Rivers 2023: Omehia’s Name Surfaces As Wike Vows to Sustain PDP Control

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By Hamilton Nwosa(Head, The New Diplomat Business and data desk)

Rivers State governor, Barrister Nyesom Wike has vowed to use all available instruments of political war at his disposal to sustain the dominance and control  of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State.

The governor who made the declaration in Port Harcourt yesterday  said he would not mind  resorting to a fight with the newly elected Rivers State Chairman of the PDP, Ambassador Desmond Akawor  if the later deviates from the fundamental goals and principles of the PDP which entails ensuring that the PDP maintains absolute control and dominance over Rivers State political landscape.

Wike’s statement is coming amidst speculations that former Rivers State governor, Sir Celestine Omehia may likely be on the cards in the 2023 governorship permutations  just as the governorship race gathers steam. In fact, political analysts say Omehia’s name is gradually becoming a buzzword in the inner circles of political discourse as the race towards 2023 kicks off slowly in the State. Sources confided in The New Diplomat that this is a statement of fact, stressing that it is still being kept under wraps as the political atmosphere still looks hazy between now and 2023.

Recall that the Supreme Court, Nigeria’s apex court, had  sacked  Sir Celestine Omehia from office on October 25, 2007 as governor of Rivers State. The court  at that time laid to rest the lingering controversy over who was the authentic PDP flag-bearer in Rivers State governorship race, a subject of intense contention between Sir Omehia and the former Speaker of the State House of Assembly,  Rotimi Amaechi. The issue which dragged on for eight protracted months was eventually settled at the apex court as the Court ruled in Amaechi’s favour.  The Supreme Court was later to state that the judgment should not be cited as a judicial precedent.

Notwith-standing , Sir Omehia  had remained with PDP, and  campaigned  vigorously for Wike’s election and re-election. For instance, in 2015, the  former governor while speaking on New Year Eve at Ubima community in Ikwerre Local Government Area when the Ubima Community hosted Wike had  said:  “This ceremony today is significant and symbolic. This event is coming at he very end of 2014. 2015 begins tomorrow and what we have done here is to introduce the new administration to be headed by Barrister Wike.Barrister Wike has the capacity to develop Rivers State and deliver democracy dividends to our people. I urge all our people to support him all the way to the Government House, PortHarcourt. We shall also vote President Jonathan and other PDP candidates”.

Interestingly, Ubima is  the village of  Amaechi but  Omehia  had said that the hosting of Wike  was  symbolic as “it signifies the beginning of a new government in Rivers State and the end of a non-performing administration.”

He had added: “This ceremony today is significant and symbolic. This event is coming at the very end of 2014. 2015 begins tomorrow and what we have done here is to introduce the new administration to be headed by Barrister Wike. Barrister Wike has the capacity to develop Rivers State and deliver democracy dividends to our people. I urge all our people to support him all the way to the Government House, PortHarcourt. We shall also vote President Jonathan and other PDP candidates”

Wike in his response had said:  “I mean well for Rivers State and I will ensure that Ubima’s development deficiencies are addressed. It is unfortunate that you have a son as governor, but he has abandoned you. All projects in this community have been abandoned just like in other communities in Rivers State. Development will return to Rivers State from 2015”.

Sir Omehia has also taken to writing books since his exit from the seat of power. Among his topical work, A Right to be Wrong by Celestine Omehia, the  lawyer cum politician dissects the Supreme Court decision in Amaechi v. Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) [2007] 18 NWLR (Pt 1065) 105.

Meanwhile, Wike  has charged  the new PDP Chairman to work for the good of PDP: “You have a daunting task of improving on the standard your predecessor, Felix Obuah, has set. You must not allow the standard to drop. In 2015, against the heavy odds we had to face, we asked ourselves who could steer the affairs of the party in Rivers without failure and we won’t be disappointed. Today everybody can attest to the fact that Obuah delivered outstandingly well.

 “Loyalty is not when you do eye service before people you call leaders. It is about your conduct, the results you post and those things you do at the back of the people you call leaders. If the rules permit a third tenure, I would have done all I can to let Obuah have another term.  So be careful, in-coming chairman. No mistakes. If you mistake mistake, we will not forgive you. Make mistake, I will personally use everything I have to fight you

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