Rivers State Governor, Mr. Nyesom Wike, has said Sunday’s endorsement of Labour Party (LP) presidential candidate, Mr. Peter Obi, by former President Olusegun Obasanjo speaks volumes about the character of his former vice and current presidential candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. Wike called Atiku a bad product.
The governor spoke on Monday at the flag-off of the Akpabu- Odido Road project in the Emohua Local Government Area of the state.
But reacting swiftly, PDP Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) returned Wike’s diatribe, asking sarcastically if his own former boss, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi, under whom the governor, a “so-called good product”, had served as Chief of Staff, supported his governorship ambition.
The PCC described Wike as a mole in the main opposition party working for the presidential candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. It dismissed the recent alliance between the Rivers State governor and Tinubu as profane and based on treachery, saying both men are treacherous.
However, the Professor Pat Utomi-led Big Tent Coalition of political parties and civil society organisations described Obasanjo’s stance on Obi’s candidacy as the will of the Nigerian people.
That was as the LP presidential candidate promised to revolutionise agriculture and other productive ventures it elected president next year. He stated this in his New Year message to Nigerians.
Wike said a bad product was always difficult to sell, otherwise, Obasanjo would have endorsed Atiku. He urged the PDP presidential candidate to leave him out of party’s crisis.
Wike insisted that if Obasanjo refused to recommend Atiku, who had served with him, to Nigerians, but endorsed Obi, instead, then something must be fundamentally wrong with the former vice president’s character.
The Rivers State governor also took a swipe at those accusing him and Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State of frustrating the micro-zoning of the presidential ticket of PDP to the South-east. He said he had always believed and supported concerted effort towards ensuring that the presidency was zoned to the south.
Wike explained, “I was one of those who led the campaign that the party’s chairmanship should go to the north because I believed the presidency should go to the south.
“I attended meetings of southern governors of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and other parties from Delta to Lagos to Enugu states, where we agreed that presidency should come to the south.”
The governor alleged that while the southern cross-party consultations were going on, there were people in PDP who were bent on frustrating the eventual zoning of the party’s presidential ticket to the south.
Such people, he maintained, could not now turn around to blame him and Ortom in order to hide their evil scheme, to try to deceive Nigerians.
Wike said, “I woke up this morning and read where they said, how Wike and Ortom frustrated PDP’s micro-zoning of presidential ticket to the South-east. That was what the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku, said.
“I keep on saying, they’ll be contradicting themselves, telling lies up and down, thinking that Nigerians don’t know. How can they say that I influenced Ortom, told him to allow and throw the ticket open?”
He explained further, “Nigerians know those who are opposed to zoning of the party’s chairmanship first.
“And when the zoning committee was set up, this time, Atiku had gone to buy form to frustrate the recommendation of the zoning committee; so that when they have bought form, they could say, oh, there is no need of zoning, will you tell people to withdraw?”
Wike said it was noteworthy that the gimmick of those who frustrated the zoning plan was now hunting them because they were unfair to Nigerians.
He stated, “Yes, you don’t like Ortom, no problems. I know my own, you don’t like me, no problems. But my state gave you the highest support in 2019, both with logistics and by votes.
“You can’t deceive every Nigerian again. What I have stood for is equity, fairness and justice.
“So, saying that I and Ortom frustrated PDP micro-zoning to South-east is neither here nor there. They know that they don’t want presidency to come to the south.”
Commenting on the road project, Wike expressed gratitude to God that the Odido community would get a modern road for the first time in their history during his administration. He said given the joy expressed by the Odido people, it would be difficult to believe that they would cast their votes for candidates of any other party except PDP
Wike is Tinubu’s Mole in PDP, Says Atiku’s Campaign
PDP responded swiftly to Wike’s castigation of Atiku, describing him as a mole in PDP. It said Wike’s comments were akin to pot calling the kettle black, saying, “Wike himself, a so-called good product, has never been found worthy of any position by any of his predecessors.
“Governor Amaechi, whom he served as Chief of Staff never supported his governorship ambition for two principal reasons. First, he said at a town hall meeting in Port Harcourt in 2015 that ‘Nyesom Wike loves and worships money; he can betray anyone for money – nothing more, nothing less’ and, secondly, that two Ikwerre sons should not rule the state consecutively to the exclusion of other sections of the state. But the man who preaches fairness today wanted to be governor regardless of whether it was fair to others or not.”
The main opposition party added, “Former Governor Rotimi Amaechi even stated at the convention of the apex Ikwerre body, Ogbako Ikwerre, in Emohua Local Government Area of Rivers State on December 31, 2013 that President Jonathan initially rejected Wike when he recommended him for ministerial appointment.
“Amaechi specifically stated, ‘He (Jonathan) rejected Wike and I begged President Jonathan several times and consistently because I wanted Wike to be appointed a minister. But today, Nyesom Wike has betrayed me for selfish reasons.’
“Even former Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Prince Uche Secondus, and former Governor Celestine Omehia do not see Wike as presidential material.
“Indeed, if notable politicians and even predecessors of Wike from his home state do not see him worthy enough to lead Nigeria, he ought to sit down and reflect on his life rather than continue to taunt Atiku Abubakar who Obasanjo found worthy to be president in 2019, despite the many hurtful things he had said against Atiku in the past.
“And if Obasanjo decides not to support Atiku this time around, it is all well and good. Waziri is a man who does not bear grudges or wish people evil like Wike.”
PDP went further to explain that former United States President Barack Obama did not endorse his then Vice President Joe Biden in 2016. It noted that when the latter wanted to vie for the Democratic Party ticket, Obama endorsed Hillary Clinton.
