Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State recently revoked the certificate of occupancy of an international hotel, Novotel, in Port Harcourt, saying the facility was base for rigging of the All Progressives Congress (APC) primaries. Many have wondered if the governor is fighting for a political enemy.
The APC in Rivers State held non-elective local council congresses to pick delegates who may decide the next governorship standard bearer in the state but the senator, Magnus Abe, cried out over alleged suppression of his loyalists.
Abe has been a long term Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi loyalist since their days in the Rivers State House of Assembly, but the warmth reduced when the then governor backed Dakuku Peterside (now DG of NIMASA) to run against Nyesom Wike of the PDP for governor. Amaechi said he gave Abe full backing to recapture the senatorial seat that was snatched from him in 2015 after several rerun elections.
Now, Abe feels Amaechi was tilting away from him again for 2019 and has stood against anything that would stop him from being the APC candidate. This has caused a big division in the APC in the oil-rich state.
Wike, who is in full rivalry with the Minister of Transportation, Amaechi, and whatever he stands for, has taken a major policy action that looks to favour Abe to spite Amaechi. Many say it could be in line with the saying that the enemy of your enemy is your friend.
Abe suffered many things including tear gas attack that led to his being flown abroad for emergency medical treatment when he showed much interest against Wike last time. Now, the same Wike has moved to fight for him right inside the APC. Abe has however, vowed never to quit the APC, saying it was still better than PDP. Wike seems not to mind, maybe, Abe would soon realise where to pitch tent as 2019 draws closer.
Speaking during the second session of the third synod of Anglican Diocese of Evo last Sunday on Novotel, Wike directed the Special Adviser on Land to with immediate effect perfect the revocation of the Certificate of Occupancy of the hotel.
He said the facility was used the previous day to manipulate the non-elective APC local government congress. Governor Wike alleged that on December 10, 2016, the same Novotel was used to rig elections. “We cannot allow hotels to be used for unwholesome activities. The Special Adviser on Lands has been directed to revoke the Certificate of Occupancy of Novotel. Any business that is used to affect the security of Rivers State will face the music. Nobody will allow rigging in 2019. In 2019, it is one man, one vote. I appeal to APC to allow internal democracy to take place.”
Reacting, the APC said the action would scare foreign investors. In a statement, the state publicity secretary of the party, Chris Fineface, said: “Despite the best efforts by his media minders to downplay the cataclysmic negative impact of the sudden revocation of the Certificate of Occupancy (C-o-O) of Novotel Hotel over an alleged becoming a den of criminality, Governor Wike cannot in good conscience deny that his rather rash and draconian action will obviously send a terrible signal to investors – local and foreign.”
The party said the action had made nonsense of the adverts running on CNN promoting Port Harcourt as an investment destination. “Like his former Commissioner for Information and Communication, Dr. Austin Tam-George stated in a reaction to his former boss’ action, it is a hostile signal to the business and investment community that Rivers State is a toxic environment, and that a 99-year land lease could be withdrawn impulsively at any minute, by the governor. It is extraordinary for a state government to revoke the certificate of occupancy of a business, simply because opposition politicians lodged there.”
He went on: “History points to the fact that one of the biggest fears of investors, especially foreign investors is the penchant for some Nigerian political leaders to disregard agreements and act irresponsibly just like Gov. Nyesom Wike has done regarding the unjustifiable revocation of Novotel’s Certificate of Occupancy.
“The truth remains that given the fact that investors are usually smarter than those who attempt to lure them to make investments, Rivers State under Wike is perhaps the least attractive place for investment in Nigeria today, not only for being the number one in politically and cult-related killings and violence in Nigeria, but more importantly due to Gov. Wike’s reckless intoxication by power and his wanton and crude application of it. He is totally deficient in statecraft most probably due to lack of capacity and preparedness for governance.”