Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike yesterday accused his southern colleagues of masterminding his failure to win the ticket, saying they ganged up against him with some vested interests to derail the quest for a southern president.
He stated that the effort he put up to clinch the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential ticket sent a strong message to the north, stressing that never again would anyone underestimate the capacity of the south to secure the country’s presidency.
Wike spoke in Port Harcourt, in his first public comments on the PDP presidential convention at the weekend in Abuja, where he lost the presidential ticket to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.
The governor made the assertions at a reception in Port Harcourt organised by the people of his state to welcome him back from the PDP convention in Abuja.
He said he told the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku, that many of the people around him had no electoral value to deliver their states, but vowed to deliver PDP in 2023.
The governor’s comments came as Atiku, yesterday, commenced a reconciliatory move to try to get the other presidential aspirants, who contested the PDP ticket with him at last Saturday’s nomination convention, to close ranks behind him for the party’s success in 2023.
Atiku had earlier met with Wike, former President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, and former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Anyim Pius Anyim, in Abuja in what he described as a “continuation of my commitment to bring everyone on board in ensuring that the PDP stands as one united party.” Declaring that it is a “continuous process,” a post stamped AA read on his official Facebook page.
Similarly, the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT), the governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom, and a senatorial candidate from Delta State, Ned Nwoko, yesterday, congratulated Atiku on his election at the presidential convention on Saturday.
But Wike, who spoke extensively on what happened at the convention on Saturday, said it was disheartening that some governors from the south could jettison the collective interest of the people they claimed to represent due to their inordinate ambitions. He added that it was the agreement by the southern governors that the presidency should come to the south that motivated his presidential aspiration.
The Rivers governor described as shameful the inability of some of those, who were part of the agreement, to stick to the deal when it mattered, accusing them of betrayal.
Wike stated, “I contested in an election (primary) based on the principle and agreement with all southern governors and leaders of the south that the presidency should go to the south this period.
“We have done our part. We never betrayed anybody, because it is not in our blood to betray. But it is a shame to those people, some of the governors from the south; they were the people used to sabotage our course.
“Look at a region ganged up, then you, your own region cannot gang up. You became tools to be used against the interest of your people, and you think you have won? You have lost! You will continue to be perpetual slaves. Rivers people, you don’t need to bother yourselves. PDP needs us. If they say they don’t need us, they should wait.”
Wike explained that his motivation in the presidential race was to offer service and advance the interest of Nigeria.
He said, “The winner (of the ticket) also saw it. They underrated us, but now, they will not underrate us again. We have all it takes to do whatever we want to do. It is a matter of you being firm; it is a matter of you being hopeful. There is nobody that is born greater than us in this country; therefore, we cannot answer second-class citizens. We can’t.
“We just used this one to tell them that enough is enough. We made them not to sleep. We made them not to eat. We made all of them from wherever they said they came from to know that there is somebody, who can take them on. This country does not belong to one particular zone. If people are afraid of talking, it is their business. I cannot be a second-class citizen in my country.
“Some of them, their in-laws are governors in the ruling party, but they want to interfere in what happens in PDP. Some of them their brothers are governors in the ruling party and they want to interfere in PDP.”
However, Wike said with the presidential primary over, and given his pledge to work for whoever emerged PDP ticket holder, Rivers State would work to deliver PDP and all its candidates in the 2023 general election.
He recalled that in 2019, despite the failure of the presidential candidate he supported to clinch the ticket, Rivers State gave PDP massive votes and refused to negotiate with the All Progressives Congress (PDP) to give them 25 per cent of the votes.
Wike said, “In 2019, I was the only governor from the South-south, who never negotiated with the present government. They came, I said no, I was not going to be party to that. And that is why APC never had 25 per cent in this state.
“But in all the other states in the South-south, the president got 35 per cent to 40 per cent. I said I was not going to sit down with them and negotiate.”
The governor said he had told Atiku that many of those hanging around him did not have electoral value, advising all members – whether in the north or south – to deliver the kind of votes Rivers State would deliver in the 2023 general election in order for PDP to win the presidency.
He also said it was wrong for the party to have allowed the governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal, to speak for a second time after the time allotted to each of the aspirants to address the delegates.
Meanwhile, Atiku first visited Tambuwal at his Abuja residence on Sunday, to thank him for the role he played in the outcome of the convention.
Tambuwal had on Saturday, at the PDP convention, announced he was stepping down for Atiku, a move many believed swayed the votes in favour of the former vice president.
National Chairman of the party, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, also visited Tambuwal to appreciate him for his role, saying, “you’re the hero of the convention.”
Some, however, believed Tambuwal’s withdrawal from the race was actually a smart move, which had no defining effect on the emergence of Atiku.
