Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike yesterday defended his criticism of President Muhammadu Buhari for pardoning former Governors Joshua Dariye (Plateau) and Rev. Jolly Nyame (Taraba).
The two former governors, who were convicted and jailed for corruption, got pardon by the National Council of State (NCS) at its meeting on Thursday last week.
He said the decision ridiculed Buhari’s anti-corruption crusade, adding that it was better for the Federal Government to scrap the anti-graft agencies.
According to him, the President had, by the gesture, exposed the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) to embarrassment.
Wike, a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, spoke at his party’s state secretariat in Kano, as part of his ongoing consultation ahead of the party’s presidential primary.
He was responding to the Presidency’s description of his condemnation of the pardon as “bolekaja” politics, Wike said the pardon should not have happened under a government with an anti-corruption mantra.
The NCS approved a presidential pardon for 159 of 162 Nigerians serving jail terms for various reasons, among whom were the two former governors.
But, repeating his opposition, the Rivers’ helmsman wondered how the Federal Government would explain its inclusion of Dariye and Nyame on the pardon list to the EFCC and ICPC.
He said the amnesty granted to the former governors made the anti-graft agencies irrelevant.
Wike said: “This is the same government that complained against the judiciary that it is not fighting against corruption. Now, look at what the judges have passed through; sleepless nights from the FCT High Court to the Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court, everything is wasted.
“If President Muhammadu Buhari knows that he doesn’t want to fight corruption, then, he should disband the EFCC and ICPC because he has thoroughly embarrassed them.
“So, all these things he (Buhari) is doing is because of the election coming soon. They want this person in Plateau State to help them and they want this person in Taraba State to help them. But, it will not work because Wike will face them in that election.”
Dismissing the defence put up by the President Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu on why the pardon should not be faulted, Wike argued that it should be a thing of concern because the same people claiming to be fighting corruption had gone through the back down to free the same people that they convicted for corruption.
He explained his absence at the NCS meeting where the decision was taken and argued that his deputy, who was there, was ambushed.
Wike said: “So, when his press man (Garba Shehu) said I was invited to the Council of State, is it because I was not there, that is why they did what they did?
“If you wanted me to contribute, you would have sent me the agenda. Then, I would have known what I was coming to do in the meeting.
“It’s not when you don’t send me agenda, I come, then you boxed us in, ambushed us, then you said I attended the meeting where they approved it. I will not attend such a meeting.
“When they said my deputy attended and when they looked back, they could not see my deputy again. Why would you see her?
“When she had seen what was there, she had to switch off because she knew it was a wayo (trick). That is what this APC government is known for.”
The governor told the delegates that it was time for Nigerians to correct the mistake that brought the All Progressives Congress (APC) government to power.
He said he was offering himself as the most competent aspirant seeking their votes at the presidential primary to fly the flag of the PDP.
Kano State Chairman of the PDP Shehu Wada Sagagi assured Wike governor of the delegates’ support because they believed that the next presidential flag bearer of the party must come from the southern part of the country.
He added: “We know as a matter of principle, and all of us here agree that the presidency should move to the South. That is a fair deal, because when in 2019 the presidency was zoned to the North, no Southern aspirant emerged to say that he would contest, unlike what is happening now. But I am sure with the way you are going, you will defeat all those evil forces that are planning evil against you”.
Wike had earlier paid a courtesy call on the Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje and the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero respectively.