The presidential candidate of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP), Rabiu Kwankwaso, on Monday, took a swipe at his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) counterpart, Atiku Abubakar, saying any party that can’t control Lagos, Kano, and Rivers states should forget about the 2023 presidential election.
Kwankwaso made this known when he commissioned the Mgbutanwo Internal Roads in the Emohua Local Government Area of Rivers State at the invitation of Governor Nyesom Wike.
The former Kano governor also hit some PDP leaders whom he described as rigid and selfish.
He said, “Many people have made so many mistakes; many people don’t understand. Some leaders are very rigid, rigid in the sense that whether they are failing or winning, they will stick to one idea, they will stick to one candidate not minding the consequences, not minding the feelings of the people involved
“We have seen people in my former party that all they want is to get the presidential ticket. They are ready to do anything to have a ticket.
“Any party that cannot control two of the three states – Kano, Lagos, and Rivers is out. He (Wike) has been saying it and people have not taken note of it. Anyway, by now, with Kwankwaso out of that party, and Wike struggling to be there or not to be there, somehow things are moving, certainly, Lagos is not their own, and one begins to wonder how they will win the election of 2023.”
Kano had over 1.8 million cumulative votes – the highest by any state in the 2019 presidential election – while Lagos had over one million total votes and Rivers about 600,000 total votes – all mainly shared between the APC’s Muhammadu Buhari and PDP’s Atiku Abubakar. Other states with heavy numerical voter strength based on past elections include Kaduna, Katsina, Jigawa, Plateau, and Bauchi, amongst others.
‘I Foresaw PDP Crisis’
For months, Wike and four other PDP governors known as the G5 have kicked against what they called northern dominance within the party. The G5 also called the Integrity Group has demanded the resignation of Iyorchia Ayu as PDP national chairman as a precondition to support the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
Kwankwaso on Monday told the Rivers governor that he saw very early what he (Wike) now sees in the PDP, hence his defection to the All Progressives Congress (APC) in December 2013 and later to the NNPP in March 2022. Kwankwaso also said he left the APC and returned to the PDP in 2018 because the ruling party proved to be worse than the PDP.
“Unfortunately, some of us see what you, your excellency, did not see in time. That was why we decided in 2013-14 to bring some changes in the political architecture of this country, that was why we formed the APC believing that the party was going to be a progressive party that will sort out the issues were concerned about at that time.
“Unfortunately, this party proved overtime in the opinion of many people especially in the PDP that it is worse than the PDP itself,” he said.
The former minister thanked Wike for standing firm and for telling the truth, saying he is a member of his socio-political movement, Kwankwasiyya.
“Let me thank you for standing firm. I thank you for telling the truth at any given time, not minding what they think or do.
“Your excellency, without putting on red cap, I can tell you, you are a member of the Kwankwasiyya any day, anytime because in Kwankwasiyya you don’t have to put on red caps; many people in this country put on their red caps in their hearts. It is there and I believe you are one of us.”
‘Posterity Will Judge Integrity Group’
Kwankwaso further said Wike’s Integrity Group is doing the right thing by consulting and weighing its choices, noting that posterity will judge the group if it fails to take necessary actions.
“Let me at this point congratulate Governor Wike for leading the Integrity Group.
“I believe they are good people and I know that by the grace of God, the Integrity Group will do the right thing as soon as possible because I believe they are people of integrity, and of course, the posterity will judge them based on the action they take,” he stated.
While Wike and his allies have not been seen to campaign for Atiku, it is not clear whether they will support Kwankwaso; Peter Obi of the Labour Party; or APC’s Bola Tinubu in the contest for Aso Rock’s top job which has been described by analysts and keen observers as a three-horse race.