It stated, “But in 2020, he endorsed Biden. Time and circumstances do change. Ironically, Wike cleverly ignored more salient issues in Obasanjo’s letter, which talks about how unfit the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu, is for the presidency.”
For the sake of emphasis, PDP said Obasanjo had stated, “Let me say straight away that ‘Emi Lokan’ (My turn) and ‘I have paid my dues’ are one and the same thing and are wrong attitude and mentality for the leadership of Nigeria now. They cannot form the new pedestal to reinvent and to invest in a new Nigeria based on an All-Nigeria Government for the liberation and restoration of Nigeria.”
It alleged, “Wike cleverly decided to be silent on this aspect of Obasanjo’s letter because he is a mole working for the APC candidate. He is clearly executing a part of their agreement to remain in PDP and demarket the party and her presidential candidate from within. What he is doing now is the deal reached in London with Tinubu. He thinks he can fool Nigerians.
“Unfortunately, he is not man enough to come out boldly to tell the world he is working for Tinubu. Their unholy union is based on treachery, as they are both treacherous. Atiku will not be distracted by Wike’s constant vituperations and childish tantrums. He needs to grow up and stop trying to destroy the party he once claimed to love.”
Former President’s Endorsement Reflects Resolve of Voters, Says Utomi-led Group
In a related development, the Professor Pat Utomi-led Big Tent Coalition of political parties and civil society organisations described Obasanjo’s endorsement of the LP presidential candidate, Peter Obi, as the will of the electorate.
BigTent, an affiliate of LP, also commended Obasanjo for, “standing up for the Nigerian youth and majority of Nigerians, who shared similar sentiment, to endorse Peter Obi, presidential candidate of Labour Party.”
In a statement signed by its Director of Media and Communications, Charles Odibo, the coalition maintained that Obasanjo’s, “unambiguous endorsement of Peter Obi as the most credible and qualified presidential candidate for the February 2023 election, is a further affirmation of the popular views of majority of registered voters, as reflected in five independent polls conducted by four credible pollster organisations.”
Odibo added, “By this exemplary act of rising above primordial sentiments and standing with the people, as is consistently reflected in the mood of the nation and published empirical surveys in the past four months, President Obasanjo has again displayed the characteristic frankness, which has long endeared him to the masses who still fondly remember his golden era as president of the country at the dawn of this democratic dispensation.
“Going into the election in February, we are confident that Peter Obi, who has built up an enthusiastic base over the past six months as widely indicated in the surveys has, through an organic ‘Obidient’ support base, rapidly scaled up our organisational infrastructure to capitalise on the campaign’s momentum that will inevitably lead to victory on February 25, 2023.”
He concluded by saying, “As the race to the general election gets underway and Nigerians contend with soaring inflation, a plunging currency, pervasive insecurity, crude oil sales that have also slumped to all-time lows, while the APC-led administration’s debt service bill continue to exceed the revenue the country is able to earn, majority of Nigerians, as indicated in the surveys, and now endorsed by former President Obasanjo, look up to Peter Obi as the only candidate who can surmount the challenges.”
ZAP: OBJ’s Backing Reinforces Atiku’s Innermost Mind
The Zikist-Aminu Kano Patriots (ZAP) said Obasanjo’s endorsement of Obi was a reiteration of Atiku’s original stance on the 2023 presidency.
ZAP’s spokesman, Dr. Steve Igweze, said Obasanjo’s choice of Obi resonates with Atiku’s belief that 2023 was the turn of the South-east to produce President Muhammadu Buhari’s successor, adding that it would be unfair for a Fulani to succeed another Fulani in a multi-ethno-religious country.
While commending Obasanjo for his patriotism and statesmanship, Igweze maintained that the former president and Atiku had shown that they knew that proper power rotation was the correct thing to do to sustain Nigeria’s unity and stability.
He stated, “For us in the Zikist-Aminu Kano Patriots, Obasanjo’s endorsement is in fulfillment of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar’s innermost mind on micro zoning the 2023 Presidency to the South-east, before some unpatriotic elements selfishly pushed him to use his Dubai-Machiavellian war-chest to jettison equity, fairness in the PDP presidential primary, which created G-5-Wike Masquerade albatross.”
On claims by some PDP political merchants that the party’s choice of Atiku was a smart move to win the presidency with or without Obasanjo’s endorsement, Igweze said it was impossible for PDP and Atiku to pull the northern votes as they contemplated.
Labour Party Candidate Pledges to Embark on Agric Revolution, Other Productive Ventures, If Elected
The presidential candidate of Labour Party (LP) and former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, urged the Nigerian electorate to vote for candidates of good character, with the right competence and commitment, in the next general election.
In his New Year Message to Nigerians, Obi, on behalf of his family and the Labour Party, wished Nigerians joy, peace and good health this year and beyond.
Obi said he had taken time to travel round the country and also gone to other parts of the world to engage Nigerians. He expressed optimism that the country was on the verge of a major turning point in its history.
Obi said, “Together we birthed a movement of Nigerians committed to tacking back the country in 2023. With your continued support, victory is ours.
“With the 2023 general election just about 55 days ahead, Datti Baba-Ahmed and I reiterate our determination to serve Nigeria with love, strength and faith and diligently implement our pact with Nigeria from May 2023, to create a new Nigeria, a renewed nation bound in freedom, prosperity, peace and unity.
“Vote for character, competence and commitment that you can trust to secure and unite Nigeria, end poverty and ginger through agricultural revolution, particularly in our northern region, and other productive revolutions in different regions of our dear country, empower our children and youth through proper education and health and many other plans and targets.”
Onyebuchi Ezigbo, Emameh Gabriel in Abuja, Blessing Ibunge in Port Harcourt and Gideon Arinze in Enugu