Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has said that if the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) fails to take advantage of the failure of the All Progressives Congress (APC), by doing the right thing, then the outcome of the 2023 presidential election will be a shocker.
In a media chat on Friday in Port Harcourt, Wike, who has insisted that the national chairman of the party, Iyorcha Ayu, should resign so that his position can be zoned to the South opened a Pandora’s box on the brewing crisis between him and Atiku on one hand and between him and Ayu, on the other. He said Nigerians have showed the PDP much support due to the failure of the APC. But he warned that the PDP would pay dearly for it if it takes for granted that Nigerians would vote for it in next year’s election.
He said: “What Nigerians are saying is that the APC has failed and the country has not been this polarised before. Now, instead of you to capitalise on the failure of APC by doing the right thing, so that you can continue to enjoy the support of Nigerians and win the election – that is why we are taking it upon ourselves not to allow this opportunity to go to waste. If we allow this opportunity that Nigerians are giving us to waste, then we would pay dearly for it and that is what I try to let people know. If we continue this way and take for granted that APC has not done well, then we will go in for a shocker. That I can tell you.”
The Rivers governor also accused those around the presidential candidate of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar, of arrogance and deception, saying many of them are telling the former Vice President to ignore those calling for Ayu’s resignation, assuring him that he can win without Rivers votes.
He warned: “President Muhammadu Buhari didn’t win Rivers State in 2019. But he won Lagos and Kano. Does Atiku have Lagos now? Does he have Kano? The only state he has always had is Rivers. Yet those who do not have electoral value are saying they don’t want us and can do without us. So you have zero. Would a President of Nigeria who doesn’t have the governors of Rivers, Kano and Lagos be comfortable? That also tells you what they have in mind about the stability of Nigeria. I don’t think that Atiku will listen to those kinds of suggestions from politically irrelevant people. In 2015 and 2019, Buhari didn’t get up to 25 per cent in Rivers despite the fact that there was a serving governor and Minister from the State who was the Director General of his campaign.”
Wike did not spare Ayu, accusing him of receiving N1bn from someone in Lagos without disclosing or remitting it into PDP’s account.
His words: “Look, will he (Ayu) deny that he collected N1 billion in Lagos? Let him deny, then I will tell you who gave him the money; but it is not the Lagos government. The money was given to him in Lagos. He met one of the presidential aspirants and told him that he is not sure these governors will want to sponsor the party.
“Let Ayu deny this, then I will even call the names of some of the businessmen involved and how the money was arranged in Lagos. That money did not enter into the account of PDP. But we are not attacking Ayu on that basis.
“I am not any governor. I am a very serious governor. I can’t just come here and begin to say anything. I say I challenge Ayu to deny this.”
Wike attributed the genesis of the crisis in the PDP to its failure to zone the party’s presidential ticket to the South, accusing the party of deliberately sowing seed of discord by leaving the ticket open for all to contest.
He said: “Those who thought they are too powerful, highly connected, and that they own the party said there should be no zoning of the presidential ticket. They left it open and said the best candidate should emerge because they felt they have the numbers. We jettisoned our constitution not knowing that we are laying the foundation, the seed of discord in the future.”
The Rivers governor also revealed that when the PDP started selling forms for the primaries, he reminded the national chairman that they had set up a committee on zoning headed by the governor of Enugu State. But he added, however, that Ayu went ahead with the sale of forms without first resolving the issue of zoning. He also revealed that the PDP chairman threatened to resign if he (Wike) won the presidential primary election, He also alleged that the PDP national chairman also asked other hopefuls to withdraw for Atiku.
He explained thus: “There was nothing Ayu didn’t do, including manipulation of delegates list. A whole national chairman threatened some of the presidential aspirants at that time that if Wike wins, he was going to resign. In fact, he was calling aspirants to withdraw for Atiku. Meetings after meetings were called to put pressure on aspirants to step down. Some retired generals were involved and some of the meetings were held in their houses. You must withdraw, if not we will lose. Wike will win. Some of them said but the issue is not about Wike, ‘we want to run.’
This is the national chairman of a party who is supposed to be the chief umpire. The primary was supposed to start at 11am. We started at 5:30pm to 6pm. Who were the delegates? They were from 774 local government areas where we used to have 4,000 or 5,000 delegates. But even in the committee of the convention, when we met in Benue Governor’s lodge with the National Working Committee, I raised it. I said, ’National Chairman, these people you are forwarding as chairmen of these committees are all known supporters of Atiku. We are an opposition party; we are not in the ruling party. Therefore, we must conduct ourselves in such a way that there should not be internal crisis that may not be resolved before the general elections.”
When asked if he does not fear being thrown out of the party, Wike dared the party’s leadership to suspend him, saying they know what he is capable of. He also said that the PDP could not do without him if the party seeks to get massive support in Rivers State. He insisted that the PDP could not boast of pulling its weight in Rivers State, without him playing a driving role as a governor.
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