With Dr. Iyorchia Ayu in office as National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), aggrieved governors under the aegis of Group of Five (G-5) and their allies will not give their support to the party’s Presidential Campaign Council (PCC), Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike said yesterday.
The aggrieved PDP members are demanding the exit of Ayu to pave the way for the South to fill his position. They hinged their demand on the fact that the party’s presidential standard bearer, Atiku Abubakar, and Ayu come from the North.
The Rivers helmsman spoke when his political associates and Rivers’ elders, led by the Chairman, Rivers Elders Council (REC), Chief Ferdinand Alabraba, visited him at his private residence in Rumueprikom .
They were in the governor’s country home to felicitate with him on his 55th birthday.
A statement by his Special Assistant, Media, Kelvin Ebiri, quoted the governor as saying that he has no personal problem with Atiku, but that for peace to return to the party, the chairmanship position must be given to the South before the 2023 election.
He said: “I have no problem with the presidential candidate. All I am saying is what is the interest of Rivers people? What is the interest of the Southsouth, and the South?”
Wike recalled that about a year ago, Rivers elders urged him to contest the office of the President of Nigeria and he heeded the advice and almost clinched the PDP presidential ticket if not for the manipulation of the process.
The statement reads: “I don’t regret I ran for presidency. In the name of God, I am happy to make Rivers State proud. I am happy as far I am concerned. If they had allowed it to be what it is supposed to be, I would have won the election. But it’s okay. It has happened.
“People said because I lost election, it doesn’t matter. I didn’t lose election. This is my first time of trying to run for the president of Nigeria and we made impact. If it is easy, let them go ahead. Are they not the ones begging?”
The governor said some of his Ikwerre brothers like, Sir Celestine Omehia and former Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Austin Opara, were begrudging him because of his insistence that it would be morally offensive for an Ikwerre man to succeed him or even picked as PDP candidate for Rivers East senatorial district.
He said: “I called Austin (Opara), he sat here and I said look my brother leave it, it will not work. I don’t want to cause crisis in our system. Amaechi finished eight years as governor, I’m going to finish eight years as governor too.
“It will be difficult to sell another Ikwerre person as governor for another eight years. Omehia said he wants to go to the Senate, I said leave it. Ikwerre has gone; Ogu has gone, leave Etche to go.
“You people said I should go (to Senate), I said I won’t. Allwell (Onyesoh) could not have stopped me. Yes, today, we are majority, you don’t know what tomorrow will be. I never did anything to undermine anybody. We must understand that.”
Wike further described as sheer hypocrisy the allegation that he foisted the Rivers State PDP governorship candidate, Sir Siminalaye Fubara on the party.
He said the choice of Fubara was a collective decision reached after those who had indicated interest to succeed him failed to reach a consensus to produce one candidate.
“When O.C.J. Okocha comes back, we will publish the agreement signed by all”, he said, urging the PDP leaders to remain steadfast and focused on the next election.
He said the leadership provided by his administration since 2015 would help the party to victory next year.
Wike said: “We will win. I am not running election, but I’m running an election. My name is not on the ballot, but I’m running an election. You’ll hear what is going to happen, don’t panic. It is something God has given to us in our (hand) palm.”
Alabraba commended Wike for contesting the PDP presidential primaries with an intense campaign that had left many astounded till date.
The Elder’s Council chair said: “Since after the primaries and all the matters arising, many people have been wondering where are we going, what are we doing? But, I will like to assure you that the belief we have in you and your type of leadership, whenever you decide to say where we are going, that is where all of us will go.
“We are not in a hurry. We will deliver Fubara, as our governor. We will deliver all the members of House of Representatives, all the senators, all the Assembly men.
“But the other one we are waiting for whenever you decide. We will wait for you. Whatever you decide, that is where all of us will go. Your Excellency, we thank God that you have the ability and capacity to carry along a number of colleagues today known as G-5.
“Those are the most popular governors in this country today. And we are not pressurising you. Whatever the group comes up with, whichever decision you take, be rest assured that your fellowship will key into it and support you to the last.”
Why Atiku lost Southeast’s support, by Ohanaeze chieftain
NATIONAL Vice President of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Chief Damian Okeke-Ogene, attributed the loss of support for Atiku’s presidential ambition to the role played by the PDP in the dumping of power shift.
Okeke-Ogene noted that the one-time vice president had benefitted from the application of zoning in the PDP.
He said Atiku would have been the greatest hero of if he had joined those insisting that the Southeast should produce President Muhammadu Buhari’s successor.
In a chat with The Nation, the Ohanaeze chief said the PDP flag bearer would have seen the forthcoming election as a reward time for the sacrifices given to him during the last election.
He said: “If conscience is anything to go by, the two major political parties couldn’t have fielded candidates from any other zone other than Southeast.
“What Obasanjo (former president) and others are doing today is what we had expected from Atiku who happens to be our in-law. That’s why it’s not good to vote according to sentiments.
“Atiku would have known that the entire Southeast sacrificed their votes and interest for him and see this election as a payback time. He wouldn’t have engineered and funded the no-zoning campaign because we voted for him based on zoning.
“Atiku would have been the greatest hero of our times if he had been in the fore-front of championing it’s turn of the Southeast. But if Atiku fails this election, he’ll go to the grave as unrepentant person, sorry to use that word, but it’s very unfortunate.”