The First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan,yesterday took a swipe at Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State when she said Port Harcourt, the state capital, has lost its attraction during the governor’s reign.
Dame Jonathan who was in the city to attend the wedding of one of the five anti-Amaechi legislators in the State House of Assembly prayed for the return of the lost glory.
“During the time of Chief Rufus Ada-George and Dr. Peter Odili as governors, everybody wanted to come to Port Harcourt, which was called the Garden City, but I pray that it will return to what it used to be, so that we and our children can be proud of Port Harcourt,” she said at the wedding reception.
The governor who was scheduled to be the guest of honour was absent at the wedding-of Mr. Evans Bipi and former Miss Rhoda Sika- although he was represented at the church by his deputy, Tele Ikuru .
Ikuru did not attend the reception having left for another function in his home town.
However, scores of prominent politicians from the state including ex-Governors Ada-George and Odili were there, as were national and state legislators with the Minister of State for Education, Chief Nyesom Wike, playing the chief host.
The First Lady was full of praise for Wike for bringing together such an array of prominent citizens.
She said: “I grew up in Rivers State, but I have never seen a gathering of the movers and shakers of this state like this. When I say I love Wike, people do not understand. If not for him, I would not have this opportunity to be here.
“It is good to be good. Both Rivers and Bayelsa are one, because Bayelsa State was created out of the old Rivers State (on October 1, 1996) and nobody canseparate the two states, but the people must come together in peace and speak with one voice. Wike has brought us together.”
Wike is currently locked in a bitter struggle with Amaechi for the soul of the PDP in the state.
He is said to be the Presidency’s favoured candidate for the 2015 governorship election in the state.
He is the chief supporter of the Obuah-led faction of the PDP in the state and enjoys the backing of the five anti-Amaechi assembly men.
The first lady’s presence in town practically shut down the city.
Security was heavy and traffic paralysed especially in and around St. Cyprian’s Anglican Church, Hospital Road, venue of the wedding and Alfred Diete-Spiff Civic Centre, Moscow Road, where the reception took place.
Several Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs), soldiers, policemen and State Security Service (SSS) operatives were deployed in strategic places.
Mrs Jonathan, a native of Rivers State, had once openly clashed with Amaechi when she scolded him for demolishing shanties in parts of the state.
It was gathered that she met last night with the anti-Amaechi lawmakers.
The governor is also not in the good books of the Presidency for his acts of ‘insubordination’ toward President Goodluck Jonathan.
He is perceived as threatening the chances of the president for a second term in office by allegedly agreeing to run as vice presidential candidate to a Northerner in 2015.
He has denied the allegation.
He is also blamed for defying the Presidency by running for a second term as Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF). He defeated the Presidency’s candidate, Governor Jonah Jang of Plateau in the election by 19 votes to 16.
He is currently on suspension by the party
Also at yesterday’s wedding were a former Minister of Science and Technology, King Ebitimi Banigo, now the Amanyanabo of Okpoma in Bayelsa State, the Amanyanabo-elect of Ogu, Nicholas Nimenibo, former Governor Celestine Omehia and former Deputy Speakers of the House of Representatives Chibudom Nwuche and Austin Opara.
Others were Justice Mary Odili of the Supreme Court, a former Minister of Culture and Tourism, Alabo Tonye Graham Douglas; PDP National Women leader, Kema Chikwe; ex-Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Timi Alaibe; Dr. Abiye Sekibo, factional chairman of PDP in Rivers State, Chief Felix Obuah; Senator Lee Maeba, the National President of the National Council of Women Societies (NCWS), Chief Nkechi Mba; and the wife of the Bayelsa Governor, Rachael Dickson.