Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike yesterday explained why former President Goodluck Jonathan is not likely to support Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar in next year’s election.
He recalled that Atiku never backed Dr. Jonathan for his re-election bid, adding that he mounted pressure on the former president to relinquish the 2015 presidential ticket of the party.
Wike said the former vice president embarrassed and humiliated Jonathan, who as a sitting President and candidate visited him in Dorchester Hotel, London, to beg him to return to the party to support his second term bid.
The governor spoke when he led his Ebonyi State counterpart, Dave Umahi, to inaugurate the Akpabu-Omudioga-Egbeda road constructed by his administration.
He said: “What I don’t like is that we forget history easily. In 2015 when Jonathan as a sitting president won his primary, Jonathan went to London in Donchester Hotel to plead with this our presidential candidate today, Atiku Abubakar, to say ‘please, my brother, come back to the party and support me’.
“Do you know the condition they gave to Jonathan? That he should relinquish his ticket not to run as president of Nigeria. That was a sitting president and presidential candidate of a ruling party. They gave him that condition, telling him to relinquish that ticket for him not to run.
“When I see some people running around and talking rubbish, they forget history easily. Today, we are not saying the presidential candidate should relinquish his ticket. We are not being selfish. We are only saying since you are now the presidential candidate, let our people take chairmanship and they say they will kill me. Is it possible?
The governor said some persons he described as rent seekers from Rivers were running around the presidential candidate banking on promises that they would become ministers.
Wike, however, said it was foolhardy for people who had not captured an animal to be deciding how it would be shared.
He said: “When you see some rent seekers from here going around saying they will give me minister of finance, they will give me governor of Central Bank, you haven’t killed an animal and you are saying women, don’t eat it. Kill the animal first to know whether women will eat or not.
“I don’t want that kind of promise. Give my people this one we are talking now. Give us. Give us the chairman so that things can move freely. I am not greedy. They come and tell you stories.
“I challenge them. Did they not embarrass Jonathan when he was running as a sitting President? I said Dorchester Hotel in London. But they said he should relinquish the ticket. Now, you are not a sitting President, you are just a presidential candidate. We say hold it, we will support you but let us have this one.
“People should appreciate things in life. So all those people, scavengers, vampires running around everywhere thinking they have what it takes. Nobody. The women seated here, all the youths, all these men will decide what will be as far as this election is concerned. So, nobody can intimidate me”.
Wike said some people were not happy that he commended Buhari for releasing the money he was using to execute projects in the state, warning them some persons to stay clear of him and whatever plans they had against him.
He said: “That is why when I said they should thank Buhari, people started fighting me. I came here you brought yam, plantain, cow; what are you doing. Is it not thanking me for this road? What is wrong if I said thank somebody who released money nobody released and I am using it to work for my people?
“They are coming to fight me. You can’t fight me. Even God says when someone has helped you, give thanks. When you give thanks, you get more. For those who don’t like to say thank you, it is their business and they will face God later.
“So, I have no apology to give to anybody. Let’s warn anybody who dares to do any rubbish because I said we should thank the President. Be very careful with me because what will come you can’t stand it”.
The governor wondered why persons, who forced the PDP into opposition, had become defenders of the party, adding that he withdrew the suit he instituted against Umahi to reclaim the PDP mandate when he joined the APC because of some steps the national chairman of his party took without his knowledge.
Wike said the road projects was meant to link Akpabu, Umudioga, Egbeda and other communities in the same ward, which could only be accessed separately through the East-West road.
He said: “They are all in the same ward. You cannot pass here to go to Umudiagha. You have to take East West Road again to go there. But today, you can pass here to go there. We have connected Akpabu bridge to Odido. They have never seen road in their life.
“This is an agricultural area. When you produce food, you can take it to the market. I am not just an Ikwere man, I am a proper Ikwere man. I will not leave this office until I am fully satisfied that I have done something for my people. As I am leaving, another person is coming.
“The only thing I will beg you. As I am doing all these things for you, please, keep your votes for us. At the appropriate time, we will come and tell you where you will go. Don’t mind all those people. They have run away to Abuja. Let them come. Ask them when they were minister, what they did for their people”.
Wike asked Umahi not to bother about spending any money on any APC candidate in Rivers, insisting that only the PDP existed in the state.
“I thank you for coming to see what we are doing here so that you don’t make mistake of sending your money to anybody as candidate. Those who are running your party here are those who hid our plane and sold our gas turbine.
“There is no chance at all. It is not propaganda. It is good to invite other parties. Kwankwaso was here. Obi was here. Many of these PDP leaders abusing me now had been here to inaugurate projects; just that I stopped a bit and they are angry. I have invited you enough; let me invite other parties so that they will help me and advise their people to step down. It is a strategy for me to win elections”.
