Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt
Rivers State governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has taken strong exception to Labour Party presidential candidate, Mr Peter Obi’s statement alleging he denied him of victory in the State in the February 25th , 2023 presidential election.
Governor Wike has clarified that there was never a time that the G-5 governors or the Integrity Group endorsed Obi or another candidate as their preferred candidate for the 25 February presidential election.
According to press statement signed by Kelvin Ebiri, Special Assistant to Governor Wike on Media, Wike was speaking during a media chat on Wednesday in his home town, Rumueprikom, the Governor described Obi’s accusation that he manipulated the electoral process to his disadvantage as unfortunate.
“I don’t work for INEC, I don’t have INEC documents with me. I am not an ad hoc staff of INEC and so I am not in a place to rig election for anybody. It is when you have the materials of INEC that you talk about rigging. But I take exception to Peter Obi’s comments that I came out against him. People are not being sincere, people are not appreciative.”
The Rivers State governor, maintained that his primary preoccupation as far as the 2023 presidential election was concerned was for a southern Nigerian to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari, whose tenure ends on the 29th May, 2023.
“I never told Rivers people to vote for the candidate (of the APC). I told Rivers people (to vote) for the unity of Nigeria. As far as Rivers State is concerned, their position is that ‘look, we want a power shift.’ And there are two candidates from the South – Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and Peter Obi.
“If Rivers people have chosen to vote for Asiwaju, and the same Rivers people also voted for Peter Obi, that tells you that their decision was to vote for a Southern President. So, amongst them one must always get the highest vote. If you look at the votes, APC won, followed by the Labour Party. So that tells you what the decision they took. That is the decision of Rivers people.”
Governor Wike, said he was among those who recommended Obi to be Peoples Democratic Party presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar’s running mate in 2019.
“In 2019, ask Peter Obi, I was one of the team that chose Obi to be the Vice Presidential candidate of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. When we met at Abubakar’s house, he said these are the names, I will choose Obi. Obi was invited while we were at Saraki’s house in the night.
“I was fought by people like (senator Ike) Ekweremadu, my own friend the governor of Ebonyi State, (David) Umahi, and Pius Anyim. Every blame was on me, why will I be the one that will say Peter Obi. Why should I chose for the South East. Did he come out to say governor Wike was the one who supported me to be the vice presidential candidate? He didn’t say so.”
He declared that the G-5 governors and the Integrity Group never during any of their meetings unanimously endorsed Obi or any presidential candidate of southern Nigeria extraction.
His words: “There was never a time the integrity Group met and say it must be this person. We only agreed on southern President. We formulated strategies and the southern President emerged. Our interest is that a southern President should emerge.
“When we went to our meeting, we decided on southern President. We didn’t say it must be this. We said whatever you are doing it must be southern President. The aim of G5 was equity, fairness and justice”.
The governor said the G-5 governor and members of the Integrity Group cannot be accused of betraying the PDP. He stressed that those who blatantly refused to implement the provisions of the party’s constitution on rotation of elective and appointive offices are to blame the party’s electoral misfortune.
He said all the G-5 governors consisting of, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State; Samuel Ortom of Benue and Victor Ikpeazu of Abia made tremendous sacrifice to ensure the emergence of a southern president.
The governor particularly, expressed delight that governor of Oyo State, Seyi Makinde, who had earlier said he would not mind sacrificing his second term on the altar of equity, justice, and fairness was re-elected.
“Ortom said even if he loses his senatorial election, let equity, justice, and fairness prevail. He may not gain it now. But history will be kind to him. The same applies to Ugwuanyi and Ikpeazu. Even Makinde said even if he lost his governorship ambition, he was interested in the unity of Nigeria”.
Governor Wike boasted that in Rivers State, PDP won the governorship, three senatorial seats, 10 federal and 31 federal and state constituencies in the general elections.
He said, ironically, the PDP national chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, who once derided the G-5 governors are small boys failed to win his ward, local government and State for the presidential candidate in the 25 February election. According to him, PDP also lost woefully in Niger, Jigawa, Imo, Sokoto, Yobe and other states.
“Ayu lost his polling unit. I won three senatorial seats, and 31 House of Assembly seats. He didn’t get anything. Lamido did not win the presidential election in Jigawa. Babangida Aliyu did not win. So, who is the betrayer? We won to make sure PDP exists. Of what relevance is he as national chairman? He couldn’t deliver his polling unit.”
Governor Wike dismissed insinuation that he will try to manipulate the Rivers State governor-elect, Siminailayi Fubara, when he leaves office.
The governor also clarified that Fubara, who resigned as Accountant General of the State to contest the 2023 governorship election, is not wanted by the EFCC. According to him, some disgruntled politicians in the State were behind the rumour.
Governor Wike stated that Fubara on assumption of office will continue from where his administration stopped and will consolidate on the NEW Rivers Vision.