On Monday, there were indications that the reconciliation discussions between Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike and Peoples Democratic Party presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar had suffered a severe setback, as Wike promised to disappoint those who underestimated his state.
Speaking during the inauguration of the Orochiri-Worukwo (Waterlines junction) Flyover, the Rivers governor highlighted that the realities of contemporary politics had made it dangerous to just hand votes away without the promise of derivable gain for the people.
In a veiled reference to Atiku and the PDP national leadership, the governor stated that no one could take Rivers’ votes for granted.
Senator Lee Maeba, a former politician, chastised the governor for portraying himself as a superhuman entity. In an interview with The NIGERIANWATCH, Maeba stated that his issue with Wike stemmed from his friendship with Atiku.
The governor fired the Governing Council of the Elechi Amadi Polytechnic, Rumuola in Port Harcourt, which was led by Maeba, last week.
Things have not been going well between Wike and Atiku since the former Vice President chose Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa as his running mate.
Wike and his allies were said to have requested the resignation of the PDP’s National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, as a condition for working for Atiku. Some party leaders, however, dismissed Wike’s demand.
The Rivers governor, who was supposed to be chosen as the party’s vice-presidential candidate, has subsequently been seen socializing with certain APC governors.
On Monday, the governor summoned his Lagos State counterpart, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, to the state to inaugurate several projects.
In a veiled attack on the PDP’s national leadership, the Rivers State governor stated that no one should expect to receive Rivers State votes without at least providing anything in return.
Aside from his veiled assaults on Atiku and the PDP, the governor was reported to have targeted state politicians linked to the PDP presidential candidate.
Some were believed to have gone to Atiku without Wike’s approval.
“If you say Rivers State doesn’t matter, Rivers State will tell you that you don’t also matter at the appropriate moment,” Wike said on Monday. We will not like you if you do not like us. We will like you if you like us. Nobody will squander our votes. Our ballots will be counted, and whoever we vote for must benefit Rivers State.
“Politics is no longer about voting for someone; it’s about what you’re going to do for the people of Rivers State,” Wike said.
He emphasized how difficult it would be for any conspirators to disrupt Rivers State’s voting trend.
Wike emphasized that those who robbed the state of money will not be supported as governor of Rivers State.
“My visitor from Lagos State, don’t let anyone tell you that anyone will come here to win the governorship of Rivers State.” It is not going to happen. Those that robbed the state treasury will not come here to be governor of Rivers State, and I have challenged them to do so.
“I am completely in command. I am not the type of governor who people will travel to Abuja to oppose. “I am completely in charge here,” the governor declared.
Wike slams critics
Wike also slammed individuals who criticized him for concentrating on the development of flyovers.
“First and first, let me state that if there is one state that pays salaries on a regular basis, it is Rivers State.” Let me also clarify that we pay pensions every month. Let me also ask, have you heard anyone commenting on the radio since we paid the gratuity?” He continued.
Wike noted that the invitation from the governor of Lagos State was not the first time people from other political parties were asked to inaugurate projects in Rivers State.
He emphasized the overall benefits of such invitations for governance because they serve as peer assessments for them.
Sanwo-Olu, who inaugurated the Orochiri-Worokwu (Waterlines) Flyover, praised Governor Wike for his strong commitment to physical infrastructure delivery in Rivers State.
“I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to my brother, Governor Wike, for his unwavering commitment to the delivery of physical infrastructure in Rivers State.”
“A devotion that has been recognized by all and sundry, earning him the title of “Mr. Projects” both within and beyond Rivers State,” he stated.
Sanwo-Olu stated that, despite the fact that he and Governor Wike are from opposing political parties, the invitation made to him sends a powerful message that politicians and political leaders can come together across party and ideological divisions for the welfare of the people.
“Today, there is also a strong message about strengthening our capacity to play politics without hatred.” My friend and brother’s symbolic gesture should become a regular practice throughout Nigeria.
“There is also a lot we can learn from one another, as well as experience that we can transfer from one region of the country to the other,” Sanwo-Olu said.
Attempts to gain comment from the PDP on Wike’s statement were futile because the National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, had his phone shut off on Monday.
In addition, Atiku’s spokesman, Paul Ibe, did not react to questions.
However, under the condition of anonymity, because he was not authorized to speak to the press, a member of the PDP reconciliation committee informed The NIGERIANWATCH that negotiations between the former Vice-President and Wike were still ongoing.
“The PDP can never take Rivers State for granted,” he said. It is one of our larger states, with the most votes in the South-South. Wike is simply flexing his muscles to get a better bargain, which is understandable.
“Discussions between him and Atiku are still ongoing.” And I am confident that everything will turn out fine.”
Senator Maeba, a former lawmaker who was dismissed as Chairman of Elechi Amadi Polytechnic, told The NIGERIANWATCH that the governor’s decision was motivated by his friendship with Atiku.
“We have a party candidate that has the capacity to lead Nigeria out of catastrophe,” he stated. So nothing can stop us from supporting Atiku in his quest to save Nigeria.
