Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike of Rivers State and his Kaduna state counterpart, Nasir El-Rufai, have, for the first time since February 25, disclosed the reason they worked against the presidential ambition of Peter Obi of the Labour Party but settled for Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Speaking Thursday at Eneka in Obio-Akpor Local Government Area, venue of the inauguration of Eneka-Igbo Etche Link Road, Wike, who lauded Mallam el-Rufai for working with him on the project, said their decision was based on the need to protect the nation’s unity and work for inclusiveness by returning power to the South.
Wike said it was natural justice that the presidency moved to the South since the incumbent president, Muhammadu Buhari, was from the North.
“Your Excellency, let me use the opportunity to thank you immensely and members of your team, particularly you governors from the North under the All Progressives Congress, APC. When it mattered most in this country, when Nigerians were talking about unity, how this country will be united and progressive, people like you came out boldly and spoke out for the unity of this country.
“It is important that the presidency, having stayed in the North for eight years, should move to the South, and you stood firm. You were not personal about it because what you were talking about was the interest of Nigeria.”
Governor Wike stated that those from the North who supported Southern presidency would have, instead, used their numerical strength to oppress the rest of the country and thwarted the quest for Southern presidency, but they did not do so.
“You (el-Rufai) would have, as well, coming from a zone that is highly populated, said this is my second tenure; I am leaving; I am going to throw in my weight to contest for the presidential election, but you said no, let it move to the South.
“So, I want to use this opportunity to thank you on behalf of the government and people of Rivers State. The unity of Nigeria matters, and I assure you that history will be on your side tomorrow when the unity of Nigeria will be discussed.”
Governor Wike explained that in Rivers State, the resolve to support southern presidency was not compromised, and the election results are evidence of such support in the spirit of equity, justice and defence of the unity of Nigeria.
“Here, (Rivers) we supported the president from the South. I don’t want to say who we voted for. The result shows. I don’t know who took first, I don’t know who took second. But it is important to know that the people of the State supported the Southern presidency.”
The Rivers State governor said the invitation to Governor el-Rufai to inaugurate the project is on the basis of comparing notes and strategies on governance and delivery of development projects in the light of peer review mechanism as they serve their people.
Governor Wike informed that he had seen some landmark projects provided by Governor el-Rufai in Kaduna that included flyovers and roads, with some inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Commenting on the Eneka-Igbo Etche Link Road, Governor Wike said the road has linked up two local government areas. He explained that the road would reduce travel time between Rivers State to Imo State and ease the transportation of goods from the agrarian Etche council to markets in Port Harcourt and its environs.
Governor Nasir Ahmed el-Rufai, who inaugurated the project, pointed out that though he and Governor Wike may be from different political parties, they share a few things in common because they are Nigerians and believe in one Nigeria.
He commended Governor Wike and the people of Rivers State for supporting the emergence of a southern president in the 2023 presidential election.
The Kaduna State governor urged Wike, who he described as a staunch believer in the unity of Nigeria, to continue to work together with others of like minds to make Nigeria an egalitarian, progressive and prosperous society.
“I want to assure you on behalf of the Northern APC governors that stood up and insisted that after eight years of President Buhari, power should shift to the South was an act not only of belief in one Nigeria but also in our enlightened self-interest.
“This country has the potential to lead the African continent and indeed the black race. But only when Nigerian leaders come together and do what is best for the majority of our people. This is what the northern APC governors stood for.