•Says G-5 governors never betrayed PDP
•Dismisses plan to manipulate Fubara after leaving office
Blessing Ibunge in Port Harcourt
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, yesterday, said he never worked against the Labour Party presidential candidate, Mr Peter Obi, to deny him victory in the February 25, 2023 presidential election, in the state, saying he only supported a southern presidential candidate and not specifically rejected Obi’s candidacy.
Wike, who made the clarification during a media chat in his home town, Rumueprikom, Obio/Akpor, also said there was never a time the G-5 governors endorsed Obi or another candidate as their preferred candidate for the presidential election, to the extent of betraying the PDP.
The governor, who also denied plans to manipulate the governor-elect, Siminailayi Fubara, when he leaves office, further described Obi’s alleged 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,” he said.
He 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 May 29, 2023.
According to him, “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.”
Wike said he was among those who recommended Obi to Atiku Abubakar’s running mate in 2019, saying, “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 also 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 Rivers governor, however, denied accusation that the G-5 governor and members of the Integrity Group betrayed the PDP, stressing that those who 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.
Wike boasted that in Rivers State, PDP won the governorship, three senatorial seats, 10 federal and 31 state constituencies in the general elections.
Mocking the PDP National Chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, for failing to win his ward, local government and state for Atiku, he said PDP also lost woefully in Niger, Jigawa, Imo, Sokoto, Yobe and other states.
While dismissing insinuations that he would manipulate the Rivers State governor-elect, Fubara, when he leaves office, Wike said, Fubara, who resigned as Accountant General of the State to contest the 2023 governorship election, was not wanted by the EFCC, but that some disgruntled politicians in the state were behind the rumour.