• Maeba, Opara, Omehia fall out with Wike over Atiku
• No move to divide Rivers PDP, says Atiku camp
• Abe to Wike: Don’t return Rivers to dark days of toxic politics
• Maeba accuses Wike of working against Atiku, PDP
• Twists as Delta PDP backs Ayu for supporting Sheriff’s candidacy
The internal strife rocking the nation’s major opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) six months to presidential election did not show signs of abating yesterday as peace talks between the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, and Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, remained in abeyance.
Yesterday, Wike invited another top All Progressives Congress (APC) politician to commission a project, where the Rivers governor, again, boasted that his widely acknowledged outstanding stewardship in office reflects his personal capacity and passion to deliver enduring development to the state, saying it has nothing to do with the party he belongs.
He further boasted that with his performance in office, he has the capacity to influence votes in the state.
The governor, while replying some politicians, who misconstrued his earlier statement that he was in charge of the state, wondered why “misguided elements” were misrepresenting his remarks.
He said: “Because some people went to school late, they don’t understand when somebody says ‘I am in charge’ of this state. I never said I am in charge of votes in this state.
“But I know I can talk to my people and my people will listen to me. Some people say, I have only one vote, I agree. I can’t vote two times. I will only vote once. But because of the services I have rendered to the people of this state, Rivers will listen to me.”
Wike spoke during the inauguration of the dualised Ogbunuabali-Eastern Bypass Road that was performed by the former Sokoto State governor, Senator Aliyu Wamakko.
He continued: “Take me away today from PDP to another party, I will still perform. So, it is not because I’m in PDP that I’m performing. Leadership is not about party, it is about individual. Party is only a vehicle to actualise your ambition, to be able to tell your people I have this capacity, I have this quality to render services to you. Take me to YPP, allow me become whatever I will become there, I will perform.”
While contemporaries use economic hardship as excuse for failing in rendering purposeful leadership and service to their people, Wike said he found same situation a more rewarding leverage to sustain delivery of projects to Rivers people.
THE Atiku camp has, however, dismissed news making rounds that the former vice president is planning to divide the Rivers chapter of the party ahead of the general elections.
Recall that Atiku and Wike have been at loggerheads over the emergence of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State as the vice presidential candidate of the party.
Following the peace talk between the duo, Wike and his associates were said to have demanded the resignation of the National Chairman of the party, Iyorchia Ayu, as a condition for him to work for Atiku, but some leaders in the party dismissed Wike’s demand.
The Wike camp had alleged that Atiku was ignoring the governor amid moves to reconcile the duo and had started meeting with some Rivers PDP chieftains, with the aim of isolating Wike ahead of the election.
Reacting to the allegation, a source blamed fifth columnist for the claim that Atiku is trying to divide Rivers’ PDP, saying the former vice president remains committed to reconciliation within the party.
He said: “We don’t know where all of that is coming from. We need to be very careful. There is the fifth columnist who wants to profit from all of this. We are in the process of mediation. So, we have to be very careful. There are enemies also who do not want this thing to succeed. But I know that the peace process is ongoing.”
Sources said the Rivers governor is courting too many battles as his refusal to close ranks with Atiku is leading the former Vice President to reach out to other PDP leaders in the state, like former governor Celestine Omehia and former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Austin Opara. Meanwhile, Wike’s foray into APC is also meeting some roadblocks going by the body language of Tinubu, who sources said is unwilling to trade the governorship aspiration of Tonye Cole and all APC National Assembly candidates in Rivers for a mere promise of delivering the state to APC in the Presidential elections.
THE governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) for Rivers, Senator Magnus Abe, has asked Wike and other political leaders not to return the state to the dark era of politics of bitterness and antagonisms.
Abe said this while reacting to the threat of Wike to pull down hotels allegedly being used to recruit cultists by politicians ahead of the 2023 elections in a broadcast on Sunday.
The SDP governorship candidate who spoke while receiving members of the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union and the Middle Belt Forum in Rivers proposed a security summit to which all political leaders would be invited to share their ideas on how to make 2023 elections peaceful.
“We must pray for a peaceful election in our state. And we will not just pray for a peaceful election, all of us must work for a peaceful election. We must be peaceful in our conduct before, during and after the elections.
“Do not harass anybody. Everybody has a right to support whoever they want to support. Every political party must be given space, when it is time, when the campaigns start, to campaign for candidates of their choice.
“Nigerian democracy has come of age. It is no longer the carry-go democracy of yesteryears. Now, the people of this country want to exercise their right to choose leaders of their choice.
“They cannot do so except we create an atmosphere in which ideas can freely flourish. I am a man of ideas. I will bring up better ideas that will convince the electorate that going with us in our vehicle will lead them to a better place. And that is what I expect that every other aspirant, candidate, political party should do.”
