Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike has foreclosed the possibility of the Group of Five (G-5) governors reaching a last-minute truce with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar and the party’s national leadership under Dr. Iyorchia Ayu.
The governor spoke yesterday in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
He denied that the G-5, who he said were fighting for justice, equity and fairness in the PDP, were working at cross-purposes.
Wike said the “Integrity Group” was intact and that its members would make their impact felt during the presidential election on February 25.
The PDP plunged into crisis during its national convention in May last year following the emergence of former vice president Atiku as presidential candidate.
Wike and four other governors – Seyi Makinde (Oyo); Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi; Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia) and Samuel Ortom (Benue) – demanded the stepping aside of Ayu as condition to join the PDP Presidential Campaign Council (PCC).
The G-5 governors argued that Ayu must yield his position to a southerner in the spirit of equity and justice within the opposition party.
They argued that this would correct the “regional imbalance” in the party since Atiku and Ayu are from the North.
The aggrieved governors have turned down every reconciliation move because of Ayu’s retention as the party’s national chair.
Wike, according to a statement signed in Port Harcourt by his Special Assistant, Media, Kelvin Ebiri, said no G-5 governor had so far attended the PDP presidential campaign in their respective states.
He said the timeframe for resolving the grievance of the G-5 was “over” and he was “not ready to sit down with anybody again”.
On the possibility of an eleventh hour parley, the governor said: “We can’t do that again. It is over. We have said it and there is nothing anybody can do about it now. They believe that they have won the election, so they don’t need us. I am not ready to sit down again with anybody.”
The governor said persons who chose to ignore the G-5 and other members of the Integrity Group would soon realise their “grave mistake” after February 25.
Wike, who said he had no apology for hosting the All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential Candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and other leaders of the party in Port Harcourt on Wednesday, declined to mention his preferred presidential candidate.
According to him, PDP leaders in Rivers State had already taken a position on whom the state’s electorate would vote for and that the decision had been communicated to party supporters ahead of next week’s election.
Speaking on the PDP national leadership’s decision not to hold its presidential campaign in Rivers, the governor claimed that members of the state’s PCC lacked organisation skill.
Wike also addressed President Muhammadu Buhari’s broadcast on the new naira notes scarcity, saying Buhari’s insistence that the old N500 and N1000 notes ceased to be legal tender was interference with a pending lawsuit.
The governor stressed that the president’s directive to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to reintroduce only the old N200 note into the economy was an affront to the Supreme Court.
“As far as I am concerned, this is a complete interference, which is not good for our democracy,” he said.
The governor described as hypocritical the Federal Government proposing an out-of-court settlement with aggrieved states, while at the same time, undermining the outcome of the pending suit before the apex court.
Wike insisted that the apex court’s interim injunction subsisted and must be respected by the Federal Government.
Wike said: “Until that is done, there is nothing anybody can do about it. The issue of N200 naira in circulation is neither here nor there. If they had pulled out of court, then the President could come in. Having not pulled out of court and the interim order still subsists, we should obey it to the letter.”
He reasoned that the Federal Government’s claim that the naira redesign policy would curb corruption and vote buying was untenable, describing the implementation as political.
A war of words broke out between Wike and Atiku’s supporters over Wednesday’s visit of former Lagos State Governor Asiwaju Bola Tinubu to the state for his presidential campaign rally.
Members of PDP PCC in the state criticised Wike for receiving Tinubu in the council chamber of the Rivers State Government House, despite being a member of an opposition party.
But the state Commissioner for Information and Communication, Chris Finebone, defended the governor, saying he remained a leader of PDP.