Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State on Tuesday said then President Goodluck Jonathan pleaded with former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar to support his re-election bid in 2015 but the Adamawa-born politician rejected the entreaties of the former Bayelsa governor.
Wike stated this when Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State commissioned the Akpabu-Itu-Umudiogha road in the Emohua Local Government Area of Rivers.
According to him, Jonathan travelled to the Dorchester Hotel in London in 2015 to meet Atiku but rather, the former VP “embarrassed” Jonathan and told him to relinquish his ticket to him.
Wike, who contested the presidential primary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) won by Atiku in May, said he is not asking Atiku to step down as the party’s presidential candidate for the 2023 elections. He said, instead, Atiku should ensure the removal of Iyorchia Ayu as PDP national chairman for a southern replacement.
The Rivers governor said, “We forget history. In 2015 when Jonathan as a sitting President, I am not talking as a presidential candidate but as a sitting President, when he had won his primary, Jonathan went to London to Dorchester Hotel, he went to plead with Atiku Abubakar to come back to the party and support him.
“You know the condition he (Atiku) gave Jonathan? He should relinquish his ticket not to run as the President of Nigeria. That was the presidential candidate of a ruling party. He gave him a condition, telling him to relinquish that ticket.
“Today, we are not saying the presidential candidate should relinquish his ticket; we are not being selfish, we are saying since you are now the presidential candidate, let our people take chairmanship.”
Jonathan, the PDP presidential candidate in 2015, had lost his re-election to Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Atiku and his running mate, Ifeanyi Okowa, had visited Jonathan at his Abuja residence on November 17 to resolve the crisis within the PDP but nothing has been heard of the former President.
With the 2023 presidential poll about three months, there are fears that the intra-party squabbles between Wike and Atiku over the chairmanship of Ayu would affect the chances of the Adamawa-born politician at the polls next February.
Wike and four other PDP governors known as the G5 or the Integrity Group want Benue-born Ayu to step down for a southerner over what they called the dominance of the north within the party.
Five governors of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who have described themselves as the G5, on Saturday met in Lagos as the division within the PDP lingers ahead of the 2023 elections.
The Governors said their group will now be known as the ‘Integrity Group’ and reiterated that they are open to reconciliation talks.
The G5 Governors include Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Samuel Ortom (Benue), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia) and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu).
They met in Lagos at the residence of the party’s former Deputy National Chairman, Bode George and announced the formation of the Integrity Group.
PDP chieftains present at the meeting included former governors Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State; Donald Duke of Cross River State; and Jonah Jang of Plateau. Others were Deputy Chairman of the PDP, Taofeek Arapaja; Chief Dan Orbih, Senator Olaka Nwogu, Senator Mao Ohuabunwa, Senator Nasif Suleiman, among others.
At the end of the meeting, ex-governor Jang briefed journalists. He said the group is still open to consultations in resolving the crisis rocking the main opposition party.
“We at this meeting have decided to stand on the decisions we took at our last Port Harcourt meeting. We hereby again reiterate that the window for reconciliation in our great party, the PDP remains open,” Jang said.
Also speaking, Governor Makinde said that the G5 governors were the face of their struggle and were being backed by the leaders and elders of the party present at the meeting.
“The G5 is all about the Integrity Group. You can see us, five serving governors, as the face of this struggle but the leaders and elders of the party that you see here are the people behind those faces,” Makinde said.
“We are this morning in the South West to review the situation within our party, to review where we are and to also look at what is going to happen in the coming elections.”
The Oyo governor also pledged to briefing Nigerians on the update at the end of their deliberations.
This is coming two months after the group met n Port Harcourt where it vowed not be part of the presidential campaign of the party’s flagbearer in the 2023 election, Atiku Abubakar.
The G5 have called for the removal of the party’s National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, citing regional balance in the party’s structure.
However, Ayu has insisted that he won’t step down till the end of his four-year tenure, even as the G5 made his resignation a precondition to support Atiku’s 2023 presidential ambition.
While Wike and his allies have not been seen to campaign for Atiku, it is not clear whether they will support Tinubu or Labour Party’s presidential candidate, Peter Obi, in the contest for Aso Rock’s top job.
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, on Saturday again alleged that the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Iyorchia Ayu pocketed funds realised by the party from the sale of nomination and expression of interest forms for primaries in May.
Wike spoke at the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium during the flag-off of the PDP state-level campaigns in Port Harcourt, the state capital.
He challenged Ayu to head to court if he is innocent.
