•Party’s crisis: NWC members may have ditched Rivers gov to back Ayu
•Council boss berates Maeba for attacking gov
•We cannot return Rivers to bitterness, Abe tells Wike
Chuks Okocha, Sunday Aborisade in Abuja and Blessing Ibunge in Port Harcourt
All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain representing Sokoto North senatorial district at the National Assembly, Senator Aliyu Wamakko, has poured cold water on Rivers State Governor, Mr. Nyesom Wike’s assertion that he lost the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential primary election because of religion.
Wamakko, hosted by Wike, spoke in Port Harcourt on Tuesday at the inauguration of one of the Rivers State governor’s projects.
Wamakko’s position came as it emerged yesterday that the leadership crisis in PDP over the outcome of the party’s presidential primary was becoming intractable as members of the National Working Committee (NWC) appeared to have ditched Wike and were fraternising with the national chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu.
But Chairman, Emohua Local Government Area in Rivers State, Dr. Chidi Lloyd, yesterday berated fellow Rivers man, Senator Lee Maeba, over his recent verbal attack on Wike.
In a related development, the governorship candidate of Social Democratic Party (SDP) in Rivers State, Senator Magnus Abe, appealed to Wike and other political leaders not to return the state to the dark era of politics of bitterness and antagonism.
Responding to an earlier remark by Wike on his loss of the PDP presidential ticket, Wamakko pointed out that religion was not a major factor in Nigeria’s national elections.
“My brother, I beg to disagree that you lost the election during the last PDP convention because of religion,” the former Sokoto State governor stated.
“This is because Muslims voted for Chief Olusegun Obasanjo twice as president of this country,” Wamakko said.
The former governor added, “Muslims also voted twice for former President Goodluck Jonathan, who is from the South-south geopolitical zone. I am sorry, sir, I have to disagree with you on the matter of religion here. Take note, please.”
He, however, commended Wike for his developmental strides in Rivers, saying, “I have seen what you can do, what you have done and I believe that you have the capacity to do more. Having said that, let me repeat again that Governor Wike, you are very dynamic, very courageous and talk and do governor of Rivers State.”
Earlier, in his speech, Wike noted that the country’s development challenges bordered on lack of experienced people who were passionate to serve and advance society.
The governor stated, “Somebody called me last night and said people are talking that the Nigerian economy was dying, things are hard in Nigeria, that am I in a different country; that every day we are commissioning new projects. It is not the amount of money you have, it is your passion, your love for your people, your commitment to your people and the job.
“The problem we have in this country today, we don’t have people who have that passion, who want to serve their people. The only regret I have is that I don’t have the opportunity to tell the bandits enough is enough. If I have the opportunity in the bandits’ zone, their time would have been gone, but unfortunate I don’t have it. But this one I have, I will use it to serve my people so that they will be happy and they deserve the best.
“A good government should be close to the people. There is nothing wrong in being close to the people. But what is important is what you have achieved in being close to those in authority. May God forbid that I should be close to a president or vice president and nothing will come to my community.”
PDP Crisis: NWC Members May Have Ditched Wike to Back Ayu
The PDP leadership crisis was responsible for the postponement of the national caucus meeting and National Executive Committee (NEC) previously scheduled to hold yesterday and today.
There had been reports that the Rivers State governor had asked for the sack of Ayu for his alleged biased disposition towards him. Tensions were so high that some NEC members also called for the sack of Ayu. But to ease the tension, and it was advised that both the NEC and the national caucus meetings be suspended to allow for further reconciliations.
A member of the NWC confided in THISDAY that Wike’s demand for the sack of Ayu would be counter productive.
The source said, “If Ayu were to be sacked, as Wike requested, and replaced with someone from the south, it would mean that the national secretary, Senator Samuel Anyanwu, from the south will have to be relieved of his office.
“Also, it would mean that even Wike would have lost a top ranking official that he nominated. Apart from Senator Anyanwu, the said swap will affect other members of the NWC from the south. Under the circumstances, it will dislocate the party and its preparation for the presidential and other elections next year.
“So, we have decided to align with the known devil than to scatter the party now and cause major crisis, which will drive deep into the campaigns. It is agreed that we support Ayu and see what will happen after the general election.”
