Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike yesterday shed light on his London meeting with the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, earlier this week and declared that it was all part of the effort to make Nigeria a better nation.
Wike, who together with Abia State Governor Okezie Ikpeazu and Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom also met separately with former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP’s) presidential flag bearer, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and Labour Party’s (LP’s) presidential candidate, Mr. Peter Obi, said the consultations were beyond party politics.
But he got a caution from the Director General of the Voice of Nigeria (VON), Mr.Osita Okechukwu, who said Wike would be making a mistake if he agreed to work with Atiku ”who betrayed the South and by extension Wike, who could have won the PDP presidential primary election.”
Wike, it was gathered, is unrelenting in demanding the exit of the PDP National Chairman, Dr.Iyorchia Ayu, ahead of the presidential campaign which is scheduled to start next month.
The Rivers State governor, who returned to Port Harcourt yesterday accompanied by Ikpeazu and Ortom, said the agenda of the London consultations was all about changing the fortunes of Nigeria.
“I can confirm that this is the first time as a team that we are meeting with presidential candidates.
“We met with the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC and we met with our leader, former president of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo,” Wike told reporters at the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa.
He added: “We met the presidential candidate of Labour Party. We also met with our presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar. For whatever it is worth, consultation is ongoing.
“Whatever we are talking about is for the interest of Nigeria and Nigerians. It is not parochial and tied to one person or group of persons. We believe that with what is going on, it will be for the interest of Nigerians at the end of the day.”
Throwing barbs at unnamed persons, he said: “Consultation is still ongoing. Never mind some people who do not believe in the existence of this country.
“Leadership is not about you and your family. Leadership is about everybody.
“It’s unfortunate that we are in a country now where a man finishes eight years as a governor and brings his own son as a governor too and as member of National Assembly.
“It’s only in this part of the world that you can see that, when we are talking about poverty everywhere. These are people who do not mean well for this Nigeria.”
Wike also wondered why religion and ethnicity should override competence in considering people for election in Nigeria.
His words: “The only identity they have in this country is religion and ethnicity, nothing more. It’s either, I’m a Christian or I’m a Moslem, I’m a Fulani or I’m an Igbo. Nigeria cannot move forward except they think it will be them. That’s where we are.
“We are in a country where someone with primary school certificate can be appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs. That tells you how bad this country has become.
“But with our consultation, all these will be a thing of the past. No amount of intimidation or blackmail will deter us. We are determined to right the wrongs.”
Also speaking, leader of the team and Benue State Governor Ortom said the London consultations came about because of their realization that Nigeria was in distress and required concerted efforts to rescue it.
He stated that they had fruitful talks with those they met and it was beyond partisan politics, because well-meaning Nigerians needed to work together in ensuring Nigeria’s survival.
He said: “For us, we are looking at the larger picture. Nigeria today is in distress. It is about what can we do? No man or woman alone can get it right for our country.
“We are looking at how we can harness ideas and put ourselves together to ensure that we get out of the present challenge we are in Nigeria today.
“From top to bottom, consider what has happened from 2015 and where we are today. So, what we are doing is a concern that we have for our country, Nigeria.
“This is beyond partisan politics. We are looking on how we can come together and find a way of ensuring that Nigeria survives. Nigeria is on drip, Nigeria is on oxygen and it is about how can we get out of this?”
Ortom stated that the three separate meetings they had within the week were worthwhile sessions for them.
He said they individually had earlier commitments in Europe but explained that nothing concrete had been decided.
He said: “The consultation is going on and will continue to go on. We are still going to meet here. We are still going to meet some persons some other time and see how we can work to ensure that the project Nigeria works.”
On his part, Abia State Governor Ikpeazu said: “This is a country with great potential and we have to protect it well. We think that we need to engage across board.
“We are also looking at speaking with civil society organisations and those who have ideas, with Nigerians in the diaspora. All the resources available in this country have to come together at this time to see how best we can move Nigeria forward.”
‘Beware of dagger’s syndrome’, VON D-G cautions Wike
Responding yesterday to the London meetings, the Director-General Voice of Nigeria (VON), Mr Osita Okechukwu, cautioned Wike against losing out in the current political permutations in the country.
Okechukwu in a statement in Enugu said the Rivers State governor would be making a mistake if he rewarded Atiku by way of support in the 2023 election.