“Ayu is corrupt. Rivers people are hurt. Ayu, you are fighting corruption, how do you fight corruption? I said you took N1bn. I told you, you took the money we realised from the primaries. Ayu sue me!” a furious Wike said.
“You cannot fight Rivers State and go free,” he added.
Wike had in October accused Ayu of a similar offence but the Benue-born politician said there was nothing of such. Wike has also not provided any proof to back up his allegation.
Wike further said he believes in the party but also believes in equity, fairness, and justice.
He said the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar must start a government of inclusion and national unity in the party.
According to him, if Atiku believes in restructuring, and devolution of power and that President Muhammadu Buhari appointed 17 northerners as heads of security chiefs, he should correct it from the party by asking Ayu to step down for a southerner.
The event was attended by Wike and other members of the PDP G5 – Governor Samuel Ortom (Benue), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu). Also, PDP Deputy National Chairman (South), Taofeek Arapaja; and former governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose graced the occasion.
Five aggrieved governors of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) known as the G5 on Saturday flagged off the party’s state-level campaigns in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
Governor Nyesom Wike (Rivers) hosted his brother governors – Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Samuel Ortom (Rivers), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu) at the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium, the campaign venue.
The five governors donned black trousers, black hats, and white Etibor outfits synonymous with the Niger Delta zone. Members of the party also filled the stadium to the brim with PDP paraphernalia.
The G5 has been consistent in its demand that Benue-born Iyorchia Ayu step down as PDP national chairman for “fairness and justice”, saying northerners should be the party’s chair and presidential candidate.
Both Ayu and the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar (from Adamawa State) were conspicuously absent at the campaign flag-off.
The campaign was flagged off for PDP candidates in Rivers contesting the National Assembly, State Assembly and Governorship seats.
The symbolic handing over of party flags to the candidates was performed by the PDP Deputy National Chairman (South), Taofeek Arapaja, who graced the event alongside the state’s chairman, Desmond Akawor; and former governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose.
Arapaja, who presented the party’s flags to PDP governorship candidate, Siminialayi Fubara, said the party will give 100% support to all candidates from Rivers.
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike has challenged his counterparts in the Niger Delta zone to account for the huge sums of monies received by them as a backlog for the 13% oil derivation since 1999, which was approved and paid by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Wike threw the challenge at the nine governors on Friday night when he spoke during a banquet organised by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State for the PDP G5 governors who are in Port Harcourt for the party’s state-level campaign flag-off on Saturday.
The governor told attendees at the banquet that while he can point to the projects executed by his administration with the monies in Rivers, some of his colleagues cannot show any proof.
He said, “I am not an Apostle of Buhari; he is not my friend but I have no regret to appreciate him for paying the money meant for the Niger Delta states. He has paid. Let everybody come and account for it.”
Wike had during the commissioning of the Nabo Graham-Douglas CPUs of the Nigerian Law School in Port Harcourt commended Buhari for approving all the monies accruable to the Niger Delta states since 1999.
Wike lashed out at an unnamed politician whose interest he said is in marrying many wives and attempting to collect from the Federal Government over 400 million dollars as consultancy fee.
He said while he is looking forward to the day the party will sack him as advised by the unnamed fellow, he should tell his governor to account for the refunds received from the Federal Government.
“They say they will sack. I have been looking for the day they will sack me. Then they sack me, I pepper you. You will know that khaki no be leather.”
He insisted that the G5 governors cannot be broken, as they are bonded to save Nigeria.
Wike also maintained his position not to campaign for the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar in Rivers.
He said the campaign that will be flagged off in Port Harcourt today will be for those contesting the National Assembly, State Assembly, and governorship seats in Rivers.
According to him, the symbolic handing over of party flags to the candidates will be performed by the PDP Deputy National Chairman (South), Taofeek Arapaja.
On his promise to give logistics support to the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, Wike said he has no regret.
He said Obi as a former governor of Anambra State deserved respect and state protection. He promised again to release vehicles and security for Obi’s campaign in Rivers State.
In their brief solidarity speeches, Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State restated the commitment of the G5 governors to fight for equity, rule of law, and justice.
He said what is happening in the PDP is to ensure that everybody in the party is protected. He re-echoed comments by Wike that they are not opposed to reconciliation but such effort must be based on equity, fairness, and justice.
Ortom also commended Wike for using project commissioning to unite the country.
For Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, the PDP will win in Rivers State as always since 1999 because the party is in the DNA of the people of the state.
