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*AMAECHI* *OKONKWO* writes on the ongoing dramatic alliances in Rivers State, especially in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as hitherto loyalist and allies of Governor Nyesom Wike, embark on an apparent revolt against their principal.

 

Governor Nyesom Wike of River State is a veteran in political battles. The battles have come in various shades and forms since he took a plunge into the murky waters of politics in the country in 1999. From being the chairman of a local government, he became the chief of Staff and minister of state for education before his election as governor in 2015.

 

In the course of his political journey, Wike succeeded in creating his own team of like-minds, especially in Rivers, a few of whom are highly exposed politicians, with many of them unrepentantly loyal to him at the height of his political fight with his hitherto godfather, ex-Governor Rotimi Amaechi, the immediate Minister of Transportation. His soldiers made sure that not even the ex-minister could threaten the political fortress Wike was able to establish since he became governor.

 

On August 14,  2022, the governor declared that there was a gang-up against him by Rivers elders, due to the outcome of  primaries conducted by the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in his state. At reception marking the 74th birthday of one of his predecessors, Dr Peter Odili, Wike alleged some of the elders decided to take their own pound of flesh by working to ensure that he failed to secure the post of running mate after he lost the  bid for PDP presidential ticket.

 

In the views of some major stakeholders in Rivers politics, the bubble has burst in the Rivers chapter of the PDP and Wike.  Men and women strong but long-disenchanted members of the party have finally decided to engage the governor in brinkmanship in events that will lead to the 2023 general election. But Wike, who wants to remain in charge and unchallenged, would not accept that and is threatening and kicking. The result is that the once strong and united Rivers PDP is tearing into shreds. Many strong and fierce loyalists to the governor have now fallen out of favour with him, In fact, they are no longer hiding the disagreement but are beginning to quarrel openly to the surprise of many in the state.

 

It was discovered that the mutual suspicion, which was hitherto discussed in hushed tones, assumed serious altercations reflecting deep-seated anger and frustration by some of his acolytes following the conclusion of the presidential primaries of the PDP and the choice of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa as the running mate of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar for 2023 presidential election.

 

Having lost out in the primary and was by-passed in the choice of running mate, the Rivers governor has been pointing accusing fingers to certain individuals and groups for the current development.  However, the situation is polarised his supporters, many of whom had before now been looking for  avenues to assert themselves within the political space in the state and at the national level. Thus, the scism between him and Atiku has further widened the scope of crevices in Rivers PDP, with those that are opposed to the leadership of the governor ready to face the consequences of their actions. Some of them expressing their support to Atiku or any other candidates of their choice.  So, Wike removed those he was no longer sure of their loyalty from whatever positions they were occupying. He also sacked those he gave one form of appointment or the other. For example, in a move to get at Senator Lee Meaba, he dissolved the board of the Elechi Amadi Polytechnic, Port Harcourt headed by the former senator. Others affected by the move by the governor to preserve his political dynasty include a former governor of the State Celetine Omehia; ex-deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable  Austin Opara and many others whom he relinquished of their leadership of the party in their local government areas.  There were claims that the governor threatened to strip other high profile politicians of certain privileges due to political differences. the list is said to include a former national chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, whom the governor facilitated his emergence as PDP boss as a political ally. Wike was also said to have played a major role in the events that culminated in the premature exit of Secondus from office in Wadata Plaza, Abuja.

 

But unlike before when they would always cringe at Wike›s directives, those loyalists have chosen to challenge his actions. In a recent interview, Senator Maeba claimed that the reason behind Wike›s dissolution of the board of the polytechnic was because of his (Meaba›s) closeness to Atiku. The view of the senator came against the background of the political intrigues that threw up the former vice president as the standard-bearer of PDP for next year’s presidential election. He said: “We have a candidate of the party who has the capacity to lead Nigeria out of crisis. So nothing can deter us from supporting Atiku to save Nigeria. Wike is not hiding that he is fighting Atiku. He is ready to fight to the finish. We don’t know what he (Wike) is planning to do because when campaigns start, we are qualified to campaign too. We are waiting to see how he will do it. This is a joke taken too far.”

 

Maeba also confirmed the removal of former Governor Omehia and ex-deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Chief Opara, as leaders of their party in Ikwerre and Port Harcourt City LGAs respectively. Meaba added: “Yes, he (Wike) called them before their people because we went to pay a solidarity visit to Atiku which we are supposed to do. All of us knew Atiku before him. Austin Opara has been in the House of Representatives since 1999. He was the deputy speaker when Atiku was vice-president. That time, Wike was struggling to be a local government chairman. So, if Austin Opara has to take permission from him today to go and see Atiku, then something is wrong,” the ex-lawmaker said. Maeba also took a swipe at Wike, saying nobody was in charge of Rivers’ votes. His words: “There is nobody that is in charge of any vote. Vote is individual business now. For somebody to be boasting that he is in charge of votes, means he has a rigging plan.“Why are you in charge of votes? You cannot be in charge of votes, because everybody has individual votes to cast. If Adegboyega Oyetola was in charge of votes in Osun State, he wouldn’t have lost election,» he stated. “for somebody to be boasting he is in charge of votes, people should ask him where do you want to get the votes? How many voter cards does he have? On the allegations of politicians holding meetings in Abuja against him, Maeba said the governor was talking as if he was ‘superhuman.’ “Let me tell you something. When you apportion so much right to yourself, then you are superhuman. Austin Opara was the deputy speaker of the House of Representatives when Atiku Abubakar was the Vice President. They attended caucus meeting together and National Economic Council Meeting. So, does it mean that Austin Opara, who has been friends with Atiku for over 20 years ago, will now start to beg Wike to go and see Atiku? I met Atiku first in 1992 in Jos for the Social Democratic Party (SDP) campaigns. We started working together in 2003 when I became senator. That time where was he (Wike)? When Austin Opara was working with Atiku, holding meetings, Wike was struggling to come into limelight.”  Maeba opined that the governor does not allow the strengthening of institutions in the tradition of democratic ethos.  Maeba said: “If you continue to call yourself, I am a strong Governor, we need strong institutions not strong men. The best way to democracy is strong institutions not strong men. There are no strong men anymore. What we need are strong institutions to strengthen our institutions.” Some sources said the frosty relationship between the governor and his former allies and associates could soon crystalise in broad-based coalition. This because of the raging hide and seek between him and PDP presidential candidate (Atiku).

