Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, has declared that he has no personal rift with the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Uche Secondus and 2019 Presidential candidate of the party, Atiku Abubakar.
Wike said his primary concern was to salvage the PDP from an impending doom occasioned by inert leadership.
He said: “Everybody believed that whatever the national chairman was doing was dictated by Wike and must have the backing of Wike. I believe when you support somebody, support him to succeed.
“But when things are also going wrong, if you don’t speak out, people will believe you are part of it. Therefore, I owe it as a duty to say things are not going right.”
The governor accused some members of the National Working Committee (NWC) particularly, the National Organising Secretary, Col. Austin Akobundu, of stirring crisis in the party because of his governorship ambition.
He warned that the PDP should be wary of agents of the All Progressives Congress (APC), bent on causing division and destabilising the party.
He said some of the persons causing problems in the party include some former governors and ministers.
The governor said that he did not have problems with the former Vice-President, Alhaji Atiku Abubarkar and was not aware if Atiku wanted to contest the presidency in 2023 because PDP has not yet zoned the presidency.
Wike who spoke as a guest on a television programme in Port Harcourt said the resolution of the internal crisis rocking the PDP allayed his initial fear of possible implosion of the party.
He noted that the manner in which PDP governors and Board of Trustee members resolved the crisis had given Nigerians hope that the party was prepared to take over the realms of power from the ruling APC in 2023.
The governor in a statement signed by his Special Assistant, Media, Kelvin Ebiri, explained that it was not uncommon for a political party to experience internal squabble in view of the forthcoming poll and varying interests, but commended PDP governors for coming together to speak with one voice to end the differences.
He said: “I use to be afraid of possibility of an implosion and that could have been the end of the party. But what I saw on Monday gave me a lot of confidence for the first time. I have never seen that happen, the way the governors came together and spoke in a convivial manner with no dissenting view. I was impressed.”
Commenting on the recent court judgement on Value Added Tax (VAT) and other related taxes in the state, the governor said the state approached the court to seek an end to perceived infraction of its rights and powers.
Wike, who accused the Federal Government of emasculating states by usurping their constitutional rights and powers, revealed that the Federal Inland Revenue had surreptitiously written to the National Assembly to amend the Constitution and make collection of VAT exclusive to the Federal government.
He said: “The Federal Inland Revenue wrote a letter to the National Assembly to amend the constitution to make VAT to be in the exclusive list. So, we intercepted that letter and brought it to court because they know that under the law, it is not within their powers to collect these taxes.
“And in order to solve the problem, they wrote a letter to the National Assembly to amend the constitution to make them have the exclusive right. If they were right, they wouldn’t have done that.”
The governor revealed that he had already sent a bill to the Rivers State Assembly to empower the state government to collect VAT and other related taxes in the state.
He said that Rivers State felt betrayed by former governor of Imo State, Emeka Ihedioha, for masterminding a plot to take over some Rivers State oil wells.
The governor described as unfortunate the attempt by the incumbent Imo State government to compromise the National Boundary Commission to cede Rivers State oil wells to Imo State.
He said: “We filed a suit at the Supreme Court in 2020 believing that Imo State government will file their defence, but as I speak to you they have not filed their defence.
“I have never seen a very corrupt commission like the boundary commission. Unknown to us, instead of the Imo State government to file their defence, they went to the boundary commission, met with them to adjust the boundary, but we got the information.”
Meanwhile, the Yobe State governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 election, Ambassador Umar Iliya Damagum, has denied knowledge of any court process allegedly instituted with the aim of sacking the Governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni, from office.
In the alleged suit filed at the Federal High Court Abuja on Thursday, the plaintiffs allegedly argued that combining the governor’s office with another executive position is a constitutional violation.
But in a statement he personally signed Friday, the former PDP governorship candidate said he; “suspected some disgruntled All Progressives Congress (APC) members who are aggrieved with their ward congress and some PDP elements may be behind the suit to unsettle Buni.
“I think some members of my party, the PDP who were not happy with the success of the PDP State Congress conducted in April 2021 to also be behind the suit. For record purpose, there are pending suits before the High Court Damaturu filed by them and may also use this means to frustrate those cases.
“I have instructed the team of my lawyers to investigate the matter and take appropriate steps required by law.
“It is laughable that those who instituted that case are not aware that my running mate in the 2019 election has defected to the APC.”
The court document shows that the PDP, along with Ambassador Damagum and his former running mate Baba Abba Aji, were listed as Plaintiffs who jointly instituted the suit to unseat governor Buni for taking the position of the Caretaker Chairman of the APC while still occupying the seat of the Governor of Yobe State
The suit asked the court to sack governor Buni and his deputy and swear in PDP’s candidate in the last governorship election in the state as their replacement. (The Nation)