Similarly, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State said he was convinced and satisfied that because the PDP has always won elections in Rivers, the same will apply to the 2023 elections.
The Governor of Abia State, Okezie Ikpeazu joined his colleagues towards the end of the banquet as he was in Abuja to receive an award.
Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike has dared the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Iyorchia Ayu to stop any candidate of the party from contesting an election if he thinks he has the powers to do so.
Governor Wike stated this during a media briefing at his residence in Port Harcourt on Sunday while reacting to a recent comment by Senator Ayu that he has the power to stop any candidate, particularly from Benue State, following the attacks on his person.
Ayu was quoted as saying this in his Tiv dialect while addressing the crowd that welcomed him home in Gboko on Friday. He was also quoted as saying that no one can sack him from office.
But Wike believes the comment is further damage to the image of the PDP which should be gaining the trust and confidence of the public to rescue Nigeria.
“He has now come into the office, seen money, seen power, now he can open his mouth to say he could have stopped Ortom. And he said he can also stop any contestant now. We dare him. I dare Ayu to stop any contestant if he has what it takes,” he said.
“Why is he (Ayu) not resigning? He is hoping Nigerians would donate money to the party so he would again superintend over that money. He has already finished over N11 billion party primaries money. Account for it, he says the public should go into the account. We say show us the money. Print the account of PDP, and let the world see how you expended the money.
“This is the party all of us have laboured to take over power from ruling All Progressives Congress that has done badly. Then the national chairman would open his mouth to talk about stopping contestants. Ayu shouldn’t dare. He knows he can’t do it, knows he has no such power. He is just playing to the gallery. He tried it in Rivers state, came to manipulate, and tried to put some guber aspirants, but we saw the results. We dealt with him.”
Wike reiterated that the calls for Ayu to quit the post are based on the need for inclusiveness and also for the national chairman to fulfill his promise.
“For you to be sacked there are procedures to follow. Nobody has said you are sacked. We are saying if at this point you’re a national chairman who has told Nigerians that this is what you do if that happens and you’re running away from doing that, how do you think Nigerians will now believe you if you tell them to vote for your party?” the governor asked.
“If you say you will not honour or keep to integrity, we have no problem with that thing that is giving you confidence. What we are saying is that we want our party to win, but if you think you can do without keeping to promises you have made, so be it. Saying nobody can sack him tells you the impunity in him.”
He accused Ayu of being ungrateful to Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State.
“I heard when he said he could have stopped Ortom from running for election. You see how ungrateful human beings can be. This was the same Governor Ortom who pleaded with us to say I can take the risk of letting Ayu become national chairman, without being greedy.
“The agreement by PDP governors was that no national chairman should come from where a governor comes from. We agreed on that, but Ortom came. And as a man we respect, he said I want to promote my people in national politics. We said okay, on your honour we let him (Ayu) be,” he said.
“This is a man who never campaigned anywhere, never printed a poster to be national chairman. Even money they gave him to print posters, he never printed any. And he (Ayu) is the one saying if he wanted to stop who brought him, a man who stood as a guarantor for him, he could have done so.”
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, on Monday said the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, did not consult him before he picked members of his campaign council from the state.
The governor, who spoke at the inauguration of the Rivers State PDP Campaign Council in Port Harcourt, the state capital, claimed Atiku selected “enemies” of Rivers into his campaign council for the 2023 general elections.
Wike also explained that Atiku’s photos and those of PDP National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, have been missing in PDP campaign materials in the state because they don’t want him to campaign for the party at the national level.
“Some people have asked me why is it that they don’t see the presidential candidate’s picture (and) the party chairman’s? I said what are you talking about? The presidential candidate entered my state and picked members of the presidential council without a whole governor of a state having a contribution,” he said.
“The presidential candidate entered Rivers State and picked those he wants to pick without the contribution of the governor. So, they said they don’t need me to campaign for them, that they don’t need Rivers people to campaign for them. Will you force yourself?
“I have never seen how people will disrespect a state like Rivers State and go and choose those who are enemies of the state without the contributions of us.”
Wike said PDP members in Rivers do not know the state nominees in Atiku’s campaign list, noting that he and the party in the state will only campaign for the governorship candidate, the senatorial candidates, and others who carried them along.
“If they want us to be involved in the campaign, they will come and tell us. If he thinks we are important, they will come and meet us,” the governor noted, adding that nobody can intimidate Rivers when he is governor of the state.
