The President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, on Wednesday, thanked the Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, for his contribution to his victory in the February 25 presidential election.
Tinubu, who described Wike as a man of principle, said Rivers State played a major role in his winning.
Wike, who is a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, refused to support the presidential candidate of his party, Atiku Abubakar, in the election, a situation which ostensibly gave Tinubu victory in Rivers State.
According to the Independent National Electoral Commission, Tinubu won in Rivers State with 231,591 votes, while Atiku came distant third with 88,468 votes, behind Labour Party’s candidate, Peter Obi, who got 175,071 votes.
Tinubu, who was in Rivers State on Wike’s invitation to inaugurate projects, spoke during the unveiling of the Rumuokwuta/Rumuola Flyover Bridge built by the governor.
Speaking at the event, Tinubu said he was in the state to fulfill the pledge he made during the campaigns in Rivers, saying “if you make a promise, you keep it.”
The President-elect said, “Nyesom, I say thank you for your contribution to my victory. I couldn’t have done it without some structural support. I will never forget the pivotal role the great and wonderful people of this state played in my victorious campaign to become the next President of this country. You have my eternal gratitude.
“In His Excellency, Governor Wike, I see a man of principle. He took a principled stand that the Presidency should be returned to the South; and he had the courage to stand by his convictions, not minding whose ox was gored.
“He is, indeed, a man of great integrity. He did not choose to serve his own interests, rather, the interests of the nation and the people of Rivers State. I thank him for his selfless leadership.”
Tinubu pledged that “I will not marginalise any region, but will leave legacy projects across the length and breadth of Nigeria.”
The president-elect praised Wike for the giant strides he is making in the state, particularly the 12 flyovers constructed across the capital city, saying posterity would remember him.
He noted that with Wike’s accomplishments in the state, Nigeria would need the outgoing Rivers governor in higher capacities.
Earlier in his speech, Wike said the invitation for Tinubu to inaugurate projects in the state was a fulfilment of promise made during the President-elect’s campaign visit to Rivers.
He expressed appreciation to Tinubu for agreeing to visit Rivers State to open the project.
Wike, who threw jibes at the leadership of his party, the PDP, applauded the election of Tinubu which, he said, had shamed naysayers.
When on contacted on Wednesday to react to Tinubu’s expression of appreciation to Wike for winning Rivers State, PDP National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, said, “No, we are not going to react to that comment (Tinubu’s remark). We won’t as a party react to that because it is not necessary.”
Wike had earlier gone to court to stop the PDP leadership against taking disciplinary action against him.
Meanwhile, Tinubu, during the project inauguration, pushed back a call by Wike on him to make refund for some Federal Government infrastructural projects undertaken and funded by the state under his (Wike’s) administration.
Wike said, “If we had said because they are Federal Government’s roads, we wouldn’t do them, who are those to suffer? Is it not Rivers people?
“So, since we have said look, we don’t want our people to suffer, I also believe that the Federal Government should say, ‘Look, you have done well for us. These are projects we should be doing; can you bring your bill? Let us refund the money you have used for these roads.’
“That is what it is supposed to be for a partnership with a good Federal Government.”
The governor then suggested that his successor would be meeting Tinubu in that regard after his inauguration on May 29.
He added, “Sir, the day he is entering office on May 29th, the letter has been prepared for him.
“He will sign that day and forward it to you (President-elect) since you are also being sworn in on May 29. So, that is the first request we are making.”
But responding , Tinibu said, “The 12 flyovers and the demand you made for refund, I owe you nothing. It is your road.
“You can’t chuckle at me and make a demand. You are the one living on this road. I commend your effort. You have to lobby me to collect.”