Atiku continued with the reconciliation process on Monday, when he visited his closest rivals, Wike, Saraki, and Anyim.
During his visit to Wike, the former vice president was accompanied by National Vice Chairman of PDP, Dan Orbih; former Minister of Police Affairs, Adamu Waziri; and former governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, among others.
The meeting took place in Wike’s private residence in Maitama, Abuja, where he received Atiku and his associates, Senator Olaka Nwogu, among others.
A source privy to the meeting said Atiku pleaded with Wike to work with him for the purpose of rescuing the country, regardless of the outcome of the primary, which saw Wike polling 237 votes to come second.
“In continuation of my commitment to bring everyone on board in ensuring that the PDP stands as one united party, earlier today, I visited His Excellency, Governor Nyseom Wike, at his Abuja residence. This is a continuous process,” Atiku said.
Atiku arrived the private residence of Saraki about 3.05pm and the duo went into discussion.
A post by the presidential hopeful said the visits were to seek the cooperation of all the presidential aspirants in the journey to rescue Nigeria.
In his own twitter post, Saraki thanked all the delegates and his supporters, saying, “I thank all our friends and supporters across the nation for keying into our vision to provide #RealSolutions and #FixNigeria!
“I congratulate the winner of tonight’s #PDPPresidentialPrimary, His Excellency, our former vice president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, on his emergence as the presidential flag-bearer of our party.
“As we prepare for the future, I am proud that our message of #RealSolutions and deliberate leadership has resonated with millions of young Nigerians across the nation. Now, we must all rally round all our candidates across the nation to fix our economy, curb the insecurity, and put an end to the rising cost of living.”
Though the outcomes of the meetings were not made public, a party source hinted that the PDP presidential candidate, who also visited Anyim, would later move to meet the Akwa Ibom State governor, Emmanuel Udoh.
Meanwhile, chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT), Senator Walid Jubrin, said the election of Atiku as the presidential candidate was a big success for the party and a good omen for all Nigerians.
According to him, “Atiku’s success at the recently concluded PDP primaries has opened a good way for all Nigerians, when it comes to 2023 general election, to elect a Nigerian president.
“We must remember that Atiku was earlier elected at PDP primaries at Port Harcourt in 2019 but was nakedly sabotaged by APC through an unholy way. We must remember the good performance of Atiku as vice president to President Olusegun Obasanjo, our party must be fully congratulated for playing a good role and, of course, all our delegates across the 36 states and the FCT.”
The BoT chairman also congratulated Senator David Mark and his committee for organising one of the best electoral national conventions after the Port Harcourt convention chaired by Governor Okowa of Delta State in 2019.
Jubrin stated, “My advice as the PDP BoT chairman, the conscience of the party, is that we must come together as one entity fully together as one party, talking with one voice to make our party greatest, not only in Nigeria, West Africa, but the greatest in Africa with no differences in tribe, section or religion.
“Atiku would be Nigerian president and never a tribal or any religious president. Finally, the BoT will assist the party and, surely, the Waziri Adamawa himself to come out with very a acceptable vice president from southern Nigeria.”
Ortom, while congratulating Atiku, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Nathaniel Ikyur, said, “In John 3.27, the Bible says, ‘A man can receive nothing except it’s given to him from above’.
“So, for the benefit of all Nigerians for whom we strive to make society better, let us now come together under the leadership of the party and be focused to dislodge the APC, who has destroyed the very essence of our nationhood, by winning the 2023 general election to restore the dignity of Nigerians, both at home and in the Diaspora.
“Let me on behalf of myself, the government and people of Benue State, heartily congratulate His Excellency, Atiku Abubakar, the former Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, on his nomination as the presidential candidate of our great party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), for the 2023 general election.
“I believe that with your experience and goodwill across all facets of this nation, your election as the standard bearer of the PDP is a clear indication that our party has begun the historic journey back to power in 2023.
“I’m confident that you will put forward your election to restore security in every nook and cranny of the country, revive our collapsed economy, and bring back Nigeria’s dignity, where the sanctity of human lives of all Nigerian citizens will be respected. This will also make the social life of every Nigerian much more meaningful as you will rescue Nigeria from bottom to top.”
On his part, Delta North PDP senatorial candidate, Nwoko, said Atiku’s victory at the convention reflected the choice of the delegates and will of God.
Nwoko, in a press statement, said the former vice president earned the victory.
He said, “PDP got it right. The hitch-free conduct of the presidential primary should be instructive to other political parties. I found the election transparent and credible.
“My belief is that only an electoral process staged without rancour can guarantee popular democracy and enthrone lasting peace, unity and progress in the Nigerian polity.
“As we approach the 2023 general election, our creed as the political class must defer to strict democratic principles of rule of law, fairness and people-centred motivations for orderliness in our nation.”
Culled from THISDAY