During the inauguration of the state campaign council for PDP on Monday, Wike said, “This campaign council is to bring out strategies on how to campaign on how to follow the election. This election is a different election. It will not be as usual.”
The governor said each local government in Rivers will have its own strategy to mobilise the people.
“Some of you have been quarreling that my name is not there. The campaign council is just a general policy council and they will now bring people who will be in each of the committees…those of you who are crying my name is not there, everybody’s names cannot be in the campaign council; it is not possible.
“And two, the campaign council is not for sharing money. I am the chairman of the campaign council. So, think that you will submit your budget to the governor and DG (director general). The campaign council will approve every budget which is presided over by me, the DG is for implementation. So, don’t think that the governor is my person. It doesn’t work that way.”
Wike has been having a running battle with Atiku and Ayu for months, insisting northerners cannot occupy both positions.
With the official commencement of campaigns for the 2023 elections, the PDP in late September unveiled a 600-member campaign council headed by the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Udom Emmanuel.
Atiku and his supporters have been seen at rallies in Bauchi, Kaduna, Akwa Ibom, and a few places. However, Wike and his allies like Governors Samuel Ortom (Benue), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu) have not been seen at any rally of the PDP presidential candidate.
Since he lost the PDP presidential ticket to Atiku at the party’s primary in May, Wike has for months demanded Ayu’s resignation over what he termed “injustice” to southerners.
Atiku, Nigeria’s former Vice President between 1999 and 2007, is in the race for Aso Rock’s top job alongside top contenders like Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP).
Wike maintained that Ayu should resign his position as the chairman of the PDP, claiming the party chieftain made the pledge that he would do so if the presidential candidate comes from the north (same region as Ayu).
“We have not done primary and a man came out and said if the presidential candidate comes from my region, I will leave. Honour it. It is integrity and part of the hallmark of leadership,” he noted.
“If he cannot do that, how can you tell Nigerians that anything the PDP tells you, we would do it?”
Wike’s remark is the latest in the crisis that has rocked the PDP following the party’s presidential primary. The governor lost to Atiku Abubakar but claimed the exercise was unfair.
He was touted to become the former vice president’s running mate but Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State was picked instead, a development that further deepened the conflict.
Efforts so far to resolve the conflict have yielded little results as Wike insists that Ayu and Atiku – both from the northern region – cannot occupy the party’s two topmost positions. He and his allies are calling for Ayu’s resignation as part of their demands to sheathe their sword.
Despite the Wike camp’s absence, the PDP campaign flag-off went on at the Nest of Champions Stadium in Uyo.
Present were PDP chieftains, including the party’s presidential candidate and ex-Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, his running mate, and Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, and Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel.
Others in attendance include Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed, his Adamawa counterpart, Ahmadu Fintiri, and the former lawmaker representing Kogi West, Dino Melaye among others.
The PDP campaign is coming barely four months to the presidential election in 2023.
Both Atiku, Okowa, Ayu, and Emmanuel took turns to address the crowd in Uyo, pledging to rescue the country should the PDP be elected into office next year.
A chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Bode George believes the party’s internal crisis is not complex but wondered why it is lingering.
The main opposition party has been in crisis since its presidential primary in May. Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State lost to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar. But the governor claimed the process was not fair and is also demanding the resignation of the PDP’s National Chairman Iyorchia Ayu since he is from the same region as Atiku.
While speaking about the conflict on Wednesday, the PDP chieftain said the issue ought to have been resolved.
“It is excruciatingly painful to me. This is not a major issue. It is the last hurdle for us to cross and we would be ready to meet the needs of Nigerians,” he said on Channels Television’s Politics Today. “Why this is becoming intractable is a mirage to me.”
According to him, Wike’s demands, which include Ayu’s resignation, are in order. He believes for equity’s sake, the National Chairman should resign.
“The number one and number six cannot be from the same area. In the interest of the future generations of this country. In the interest of so many other Nigerians who are looking for fairness, justice, and equity,” the PDP chieftain added.
“The onus is on our presidential candidate to talk to Ayu in the interest of balancing and equity; let him just drop.”
‘The Most Important Thing’
His comments came a day after Wike met with members of the party’s Board of Trustees (BoT) at the Government House in Port Harcourt.
“The most important thing is to have peace,” Wike said after the meeting. “The house is united. I am hopeful we will resolve the issues because I am alive.
“Only those who are alive are hopeful. We have said repeatedly that we will not leave the party. We believe the internal issues will be resolved.”