There is palpable tension in the camp of the opposition about what leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) consider as Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike’s constant parley with leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) ahead of the 2023 general election.
LEADERSHIP Weekend gathered yesterday that leaders of the major opposition party in the country are worried that Wike’s body language seems to be tilting towards supporting the presidential candidate of the governing party, Ahmed Bola Tinubu.
This is coming just as Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has declared that the leadership of the party was waiting in the wings for the Rivers State governor to join the party.
Wike has implicitly remained opposed to the presidential candidate of his party, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar despite efforts by the party to pacify him over the emergence of Delta State governor, Ifeanyi Okowa as PDP’s vice presidential candidate.
Speaking yesterday during the commissioning of the Rivers State House of Assembly quarters in Port Harcourt yesterday, the Rivers governor however distanced himself from a lawsuit filed before a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja against the PDP challenging the presidential primary that produced Atiku as the party’s standard bearer.
Some media platforms reported that Wike filed a suit seeking the removal of Atiku Abubakar as PDP presidential candidate in next year’s general election.
They also claimed that he ordered the removal of PDP flags in Rivers State government house.
But Wike distanced himself from the legal action, saying Atiku’s men are the ones behind the suit, even as he accused them of plotting to soil his name.
Addressing Speaker Gbajabiamila who was a special guest at the event, Wike said, “Mr Speaker, let me on behalf of the government and people of Rivers State, most sincerely thank you and members of your entourage for accepting to come and commission this edifice for your junior colleagues in the state.
“Before I go into that, let me say and let Nigerians know that people have called me throughout this morning about all kinds of things; that I went to court against Atiku Abubakar. I want to state categorically that if I have reason to go to court, I will go to Court but I didn’t go to Court. I just want to say it for Nigerians to know.
“I have kept quiet and busy delivering dividends of democracy for my party to win election in Rivers State. People are busy plotting how to win elections; rather, our people are busy plotting to see how they will lose the election.
“If they lose the election, nobody should call my name. I have told the candidate that if you win this election or lose this election, it is because of people around you. Everybody who knows me knows too well that if I had wanted to go to court, I would have gone to court within two weeks after the primaries because it is a pre-election matter. And after two weeks, you cannot go to Court.
“The legal adviser of the party called me and told me that he knows that there is mischief going on and that he knows me very well that if I am going to court, it is not those kind of lawyers that I would have used. I don’t even know the lawyers.
“But, I want to tell the candidate that it is his group that is doing all these things. Let the world hear. They are the ones plotting all these things thinking that they will spoil my name. You cannot. Yesterday they said I removed all PDP flags in Government House.
“We are supposed to be talking about how you will win election. These people around him are not doing him any favour; rather, they are working on how to lose the election. If that is what they want, I wish them good luck.
“After the commissioning of projects, nobody should say Wike has started oooh. I have been on my own and they are looking for trouble where there is no trouble. Wike is not important; Wike is not worried, but you people are worried. Rivers leaders, they have met you; Wike is not worried but your people are worried.
“My own goal is to come out to the public and tell the world. Allow peace to reign. If you say your mother will not sleep, you too will not sleep at the appropriate time. I am busy commissioning projects; tell those who are supporting you to go and commission projects. This is my own campaign to make our candidates win election.
“I didn’t go to Court and I have no reason to go to Court but those of you who are plotting to put my name for you to come out and say Wike wants to go to Court, shame will be on you. Shame will be on you.
Wike asked Atiku to tell those in Abuja with him to go home and campaign for him to win the 2023 presidential election.
On why he invited the Gbajabiamila to commission the new Rivers State legislative quarters, Wike said it was not because the Speaker is a member of the APC but because of the role he played in the refund of money owed the Rivers State government by the federal government.
The governor said: “Now, Mr. Speaker, let me tell you today. I did not invite you here because you are an APC member; I invited you because of the role you played for Rivers State to get their money. And I said come and see what I have done with that money – part of it.
“God will not allow me to abandon those who have assisted me in one way or the other to achieve what I have achieved.”
While commissioning the legislative quarters, Speaker of the House of Representatives, appealed to members of the Rivers State House of Assembly to join Wike whenever he makes up his mind to dump the PDP for the APC.
Noting that they were waiting for Wike’s arrival in APC, Gbajabiamila said, “I applaud the governor, His Excellency, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike for this accomplishment. I congratulate the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Ibani and all members of the Rivers State House of Assembly.
“I believe that when finally the governor chokes them, members of the State House of Assembly will be coming with him to where he is destined to be. We await you, your Excellency and very eagerly too.
“Let me build on what you have said. Do not let anybody intimidate you. At the appropriate time, you will tell them, you will choke them. God bless you and God bless the people of Rivers State.”
But apparently disturbed about Wike’s po;litical romance with APC chieftains, the PDP national chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, yesterday described the Rivers State governor, Wike, as a strong PDP member.
He accused the ruling APC of using the governor’s name to file a bogus suit against PDP, describing such action as criminal.
Ayu who spoke during the commemoration of the United Nations International Youth Day (IYD) 2022 organised by the Youth Wing of the party commended Wike for promptly dissociating himself from the said suit, adding that party faithful must be wary of APC’s divisive manipulations.
He said, “His Excellency, Gov. Nyesom Wike never took the party to court. It is the APC that did it. The first name in the case is a coordinator of the presidential candidate of the APC.
“We know very well that they don’t believe they can win any election. They have decided to divide you. But don’t let any APC manipulation divide you. They are the ones sponsoring false stories of crisis in PDP. PDP has no crisis. It is a united party.
“Anyone who thinks they can come and brew crises here is deceiving himself. They should wait for us till next year. In February, we will show them that they are the ones with crises.
“I want to make this clear before people start saying, ‘Oh, Wike took the party to court.’ Wike is a strong party man. And I am happy that he came out immediately to deny that he took the party to court. And very soon, the truth will be revealed because it’s a criminal thing.”
All speakers harped on the imperative of rescuing the country, Come 2023, and restoring Nigeria to her glory.
The International Youth Day (IYD), an awareness day set aside by the United Nations, was first observed on 12th August, 2000.
Similarly, minority leader in the House of Representatives, Hon Ndudi Elumelu, said those calling for the sack of the PDP National Working Committee (NWC) do not mean well for the party and Nigeria.
He said the party has confidence in its national leadership which, according to him, has done well in all assignments it has undertaken.
Elumelu stated this during an event organised by the PDP national youth leader to commemorate the international youth day in Abuja .
He said, “Those who are calling for the dissolution of the NWC that is geared towards rebuilding our nation, having in all the exercises done excellently well, I think they do not mean well for PDP and Nigeria.
“What they should be thinking about is how to join hands together to unite the party and unite Nigerians that are looking forward to PDP to rebuild them and come back to power come 2023.
“We have implicit confidence in the leadership of our party PDP led by a very youthful national chairman, Sen Iyorchia Ayu and his colleagues, we are part of them and we are with them.”
Elumelu, who urged the youths to combine their energy with the experience of the older generation, charged them to make good use of the current political dispensation which is said to belong to them.
He urged them not to be deterred by the APC administration which is adverse to the welfare of the youths as seen in the absence of job creation an enabling environment to thrive.
“The Way out for youths is to synergise with leaders like Atiku who have the welfare of youths and development at heart” stressing that Atiku as president would not sit back in Aso Rock while youths suffer the way the APC government has subjected them to.”