Despite heightened romance with rulers of the ruling All Progressives Congress, (APC) and internal crisis in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over the results of the party’s presidential primary in May, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has reiterated that he would not leave the party for any reason.
The announcement came as a relief to party faithful across the country, including the National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, who yesterday depicted Wike as “a strong party man.”
The governor, who got the second position at the presidential primary, had visited about 30 states in the country and campaigned vigorously, but former vice-president Atiku Abubakar emerged as the party’s flag bearer.
It was learnt that to compensate Wike, Atiku and some top officials of the party had approached him and promised him the vice presidential slot, which he (Wike) accepted. However, at the last minute, Atiku went for Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State as his running mate amid strong opposition by party members and governors who recommended Wike.
Atiku had in an interview with Arise TV said that he did not pick Wike because he needed somebody he could work with “amicably” and “deliver the policies of the party and unify the country.”
Subsequent to the development, a cold war broke out between Atiku and Wike’s camp, which has continued to linger despite several attempts by party stalwarts, including members of the party’s Board of Trustees to settle the rift.
The issue took a new dimension within the week when the governor invited All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftains to the state to commission projects executed by his administration.
At the commissioning of the waterlines flyover by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State last Monday, Wike promised to use Rivers vote against anyone who belittles the State, thereby fuelling assumptions that he might decamp to another party.
Wike said: “If you say Rivers State does not matter, Rivers State will tell you that you don’t also matter at the appropriate time. If you don’t like us, we will not like you. If you like us, we will like you. Nobody will use our votes for nothing. Our votes will matter and Rivers State must benefit from anybody that we are going to support.”
However, the governor during the commissioning of the new House of Assembly complex by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, yesterday, announced that he had no intention to leave the PDP.
He also debunked suing the presidential candidate of the party as reported in the media, portraying it as the handiwork of favor seekers surrounding Atiku in their bid to soil his reputation.
His words: “People have called me throughout this morning and said all kinds of things that I went to court against Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. I want to say categorically, if I have a reason to go to court, I will go to court, but I didn’t go to court.
“Yesterday too, they said I removed all PDP flags at Rivers State Government House. But I just have to say these things for Nigerians to know that I have kept quiet, and am busy delivering dividends of democracy for my party to win election in Rivers State.
“But I want to tell the candidate, it is the candidate’s group that are doing all these things. Let the world hear; they are the ones plotting all these things, thinking that they will spoil my name. You can not!”
He said that if he wanted to instigate a legal action against the result of the PDP presidential primary, he would have done so within two weeks after the primary.
He added: “I didn’t go to court; I have no reason to go to court. But those of you who are plotting and saying that I went to court instead, for you to have come out now to say Wike wants to go to court, I say shame on you. Shame will be on all of you.
“I have told the candidate; you will win or lose this election because of the people around you. Anybody who knows me knows too well that if I was going to court, I would have gone to court within two weeks after the primary, because it is a pre-election matter and after two weeks, you can’t go to court.
“The legal adviser of the party called me and told me that he knows that there is mischief going on. But he knows me very well; if I’m going to court, it is not those kinds of lawyers that I would have used and I don’t even know the lawyers.”
The governor said that there was a bigger crisis ahead, stating that it was how to win the 2023 general election for the PDP.
“This concern should be the focus of all true lovers of PDP who want electoral victory. You are supposed to be talking about how you will win the election. All these rent seekers around him are not doing him any favor rather they are trying to make him not win the election. But if that is what they wish, I wish them good luck.
“You see that I am not talking. I am doing my work; so leave me to do my work. Those concocting ideas everyday, social media cannot make you win elections.
“Election is about the people and by the people. Let those in Abuja with you (Atiku), tell them to go home and campaign for you to win the election. Leave Wike alone, enough is enough.”
He recalled that during the 2019 general election, the same set of people claiming to love the PDP more now in South-South damaged the party’s winning chances in the region.
He bewailed that instead of them, particularly the governors, to plan on how to win the 2023 election, they were wasting the time plotting accusations that they would level against him.
“When I see people talking about PDP today, I say to myself what is going on in this world. In the South-South, they all betrayed us. President Muhammadu Buhari wouldn’t have won the 2019 election because he won’t have had the spread.
“But all the States in the South-South made Buhari to have 25 percent. It was only Rivers State that did not give Buhari 25 per cent, I am challenging anybody on it.”
Wike noted that the action of those persons who gave President Buhari the winning margin in 2019 also frustrated the winning chances of the PDP candidate then.
He recalled how he had advised Alhaji Atiku to look carefully at the governors around him and understand why they worked against his victory in 2019.
“Today, I see people talk about PDP. When we were supposed to have won election in PDP under Alhaji Atiku. Rivers State gave the highest votes; Rivers State gave the highest support in terms of logistics too. Let anybody come and contradict me.
“I told Atiku the other day; I said to him, all these governors that you think they are working with you, what happened in 2019. Nobody wants to tell the truth.
“I have said it, everybody, go to your state and deliver. It is an operation to deliver your state. It is not to just talk. It is not to stay in Abuja. I don’t stay in Abuja; I don’t sleep there.
“I am here (Rivers) everyday with my people. I will tell Rivers people to demand a report card. See my report card, they are the projects we are delivering. I will tell them to see why you will vote for our governorship candidate. See why you will vote for all the other (PDP) candidates.”
Wike stated that it was necessary for him to invite Gbajabiamila who, as a friend, had supported Rivers State government to get the refund from the Paris Club. He disclosed that part of the money was spent on constructing the Rivers State Assembly Quarters.
Commissioning the project, Gbajabiamila said that the facility would provide conducive residences for members of the Rivers State House of Assembly.
He portrayed the project as a worthy achievement that would have an effect on the performance of the legislature in the state and stand to the credit of the men and women who envisioned and executed it.
His words: “The highest test of our democratic experiment lies in our ability to deliver policies and programmes that improve the lives of our people. And we achieve this objective by building ladders of opportunity that allow them to achieve the highest aspirations of their hearts.
“If we can accomplish this, we have justified our public service; if we fail, nothing else will matter. With this project, His Excellency Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has demonstrated his recognition of the vital role of the legislators in a functioning democracy.
“It now falls to the present and future legislators to live up to the high expectations of their office and justify the confidence reposed in them.”
Observations by Newsmen revealed that Wike had since his administration invited both APC and PDP chieftains to commission projects in the state.
It could be recalled that in one of the commissioning ceremonies, Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo portrayed him as “Mr. Project”, a name that has become a household name in the State and beyond.
Disclosing the reasons behind the decision, the State PDP spokesman, Sydney Pygbara, said: “Governor Wike has always brought both APC and PDP chieftains to the State to commission projects; he brings people in relation to the projects being commissioned.
“Today, the speaker of the House of Representative was invited because it’s an Assembly Quarters he is commissioning. It is so, because when they come down, they can appreciate what the governor is doing in areas related to them.”