14th August, 2021
By Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike on Friday said he is not aware that former Vice President Atiku Abubakar wants to vie for the 2023 presidency.
Wike made the assertion while speaking as a guest on the Africa Independent Television’s Programme, Focus Nigeria, in Port Harcourt on Friday.
He said he was not aware of Atiku’s move because the PDP has not yet zoned the presidency.
Wike also said the resolution of the internal crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has allayed his initial fear of possible implosion in the party.
He noted that the convivial manner in which PDP governors and Board of Trustee members resolved the crisis has given Nigerians hope that the party is prepared to takeover the realm of power from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2023.
The governor 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.
“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.”
Wike, who dismissed insinuation that he has personal disagreement with the National Chairman of the PDP, stated that his primary concern had been to salvage the PDP from an impending doom occasioned by an inert leadership.
“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, 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 APC, whose stock in trade is to cause division and destabilise the party. According to him, some of these persons are some former governors and ministers.
Commenting on the recent court judgement that it is Rivers State government and not Federal Inland Revenue that should collect Value Added Tax 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.
“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 has 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 stated that Rivers State felt betrayed by former governor of Imo State, Rt. Hon. 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.
“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.”