The NWC member, who pleaded to remain anonymous, said it was the consensus that the suggestion by Wike and members of his camp for balancing should be a matter that would be considered after the election.
“Whatever happens to Ayu will happen to all of us,” the source said.
“For now, we are with Ayu. We will sink and swim with him,” the NWC member stated.
THISDAY also gathered that Wike had cut political relationship with the national secretary of the party, Anyanwu. According to a source, the only person working with Wike for now is the National Vice Chairman of the party for South-south, Chief Dan Orbih.
The source said, “You can see that even in the opening ceremony of some road projects in the state, only Orbih was there. He is just a member of the NWC in name. Orbih, like Wike, is fighting the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki.”
It was also learnt that other PDP governors in the South-south had distanced themselves from the Rivers State governor, who is being accused of dictatorial tendencies and comments. It was leant that the governors of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa and Edo states are not in the same camps with Wike, let alone the Delta State governor, who is the PDP vice presidential candidate.
A member of the Wike’s camp, Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, openly declared recently that Atiku was his presidential candidate and as one of the sponsors of Ayu to the post of national chairman of PDP, he was solidly behind him as the PDP chairman.
The story is the same for PDP governors in the South-east, such as Enugu and Abia states, a PDP top source disclosed.
He said, “Survival and self-interest is the name of the game. All of them have interest to see that their sponsored governorship candidates win and protect their interests in the states.”
According to the source, “It is in the survival interest of Wike to have his man win as the next governor of Rivers state, considering the fact that the EFCC has started investigating the Rivers State finances.”
The source further stated that it was common knowledge that the Rivers State governorship candidate escaped arrest around June this year at the PDP headquarters in Abuja.
It was also gathered that some top PDP stakeholders in the state like Senator Maeba, Austin Opara, Celestine Opara, Senator Sekibo and the former Chief of Army staff, General Kenneth Minimah were not in the same camp with Wike.
Rivers Council Boss Berates Meeba for Attacking Wike
Chairman of Emohua Local Government Area in Rivers State, Dr. Chidi Lloyd, berated Meeba for his recent verbal attack on Wike. Meeba, a strong supporter of Atiku, had in a recent interview accused Wike of being a dictator.
He claimed that Wike threatened to stop them from campaigning for Atiku in the state without his express permission, lamenting that the governor frustrated his bid to contest the governorship primary of the party.
The former senator was Chairman, Governing Council of the Elechi Amadi Polytechnic, in Rivers State, that has been dissolved by the governor. Meeba lamented that Wike did not allow him employ anybody in the institution and he refused to fund the polytechnic because of him.
He said the governor was also furious that he and some PDP leaders met with Atiku recently, where they promised him that Rivers State would vote a PDP candidate in 2023.
But Lloyd described Meeba as a coward without electoral value. He said it was cowardice elevated to the national level for Meeba, a two-time senator, to claim that Wike ordered him not to run for governorship.
Lloyd said Meeba displayed his cowardice again by remaining as a council chair of a Polytechnic he claimed Wike refused to fund for over seven years without resigning his position.
Lloyd stated, “I can only describe Lee Meeba as a coward. It is very unfortunate that he has taken his cowardice to the national level. For Lee to come out on a national television to say that Wike ordered him not to run an election and that was why he didn’t win is a sign of his cowardice.
“He also said that he sat as a chairman of the Governing Council of the Elechi Amadi Polytechnic but that the governor prevented him from employing anybody and didn’t fund the school. But he remained there without resigning. These are not human beings.”
Lloyd said Meeba lacked decency for reporting the outcome of a meeting where he was not in attendance.
He said regarding Meeba, “He had no decency to report events that happened in a meeting that he didn’t attend. He said in his interview that it was a meeting of Ikwerre elite. How did they lose it that Governor Wike can cow all of them?
“Will he (Meeba) have been crying foul if he was given the governorship ticket? He opened his mouth to say that the governor hates Ogoni. This is the same man that has dualised the road from Sakpewa to Kono where Lee comes from.
