little time to visit Rivers State. Whenever he returns, he quickly dashes into a studio for an interview session without reviewing the developments at home.
The New Rivers project is a pan-Rivers initiative. It was built on the strength of salvaging the state from the locust years of Amaechi. It was fundamentally a United Action to stop the rot and check the thievery and looting foisted on the state by the immediate past APC administration.
Therefore, Rivers leaders and ordinary folks from all ethnic nationalities resolved to draft in the strongest politician at the time to build a formidable force to dislodge the treacherous APC leadership in the state. At this point, the riverine-upland dichotomy was relegated for the greater good of Rivers State.
Otherwise, Amaechi would have foisted his boys-quarters crony on the state. Recall that Rivers APC at the time had no primary election. Amaechi’s crony was merely handpicked to fulfil an evil agenda.
Leaders like Chief Ferdinand Alabrabra, Dr Tammy Danagogo, Rt Hon Austin Opara, Ambassador Desmond Akawor, Senator Adawari People, Sir Kenneth Kobani, Prince Emma Anyanwu, Dr Fred Kpakol , Betty Apiafi, Senator Thompson Sekibo, Madam Toru Ofili among others purchased the PDP Governorship Form for Governor Wike after prevailing on him to resign as a Minister of the Federal Republic. This symbolic action obliterated the riverine-upland dichotomy.
Before then, Former Rivers State Governor, Dr Peter Odili and Former First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan led other Rivers elders across party lines to endorse Governor Wike to run.
Fast forward to 2017. Governor Wike in his first 30months in office has re-defined leadership. He has delivered to the level that the APC in Rivers State has nothing to campaign with other than the sponsorship of propaganda.
The performance of Governor Wike has made all Rivers people proud. While APC states are battling with unpaid salaries, Governor Wike is up to date with salaries and pensions.
While other states are struggling to stay afloat, Governor Wike has executed hundreds of projects across the 23 Local Government Areas of the state. He has established a strong security network, created empowerment platforms and revived the economy destroyed by Amaechi.
Governor Wike has raised the stake in Rivers State. He has made the people to come to the realisation that good governance is possible. His outstanding achievements have created a situation where the people are ready to defend their votes at all times.
Nigerians know the extreme corruption that the APC has introduced in the use of the security forces to perpetrate the robbery of mandates. The fact that Rivers State survived the ungodly onslaught of the Armed Forces and Police during the several contrived rerun elections underscores the reality that Governor Wike is loved by the people.
If Princewill and his co-travellers in the failed and corruption-laden APC think that by 2019 the security forces will assist them subvert the will of Rivers people, the usual failure will be their portion. The Rivers people across the 23 Local Government Areas are ready to defend their preferred choice–Governor Wike.