Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, on Thursday warned the Peoples Democratic Party and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, on the risk of shunning the votes from his state.
He stressed that Rivers State is too strategic politically to be ignored by any serious- minded politician who wants to win election.
In a veiled reference to his ongoing spat with the former vice-president, Wike said he knew how to win elections and urged others to “show that you have what it takes for the candidate to win election.”
The rift between Atiku and Wike started after the governor’s ambition of becoming the party’s vice-presidential candidate for the 2023 general elections failed following the emergence of the Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, as Atiku’s running mate.
A reconciliation panel set up to resolve the crisis between Wike and Atiku had scheduled to meet in Abuja on Friday (today) but the governor’s camp is insisting on the resignation of the PDP chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, a condition that the Atiku loyalists rejected.
It is uncertain the meeting would hold as the two camps have also not agreed on the venue.
But speaking in Port Harcourt on Thursday, Wike claimed more politicians in the state are renouncing their membership of other political parties and joining the PDP in droves.
He said the new entrants are doing so because they were delighted at the ongoing infrastructural development by his administration and they believed the PDP was a better party to associate with.
The governor stated this during the flag-off of the 11th flyover project, which was performed by a former governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke, at the Rumuola- Ikwerre Road-Rumuokwuta Roundabout in the Obio Akpor Local Government Area of the state.
This was contained in a statement issued by the media aide to the governor, Kelvin Ebiri, and made available to newsmen.
The governor explained that the ongoing collapse of the membership strength of other political parties in the state was an electoral advantage for the PDP.
Wike said, “We have collapsed every other party. Every day people from All Progressives Congress are joining our party. We are here doing that and some people are in Abuja; ask them how many persons have they brought to the party.”
In a subtle attack on his adversaries, he said, “It’s not to say ‘I’m supporting our candidate.’ How many people have you brought to help your candidate? We are here every day bringing people to join our party and you are there following your candidate from Abuja to Adamawa. Is it there you’ll win the votes? Come back home.”
He restated the futility of the claims by those who professed that they know the PDP presidential candidate, yet they are not in the state where they can mobilise votes to secure electoral victory.
“This local government alone, Obio Akpor, where I come from; we registered not less than 600, 000 voters. This local government beats two states in their electoral strength.
“So we are not a state that you can take for granted, not to talk about the local government where I come from,’’ Wike warned.
Hinting that he would not pursue reconciliation with the PDP presidential candidate, the governor insisted that Atiku must seek him out if he was interested in taking advantage of the vote bank in Rivers State.
He said, “I believe that they must know us here because we have what it takes to deliver. They must come and know us. I’m not going to find anybody.
“You must come here. You can’t take six hundred and something thousand votes away from my local government; you can’t take 3.2 million votes from my state just like that.’’
He emphasised that gone are the days when supporters and the electorate offer their votes for nothing.
Continuing, he said, “If we were Father Christmas before, we won’t be Father Christmas again? You must tell me what is there for me if I should vote. So nobody should bother himself. At the appropriate time we will talk to our people and our people will understand.
“If you say we don’t exist, we will tell you that you don’t exist. I am not a son to anybody; I am a son of Rivers state. I am working to attract what will benefit Rivers state.”