By ANAYO ONUKWUGHA, Port Harcourt
Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo was able to bring together in Port Harcourt, Rivers State Governor, Chief Ezebunwo Nyesom Wike and his predecessor and Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, for the second time in the last six months.
The last meeting between the duo in the presence of Osibanjo was in February this year when the Acting President visited Rivers State as part of his tour of states in the Niger Delta region.
Wike, who hails from Rumuepirikom community in Obio/Akpor local government area of the state, was Amaechi’s Chief of Staff between October 26, 2007 and May 29, 2011, and also served as the Director-General of Amaechi’s second term campaign.
The former governor’ relationship with his former Chief of Staff went sour in 2002 when Wike, as Minister of State for Education, pitched tent with former President Goodluck Jonathan and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against Amaechi, forcing him to dump the PDP for the All Progressives Congress (APC).
During recent visit of Osibanjo, which was to commission a fertilizer plant at Indorama-Eleme Petrochemicals complex, he was accompanied by Amaechi and the senator representing Rivers South-East in the National Assembly, Senator Magnus Ngei Abe.
It was gathered that when the presidential jet touched down at the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, near Port Harcourt, the minister, who was the first to alight from the aircraft went straight into a waiting presidential helicopter, without exchanging pleasantries with Wike, traditional rulers and other state government functionaries that were at the airport to recieve Osibanjo.
Amaechi was later joined in the choppers by Abe and then Wike and the Acting President as the flew straight to Indorama-Eleme Petrochemicals Complex, within Port Harcourt metropolis.
Presenting his speech at the occasion, it was observed that Wike only recognized the Senator and the Minister without mentioning their names, just as Amaechi refused to join the trio of Osibanjo, Abe and Wike in the inspection of the newly commissioned fertilizer plant.
After the event at the fertilizer plant, the Acting President and his entourage flew back to Port Harcourt International Airport and boarded vehicles in the convoy of Wike to Chokocho community in Etche local government area of the state for the commissioning of two roads executed by the Wike-led administration. However, Amaechi did not join them on the trip.
Speaking at the occasion, Osibanjo charged leaders to always work for their people, saying that is the only way that the people can feel the impact of government.
The Acting President charged leaders to de-emphasise partisan concerns and work in the interest of their people.
He said, “We must always look for ways to advance the interest of our people. We are greater together than apart. Today is a very happy day. We will always have happy days.
“Here with us to commission the project of the Rivers State Government is Senator Magnus Abe, who is from another party. The Federal Government supports every effort that benefits the people.”
However, after commissioning the two roads, Osibanjo flew back to Abuja, without commissioning other roads as well as a market and a motorpart, which are projects executed by the state government.
To Wike, the Acting President would not have acted that way without pressure from leaders of the APC in the state, led by Amaechi, who he accused of promoting politics of underdevelopment.
He spoke while commissioning the Rukpokwu-Aluu Road and Rumuokoro Market and Park in Obio/Akpor local government area, which were billed to be commissioned by the Acting President.
The governor, who stated that Rivers people must take note of those who are bent on frustrating development in the state, said, “They are annoyed that our projects are being commissioned. Their anger will not stop us from delivering projects for our people.
“We wrote to the Acting President to visit Rivers State to commission a number of projects on the 19th July, 2017. We got a response that due to his crowded schedule that day was not feasible. They gave us 27th July. The advance team came in yesterday and said there is also the commissioning of Indorama.
“I heard on the radio that the other party wrote the Acting President saying that the commissioning of projects make us shine. They have forgotten that we shine because God is with us and the numerous projects that we execute for our people “.
The refusal of Amaechi to join the Acting President to commission the projects was seen by the ruling PDP in the state as a sign of disrespect for Osibanjo
According to the Publicity Secretary of PDP in the state, Hon. Samuel
Nwanosike said, “Few days ago, we were at the airport to receive the President of Ngeria, Acting President Yemi Osibanjo. When he came in somebody who is a minister had the guts to disrespect the President of Nigeria. He shunned traditional rulers and ran into a chopper that was waiting for the Acting President.
“As if that was not enough, after the commissioning at Indorama and the Acting President said, gentlemen, follow me to Etche to commission Chokocho Road and the other road beside Chokocho.
“It will shock you that Senator Magnus Abe, who is an APC senator followed the Acting President and the Governor of Rivers State to that commissioning ceremony, but this Minister broke protocol again and abandoned his boss, the President of Nigeria and did not follow him to that commissioning.”
Also a group, the Coalition of Rivers Patriots, said that it was against protocol for Amaechi to leave the jet that brought them from Abuja, to a waiting chopper without exchanging pleasantries with Rivers chiefs and other dignitaries at the airport to receive Osinbajo and his entourage.
The group also condemned the former governor’s failure to accompany the Acting President for the commissioning of roads done by the state government, insisting that, it is not in the character of Rivers people, who are known for their traditional hospitality, to abandon their visitor.
Speaking to newsmen in Port Harcourt, Publicity Secretary of the group, Barr. Thompson Barilede, raised Governor Wike for giving the Acting President all the necessary support during the visit, right from the airport ceremonies, all through the commissioning of projects in the state until his departure, describing the governor as a true son of Rivers State, with enviable parentage.