He said: “My take is that Wike is enjoying the moment or what one could easily dub Wike’s Wave. Methinks it is better enjoyed abroad with less distraction.
“Is it not Nollywood characteristic that he (Wike) met with the leading big three presidential candidates – Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of APC, Peter Obi of Labour Party and lastly Atiku Abubakar of PDP?
“My candid advice is that he should not make the mistake of rewarding Atiku Abubukar, who betrayed the South and by extension Wike, who could have won the PDP presidential primary election.
“This is same Atiku who cruised to victory when only northerners contested in 2018 in Port Harcourt, will deliberately rubbish the rotation convention of president from north to south and south to north which governed the 4th Republic Nigeria from inception in 1999.
“The grave danger of Wike making the gross mistake of going back to Atiku, who is now the new sheriff in-charge of PDP, take my bet, is that he will definitely suffer from dagger’s syndrome,” he said.
Okechukwu, also a foundation member of APC, alleged that dagger’s syndrome would be the fate of Wike if he dared to pull back his dagger which has been drawn; therefore, he either aligns with Tinubu or Obi.
According to him, on whom between them to choose, it is left to his inner circle. Each has his own advantage.
“For Asiwaju, he will harvest from our (APC) spread. For Obi, his constituents and allies maybe more comfortable.
“The truism is that patriots of both north and south are not so happy with the betrayal of the rotation convention by Atiku. This made a lot doubt his proclamation of being a unifier.
“He is not a unifier, for a unifier cannot breach the constitution of his political party and the federal character principle enunciated in 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
Atiku and Obi met with Wike and his allies in London on Thursday on the heels of a similar meeting between Tinubu and Wike.
Ayu’s tenure shaky as Wike insists on zoning of positions ahead of campaign
The tenure of the PDP National Chairman Dr. Iyorchia Ayu remains shaky as Wike is said to be insisting on his exit as a condition for peace with Atiku.
The Rivers State governor, sources said yesterday, restated his call for Ayu’s resignation, demanding that the seat be zoned to the Southwest.
The PDP National Chairman, Board of Trustees (BoT) chairman and the PDP presidential candidate are all from the North.
The argument in Wike’s camp is that the PDP cannot go into the election with Northerners occupying the three key positions to the exclusion of the South.
According to the camp, it would be difficult for them to convince voters in the South to vote for the PDP with such lopsided leadership structure.
It was further gathered that the Wike team had also insisted on zoning of all principal officers in the two chambers of the National Assembly before the official flag off of the 2023 election campaigns.
A source close to the meeting said the Rivers Governor and his allies were more particular about the position of Senate President, which they demanded should not be zoned to the Northwest.
The source, who did not want his identity disclosed because he was not mandated to speak to the media on the matter, said the team’s position on the position of Senate President might have been targeted at the Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal.
Tambuwal is seeking election into the Senate and he is being tipped for the position of Senate President in the event that Atiku wins the presidency.
They were, however, said to have deferred discussions on zoning of the positions of Speaker of the House of Representatives and other principal officers’ position in the two chambers for further consultation.
In response, Atiku was said to have asked to be given a little time to make necessary consultations with his own team back home and get back to them within two weeks.
Atiku is said to be weighing the implications of the demands made by Wike and his allies to ensure that the PDP does not go into the general election as a divided house.
The PDP flag bearer and his allies are said to be getting more uncomfortable with Wike’s continued association with some key leaders of opposition parties in recent times.
A highly placed party source who spoke with our correspondent on Friday said Atiku would have to act fast before things get out of hand.
According to the source, who did not want his name in print, the PDP presidential candidate failed to seize the initiative for reconciliation.
He said: “Atiku ought to have realised that as the candidate, much depends on him. We had expected him to personally drive the reconciliation effort instead of leaving it to others.
“In the first place, why must he wait until Wike started meeting with APC and Labour Party candidates before making a move?
“It’s a pity he allowed some of his loyalists to mislead him all this while. Some of his loyalists were busy attacking Governor Wike even while reconciliation efforts were still ongoing.
“As it is now, the ball is in Atiku’s court and it is left to him to decide in which direction he wants the party to go.”
The former vice president, who was on a visit to France, left Paris, the capital for London, to confer with Wike, following information that the Rivers governor was holding consultations with non-PDP politicians.
Obi’s meeting with Wike was facilitated by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who asked him to support the LP candidate in the 2023 election.
Sources said Wike was non-committal because of their fear that Obi may not go far.