By Chinelo Obogo, Chioma Okezie-Okeh And Tony John
Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, has said that if he and four other governors in his camp leave the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), it would lose the 2023 election. The governor said this on Friday during a live media chat at the state government house in Port Harcourt.
He said that without the participation of himself, Governors Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, Samuel Ortom of Benue State, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State and Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State in the presidential campaign of Atiku Abubakar, the PDP would find it difficult to win the election.
Wike who insisted that no meaningful progress would be made with regard to the crisis as long as Iyorchia Ayu continues to remain the party’s national chairman, added that he (Ayu) lacks integrity for reneging on his promise to step down if someone from the North wins the PDP presidential primary election.
When asked about the allegations he made in a previous interview accusing Ayu of being corrupt by collecting one billion naira from an unnamed individual in Lagos, Wike said that not only did Ayu do that, he also collected N100 million respectively from a governor and the National Working Committee (NWC) for same project. He said that if he reveals all he knows about Ayu, even Ayu’s children would denounce him.
He also reacted to the statement made by Atiku using the national honours bestowed on Governor Ifeanyi Okowa as a vindication of his decision to choose Okowa as a running mate. He said that Atiku’s comment shows the type of leader he is but however added that the presidential candidate has denied authorizing the tweet, which many saw as a jibe at Wike.
Wike noted that he too had received the Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) in 2014 and had just received a letter from President Muhammadu Buhari inviting him to receive another award based on his achievement on the area of infrastructures.
Wike denied reports that the PDP candidate deployed former governor of Rivers, Peter Odili and Delta, Onanefe Ibori to plead with him to soften his stance, insisting that the last batch of people he met over the issue were members of the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT).
“Odili was not contacted by the PDP to meet me.” On whether he would listen him if PDP asked Odili to beg him, he said: “All I would say is that even he, knows what is right and what is wrong. He’s a reasonable father. He won’t say so. Do you ever see him in the government house or in Abuja, or with members of the former governors’ forum? If PDP wants me, they will come to my state and talk to me.”
He also denied the allegation about his agitation having something to do with the general fear that exists about Northern domination. “Those supporting Ayu are political hypocrites, taking the crumbs from the table after the master has eaten. Zone the chairmanship to anywhere in the South. It will be okay for us. If I take this, what will I tell my children tomorrow? There are stages in guerrilla warfare and we’re not going to back down. They should not come and talk to Wike.
“The people they’re sending to me have different ideas about the issue but I keep insisting that we must do things the way our party has always done. Ayu knows the presidential candidate and chairman can’t come from the same area….They are just playing games and they’re not the only ones that can play games. If you play game, I will play game with you. There is no divided house; it is just that people are not doing the right thing. Have I left the party? No. I am campaigning for PDP in my state, so there is no issue.
“We met in London with the presidential candidate one-on-one but what came out of it? We have made a concession that we are remaining in the PDP. What concession have they made? I supported so many states – Ondo, Cross River, Imo, Edo. Cross River came to me. Shouldn’t they be happy that I’m supporting the party financially? I have no interest in becoming minister or anything. I have been chairman of council, chief of staff, minister, governor. What else do I want? If we say we’re leaving the party today, the party can’t win in our states.”
He put his finger on what he believes to be the solution to the crisis: “Give the people what is due to them. Implement what you said. Why is it so difficult? I see some elders – elders are supposed to look inwards and say, listen, this is wrong. Some are elders because of their age. Those who are the party leaders, if they don’t think it’s injurious, why are you bothered?”
On the Executive Order 21 that prohibits political parties from holding rallies in public schools unless they make some non-refundable deposit, he said that the money is to be used to effect necessary repairs in case of damages. He said the Celestine Omehia’s case has nothing to do with vindictiveness over the latter’s alleged support for Atiku, adding that he would have done so since 2015, when Omehia sacked him and other council chairmen on May 29, 2007 for placing an advert in support of Amaechi. On the AIT lands, he said they don’t have any Certificate of Occupancy since 2003 when the 43.8 hectares of land was allocated to them. On the employment of 50, 000 political appointees, he insisted that he had no regret, adding that he would soon increase the number from 50,000 to 100,000 because it is a way of providing employment for his people.