Despite moves to reconcile the Peoples Democratic presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar and five rebel governors who were elected on the platform of the PDP, led by Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, the Benue State Governor, Dr. Samuel Ortom, in Saturday remained unrelenting in his opposition to the presidential aspiration of the former vice president, insisting that only a southerner should succeed President Muhammadu Buhari.
Speaking at the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium during the inauguration of the PDP state-level campaign in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, Ortom, who is one of the governors in Wike’s camp, insisted that only a southerner should succeed President Buhari in 2023.
He said he was the first governor from the North to back the southern presidency, which he said is in the interest of fairness and justice.
“Nigerians, for the sake of equity, fairness and justice, expect that after eight years of President Buhari, the next President should go to the South irrespective of political affiliation and that is the right thing to do. We are Nigerians and we must ensure that all of us work together,” Ortom said.
He added that Wike was the right candidate to succeed Buhari, but “enemies of progress” ensured he didn’t win the party’s presidential primary in May.
Stressing that the enemies of progress also denied Wike the running mate ticket, the Benue State governor, however, urged the party’s supporters in the state to work with him and ensure victory for all PDP National Assembly, state assembly and governorship candidates in Rivers.
Also speaking at the event, Wike argued that Atiku must start a government of inclusion and national unity from the PDP.
He insisted that he believed in the party as well as in equity, fairness and justice.
He argued that if Atiku believed in restructuring, and devolution of power and that President Buhari appointed 17 northerners as heads of security chiefs, he should correct it from the party by asking the National Chairman of the party, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, to step down for a southerner.
He boasted that none of the G-5 governors would lose their governorship. “Not one of the states of PDP integrity governors will lose their governorship. Not one. No amount of gang-up will make us lose Abia, Enugu, Benue and Oyo states and who is that that will come and win Rivers State? I do not understand human beings; some people want to be governor of Rivers State since 2003 till now.”
Wike again alleged that Ayu pocketed funds realised by the party from the sale of nomination and expression of interest forms for primaries in May.
He challenged the PDP national chairman to head to court to see if he is innocent.
“You cannot fight Rivers State and go free,” he added.
Speaking earlier on Friday night during a banquet organised by the PDP in the state for the G-5 governors, Wike challenged his counterparts in the Niger Delta to account for the huge sums of monies received by them as a backlog for the 13 per cent oil derivation since 1999, which was paid by Buhari.
The governor told attendees at the banquet that while he could point to the projects executed by his administration with the monies in Rivers State, some of his colleagues cannot show any proof.
He said: “I am not an apostle of Buhari; he is not my friend but I have no regret to appreciate him for paying the money meant for the Niger Delta states. He has paid. Let everybody come and account for it.”
Wike said he is unfazed by threats of being sacked by the PDP.
He dared the party to carry out the threat, stating he would respond appropriately.
The governor insisted that his state would no longer work for anybody, who refuses to embrace justice, fairness and equity.
He said he was only committed to working for PDP, Rivers State chapter, adding that all his candidates in the state would win their elections.
The governor said after he had praised Buhari for releasing the money owed to some Niger Delta states of Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Delta and Bayelsa, some persons sent him messages that he should not have commended the president.
“Just like all of them here, you have not won the election and you want to jail the Benue governor. You have not won the election and you want to jail the Enugu governor. You have not won the election and you want to jail the Oyo governor. God will not allow you.
“Because they stand for the truth and say they will support Wike; therefore all of them will come down. They will never come down. They cannot be governors again. Only Seyi will still be governor. He has worked for Oyo State and you cannot threaten him.
“What have we done? We say by our party’s constitution, the President should go here and the chairman should go here. But you say no you will take everything, we also say no we won’t allow that. History will be on our side that we are saying the truth and nothing but the truth.
“There is one man who married 20 wives and because we say no, you can’t extort states of over $400 million – one man. He said he did work. Which work? But we say we won’t allow him to take that money,” Wike added.
On his promise to give logistics support to the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Mr. Peter Obi, Wike said he had no regret. He promised again to release vehicles and security for Obi’s campaign in Rivers State.
Blessing Ibunge in Port Harcourt