When it rains it pours. There seems to be no let down for Rivers State Governorship candidate of the AAC.
Barely one week to the April 2 collation of results of the March 9 governorship and House of Assembly elections in Rivers State, the governorship candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC), Biokpomabo Awara is complaining that his life is in danger. His running mate, Chief Akpo Bomba Yeeh, resigned yesterday morning and defected to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Yeeh, 67, an Ogoni, was yesterday afternoon received in the Government House, Port Harcourt, by Governor Nyesom Wike and other PDP leaders.
Awara, 38, an engineer, in a telephone interview yesterday, was surprised on the resignation of his running mate. He said he spoke with him at 7 pm on Sunday, but Yeeh did not inform him of his plan to resign and defect to the PDP. The candidate said gunmen were after him and members of his family.
AAC’s governorship candidate said: “I saw my running mate’s resignation online. I have not received the resignation letter he claimed to have addressed to me. I do not know about Yeeh’s resignation.”
One of the leaders of AAC in Rivers, who spoke in confidence in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, yesterday afternoon, declared that the motivation for Yeeh’s resignation from the party (AAC) and his defection to PDP was the N200 million cash he received from Wike.
Commissioner for Information and Communications Emma Okah, who doubles as the Director of Information and Communications of the PDP Campaign Council, described the N200 million accusation as untrue.
Okah said: “The allegation that Govermor Wike gave AAC’s deputy governorship candidate (Yeeh) N200 million is not correct; it is untrue and it is absolute nonsense.
“Chief Yeeh is a respected elder from Ogoni Kingdom and his action by removing himself from being used to destabilise Rivers State and cause pain to the people is commendable. Everything is not about money, as there are lots of good people around.
“We should commend him (Yeeh) for taking the bold and historic step, instead of calling him names. Future generations of our people will remember the moral lesson of his present actions.”
Awara, in a statement yesterday evening, hailed the God-fearing people of Rivers State for voting for him and other candidates of AAC on March 9, stressing that they had taken ownership of the crude oil and gas-rich state.
He also lauded Rivers people for hitting Port Harcourt streets yesterday morning to protest the plan by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on the mandate of the people.
The AAC’s candidate said: “The peace-loving people of Rivers State have taken over ownership of the struggle to liberate their state from reactionary forces. It is despicable that Wike is ready to do nasty things, in order to stay in power. Wike luring my deputy with N200 million is evidence of his level of desperation.
“I have not received any resignation letter from my deputy. Christians the world over believe in fair play, but Wike’s actions and reactions cast serious doubts on his sense of morality. Wike had earlier said the AAC was not a party to reckon with. It is shocking he could shamelessly use public funds meant for the development of Rivers State to shop for deputy governorship candidates of opposition parties.
“The same Rivers governor had earlier bought off the deputy governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in Rivers State, despite existing provisions, which clearly show that deputies are part owners of joint tickets, who cannot be easily separated from their candidates, once they have appeared on the ballot.
“Despite the antics of Wike, Rivers people have obviously taken the position that the outgoing governor can no longer lead them. I won the March 9 governorship election. Whatever INEC plans to do, the Rivers people will resist attempts to steal their mandate.”
Amaechi’s media aide, David Iyofor, was contacted yesterday evening through the telephone from Abuja, but he declined to react to Yeeh’s allegations.
Awara’s running mate, yesterday afternoon, visited Wike in the Government House, Port Harcourt. The governor and leaders of PDP received him.
Wike, while receiving Yeeh, said that no one man’s interest was bigger than the state, stressing that all leaders must unite to develop the state.
Wike said history would be kind to Yeeh for placing Rivers’ interest above personal consideration.
With Wike while receiving Yeeh were the National Chairman of PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, who hails from Andoni LGA of Rivers: the state’s Chairman of the party, Chief Felix Obuah; a former Rivers governor, Sir Celestine Omehia; Senator-elect Barry Mpigi, an Ogoni, who facilitated the resignation and defection of the running mate; and other PDP leaders.
Rivers governor said: “History will be on your side. You have shown that the interest of the state is above personal consideration. God will not only protect you, He will reward you for this decision.
“Rivers State is the only state we have. Everyone must work together to move this state forward. It is important to take this state to greater heights.
“It is not everyone that can take this kind of decision. It requires maturity to take this kind of decision.”
Wike also stated that all leaders of Rivers, irrespective of their political affiliations, must work in unity to develop the state.
He said: “All of us must work together, in order to forge ahead. No one man’s interest is bigger than that of the state.”
The governor also welcomed Yeeh into PDP, noting that he would be part of the group to consolidate the development of the state.
He said: “You are welcome to the party that will move the state forward. Those on the other side must understand that you cannot kill people, just to be in power. With this bold decision, our brothers on the other side know that the end has come.”
Wike thanked the running mate for refusing to allow himself to be a tool in what he described as the state’s destabilisation.
Secondus described Yeeh’s defection as a welcome development, which, he said, would help the state to grow.
Secondus said: “This is a welcome development. This is what a normal situation is supposed to be. The people will see the reason why we must work together. This is an uncommon decision. You have taken a wise decision, because you have the interest of the people at heart.”
PDP’s national chairman also called on INEC to bring the Rivers governorship and House of Assembly elections to a logical conclusion, so that the people could continue with their lives.
Secondus also called on Amaechi and other persons working with him (Transportation minister) to see reason why they should stop destabilising Rivers State and causing confusion.
Yeeh had earlier stated that Rivers state developed by the founding fathers should be sustained by the efforts of all patriots.
The running mate said: “Today (yesterday), I am in your midst to declare my defection to the PDP. Governor Wike is a man of vision. He is a man of compassion. It is his compassion that endears him to the people of Rivers State. I choose to identify with him to move the state forward.”
Yeeh also stated that as a retired security officer, he would work with Wike to promote the security of Rivers state.
The running mate informed Rivers governor that he had officially withdrawn his candidacy of AAC.
Yeeh said: “I officially announce the withdrawal of my candidacy for the AAC. My loyalty is with the PDP. I cannot afford to leave the fast lane and go to the slow lane.”
Rivers chairman of PDP, while also speaking, claimed that the running mate had searched his conscience and decided to work with the PDP to develop the state.