The Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, has said that the planned visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to the state is meant to “revive” the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the state.
The president’s office said on Monday that Buhari will be visiting states hard hit by Boko Haram insurgency, communal clashes, or other forms of violent killings.
Besides the menace of the terror group, Boko Haram, which has led to thousands of deaths in the North-east of the country, Nigeria has been bedeviled by fatal clashes between herdsmen and farmers and cult-related killings in different parts of the country.
Last month, bandits suspected to be cattle rustlers attacked Birane villa in Zurmi Local Government Area, Zamfara, killing 18 persons, according to the police.
Seventeen people, mainly Christian worshippers returning from church, were gruesomely shot dead in Omoku, Rivers State, on New Year Day.
At least 73 people were killed in Benue State in January also when suspected herdsmen invaded five villages in Guma and Logo local governments of the state.
President Buhari’s planned visit is to personally assess the situation and to also condole with affected communities, his office said.
He visited Taraba on Monday and Plateau on Thursday. He is billed to also visit Benue, Yobe, Zamfara and Rivers States.
In none of the states he has visited so far has his focus been on promoting his party, APC. But Wike believes otherwise.
“I hear they say that the President is coming to our state,” Governor Wike said, Thursday, while flagging-off road construction project in the state, according to a statement issued by the governor’s media aide, Simeon Nwakaudu.
“I have not been told the president is coming and why he is coming. He has the right to come to any state. Maybe the president is coming to make sure that he will improve the fortunes of the APC that is dead in Rivers State.
“Apart from Jesus Christ, we don’t know of anyone who has risen a dead thing. APC is a dead party in Rivers State. No matter how you fast and pray, it will never wake up,” he said.
The governor of the oil-rich state is one of the most influential leaders of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and an outspoken critic of Buhari and his party. Wike said there was no security challenge in this state and therefore it was needless for anyone to say that the president’s visit was for security reason.
“We have never had herdsmen killings or crisis in the state, except when some criminals tried to disrupt the peace and they were checked. We resolved that challenge,” Mr. Wike said.
He said “since kidnapping and armed robbery were becoming frequent incidents in almost every state”, the president could well visit all the 36 states in the country.
In apparent mockery of the planned visit, Governor Wike said, “Since the administration has abandoned Rivers State for three years, this visit may be a blessing in disguise.
“The president may use the visit to complete the Port Harcourt International Airport, the neglected East-West Road, the neglected seaports and the rejected Port Harcourt-Aba road.”