President Goodluck Jonathan has said that Rivers is a key state in south-east Nigeria that the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) cannot afford to let slip off its control.
According to him, the state needs a strong, focused and committed leader whose soul and body will be with the party.
President Jonathan was speaking on Thursday at a meeting with leaders and elders from Rivers state held the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He was apparently referring to Governor Rotimi Amaechi who is currently on suspension and has been rumoured to be planning to dump PDP.
The President admitted he gets worried whenever there is crisis, insisting that PDP will no longer tolerate indiscipline.
He thanked the leaders and elders from Rivers state for the solidarity visit, saying he was sure they will not speak with both sides of the mouth.
“Rivers State is a key state to South-Easterners. It is a key state that needs very strong leadership, focused leadership, committed leadership and maximum political unity and stability. Otherwise anything could happen and affect the whole country.
“For us to have a stable democracy we have to have a strong political party. And that is why we get worried when we notice some of the indiscipline in some of the political parties. And the new PDP that we are all working together for no longer tolerates this indiscipline.
“In a situation where somebody is in a particular political party but his faith is in another political party… For those who are not holding political offices, yes you can excuse them. But, if you are holding an elective office you won’t be in that party and be working for another party. Otherwise, why are you there?,” he queried.
President Jonathan spoke further, “I know key political actors in Rivers State, the who’s who in Rivers State; and they are here. I want to thank you for building this political structure for the state, for the interest of Rivers State and to position Rivers State in the politics of the country.
“To me, I have been working with people of Rivers State for quite some time before I got here. I have had a robust relationship with my brothers and sisters in Rivers State. They are very reliable people who I believe will not speak with both sides of their mouths.
“That is the essence of politics. But in a situation where somebody is in a particular political party but his faith is in another political party… Fopr those who are not holding political offices, yes you can excuse…But if you are holding an elective office you won’t be in that party and be working for another party. Otherwise, why are you there?
Speaking with State House correspondents after the meeting, the PDP chairman in Rivers, Felix Obuah said they apologized to the President for the embarrassment Governor Amaechi may have caused him.
He said, “We are pained and our heart bleeds today that the main champion of opposition in the country against Mr. President and indeed the Federal Government of Nigeria is our own son, Governor Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi.
“We want to assure the President that there is no crisis in the party. We are committed members of the PDP and we remain committed. We also assured him that whoever that is not disciplined and who is not in support of our programme should be left out. At every point in time, we let people realize that the party is supreme and the President is the leader of the party and we have come to show our commitment at loyalty to him”.
On Governor Amaechi’s threat to dump the party, Mr. Obuah had this to say, “Everybody is entitled to his own opinion. He has been suspended because of anti party activities. So I don’t want to refer to Amechi’s matter because it is with the NWC of the party.
“If he wants to remain in the party, he has to show respect. If he wants to leave, I cannot stop him. If he shows remorse and goes to the party and apologize, we will call him back but if he still remains recalcitrant and refuses to change, we are not begging for everybody to be in PDP.
“That is the essence of multiple-party democracy. If he wants to remain, fine but if he wants to leave, nobody will stop him
In attendance were former Governor Peter Odili, Minister of State for Education, Nyesom Wike, two former Deputy Speakers of the House of Representatives, Chibudom Nwuche and Austin Opara, as well as the Minister of Housing, Amal Pepple and former Minister Abiye Sekibo