From TONY JOHN, Port Harcourt
Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, has reiterated that he has no political axe to grind with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
The governor has maintained that the demand that the North should relinquish the position of the national chairman of the PDP to the South remains a panacea to the seeming intractable crisis rocking the party.
Governor Wike made this assertion when his political associates and Rivers elders led by the chairman, Rivers Elders Council, Ferdinand Alabraba, visited his private residence in Rumueprikom to felicitate with him on his birthday on Tuesday.
The governor recalled that precisely a year ago, Rivers Elders urged him to contest for the office of the president of Nigeria.
According to him, he heeded the advise and almost clinched the PDP presidential ticket if not for the manipulation of the process.
“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 allow it to be what it is supposed to be, I would 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 Rivers State governor reiterated that he did not have any personal problem with the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
He explained that the seeming lingering crisis in the PDP has to do with demand from the southern stakeholders that the national chairman who hails from the North as the presidential candidate, should relinquish his position.
“I have no problem with presidential candidate. All I am saying is what is the interest of Rivers people? What is the interest of the South -South, and the South?”
The governor explained that the reason some of his Ikwerre brothers like, Celestine Omehia and former Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Austin Opara, are begrudging him is because of his insistence that it would be morally offensive for an Ikwerre man to succeed him or even emerge as PDP candidate for Rivers East senatorial district.
“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.”
Governor 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 emergence 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 urged the PDP leaders to remain steadfast and focused as the sterling performance and transformational leadership provided by his administration since 2015 will enable the party to win the 2023 election with ease.
“We will win. I am not running election, but I’m running an election. My name is not in the ballot, but I’m running an election. You’ll hear what is going to happen. Everybody don’t panic. It is something God has given to us in our (hand) palm.”
The chairman, Rivers Elders Council, Alabraba, commended governor Wike for contesting the PDP presidential primaries and mounting an intense campaign that has left many astounded till date.
“Your Excellency, since after the primaries and all the matters arising, a lot of 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.”