By Jethro Ibileke
The crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) deepened over the weekend with Governor Godwin Obaseki responding to Gov. Nyesom Wike’s attacks on Edo Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu.
Obaseki described Wike’s comments as “most unfortunate and totally uncalled for.”
Shaibu, who appeared on a Channels Television program had complained that he, Obaseki, and their supporters were treated as outcasts and were not welcomed in the PDP.
He added that they may be forced to leave the PDP.
But, Wike during the inauguration of the Eastern Bypass road project in Port Harcourt on Saturday, vilified Shaibu, saying that he lacked the effrontery to threaten to dump the PDP after he came kneeling and begging for ticket when they were kicked out of the APC, prior to the last governorship election in Edo.
Wike added that: “It’s very unfortunate for our party, a deputy governor is wearing khaki, look at it, I’ve never seen a thing like this in my life … who is his father?”
Reacting to Wike’s attack on Shaibu, Obaseki in a statement on Sunday, called on the leaders of the PDP to call Wike to order.
He noted that the issues raised by Shaibu were germane and needed to be resolved in the interest of the party.
According to him, “The recent personal attacks by His Excellency, the Governor of Rivers State, Rt. Hon. Nyesom Wike, against my Deputy Governor, Rt. Hon. Comrade Philip Shaibu is, to say the least, most unfortunate and totally uncalled for.
“If Governor Wike was one who is wont to show respect and courtesy to his colleague-governors, he would have ordinarily reached out to me to express his concerns about the views made by my deputy governor, rather than embarking on this unwarranted public onslaught.
“My deputy governor was a former National President of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) and his comment is representative of the essence of the nation’s youth population, who are inclined to openly speak up and question the status quo.
“If Governor Wike cannot understand and adequately respond to the style and character of the Nigerian youth, how can he aspire to lead them?
“His Excellency, Governor Wike should have taken a cue from the manner in which the National Chairman of our party, Sen. Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, responded to my deputy’s remarks, as a conscientious leader who is able to show empathy and consideration.
“The concerns expressed by my deputy governor bordered on pertinent issues affecting the PDP in Edo State which since the September 19th, 2020 elections, has been able to register over 500,000 members; and till date, these new members have not been properly integrated into our party after two years.”
The Edo Governor further noted that the leaders, executives and members of APC who came with him into the PDP have still not been accepted, integrated or harmonized into the party.
He described as worrisome, the fact that old members of Edo PDP, who are open to inclusion and supportive of building a large party are allegedly being vilified and ostracized by a cabal purportedly led by Chief Dan Orbih, who he described as Wike’s perpetual guest in Port Harcourt and is remotely used to orchestrate the destabilization of the party in Edo State.
Obaseki added: “It is necessary to recall at this point that a political solution gave rise to the emergence of Chief Dan Orbih first as Acting and then as Substantive National Vice Chairman, South-South, of our party, when Chief Emma Odidi resigned that position to allow Chief Orbih to ascend.
“It is, therefore, curious why this type of political solution is no longer tenable to resolve the political impasse in Edo State PDP.
“We can categorically state that in the comments of the deputy governor, he at no point threatened the party as Governor Wike has alleged. Rather, it is Governor Wike, who has at different times, threatened the PDP. Some of these instances include:
1. On September 16, 2018, Governor Wike threatened the party that there would be grave consequences if it moved the National Convention from Port Harcourt in the run-up to the 2019 presidential election.
2. On September 12, 2019, Governor Wike also threatened to cause trouble for the party over the emergence of Hon. Ndudi Elumelu as the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives.”
Noting that Governor Wike has contributed to the advancement of the party, just like others, since 1999, he stressed: “No one is against his desire to run for president, however, his ambition should not be embarked on in such a way that it would cause disruption at different levels, such as the PDP Governors’ Forum as well as different chapters of the party across the country.
“It clearly amounts to delusion of grandeur, for any one man to nurse the idea that he owns or has more stake in the PDP and everyone should pander to him.
“We are all equal stakeholders in the party and an aggregate of the ideas, opinions and contributions of all leaders and members should form the position of the party and not the view of one individual or a select few.
“While Governor Wike is free to use his resources as he deems fit in pursuit of his ambition, he should not attempt to cow, intimidate, cajole and threaten others into doing his bidding. Edo State cannot and will not be procured for anyone’s personal ambition.
“What Nigeria needs now are strong democratic institutions and not strong men; that is why we will join the great leaders of our party across the country to build PDP into a strong, large, and indomitable party that will win next year’s presidential election.
“Governor Wike and his collaborators headed by Chief Dan Orbih in Edo State will not succeed in destabilizing the PDP in Edo State as they did other states like Cross River just to secure delegates to actualize his alleged personal ambition to run for the presidency in 2023.”
According to the governor, “In Edo, we don’t accept political bullies and overlords and historically, we have demonstrated our capacity to unshackle ourselves and dethrone bullies and highhanded leaders.
“I appeal to all well-meaning leaders of our great party to call Governor Wike to order to desist from his current unguarded and disruptive tendencies. From all indications today, PDP is set to take over the leadership of Nigeria provided we can rein in the self-interest of a few leaders to put the task of rescuing Nigeria above their personal ambitions.”