Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi on Thursday denied reports that he had threatened to dump the Peoples Democratic Party ahead of the 2015 elections, saying he had no plan to leave the party currently in the throes of internal crisis.
Amaechi said this at the end of a meeting he had with Vice-President Namadi Sambo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
A newspaper (not The PUNCH) reported on Wednesday that the governor had concluded plans to leave the PDP along with three unnamed South-East governors.
But Amaechi told journalists at the Villa that it would be foolhardy to dump the PDP because it remained the only national party in the country.
He said, “I am still in the PDP. I am a member of the PDP. PDP is the only national party in the country for now. Why will one want to leave a national party and go to another party?”
Amaechi has for some time been having a running battle with the leadership of the PDP over his leadership style as Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum. The party’s top hierarchy and some loyalists of President Goodluck Jonathan felt that Amaechi was not spending his term as NGF chairman to attract maximum benefits to the PDP and the Jonathan administration.
Few weeks back and on the eve of the NGF’s election in Abuja, the Presidency and PDP National Working Committee rallied loyal governors at the Villa to form the PDP Governors’ Forum and installed the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Godswill Akpabio, as the chairman with a view to weakening Amaechi’s influence.
Justifying the attempt at breaking the Rivers State governor’s influence, Special Adviser to the President on Political Affairs, Ahmed Gulak, had accused Amaechi of running the NGF like a trade union.
Meanwhile, sources confided in The PUNCH that the Presidency had directed that Amaechi must be stopped from leaving the PDP “in order not to ruin the 2015 political game.”
It was also learnt that the Sambo-Amaechi meeting in the Villa on Thursday was to further feel the purse of the governor and persuade him not to rock the boat for Jonathan.
Chairman, Board of Trustees of the PDP, Chief Tony Anenih, was also said to have during his recent peace meeting to Rivers State begged the governor not to leave the party.
While denying that he was making plans to leave the PDP, Amaechi also described as “mere mischief” the news reports that he had acquired four aircraft to run his own campaign for the 2015 race.
He explained that his administration in Rivers got approval from relevant government agencies to procure a helicopter for aerial surveillance of the state in order to improve on security.
He said, “The truth is that, and the Federal Government is aware, they gave us approval to buy a helicopter to fly around Rivers State for the purpose of security and we have done that, we bought and we paid.
“Up till now, they have not allowed the helicopter to come in. Maybe they are afraid that it is for 2015. Please help us beg them on behalf of Rivers State that we need the aircraft to be able to secure the people of the state.
“Again, it is not within our control. It is in the control of the Nigerian Air Force. Although we will hire a civilian pilot but Nigerian security will manage it, not us.
“How will you use what is in the hands of Nigerian security to campaign? You see the mischief? The helicopter is to ensure that Rivers State is under watch for 24 hours. It has cameras, so if somebody is committing a crime, we are seeing it.
Read more: The Punch