“Maybe, the governor didn’t give Lee’s company, New Tiger Head, the construction of overhead bridge that will fall and kill Rivers people.”
Speaking further, Lloyd said, “They have nothing to say about Governor Wike. Let him leave Abuja and come to Rivers to grant interviews. Let him come home. We are here. These are ‘food is ready’ politicians. They think that going to Atiku and casting aspersions on Governor Wike will make Atiku take them seriously.
“He has also shown that he cannot give Atiku one vote. Between Wike and Lee, who should Atiku go for, the man who called you and said you would not get one vote and it happened that way?
“Let Lee Meeba point at one Ogoni he had made all through his foray in the senate. How on earth do you think that a state like Rivers would not matter with over 3.6m votes?”
Commenting on Atiku, Lloyd said, “It is obvious that Atiku wasn’t destined to be president with his body language. As a Catholic, I will tell you that clearly. I haven’t seen a man, who is given delicious food and he pushes it down.
“Nobody abdicates his pulpit to intruders. Atiku came back to the PDP from the APC, contested the 2019 election, lost and proceeded to Dubai. He was on that long vacation until the election period. He came back.
“This is somebody the former president told us that if he had handed over to him God wouldn’t have forgiven him. Do they think that we don’t have memory? It is in Obasanjo’s book. Rather than look for ways and means to pull everybody together on a table, the likes of Lee are running to Abuja. Is that where the election will hold?
“I want to remind Lee that his school, the secondary school he attended in his community, is leaking. He attended Government Secondary School, Rumeme. No roof.”
Lloyd insisted that the plot by Atiku and those loyal to him to create crisis in Rivers PDP was an exercise in futility because the party’s leaders were solidly behind Wike.
“There is no crisis in Rivers PDP,” Lloyd insisted, saying, Governor Wike is in charge. We are satisfied with Governor Wike. That was why some of us who went to APC came back to join forces with him. Can’t you see what is happening that there is no other political party in Rivers? We are solidly behind Wike.”
Abe to Wike: We Cannot Return Rivers to Bitterness
Senator Magnus Abe appealed to Wike and other political leaders in the state not to return the state to the dark era of politics of bitterness and antagonism.
Abe said the governor should not allow Rivers return to fear, a situation that had in the past painted the state badly in the news.
Abe stated this yesterday, when he played host to members of the Southern Kaduna Peoples Forum and the Middle Belt Forum on a solidarity visit to endorse his candidature for the 2023 gubernatorial elections in the state.
Reacting to the state governor’s broadcast in Port Harcourt over the weekend, the former senator said, “My attention has been drawn to the state broadcast by Governor Nyesom Wike, where he expressed fears and reservations about politicians meeting cultists in hotels, bars, resorts and other entertainment centres to plan evil against one another.
“I was particularly disturbed when I saw the name of my party the SDP mentioned in that broadcast. My own concern and prayer is that this election cannot return Rivers State to the old place of fear, to the old place of challenges and crisis that we used to have in previous elections.
“I want to appeal to our governor, whether we are members of SDP, APC, PDP or whatever political parties we belong to; we are all Rivers men and women and our objective is to choose a leader for our people that will carry us forward, not to bring cultists and fight one another.”
The SDP standard bearer suggested that a security summit should be organised where all political leaders would be invited to share their ideas on how to have peaceful elections before, during and after the 2023 elections in the state.
He stated, “If there are genuine concerns about security in the state, I will expect the governor as a friend and father of the State, to call all of us to sit down together and share ideas on how to go forward into this election in a peaceful, convivial atmosphere in which everybody will be free to participate.
“Whether the governor likes it or not, it is the responsibility of the governor to provide a peaceful and conducive atmosphere for all for all of us and I will plead that we come together and talk to one another.”
“I will appeal to my fellow politicians, the governor has expressed security concerns, let us not begin to attack one another on the basis of that, instead let us sit down and look for solutions that will enable us cross these challenge without hitches.”
Earlier, leader for the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union and the Meddle Belt Forum, Samuel Adamu, said they came to pledged their support for Abe and to assure him that they would galvanise the support of all their members, as they believed that he had all it takes to transform Rivers State to its pride of place in Nigeria and beyond.