Day Peter Obi stormed Port Harcourt
…won hearts, broke some, as he commissioned Wike’s 9th flyover
As early as 8 am, crowds began to amass at the Port Harcourt International Airport to receive the Labour Party (LP) Presidential Candidate, Peter Obi, who is seen as a wind blowing across Nigeria’s political landscape.
More crowds awaited at the Ikokwu Spare Parts Market zone where Governor Nyesom Wike’s 9th flyover was seating decorated waiting to be unveiled by the awaited special guest.
The Labour Party that flies Obi’s flag and the many PO loyalists in Rivers State saw the day as their day of relevance, despite the fact that their idol was their “enemy”’s guest.
By the end of the commissioning event and the speeches that rent the air, it was not clear whether Obi’s visit was a blessing or harm to the ‘Obi-dients’ (as Peter Obi’s loyalists call themselves) and Labour Party in this part of the country.
The first arrow to the hearts of the ‘Obi-dients’ came from banters between host and guest. Obi praised Wike beyond the expected limits of the ‘Obi-Dients’ in the state.
He went ahead to say Wike’s chosen successor, Sim Fubara, would win the governorship. This caused huge consternation as the Labour Party candidate in the state, Beatrice Itubo, and her supporters went wild with anger. Many thought Obi should have exercised restraint in handing the governorship endorsement to another party. This is especially as Itubo seems to be Wike’s “enemy.”
Obi also commended Wike on infrastructure and condemned anyone not seeing what Wike has done. This seems opposed to the view of Labour that the roads and flyovers without employment and empowerment of the masses as well as payment of pensions, promotions for years, and taking back houses from workers at the GRAs amounted to nothing in their view.
Most persons said they expected Obi to make remarks on the plights of Spare Parts traders who had been under one form of displacement and oppression or the other, especially the need for the host governor to announce a rehabilitation and relocation plan for them.
His failure to show closeness and concern for Labour Party leadership in the state and the spare parts traders was interpreted as selfishness and callousness as well as too much excitement over his new friendship.
On the other hand, most loyalists to the governor and members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) shouted in positive applause, seeing that the celebrated PO was handing them the governorship endorsement they so much craved.
Obi also won the heart of the governor who assured him of logistics support each time he would come to campaign in Rivers State.
Wike went ahead to throw flaks at Governor Charles Soludo who wrote over 2000 words to denounce Obi. Wike called such people men of jealousy.
Votes will count – Wike
In his official speech, Governor Wike insisted that votes of the electorate would count in the 2023 general elections.
He stressed that the days were gone when people rode on the confidence that because they were from a majority tribe, they would always win election.
Wike spoke at the inauguration of the Nkpolu-Oroworukwo flyover which was inaugurated by Obi in Mile Two Diobu, Port Harcourt, on Thursday.
The Rivers State governor observed that there were so many people who had left office for years and have gathered around a political actor in their desperation to force themselves back to power.
“All they want to do, let us get the opportunity to come back to power. Nigerians, we must open our eyes. You (a politician) must sell yourself; this is me. You must not sell yourself because you belong to a major ethnic group. Every vote in this country will count.
“Time is over when anybody thinks that you can win election because you’re from so and so place. Nigeria has passed that stage. We want a Nigeria where all of us believe that we are from here. We want a Nigeria where I have hope that I can become anything tomorrow, not because I came from a small place.”
Wike also spoke, making reference to assurances some political actors made during a town hall meeting where they agreed to implement the restructuring of the country.
The political actors, Governor Wike noted, also condemned the situation where all the service chiefs are people from one section of the country.
The governor wondered why they waited for over seven years, until this political season, to begin to speak out against such sectional appointments of service chiefs.
“Some people come to tell me support so and so persons and I ask them do you know him? When I hear people go to town hall meetings and they say all kinds of things they say. They said they will implement restructuring. They will make sure that every zone will have a member in the security council. That, it is not good for one zone to produce all the security chiefs. You see that, but it is good for one zone to occupy all party positions. You see how Nigerians are? You see how we are?”
Wike mocks his detractors in PDP
Wike mocked some people in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who are calling for his dismissal from the party. According to him, those clamouring for his dismissal ironically left the party, frustrated its electoral chances and made it to lose the 2015 election.
“Those who are threatening me are those who destroyed PDP and made us lose election in 2015. I stood firm in this party when this party was to die. Peter Obi, you were there in the party then.
“I was the one with my friends who supported this party. Those who left the party are the ones coming to tell me that I want to scatter the party when you (they) have scattered the party and made us lose election in 2015. Now we are in opposition. Who put us in opposition?”
Wike said that everybody knows him that he is not a conman, but a straight-forward politician who wants the best for Nigeria.
The Rivers State governor commended his guest, Obi, for leaving the PDP and the frustrations meted out to him to pursue his political ambition.
I remain in PDP to fight vampires – Wike
Governor Wike, however, restated his resolve to remain in the PDP to doggedly fight those he described as vampires, armed robbers, and scavengers.
“I will not leave. I will stay here, I will fight the vampires, I will fight hyenas, I will fight the scavengers. I will not leave this house. I will never allow armed robbers to takeover my house. I am going to stay to chase away the armed robbers.”
The governor advised all political parties to obey the Executive Order 22 and 21 issued by him. He insisted that any political party that wants to use public school for campaign must obtain permission from the Commissioner of Education.
Wike offered to provide logistics support to Mr. Obi whenever he visits Rivers State for his presidential campaign.
The Rivers State governor urged the Labour Party presidential candidate to ignore envious persons from his home State who he said were hell bent on distracting him in his pursuit for the presidency.
A grateful Obi
Performing the inauguration, Mr. Obi expressed gratitude to Governor Wike for his large heart to extend invitation to him to open the Nkpolu-Oroworukwo flyover for use by the public.
“Nobody in this country can doubt your performance. Anybody who does so does not admit what is good. You have worked for your people, you have worked for Nigeria and you have done everything anybody could achieve. Most importantly, you have remained consistently consistent in positions you have taken.
“What is lacking in our country today is character, competence, and capacity. In all these you have shown it as a state governor.”
Obi pointed out that 18 presidential candidates are gearing up to contest the 2023 election but Nigerians are looking for men of character, competence, and capacity including those who have used previous opportunities to offer service profitably.
“I assure you of our commitment to build a better Nigeria. Our past will not be our future. Those people are our past. I and Datti (Baba-Ahmed) represent the future of Nigeria. And I have told Nigerians, hold me responsible. I know what it takes to turn around this country. I will not give excuses. I will change Nigeria.”
Details of the flyover
Providing the description of the project, Commissioner for Works, George-Kelly Dakorinima Alabo, said the Nkpolu-Oroworukwo flyover is 993 meters long, with a pavement width on both sides as 7.5 meters each.
Alabo assured that with the flyover, there will be ease of doing business, reduced traffic congestion in the area and serve as effective diversion of vehicular movement in that part of the city.
Most persons however describe the project as a flyover to ‘nowhere’ because it ends close to the Rivers State University fences. It has attracted the most criticism.