“Wike isn’t disguising the fact that he’s fighting Atiku. Yes, he did say so. He summoned a conference of Ogoni supporters and urged them to tell me that he will watch how I campaign for Atiku in this state and that he is ready to fight to the end.
“We don’t know what he (Wike) intends to do since when campaigns begin, we are also qualified to the campaign.” We’re waiting to see how he does it. This is an over-the-top joke.”
Senator Maeba also verified the ouster of former Governor Celestine Omehia and former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Chief Austin Opara, as leaders of their respective parties in Ikwerre and Port Harcourt City LGAs.
“Yes, he (Wike) summoned them and humiliated them in front of their people because we went to pay a solidarity visit to Atiku, as is our duty.”
“We all knew Atiku before he came along. Austin Opara has served in the United States House of Representatives since 1999. When Atiku was Vice President, he was the deputy speaker. Wike was battling for the position of local government chairman at the time. So, if Austin Opara has to ask him for permission to see Atiku today, something is amiss,” he said.
Maeba also slammed Wike, claiming that no one was in charge of Rivers’ votes.
Ex-lawmaker criticizes Wike
“There is nobody in charge of any vote,” he stated. Voting is now a personal matter. Someone boasting about being in command of votes indicates that he has a rigging plot.
“How come you’re in charge of votes?” You cannot be in charge of votes because everyone has their own ballot to cast. Adegboyega Oyetola would not have lost the election if he had been in charge of voting in Osun.
“So, if someone brags about being in charge of votes, people should ask him where he wants the votes to come from.” How many voter registration cards does he have?
In response to charges that politicians were arranging meetings in Abuja against him, Maeba stated that the governor was speaking as if he were superhuman.’
“Permit me to tell you something. When you give yourself so much right, you are superhuman. When Atiku Abubakar was Vice President, Austin Opara was the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives. They attended the caucus meeting and the National Economic Council meeting together.
“Does this mean that Austin Opara, who has known Atiku for almost 20 years, will now beg Wike to take him to visit Atiku?”
“So he (Wike) is the one who has no regard for residents.”
I first met Atiku in 1992 in Jos for the SDP campaigns. We began collaborating in 2003 when I was elected Senator. Where was he (Wike) at the time? Wike was fighting to gain attention while Austin Opara was working with Atiku and attending meetings.
“So, when you make comments like that, implying that you are not the type of politician against whom people will have meetings in Abuja, he goes to Abuja every day.” He takes a flight to Abuja. He almost sleeps in Abuja. So, if you don’t respect the rights of the state’s senior citizens, if you don’t respect their right to survive and self-sufficiency, then something is wrong with your own system,” the former senator added.
“If you continue to call yourself a powerful Governor, we need strong institutions, not strong men,” Maeba continued. Powerful institutions, not strong personalities, are the best path to democracy.
“In those days, a strong man was associated with Idi Amin.” There are no powerful males left. We require strong institutions in order to strengthen our institutions.”
Efforts to reach former Rivers State Governor, Sir Celestine Omehia, and former House of Representatives Deputy Speaker, Austin Opara, were futile because they did not answer several calls placed on their mobile phones by our correspondent or respond to text messages sent to them as of the time of filing this report on Monday night.
The All Progressives Congress in Rivers condemned Wike’s remarks that people who stole the state would not be elected governor as cowardly.
While speaking over the phone with one of our correspondents, Chris Finebone, the state Publicity Secretary of the APC, urged the governor to name the persons he was referring to.
Wike’s statement, according to Finebone, was an illusion and a false sense of swagger, pointing out that the governor was already acting anti-party by threatening to utilize Rivers’ votes against Atiku.
Lamido counsels Atiku.
However, Alhaji Sule Lamido, a former governor of Jigawa State, advised Oniku Abubakar on Monday that he should not engage in any agreement with any disgruntled member of the party without first consulting the party leaders.
According to him, Atiku lacks the power to discuss the conclusion of the PDP convention, which divided the party between him and Wike’s supporters.
Lamido made the warning in response to the recent meeting between Atiku and Wike at the apartment of a former Minister of Information and National Orientation, Prof Jerry Gana, in an interview with The NIGERIANWATCH.
In an interview with The NIGERIANWATCH, Atiku Campaign Organisation Spokesperson Daniel Bwala claimed many aspirants who competed in the party’s presidential primaries with Atikua have turned into his supporters.
In a related event, the PDP National Executive Committee meeting scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday in Abuja has been postponed indefinitely.
Although the reason for the cancellation was not revealed, it was learned that it was related to the party’s turmoil and Wike’s group’s attempt to remove the national chairman.
Senator Samuel Anyanwu, the party’s National Secretary, sent a notification of the postponement on Monday, citing “unforeseen circumstances” as the cause for the change in date.
“This is to advise all members of the PDP National Caucus and National Executive Committee that the meetings of the two bodies, which were previously scheduled for Wednesday, August 10, and Thursday, August 11, respectively, have been postponed,” he wrote.
“The delay is due to unforeseen circumstances.” In due course, a new date will be announced.”