Chuks Okocha and Adedayo Akinwale are in Abuja, Charles Ajunwa is in Lagos, Blessing Ibunge is in Port Harcourt.
Yesterday, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State openly ridiculed the PDP’s leadership and presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar. He also dismissed rumors that he might face repercussions for his alleged rebellious behavior and anti-party activities.
Wike, who spoke at a media parley in Port Harcourt, opened up on events that led to the emergence of Atiku and his insistence that the party’s National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, must step aside, adding that he would continue to oppose the party until the right thing was done.
The governor, who lost the presidential ticket to Atiku in the primary last May, has so far refused to be swayed by entreaties to work with Atiku and Ayu, and has been hobnobbing with the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
When asked about his possible suspension for alleged anti-party activities, Wike asked, “Who will suspend me? The party? Which party? PDP? No problem. Look at the wahala (problem) you (PDP) are already carrying. They (PDP) can go ahead.
“I am not saying I am bigger than the party. But those who ran away from the party cannot suspend me from the party. I beg them (PDP) today and they shouldn’t waste time to tell the Governor of Rivers State you are hereby suspended from the party. Then, anything you see, you take! They (PDP members) know what I can do.
“What I am saying is that if we misuse this opportunity Nigerians are giving us, we will pay dearly for it. For me, everything must be done to make sure the right thing is done for us to get the support of Nigeria. But if we continue this way, we are going for a shocker, and that I can tell you.
“I believe justice, fairness, and equity should be allowed for our party to progress. That is when our party can stand as a party that wants to take over the reign of affairs of this country.”
Speaking on the party’s National Convention that produced Atiku, the Rivers governor said if not for the love he and others in his camp had for the main opposition party, they could have prevented the convention from holding.
He alleged that Ayu played a vital role that was detrimental to other aspirants in the emergence of Atiku as PDP’s flag bearer.
The governor alleged that Ayu called several presidential aspirants to step down for the former vice president during the convention.
“He was calling aspirants to withdraw for Atiku. I was there, Saraki and others were there. He manipulated the delegates. There was nothing Ayu did not do to ensure Wike didn’t emerge.
“A whole national chairman told some aspirants that if Wike wins that he was going to resign. As chairman of the convention, he allowed Aminu Tambuwal to speak a second time. Look, integrity matters.
“Meetings upon meetings were going on. Pressures were being mounted on people to step down. Even on the night of the convention, meetings were going on. That is why we started our convention late.
“Some of the retired generals were involved. Some of the meetings were held in their houses. There is nothing they didn’t do for me to step down. Those who know me, know that I would have stopped the convention, even if heaven falls.”
Wike also alleged that Ayu received N1 billion from one of the presidential hopefuls in the party.
He alleged that Ayu is corrupt, and that the chairman cannot deny that he received the money but refused to remit it to the party’s account.
“Ayu is very corrupt. I’m totally informed. Ayu has the opportunity to challenge me. Some of the governors can tell you. Will he deny the fact that he didn’t collect N1 billion from Lagos? Let him deny it, I will tell him who gave him the money; not from the Lagos State Government, the money was given to him in Lagos.
“He met one of the presidential candidates and told him that he’s not sure these governors want to sponsor the party. The money did not enter into the account of PDP, but we are not attacking Ayu on that basis.”
Wike alleged further that Ayu was eying the position of Secretary to Government of the Federation should the party win the 2023 presidential election.
This, he alleged, may be contributing to his hold on the chairmanship position and his insistence not to resign from office to ensure equity and justice,
“If Nigerians hear a lot of things going on now in the party that wants to take over the reign of power, they will shake their heads. You see, when we talk about Ayu, it seems people don’t know what is involved. Ayu wants to be in power so that he will be there, and if we (PDP) win the presidential election, he wants the Secretary to the Government of the Federation’s position. You know these positions have been shared and then they are talking to ‘small boys’ like us to play along like we don’t know what is going on.
“I can tell you that, because most of you don’t know what is going on in the party. Somebody has been given the senate president position. And do you think I will sit here on national television to tell you things I don’t know? It is just because of confidentiality and certain things that we cannot say them here.
“Nigerians should even thank us that we are pushing our party to let the world not think that some of the people (PDP members) behaving around are the people to lead them but to know that there are people who still believe in equity, justice, and fairness in the PDP.”
The Rivers State Governor also said the APC presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu, wooed him to join the ruling party with a senatorial ticket.
He said Tinubu offered him the ticket after Atiku failed to fulfill his promise when he emerged PDP’s presidential flag bearer.
He, however, said he turned down the offer and insisted that he would remain in the main opposition party despite his grievances, adding that he never contested the primary to settle for a vice-presidential or senatorial ticket.
