Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, on Monday said the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, did not consult him before he picked members of his campaign council from the state.
The governor, who spoke at the inauguration of the Rivers State PDP Campaign Council in Port Harcourt, the state capital, claimed Atiku selected “enemies” of Rivers into his campaign council for the 2023 general elections.
Wike also explained that Atiku’s photos and those of PDP National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, have been missing in PDP campaign materials in the state because they don’t want him to campaign for the party at the national level.
“Some people have asked me why is it that they don’t see the presidential candidate’s picture (and) the party chairman’s? I said what are you talking about? The presidential candidate entered my state and picked members of the presidential council without a whole governor of a state having a contribution,” he said.
“The presidential candidate entered Rivers State and picked those he wants to pick without the contribution of the governor. So, they said they don’t need me to campaign for them, that they don’t need Rivers people to campaign for them. Will you force yourself?
“I have never seen how people will disrespect a state like Rivers State and go and choose those who are enemies of the state without the contributions of us.”
Wike said PDP members in Rivers do not know the state nominees in Atiku’s campaign list, noting that he and the party in the state will only campaign for the governorship candidate, the senatorial candidates, and others who carried them along.
“If they want us to be involved in the campaign, they will come and tell us. If he thinks we are important, they will come and meet us,” the governor noted, adding that nobody can intimidate Rivers when he is governor of the state.
During the inauguration of the state campaign council for PDP on Monday, Wike said, “This campaign council is to bring out strategies on how to campaign on how to follow the election. This election is a different election. It will not be as usual.”
The governor said each local government in Rivers will have its own strategy to mobilise the people.
“Some of you have been quarreling that my name is not there. The campaign council is just a general policy council and they will now bring people who will be in each of the committees…those of you who are crying my name is not there, everybody’s names cannot be in the campaign council; it is not possible.
“And two, the campaign council is not for sharing money. I am the chairman of the campaign council. So, think that you will submit your budget to the governor and DG (director general). The campaign council will approve every budget which is presided over by me, the DG is for implementation. So, don’t think that the governor is my person. It doesn’t work that way.”
Wike has been having a running battle with Atiku and Ayu for months, insisting northerners cannot occupy both positions.
With the official commencement of campaigns for the 2023 elections, the PDP in late September unveiled a 600-member campaign council headed by the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Udom Emmanuel.
Atiku and his supporters have been seen at rallies in Bauchi, Kaduna, Akwa Ibom, and a few places. However, Wike and his allies like Governors Samuel Ortom (Benue), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu) have not been seen at any rally of the PDP presidential candidate.
Since he lost the PDP presidential ticket to Atiku at the party’s primary in May, Wike has for months demanded Ayu’s resignation over what he termed “injustice” to southerners.
Atiku, Nigeria’s former Vice President between 1999 and 2007, is in the race for Aso Rock’s top job alongside top contenders like Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP).