• Blasts Former VP’s Loyalists
• Ayu Accuses APC Of Instituting Suit
• Amaechi’s Camp Depletes Further As Finebone Defects To PDP
Amid heightened romance with chieftains of the ruling All Progressives Congress, (APC) and internal frictions in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over the outcome of the party’s presidential primary in May, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has maintained that he would not dump the party for any reason.
The declaration came as a relief to party faithful across the country, including the National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, who yesterday described Wike, as “a strong party man.”
The governor, who clinched the second position at the presidential primary, had toured about 30 states in the country and campaigned vigorously, but former vice-president Atiku Abubakar emerged as the party’s flag bearer.
It was gathered that to assuage Wike, Atiku and some top ranking members of the party had approached him and promised him the vice presidential slot, which he (Wike) accepted. However, at the last minute, Atiku settled for Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State as his running mate amid stiff opposition by party members and governors who recommended Wike.
Atiku had in an interview with Arise TV explained that he did not pick Wike because he wanted somebody he could work with “amicably” and “deliver the policies of the party and unify the country.”
Following the development, a cold war broke out between Atiku and Wike’s camp, which has continued to linger despite several interventions by party stalwarts, including members of the party’s Board of Trustees.
The crisis 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 vowed to use Rivers vote against anyone who belittles the State, thereby fuelling speculations that he might defect from the 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, declared that he had no intention to dump the PDP.
He also denied suing the presidential candidate of the party as reported in the media, describing it as the handiwork of favour seekers surrounding Atiku in their bid to tarnish 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 of going 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 being 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 explained that if he wanted to institute a legal action against the outcome of the PDP presidential primary, he would have done that 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 went to go 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 people around you. Anybody who knows me know 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 I told me that he knows that there is mischief going on. But that 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 noted that there was a bigger challenge ahead, noting 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 election. All these rent seekers around him are not doing him any favour rather they are trying to make him not to win 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 to win election.
“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 election. Leave Wike alone, enough is enough.”
He recalled that during the 2019 general election, the same people claiming to love the PDP more now in South-South sabotaged the party’s winning chances in the region.
He lamented that instead of them, particularly the governors, to plot how to win the 2023 election, they were wasting the time plotting accusations that they would level aginst 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 per cent. It was only Rivers State that did not give Buhari 25 per cent, I am challenging anybody on it.”
Wike said the action of those persons who gave President Buhari the winning margin in 2019 invariably frustrated the winning chances of the PDP candidate then.
He recalled how he had urged 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 say the truth.
“I have said it, everybody, go to your state and deliver. It is operation 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 for report card. See my report card, they are the projects we are delivering. I will tell them see why you will vote for our governorship candidate. See why you will vote for all the other (PDP) candidates.”
Wike said it was imperative for him to invite Gbajabiamila who, as a friend, had supported Rivers State government to get the refund from the Paris Club. He explained that part of the money was expended on constructing the Rivers State Assembly Quarters.
Inaugurating the project, Gbajabiamila noted that the facility would provide conducive residences for members of the Rivers State House of Assembly.
He described the project as a worthy achievement that would impact 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 The Guardian showed 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 described him as “Mr. Project”, a name that has become a household name in the State and beyond.
Explaining the rationale 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 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.”
Speaking yesterday in Abuja during the commemoration of the United Nations International Youth Day (IYD) 2022, put together by the Youth Wing of the PDP, the national chairman of the party, Ayu, accused the ruling APC of using the governor’s name to institute the suit against the party, describing the action as desperate and criminal.
While hailing Wike for promptly coming out to dissociate himself from the said suit, Ayu advised party faithful to be wary of APC’s divisive manipulations.
His words: “His Excellency, Gov. Nyesom Wike never took the party to court; it is the APC that did it. The first name in the case is a coordinator of the presidential candidate of the APC.
“We know very well that they don’t believe they can win any election. They have decided to divide you. But don’t let any APC manipulation divide you.