“I didn’t contest so I can become a vice presidential candidate. I am not like others who were not serious and bought senatorial form alongside presidential form and that’s why when Tinubu offered me senate slot, I didn’t go for it.’’
Wike maintained that he would not defect to any other party but he would ensure that justice was done and the chairmanship position moved to the South.
“If I want power or want to be in power, I would have gone ahead to take the senatorial ticket (offer). But I said no. That is a man who believes in equity, fairness, and justice. So, the analysis does not rhyme at all,” the governor said.
Wike’s camp announced their plan not to participate in the Atiku campaign council scheduled for inauguration next Wednesday after a meeting at Wike’s private residence in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on Wednesday this week.
Reacting to the withdrawal from his campaign council, Atiku in a statement he personally signed reiterated his decision not to interfere in the demands for Ayu’s removal.
Party still retains Wike, others in Final PCC
Despite the announcement by members of Wike’s camp that they will not participate in Atiku’s Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) scheduled for inauguration next Wednesday, they were still included in the “updated and final list” of PCC members released last night.
Aside from Wike, others still listed as PCC members are Ayodele Fayose, Jonah Jang, Donald Duke, Okezie Ikpeazu, Olusegun Mimiko, Samuel Ortom and Seyi Makinde.
APC Plays Down Atiku’s Chances
The ruling APC yesterday played down the chances of Atiku, ahead of the 2023 presidential election.
According to the campaign council, with the internal crisis rocking the main opposition party, another shot at the presidency by Atiku was slipping away.
In a statement, the campaign council’s Director, Media and Publicity, Bayo Onanuga, said Atiku’s bid to win Nigeria’s oval office through election was again beyond his grasp.
The statement reads, “Once again, another bid for the presidency of our country by former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar is slipping away. This is unraveling before our very eyes even before INEC blows the whistle for electioneering campaign. His party, the PDP is in disarray. The signs are just too ominous for the Waziri with the report by the Economic Intelligence Unit predicting another trashing for him in the forthcoming polls.
“After violating his party’s code for power rotation between the North and South and grabbing the PDP ticket without a modicum of sensibilities about our national ethos, Atiku is now faced with the karma of his inordinate ambition.
“A pillar of Atiku’s campaign is the claim of being a unifier and nationalist. That bogus claim has now been discredited, even within his party as the disaffected members cry for justice and inclusivity.
“The former Vice President created the crisis for himself, by pushing the fallacy that only a Northern candidate can win the presidency for his party, despite the open record that Southerners, when they network with their Northern compatriots, can also win the election.
“Former leaders, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and Dr. Goodluck Jonathan demonstrated this in 1999, 2003 and 2011.”
APC Should Focus on its Frailties
Atiku, in a reaction by his Media Adviser, Paul Ibe castigated the APC for issuing a “disingenuous press release” on issues pertaining to developments within the PDP, describing it as “a laughable work of an interloper.”
The statement reads: “The release is disingenuous because it lacks any merit of a reasonable, intellectual riposte. Rather, it exposes the APC and its presidential candidate as a bunch of busy bodies who, rather than focus on the burden of credibility that continues to dog their campaign, are poking their nose into minor internal issues of the PDP.
“Well, since the APC Presidential Campaign Organisation seems to have woken up from their state of hibernation, it is good to remind them that there are pending questions about the social and educational history of their candidate that Nigerians want answers to.
“We shall be kind enough to remind the APC that when, in the next few days, campaigns begin in earnest, Nigerians will require answers to some weighty character questions about their candidate and, rather than expend precious time on what is never their business, should use the remaining few days judiciously.
“Indeed, the presidential candidate of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar has established credibility before the masses of this country that he is one patriot who can be counted on to stand by the side of the people – even when the times are hard.
“Atiku is a democrat to the core and that is evident in the way that he continues to carry on with the responsibility of ensuring that the PDP rescues Nigeria from the stranglehold of the APC in next year’s general election.”
Atiku’s Presidential Campaign: We are Moving on
The presidential spokesmen of Atiku, Senator Dino Melaye and Daniel Bwala yesterday said the PDP would not be distracted by the comments of Wike as they have moved on.
Melaye, in a Facebook post said, “Accordingly, we must forge on with the task and the mandate that we have been bestowed with. It is time, therefore, to move on with the formidable tasks of nation building ahead of us.”
Also, Bwala commenting on his Facebook page said, “Our election destiny is in the hands of God who gives power and the voters whom He uses. There is a reason for the amended Electoral Act and the upsurge of voter registration. Power now is in their hands, make no mistake.”