The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, and the Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, are again locked in a bitter public spat, this time over the New Year killings in Rivers State which left several people dead.
On Tuesday, Amaechi called on Wike to rise up to his responsibility and secure the state or resign, while Wike pushed back hard, calling the former governor’s statement “infantile”.
Amaechi said this in an interview with State House correspondents after a meeting he had with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He was reacting to the killing of 21 residents of the state on their way back from New Year’s crossover service.
“It never happened when I was governor. We (the security chiefs and myself) ensured that we didnt sleep at night. We stayed awake for the citizens to sleep. I think the governor needs to do much more than that or quit the office,” he said.
The minister said the governor needed to be more serious and stop encouraging the militant groups in the name of politics and election.
He said while the issue of the 21 residents was in the public domain, two other persons were killed in Akutoru.
He alleged that similar scenario played out in other local government areas in the state.
Amaechi added, “I think there should be much more than age to qualify to be a governor because it takes much more than age.
“I was governor of Rivers State, I did not play PDP/APC politics. Life is life, it has no symbol. Nobody has APC life or PDP life.
“The first responsibility of a governor which is what the oath of office requires, is that you swear to protect lives and property.
“When you don’t protect life and property, what do you do? It is impeachment. Unfortunately, there is no House of Assembly in Rivers State.
“There is too much noise coming from Rivers State. The governor just wakes up and starts shouting, abusing people. That is all he does. Mr. Project painting roads.
“The first thing you do is human capacity development and keeping human beings and we are losing lives every day.”
The minister said Wike had no reason not to secure the state because he had everything working for him.
“I just don’t know because the things are there for him to work with. He is not like me when during my second term, President Goodluck Jonathan took away Police, SSS. The Army brigade commander couldn’t visit me.
“But in his case, everyone is disposed to him. He can see the Commissioner of Police, director SSS, unlike my period but we fought insecurity.
“But because he needs these people for election purpose that is why they are still there, that is why they are killing, we need much more than that.
“Unfortunately, I swore not to be talking about Rivers anymore but you don’t keep quiet in the face of 21 lives, you can’t just keep quiet.
“I have said it that nobody should criticise his successor. But a successor that watches the lives of people go like that and does not care? God will bless him”, he said.
Reacting however, the Rivers State government dismissed Amaechi’s claims and defended Governor Wike.
“For the avoidance of doubt, Amaechi’s statement is false and an infantile attempt to gain political mileage from the senseless killings of innocent Rivers indigenes,” a statement by the Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communication, Emma Okah, read in part.
“Over the last few days, there has been a nationwide upsurge of violence, leading to the unfortunate deaths of Nigerians. Is the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi claiming that in all these instances, the governors of the respective states armed the killers?”
Describing the minister’s comments as regrettable and a “sad commentary”, the commissioner said rather than being criticised, Governor Wike should be commended for improving security in the state.
He said, “For the records, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, has funded and equipped security agencies in the state more than any other state governor has done.
“Rather than being commended for the sacrifice, ingrates like Amaechi see nothing in the genuine efforts of a patriotic leader, which Nyesom Ezenwo Wike represents.”
Meanwhile, President Buhari on Tuesday condemned the New Year killings in Rivers and other parts of the country, describing them as unacceptable.
Apart from the attack in Rivers, killings were reported in Benue, Kwara and Kaduna states on New Year’s Day.
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