Nyesom Wike is the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and former governor of Rivers State. In this interview, he speaks about his membership of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), why his service in Bola Tinubu’s government is for national interest among other isues. JOY ANIGBOGU brings the excerpts:…CONTINUE READING
Did you see yourself becoming an FCT minister?
Never, I was surprised when it was announced that President Bola Tinubu had given me the position. That was absolutely amazing. It’s not something I planned. It was not something I thought was possible, but here we are. So, thanks to the President and God almighty.
You’ve been a governor two times, some people will say this is your third time of being a governor, because the FCT under the constitution has that status that makes it look like the 37th state. Do you feel particularly privileged to have this kind of profile?
What I would say is that it is such a privilege that having served as the two term governor of my state and then the President also appoints me as to come and take a particular look at the FCT which in structure looks like a state, because the way the state is structured is just similar. FCT is not like a Ministry per se, but it’s been governed by a minister appointed by the president. So, I would not say, this is like a third time as governor, I would not agree to that.
You may be performing functions, because it is the federal capital territory it’s not a state. The functions you may be performing may look familiar; in terms of state you are the governor, here my boss is the President. So many things I take to my boss as president for approval but as a state Governor no, you have to differentiate it. Even though the structure level, we have our secretaries who are like Commissioners, we have a secretary of council who is like an attorney general of the state. You have a director of this and that. In that way it’s okay but in terms of exercising the powers, it is not the same because you must seek the approval of the President.
As a Christian you are the first Southerner to become FCT Minister how do you feel?
I don’t want to go into that line of religion, frankly those are facts, that’s the problem we have in this country and that’s what the President has tried to do. This is the Federal Capital Territory. There’s no law that says you must be from a certain religion before you occupy the seat. There’s no law that says you must come from a particular area before you become the FCT minister and that is the kind of thing people are saying is going wrong in the country. You see we can’t continue to have it this way; let everybody believe that FCT is for all of us; whether you’re from the West, whether from the North, wherever from the East, which is why in the cabinet you’ll see Nigeria, everywhere represented and that that is how it is supposed to be. That’s why I said I don’t want to go into the office as a Christian. The work we are going to do here is not for Christians alone, it’s not for Muslims.
There are those who are indigenous people of Abuja, do you connect with them, have you been able to reach out to them?
What did I say here? I said when the cabinet is inaugurated; you will see the indigenous people who are represented in that cabinet which has never happened before. Even if you know the federal capital, we must also consider there are people who are settlers here, who were here before the government started relocating them. You must carry them along. What happened yesterday has never happened. How many days did it take us, the federal government wanted to do this second runway right and FCT had to acquire land for the minister of Aviation, money was paid to the contractor and this project is supposed to be a one year project. In fact by this last June that project would have been commissioned.
But no way, the Ministry of Aviation came to me that they have this problem, immediately, we moved in and sat with the communities and asked what the problem is?
They said they were told they are going to pay them N2.5 billion and all of a sudden, they are hearing something different. We told them the truth. Whoever told you that the government is going to pay you such an amount is not correct. The Ministry doesn’t have such power. The land they went to value, who acquires the land for them, is the FCT? It’s a responsibility of our city to say this is what we pay right. The citizens expect the government to tell them the truth, and then we told them the truth. We’re going to pay you, if I know how you feel, but you would be given employment and your people are going to work there.
You are a PDP member in an APC government is that right?
You see this is also one thing I found out in Nigeria. Governance is not about party. The party is a vehicle that conveys you. I’m a PDP member. That is what I don’t like about Nigerians. What does that have to do with governance? Remember President Obasanjo and Vice President Atiku Abubakar, they took the late Bola Ige who was an Alliance for Democracy (AD) member, not just to become minister of Power but Attorney General of the Federation, number one Minister of the country. This is because Obasanjo believed he could contribute in this area. I never hide my intention, as a PDP member I came out to say that. I’m going to support equity, fairness and justice. Did I not say so? You cannot as a party wait for this country to continue with the line you are going. It means that we don’t have a place in the party, therefore for the presidency at this point in time should go to the South? What is new now about everybody talking about how I’m serving in the APC government? I was in the PDP, I supported Tinubu during the election, and did I hide it?
Do you feel at home in the APC government?
I feel at home working for President Bola Tinubu, he has given me that courage. He is a man who means well for the country. So, he’s looking for people who would support him and get Nigeria to achieve the Renewed Hope we are given to Nigerians. Assuming there was room for independent candidates of anybody, then you can say; I may support another person, but there is no room. He has to use the platform. I’m not here to work for a party. I’m here to support the President, who has confidence in me to help him to deliver the Renewed Hope and I owe nobody any apologies. I was in PDP. I worked for Bola Tinubu, I mean to be President of Nigeria, In fact if people have forgotten history; in the South East and South South there’s no state that the President won except Rivers State. We came out, said it earlier, that we’re going to support a central president and we don’t regret it.
Are you not afraid that your party might move against you?
How can anybody talk about expelling me, a state that brought the Governor, a state that produced three senators, a state that had 11 of the 13 House of Representatives’ members. Someone that produced almost all the State House of Assembly lawmakers….CONTINUE READING
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