Port Harcourt, Nigeria – There are indications that the end of the leadership crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), seems not to be in sight, as Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike who has been at loggerheads with the leadership of the party since Atiku Abubakar’s emergence as the PDP flagbearer, continued to release can of worms, plotting mountains of ridges against the National Chairman of Iyorchia Ayu who he said must step down and give room to equity and fairness in the party.
In a media chat with journalists in Port-Harcourt, Rivers State, Governor Wike spoke extensively on some of the underground politics that played out during and after the PDP’s convention which saw the emergence of Atiku Abubakar as the party’s presidential candidate.
He disclosed that the presidential candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu wooed him to run for senate after he lost the presidential ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
He stated that the candidate of the ruling party Ahmed Bola Tinubu accosted him amid the PDP crisis and wooed him to go for the senate, but he rejected the offer.
“Even after the whole thing, Tinubu said come and go for Senate, I said no, I won’t do that. I have already made a commitment that this senate should be zoned to this area because they have never had it before.”
The Rivers State Governor added that he refused to make decisions that will affect the overall interest of the party despite the internal crisis at the national level, which he claimed was fomented by Atiku, Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal and the party’s chair, Iyorchia Ayu.
He, however, stated that Ayu step down and give room to equity and fairness in the party.
Asked if his actions after the primaries were not traits of a bad loser, he replied, I never collected senatorial form, other candidates did and that is how you know those who are serious and those who are unserious .
He opined that he didn’t contest for the ticket because he wanted to settle for the position of vice president.
“Imagine a national chairman, Ayu went ahead to describe Tambuwal as hero of the convention.
“You heard what Jang said, he described Ayu as a referee who helped one of the sides to score a goal and then blew a whistle that a goal had been scored,” he said.
He further accused Senator Ayu of working against his emergence as presidential candidate of the party.
“There’s nothing Ayu did not do for me not to emerge as the PDP candidate. Ayu did everything to manipulate the system to ensure that all the numbers did not add up,” he said.
Ayu, he alleged, called many presidential aspirants to withdraw for Atiku Abubakar, who eventually picked the ticket.
He mentioned some of those contacted to withdraw for Atiku as Bauchi Governor Bala Mohammed: his Sokoto counterpart Aminu Tambuwal and former Senate President Bukola Saraki.
He alleged that Ayu also threatened to resign as chairman if he emerged the candidate, stating the National Chairman manipulated the process for the victory of Atiku.
He revealed that Ayu, is eying the Secretary to Government of the Federation position should the party win the 2023 presidential election.
This, he alleged, may be contributing to his hold on the chairmanship position and his insistence not to resign from office to ensure equity and justice.
According to him, “If Nigerians hear a lot of things going on now in the party that wants to take over the reign of power they will shake their heads,” Wike said, adding, “You see when we talked about Ayu, it seems people don’t know what is involved. Ayu wants to be in power. So that he will be there and if we (PDP) win (presidential election), he wants the Secretary to the Government of the Federation position. You know these positions have been shared and then they are talking to ‘small boys’ like us to play along like we don’t know what is going on
“I can tell you that because most of you don’t know what is going in the party. Somebody has been given the senate president position. And do you think I will sit here on national television to tell you things I don’t know? It is just because of confidentiality and certain things that we cannot say them here.”
This is as the governor boasted that though no one was above the party, those who left the party during the height of its crisis in 2014/2015 cannot suspend him.
When asked about his possible suspension for anti-party activities, Wike said, “Who will suspend me? The party? Which party? PDP? No problem. Look at the wahala (problem) you (PDP) are already carrying. They (PDP) can go ahead.
“I am not saying I am bigger than the party. But those who ran away from the party cannot suspend me from the party. I beg them (PDP) today and they shouldn’t waste time to say the Governor of Rivers State you are hereby suspended from the party. Then, anything you see, you take! They (PDP members) know what I can do.”
“What I am saying is that if we misused this opportunity Nigerians are giving us, we will pay dearly for it. For me, everything must be done to make sure the right is done for us to get the support of Nigeria. But if we continue this way, we are going for a shocker, and that I can tell you.”
He said the crisis in the main opposition party was more than what was being reported in the media and for the sake of peace, he won’t divulge critical information to the public.
“I believed justice, fairness, and equity should be allowed for our party to progress. That is when our party can stand as a party that wants to take over the reign of affairs of this country,” he said.
Wike added, “Nigerians should even thank us that we are pushing our party to let the world not think that some of the people (PDP members) behaving around are the people to lead them but to know that there are people who still believe in equity, justice, and fairness in the PDP.”
Wike maintained that he won’t be defecting to any other party but he would ensure that justice was done and the chairmanship position moved to the South.
“If I want power or want to be in power, I would have gone ahead to take the senatorial ticket (offer). But I said no. That is a man who believes in equity, fairness, and justice. So the analysis does not rhyme at all,” the governor said.
