Rivers State governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike and his Kaduna State counterpart, Nasir El-Rufai, have said the last presidential election was about the protection of the unity of Nigeria and Rivers State sided with those who supported southern presidency.
The duo spoke yesterday at Eneka community in Obio/Akpor local government area of Rivers State, venue of the inauguration of Eneka-Igbo Etche Link Road, which was constructed by the state government.
In his speech, Wike thanked El-Rufai and other governors of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for their stance on power shift to the south.
The governor said it was natural justice that the presidency moves to the south since the incumbent president, Muhammadu Buhari, who hails from the North was just concluding his eight years tenure in office.
He said, “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 matters 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.”
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 such.
He said, “You ( El-Rufai) would have, as well, coming from a zone that is highly populated, said this is my second tenure, I’m leaving, I’m 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 unity of Nigeria will be discussed.”
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The governor 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.
He said, “Here (Rivers) we supported the president from the south. I don’t want to say who we voted for, the results show. 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.”
Wike said the invitation to El-Rufai to inaugurate the project was 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.
The governor 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, Wike, who said the road has linked up two local government areas, explained that the road will reduce travel time between Rivers State and Imo State and also ease the transportation of goods from the agrarian Etche council to markets in Port Harcourt and environs.
Inaugurating the road project, Governor Nasir Ahmed El-Rufai, stated that though himself and 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 the Rivers State governor and the people of the state for supporting the emergence of a Southern president in the 2023 presidential election.
He said, “I want on behalf of our presidential candidate and our party to thank you and the good people of Rivers State for making the right choice in voting for Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. It is the first time since the Fourth Republic started in 1999 that PDP was unable to get 25% in Rivers State.
“It shows that the people of Rivers can differentiate and they know when to vote for quality and they voted quality over political sentiments. We want to thank you for providing that leadership, Governor Wike.”