Umahi, who backed Wike’s fight for justice, fairness and equity, said all of them in the South must stand on the Asaba Accord, an agreement by governors across party lines, that the Presidency must move to the South.
He said: “Many times Wike has rescued PDP. If you didn’t have someone like Wike, when we pulled out, it was going to be mass exodus. But the moment he engaged me, every other person became afraid. So, he saved the soul of PDP.
“When you say give us the chairman of the party, I said no, it is not just that. We had the Asaba Accord. All the governors of South came together and say for the interest of this country, let the next president come from South. It doesn’t matter where it will come from.
“You did not initiate that meeting. It was initiated by the Governor of Ondo for Southwest, the governor of Delta for Southsouth and myself for Southeast. When we told you, you came and talked to other governors. There was this Asaba Accord. It was in the Government House of Delta State. So, nobody else will come to tell anybody any other thing. Integrity is very important.
“You will never depart from that accord. I stand on Asaba Accord. I support most of the northern governors, who in their wisdom and for the interest of this country, came together and said look, let the South take the next President.
“Even though I thought they were going to support me during the primary, I am happy they brought a professional, a man who has track record of performance, another Mr. Project in the person of Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu”.
Umahi said he would not partake in any other campaign in Rivers apart from the APC presidential campaign to garner votes for Tinubu.
He told the Rivers governor that the APC was not interested in the logistic supports he extended to Peter Obi and Rabiu Kwankwaso, but that the party was interested in Rivers votes for Tinubu.
He said: “Here you are on ground. Many people can occupy the social media, but you have occupied Rivers State. When your party people said they have nominated a replacement for you, I say no problem; that should be on Facebook. Let the person touch ground in Rivers.
“You are 99 per cent in control. I thank you for not putting any kobo in Ebonyi again. The same way, because I have worked. You don’t have any PDP in Ebonyi. It is only APC. Our votes in Ebonyi will go to Asiwaju.
“My party APC doesn’t need logistics. We have seen how you promised all the candidates logistic support. We don’t need logistic support. We need votes just for the presidential one only. All I am asking is that presidential one.
“I will not ask what is impossible. Keep the presidential votes for Asiwaju. He will be coming here to solicit votes”.
Umahi extolled Wike’s push for fairness and justice, saying his fight was not personal, but designed to save the country.
He said: “You may not know that I am an apostle and a deacon. When I pulled out of PDP, I didn’t do it because of you. We have been together and planned together. We put Secondus together. You always conceive the idea. But I foresaw this. I foresaw there would be betrayal and there wouldn’t be equity and justice.
“That is why I pulled out. We must put the unity of the country forward. We must have Nigeria before anybody can be President. I want to thank you for what you are doing across the nation. It is giving a lot of hope. You don’t care who is Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa. Everybody, to you, is one and it is about the soul of Nigeria
“Our country must see wisdom in what you are doing. Your fight is not personal. God is with you. I have your back and we are united in this.
“Those governors you were in the process of removing before you soft-pedalled, we have formed G4, that, Wike, myself, Cross River and the Zamfara. The G5 is now expanded to G6, I am now a member. Many other governors want to join the Integrity Group because I have seen there is salvation for our country in what you are doing”.
Umahi commended Wike for appreciating President Buhari, saying the Niger Delta governors must account for all the monies they received from the President.
He said the President had performed, chiding those who were fond of creating an impression that Buhari had done nothing.
He said: “Those who criticised my father and the President of this country, President Buhari. I am proud of him. I want to thank you for appreciating him. Those who say we have problems, yes, we do as a nation. There is no nation that doesn’t have problems. But you say you are a presidential candidate, you can solve the problem, why are you doing blame game? These are people that have nothing to offer.
“If you say the administration of Buhari has done nothing, are the states not part of the administration? Has Rivers not done something? Rivers has performed and if you take away every other thing, we hold Rivers.
“But Mr. President has performed and I join you to thank him. There is no President of this country that ever helped governors much as Buhari has helped governors. I want to thank you. With what the President has done for the Niger Delta and you say you appreciate him, it is only those that have devil in their hearts that will oppose you. I join you to thank Mr. President. Those in the Niger Delta must give an account of all the monies they have collected”.
Umahi added: “When we talk about a nationalist, a man that is building bridges for the unity of this country, history will be kind to you. You have been inviting stakeholders across party lines to come to Rivers State. You are a man with a lion heart. You have never picked a fight for yourself. It is always for the people.
“I am an engineer and I know the worth of projects and what you have done here. I will not be part of any campaign here other than presidential campaign. I will not come. Your infrastructure is second to none. I thank you for what you are doing in Rivers”.