Abe said he wants to see a state where young people will have jobs, where there will be light for all and those who want to do business, where schools will function effectively in such a manner that children will actually learn something from the schools.
“I believe that everybody who wants office wants it so that the state can be better. If it is because of Rivers people that you want to hold office, you will not want to beat them, you will not want to frustrate them, you will not want to kill them, you will not want to wound them.
“If you want Rivers people to be happy, even your campaign will make them happy. That is the kind of thing that I expect that we should all do.”
The leader of the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union and the Middle Belt Forum, Samuel Adamu commended Senator Abe for his brand of politics.
MEANWHILE, the former lawmaker representing Rivers South-East constituency, Senator Lee Maeba, has berated Wike for working against Atiku and for portraying himself as a superhuman being despite the peace talk initiated by the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT).
Also, the Rivers governor had last week ordered the sacking of the Governing Council of the Elechi Amadi Polytechnic, Rumuola in Port Harcourt, led by Maeba.
Maeba, while speaking with newsmen had stated that Wike removed him as the chairman of Elechi Amadi Polytechnic because of his closeness to Atiku, adding that the governor is not hiding that he is fighting the PDP presidential candidate.
He said: “We have a candidate of the party who has the capacity to lead Nigeria out of the crisis. So nothing can deter us from supporting Atiku to save Nigeria.
“Wike is not hiding that he is fighting Atiku. Yes, he said so. He called a meeting of Ogoni people who are with him and told them to tell me that he will see how I will campaign for Atiku in this state and he is ready to fight to the finish.
“We don’t know what he (Wike) is planning to do because when campaigns start we are qualified to campaign too. We are waiting to see how he will do it. This is a joke taken too far.”
Maeba also revealed that Wike removed former Governor Celestine Omehia and a former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Austin Opara, as leaders of their party in Ikwerre and Port Harcourt City LGAs respectively. He accused the Rivers governor of humiliating the duo before their people because they went to pay a solidarity visit to Atiku.
“All of us knew Atiku before him. Opara has been in the House of Representatives since 1999. He was the deputy speaker when Atiku was Vice-President. At that time, Wike was struggling to be local government chairman. So, if Opara has to take permission from him today to go and see Atiku, then something is wrong,” he stated.
“Like me, I met Atiku first in 1992 in Jos for the SDP campaigns. We started working together in 2003 when I became Senator. That time, where was he (Wike)? When Austin Opara was working with Atiku, holding meetings, Wike was struggling to come into limelight.”
THE crisis in the PDP recorded a twist on Tuesday as its national chairman, Ayu, got support to continue in office from a Delta PDP group, which sought his support for Oborevwori Sherriff as the party’s governorship candidate in Delta.
Called the Ijaw Mandate Group, led by Andaye Dagidi, the Delta PDP delegation, which protested at the national secretariat of the party in Abuja, condemned attempts to replace Sheriff as governorship candidate in Delta.
The group announced that it has already passed a confidence vote on Ayu and disclosed that those opposed to Sheriff’s candidacy were working for another party ahead of the 2023 election.
But Ayu, who was full of thanks, said he would continue to be fair in his leadership of the party.
Represented by party’s national publicity secretary, Debo Ologunagba, Ayu said “all decisions taken have been in accordance with the constitution.
“We are a law abiding party. We respect court order and we act on them and we want to reiterate that this party will remain so, running according to its constitution.” Ayu said.
The PDP national chairman further noted that “since 1999, Delta has been solidly PDP and we believe that from this presentation that Delta is solidly PDP, to that extent we have taken note of what you have said; your concerns are consistent with the position of this NWC, we shall look at it and respond accordingly.”
Ayu said the only way to remove APC from power is for the PDP to remain steadfast and united.
He stressed: “The only thing we can do to get the APC out of power is to be united and you have demonstrated that we are united from the heart of the PDP, which is Delta state. We urge you to continue to be united so that next year we can celebrate the victory of PDP.”
On July 7, a Federal High Court in Abuja disqualified Sheriff over alleged discrepancies in his certificates.
The protesters who kept chanting “no Sheriff no PDP in Delta” said they will not speak to journalists until a member of the PDP National Working Committee comes to address them.
The PDP in Delta is split between those supporting Oberevwori, the current Speaker of the House of Assembly and an ex-Finance Commissioner, David Edevbie who was the second runner-up in the party’s governorship primaries.
Although Oberevwori has appealed the July Federal High Court judgement, which disqualified him from the race, the PDP National Secretariat has witnessed series of protests both for and against the Speaker since the judgement was given.
During the governorship primary in May, Oborevwori polled 590 votes to beat his closest rival, Edevbie, Finance Commissioner during the James Ibori administration, who polled 113 votes.
While Oborevwori is the preferred candidate of Okowa, former governor Ibori is said to be backing Edevbie.