Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike has recalled how his predecessor, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, tried to truncate his political career.
Wike said this after he was conferred with an honorary doctorate degree by PAMO University of Medical Sciences, PUMS, Port Harcourt, along with the former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar.
General Abubakar, the Chancellor and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the University was conferred with Doctor of Letters (D.Litt.) While Governor Wike bagged an honorary degree of Doctor of Science (D.Sc.) Honoris Causa.
Speaking on his political battle with the Minister, Governor Wike said Amaechi drew the battle line when he discovered his ambition to succeed him.
According to him, “midway into his first tenure, I got the signal early enough that I have become a foe and pencilled down to be political, brought down, extinguished or terminated.
“He, therefore, worked twice as hard behind the scene to truncate my confirmation by the Nigerian Senate but failed because God said otherwise.
“Moving further forward and when he noticed my ambition to succeed him as the Governor of Rivers State; he immediately drew the battle line and vowed that I could only succeed him over his dead body.
“Our contest was as intense as typical political enemies. Ultimately, I won and prevailed over him; but he acted the coward by refusing to commit the suicide he had promised if I became the Governor of Rivers State. Thank God he chickened out and did not die.”
On PAMO University, Wike commended Sir. Odili, for establishing the first and only private medical University in Nigeria’s entire South-South geo-political region. He also awarded scholarships to 600 Rivers indigenes to study in the institution.
He said the state government has maintained and sustained a close, symbiotic and mutually beneficial relationship with the University from its inception to date by identifying with and contributing materially to its steady growth and progress.
“Back in 2017, we instituted a special public scholarship, covering tuition, accommodation and feeding to encourage our indigenous students to take advantage of the University and become graduates and professionals of the areas of interest.
“We have religiously implemented this scholarship programme for four consecutive years with almost 600 beneficiaries as at the last academic session.
“Today, I am very pleased to note that all the graduating students of Rivers State origin are scholars of the Rivers State Government.
“In addition to the scholarship, which now costs well over 2.9 billion Naira to implement annually, we have also made several generous financial donations towards the infrastructural development of the University.
General Abubakar, in his remarks, commended Governor Wike’s administration for offering scholarships to students of Rivers extraction studying in PAMO University.
According to him, the governor’s contribution to the development of the University will forever be in the annals of her history.
The former Head of State noted that the success of PUMS is a demonstration of what can be achieved when State Governments come in to support the provision of private education in their respective States.
He urged the Federal Government to extend similar support to private universities through the Tertiary Education Trust Fund and other government agencies through the various initiatives currently being enjoyed only by public institutions.
Governor Wike announced a N500 million grant to PAMO University, a post-graduate scholarship to the overall best graduating student, and a N5million reward for each of the best departmental graduating students.
The Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission, Professor Abubakar Adamu Rasheed, who delivered the convocation lecture, said private universities have continued to play a vital role in Nigeria’s national development.