Biokpomabo Awara, governorship candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC) in Rivers state, has expressed disappointment over the defection of his running mate, Akpo Yeeh, to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Yeeh defected to the PDP on Monday, alleging that Rotimi Amaechi, minister of transportation, forced him to sign an undated letter that he would step down after inauguration.
But speaking at a press briefing on Tuesday, Awara debunked Yeeh’s claims, saying Amaechi and the All Progressives Congress (APC) offered him and his party unconditional support.
He described Yeeh’s actions as “pathetic”, adding that the claims were orchestrated to smear Amaechi’s image.
“When the story of his resignation first came out as a rumour, that Rivers State Governor have offered him N200m to abandon me, I had no reason to believe it because that Elder Yeeh was aware I had earlier turned down an offer of N3bn Gov. Wike offered to me some days ago through his associates,” he said.
“I discussed this with my running mate and outlined why we must not succumb to the lure from the governor or any interest group. I was convinced that we were in agreement because he neither expressed nor alluded to a difference in opinion on the matter.
“When the rumour became rife by Sunday, I made several attempts to reach my deputy without success. I started developing some strange feelings pointing to a possible sell-out by him.
“I am aware that a key component of their plot is to attempt to smear the towering image and figure of the Honourable Minister of Transportation Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi.
“I want to state categorically that all the accusations made by my running mate against the Honourable Minister are blatant lies poorly crafted by his paymaster, Governor Wike and associates, and you could see how tough it was for him to read the script handed to him.
“Let me be clear. I was never asked to and did not sign any letter of resignation. I am aware that my deputy also was not asked to or signed any letter of resignation. My deputy, Elder Akpo Bomba Yeeh is believed to be under tremendous financial pressure based on his statements.
“The support the AAC got from the Honourable Minister and the APC was unconditional. Those conditions my deputy alleged in the statement drafted for him by Governor Wike are false, crude lies.
“It is indeed sad, regrettable, disheartening and pathetic that my running mate will act in the way he did. I feel pity and sorry for him.
“However, I must be quick to add that it is one move that has no consequences on the AAC governorship ticket. No sane man standing an election as crucial as that of Rivers State will say the things he said.”
The AAC flag bearer said Wike’s antics of using state resources to “buy himself a second term” would fail because the people are wiser.
He appealed to the youth and elders to work with him to turn around the fortunes of the state.
He said: “Rivers people have firmly taken the position that the outgoing Governor Wike can no longer lead them. The antics of Wike in using state resources, our collective wealth, to attempt to buy everyone and buy him a second term in office will certainly fail.
“The so-called defection of my deputy is a ploy to distract us. We will not be distracted. We remain focused on liberating Rivers people, our people from the inept, cruel and clueless administration currently running the state aground.
“I speak to you my fellow youths and critics, you can be me too one day. Rivers State belong to us and we must work together to salvage her from sinking.”