“They are the ones sponsoring false stories of crisis in PDP. PDP has no crisis. It is a united party.
“Anyone who thinks they can come and brew crisis here is deceiving himself. They should wait for us till next year. In February, we will show them that they are the ones with crisis.
“I want to make this clear before people start saying: ‘Oh, Wike took the party to court.’ Wike is a strong party man.
“And I am happy that he came out immediately to deny that he took the party to court. And very soon, the truth will be revealed because it’s a criminal thing.”
The well-attended event had the PDP presidential candidate and other members of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC), including the National Youth Leader, Alh. Muhammed Suleiman.
However, Rivers State PDP Chairman, Mr. Desmond Akawo, told The Guardian in an interview yesterday that party faithful in the state would not support Atiku presidential ambition.
Akawo said: “Wike built and stood by PDP when others left, but during the primary, he was edged out and was cajoled. Somebody came and told him that he was going to emerge as the vice president; it was not his desire. It was Atiku that went to him and mentioned to him that he was going to be the vice president and he accepted, but what happened.
“A lot of people, including former Minister of Information, Jerry Gana, are all intervening, but at the end of the discussions, we realised that the people said, ‘no to Rivers State; Rivers State should go to hell; Rivers State we don’t need you.”
Akawo noted that it was only a tree that would stand and see someone coming to cut it down and would not make moves.
Meanwhile, the State APC Publicity Secretary, Mr. Chris Finebone, who is an ardent critic of Wike has resigned from his party and joined the PDP.
Finebone’s resignation came barely 24 hours after he issued a despicable statement condemning Wike’s commissioning of bridges while measles ravaged communities in Abua-Odual local council of the state.
The photograph of Finebone with Governor Wike, the PDP governorship candidate, Siminialayi Fubara and former APC state Chairman, Davies Ikanya posing in front of the governor’s private residence along Ada George Road in Port Harcourt, which went viral on social media yesterday morning, shocked residents.
But Finebone has confirmed his resignation from APC to newsmen. He was also sighted at the commissioning of the State Assembly Complex yesterday.
Finebone’s defection has increased the number of APC chieftains who have dumped the party for what they described as “having no future anymore.”
The sad development was sequel to the irreconcilable crisis between the immediate past Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi and Senator Magnus Abe, which has affected the APC in Rivers state since 2015.
Abe, who left the party last month, has emerged the governorship candidate of Social Democratic Party (SDP), while Dr. Dawari George, a strong support of Amaechi who also left the party emerged the Action Alliance governorship candidate on Wednesday.
Reacting to Fineborne’s defection, a chieftain of the party, Eze Chukwuemka Eze described some members of the party as moles whose role was only to spy for the ruling PDP and Wike.
“It has been my position all these years that the problem with the Rivers State APC is nothing but too much ingrates and unnecessary crowd claiming to be members of the party but are just moles spying for PDP and Governor Wike,” he said.
Eze wondered why people should be troubled by such an “inconsequential development,” adding, “apart from speaking for APC and enjoying all that his efforts may have brought to him, what other rewards has he (Finebone) brought to the party?”
He, however, confessed that Finebone was good at his office, “but the fact remains that most of us don’t have enough shame.”
“This was a man who attributed to Governor Nyesom Wike the recent outbreak of measles in the state and has called Wike all sort of names and today dining with him just because of hunger or for any other reason he may give.”
The APC chieftain commended Wike for possessing a large heart to tolerate and accommodate all those who abused and insulted him to the high heavens and ran back to him for succour.
Eze noted that it was impossible for the leader of the party in Rivers to satisfy everybody.
Meanwhile, Ikanya yesterday owned up to persuading Finebone to dump the APC and join PDP.
“You know Finebone worked with me when I was the state APC chairman. I have been talking with him to see reason in leaving APC for the PDP. You cannot continue to remain in a party where members are leaving on daily basis,” he said in a telephone interview.