Wike, alleged that the chairman of Ayu took money from a presidential candidate in Lagos State and challenged the party chairman to deny the claims, noting that he has evidence. Wike, however, refused to mention the individual who Ayu collected the money from.
Wike who is apparently pained that he was unable to win the PDP’s presidential primary to battle the All Progressives Congress, APC, said the money Ayu collected did not enter PDP‘s account.
He said: “Will he deny the fact that he did not collect one billion naira from Lagos? Yes, let him deny it, I will tell him who gave him the money.
“Not Lagos state government, but someone in Lagos. The money was given to him in Lagos. He met one of the presidential aspirants and told him he was not sure state governors would want to sponsor the party.
“Let Ayu say no, I will even call some of the businessmen and how the money was arranged in Lagos. That money did not enter the account of PDP. But we are not attacking Ayu on that basis,” Wike said.
Wike stressed that he has a good relationship with the party and that is why he is making sure candidates that emerge in my state win in the 2023 general elections.
Returning to the call for Ayu’s resignation, Wike said the issue as it is today is that as it is provided in the constitution of the party that there shall be zoning of party offices and elective offices.
“It is made clear and what should be and what should be done. People in the system now manipulate things and would not let the public know the truth.”
He also narrated howAtiku Abubakar and a former Senate President, Saraki all worked against former President Goodluck Jonathan which eventually made him lose the 2015 presidential election.
Wike said Jonathan’s pleas to rescind their decision of leaving the party in 2014 fell on deaf ears.
Accordng to Wike, Sokoto Governor, Aminu Tanbuwal was among those, who humiliated Jonathan after the 2014 convention as they insisted that it was the turn of the north.
“People should not forget history. In 2013 and 2014, there was an issue of the presidential candidate. Jonathan emerged. Atiku and others worked out of the convention. Tambuwal and former Senate President all worked out.
“Jonathan did everything to talk to them. But they rebuffed him as a sitting President. President travelled to London to see Atiku, but he rebuffed him. Former Governor Babangida Aliyu admitted that they all agreed to work against Jonathan”.
“We are not like them, when in 2014; they walked out from Eagles Square and joined APC. Did they remain to fight inside the party? They ran away, but we will remain. Now there is a fight in the party, we will not run. We will fight it in this party,” Wike said.
“Those who run away from fight are weak people. But we will not.
“So everybody should know, this is the state where we are, so nobody should tell you stories”, he said.
Continuing, he revealed that some ex-military generals and other Peoples Democratic Party members met on the night of the party’s presidential primary and special convention to prevent his emergence as the party’s presidential candidate.
He added that part of the meetings was held in homes of ex-generals on the night of the convention in a bid to prevent his emergency.
He the meetings were part of what led to the delay in the commencement of the convention on the day of PDP primary.
Wike lambasted Ayu for his role in the last convention of the party, saying he aided the emergence of the former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, as the party’s flagbearer.
He added, “A whole national chairman told some aspirants that if Wike wins that he was going to resign. As chairman of the convention, he allowed Aminu Tambuwal to speak a second time. Look, integrity matters.
“And after everything, he (Ayu) went and hugged Tambuwal that he was the hero of the convention.
“Meetings upon meetings were going. Pressures were being mounted on people to step down.
“Even on the night of the convention meetings were going on. That is why we started our convention late.
“Some of the retired generals were involved. Some of the meetings were held in their houses. There is nothing they didn’t do for me to step down.
“Those who know me, know that I would have stopped the convention, even if heaven falls.
“But I said for peace to reign, let the convention go on. Now a candidate has emerged. And we need to win elections as a party. That is the ultimate, winning elections.
“But the right things must be done. It was agreed and it has been the practice of the party that if the candidate comes from the North, the national chairman should come from the South.
“The candidate (Atiku) knows all these. He even said it to me when he came to my house in Abuja.”
“I’m not saying PDP cannot do without me, I’m saying they cannot do without me in Rivers. PDP cannot win Rivers without me,” he asserted.
Speaking further on Atiku’s choice of running mate, Gov Woke noted that he was aware of the underground moves of the Delta state governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, to become the vice presidential candidate of the PDP.
Wike said that though he was aware, he expected good sense to prevail in the party.
He affirmed thus: “That he (Atiku) was going to run with Okowa. That Okowa supported him. We were all aware. It is not that we didn’t see. The problem with some of our leaders is that there are so many rent-seekers around them. They (rent-seekers) have not been in power for years. So they are all looking for how to bounce back. They are people who have no value to add.”
He said, “The chairman must either remain in south or go to the north, luckily the party set up a committee for zoning. In that committee, the governor of Enugu State was the chairman; Governor Ortom was the deputy chairman.
“Cleverly, and some people will always think that they are too clever. They came up with zone only the party offices, don’t zone the elective offices. How can you only zone party offices? You won’t zone elective offices?
“Some people believe they are too intelligent than others. Some of us say, look, that this at the end of the day will cause crisis for us.”