From Blessing Ibunge, Port-Harcourt
Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has explained the circumstances of his advocacy for the removal of Prince Uche Secondus as the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), saying that it was based on the collective interest of the party.
Wike while speaking also accused the National Boundary Commission (NBC) as about the most corrupt agency of the Federal Government, noting how officials of the agency sought to move oil wells in Rivers State to some other neighbouring states.
The governor explained that it was not uncommon for a political party to experience internal squabble in view of the forthcoming election 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 the 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,” he claimed.
Wike, in dismissing insinuations of a beef with Secondus, said that his primary concern had been to salvage the PDP from 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,” he said.
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.
The governor denied having problems with the former Vice-President Atiku Abubarkar, saying he was not aware if Atiku wants to contest the presidency in 2023 because PDP has not yet zoned the presidency.
Commenting on the recent court judgement which declared that it is Rivers State government and not the Federal Inland Revenue (FIRS) that should collect Value Added Tax (VAT) and other related taxes in the state, Wike explained that the state approached the high court to seek an end to perceived infraction of its rights and powers.
Governor Wike, who accused the Federal Government of emasculating states by usurping their constitutional rights and powers, accused that the FIRS of surreptitiously writting 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,” he stated.
Wike further revealed that he has already sent a bill to the Rivers State House of Assembly to empower the State government to collect VAT and other related taxes in the state.
He said that Rivers State government felt betrayed by former governor of Imo State, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, for masterminding a plot to take over some oil wells belonging to Rivers state.
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 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,” he added.
On the issue of the recently amended Electoral Act, the governor charged President Muhammadu Buhari to reject the Bill passed by the National Assembly to prove to the world that he is committed to credible elections in 2023.
He stated that by rejecting electronic transmission of election results, the APC members in the National Assembly had planned a coup against Nigerians.