 

*Vintage* *Wike*

 

Meanwhile, Wike believes some political gladiators from Rivers run to Abuja to plot against him.  He listed aggrieved members of the PDP who were not successful at the party primaries conducted in the state to pick candidates for the general election. However, the governor seems poised for any eventuality. For instance, some of his critics, his decision to reach out to governors of other parties to inaugurate some projects in his state was meant to spite those forces.  He has also warned that anyone that believed his base was not that important in the next election would be deceiving himself. His words: “If you say Rivers State does not matter, Rivers State will tell you that you don’t also matter at the appropriate time. If you don’t like us, we will not like you. If you like us, we will like you. Nobody will use our votes for nothing. Our votes will matter and Rivers State must benefit from anybody that we are going to support. Politics now is no longer just voting for somebody; it is about what you will do for the people of Rivers State.”

 

He says he is averse to people with questionable character becoming Rivers governor. “Those who looted the treasury of the state will not come here to be governor of Rivers State and I have challenged them. I am fully in charge. I am not that kind of governor people will go to Abuja and hold meetings against. I am fully in charge here,” he said. Wike also berated the critics of his style of leadership, saying he had no apology to offer;  “First of all, let me state, if there is one state that pays salary regularly, it is Rivers State. Let me also state, every month we pay pensioners. Let me also state since we have been paying gratuity, have you been hearing anybody talking on radio?”

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Fidelity Bank Wins Best SME Bank Nigeria at Global Banking & Finance Awards 2022

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Fidelity Bank Plc, has been announced as the 2022 Best SME Bank in Nigeria by the Global Banking & Finance Review at its Annual Global Banking & Finance Awards which held in London, UK recently.

 

Global Banking & Finance Review is the leading online, digital, and print magazine for the banking and financial sector. The website receives over 7 million page views each year thanks to its balanced views and informative, independent news centered on the financial sector. The Global Banking & Finance Awards was created to recognize companies of all sizes that are prominent areas of expertise and excellence within the global financial community.

 

“Global Banking and Finance Review is privileged to honor those financial institutions that have achieved outstanding results and who stand out in their particular area of expertise in the banking and finance industry. Global Banking & Finance Review would like to congratulate the award winners and look forward to their continued success.

 

“The awards were created to recognize companies of all sizes that are prominent in particular areas of expertise and excellence within the financial community. They reflect the involvement of leading financial organizations and recognize the accomplishment, achievement, innovation, strategy, and progressive and motivating changes taking place within the financial sector”, reads a statement on the Global Banking and Finance Awards website.

 

Commenting on the award, MD/CEO Fidelity Bank Plc, Mrs. Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe said, “We are grateful for this recognition and dedicate the award to our customers who rely on us to provide the right support for scaling their business. Receiving this award at the beginning of the year, provides us with increased motivation to do more in helping our clients achieve their strategic business goals.”

 

Fidelity Bank is a full-fledged commercial bank operating in Nigeria with over 7.2 million customers serviced across its 250 business offices and digital banking channels. The bank was recently recognized as the Best Private Bank in Nigeria and Best Private Bank Digital Solutions for Clients in Africa in the Global Finance’s World’s Best Private Banks 2023 Awards; as well as the Best Commercial Banking Brand in Nigeria by the Global Brands Magazine Awards. The bank has also won awards for the “Fastest Growing Bank” and “MSME & Entrepreneurship Financing Bank of the Year” at the 2021 BusinessDay Banks and Other Financial Institutions (BAFI) Awards.

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Buhari Will Commission Dangote Refinery Before May 29 -Dangote Group

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The attention of Dangote group has been drawn to some misleading reports regarding the commissioning of its Dangote Refinery during the present working visit of President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR to Lagos State.

 

In a terse statement signed by the Group Chief, Branding & Communications Officer, Dangote Industries Limited, Mr Anthony Chiejina, the Group averred that “We want to state categorically that our 650,000 barrels per day (bpd) Refinery project was never part of the President’s programme on projects to be commissioned.

 

“For the record, the projects slated for commissioning in Lagos State by President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR include: Lekki Deep Sea Port; 32-Metric Tonnes Lagos Rice Mill, Imota; 18.75km Eleko to Epe T Junction Express road; John Randle Centre for Yoruba Culture and History, Onikan, Blue Line Rail (Phase 1) commissioning (Marina to Mile 2); Groundbreaking for the Blue Line Rail Phase 2 (Mile 2 to Okokomaiko), and MRS Lubricant, a private project in Apapa.

 

However, our Refinery will be commissioned before President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR formally leaves office in May, 2023, and the public will be duly informed and invited to the epic event.”

Before this statement today, Business Hilights recalls that there had been a fake news in an unverified twitter handle saying President Buhari will among other things commission the refinery which the company debunked and described as fake.

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