You are making Nigerians to be afraid. If you say Nigerians are not happy with APC and then you don’t want to do the right things because of that…with what you are doing, you are scaring Nigerians,” Wike said, berating several party leaders for bringing the PDP this low ahead of the 2023 elections.
He dared the party to sanction him if it could.
But the PDP presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, branded Wike’s statement uncharitable and warned him to steer clear of fighting a non-existent war.
A separate criticism of Wike came from the spokesman of the PDP Presidential Campaign Council, Charles Aniagwu, who said the Rivers State governor had no moral right to accuse Atiku of not respecting the PDP zoning arrangement, having rejected the party’s zoning formula in Rivers State himself in the run up to the 2015 governorship election.
The development in the PDP drew a sneer from the campaign council of the All Progressives Congress’ (APC’s) presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
It called Atiku the divider-in-chief of the PDP for what it perceived as his inability to resolve the crisis.
Wike, who had served notice of his plan to ‘say it all’ about the PDP infighting, told newsmen in Port Harcourt yesterday that Atiku and Ayu were not helping the fortunes of the party ahead of the 2023 polls.
He recalled how in 2014 the former vice president, former Senate President Bukola Saraki and Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal rebuffed the then President Goodluck Jonathan and ruined his chances for reelection
The Rivers State governor, who spent about two hours in a live media chat at Government House, Port Harcourt on the PDP crisis, insisted that the refusal of Atiku and Ayu to fulfill their promises had portrayed them as untrustworthy characters in the eyes of Nigerians.
He said: “The constitution of our party provides that there shall be zoning of party and elective offices. It is clear; not ambiguous. But people will always try to manipulate the system to suit them.
“They slant stories in such a way as to deceive the public. The founding fathers knew the complexity of this country. They did it in such a way as not to have problems.”
The governor recalled various meetings held by Southern governors and their resolution that power must shift to the South, but lamented that while the APC though in power adhered to the rotational principle in the spirit of the country’s unity, the PDP arrogantly rejected zoning.
He said PDP having boxed itself into a corner, it was being hunted by the singular decision and must be restructured to give the South a sense of belonging.
He claimed that shortly after Atiku emerged as the party’s flag bearer, the former VP visited him and told him that Ayu must quit as chairman with a view to addressing the structural imbalance in the party.
Ayu himself, he said, promised before his election as chairman to resign in the event that a northerner was picked as presidential candidate.
The governor also said that during the London meeting his team had with Atiku, the PDP presidential candidate vowed to ensure the exit of Ayu and pleaded with them to give him a week to work out the modalities.
He, however, said they were surprised that Atiku treated them with disrespect when, instead of giving them feedback, went to an event and announced that any attempt to remove Ayu would cause a constitutional crisis in the party.
Continuing, he said: “The founding fathers of our party never made a mistake; they knew the complexity of this country and therefore they arranged it in such a way we did not have problems in our party.
“People should not forget history. It may not be favourable to you but for the sake of the society and the country, you must remember. In 2014, there was this issue of the presidential candidate of the party. Jonathan emerged as the presidential candidate.
“You also remembered that many people walked out of that convention. People like the candidate of our party today, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. Aminu Tambuwal was one of them, the former Senate President, Saraki, was one of them. They all walked out saying that the presidency must come to the north.
“Of course President Jonathan, a sitting president, did everything to talk to them to come back to the party. Jonathan was rebuffed as a sitting President. I even remember there was a time he travelled to London to see Atiku; he rebuffed Jonathan, who was a sitting President.
“We decided to remain in the party. You heard when the former Niger State Governor Aliyu Babangida came out and said they all agreed to work against the candidate of our party.
“But what is important is that some members of our party played anti-party activities because they believed that the presidential candidate should come from the north.”
‘Why current structure in PDP cannot stand’
Wike said the current power sharing in the PDP could not stand in view of its lopsidedness.
“We have had our primary and the presidential candidate emerged. But before the candidate emerged, there was the issue of where the chairmanship would go, because in our party, the chairman comes from south and the candidate comes from north or vice versa.
“The intention of the founding fathers was to allow for inclusiveness, for everybody to participate in the hierarchy of decision making. As it is today, three major persons make decisions for the party. One is the national chairman, the presidential candidate or the President, if you are in power, and then the Director-General of the campaign.”
He accused some PDP governors from the South of betraying the collective decision that power must shift to the south.
His words: “We from the South, before now we had met and said the presidency must come to the south. The APC and PDP met.
“When this idea was mooted, they met and agreed that the conveners of these meetings would be the Governor of Ondo, Akeredolu, the Governor of Ebonyi, Umahi and the Governor of Delta, Okowa. They became the chief conveners of the Southern Governors Forum.
“The first meeting was held in Asaba. It was agreed that President Muhammadu Buhari, coming from the north had done eight years and therefore, the next should come from the South. The next meeting was held in Lagos and it was stated clearly that this is what they must pursue.
“The final meeting was held in Enugu. I don’t want to make certain statements made by some governors at that meeting. I remember that one of the governors said how will I tell my children that I cannot be president because I do not come from a particular section of the country?
“At the appropriate time, I will let you know the governor. We said that Secondus was already rounding off his term and could not go back since the presidency was coming to the South. It was not a personal thing.
“We went to the party and there were arguments and counter arguments. I was even surprised at the behavior of some of the governors who were even the conveners of the forum.
“Luckily the party set up a committee. At that committee, the governor of Benue State, Ortom, was the chairman of the zoning committee. They cleverly came up with the idea that only party offices should be zoned, not elective offices.
“Some people believed they are more intelligent than others. Some of us said that this at the end of the day would cause crisis for us. The chairmanship was now zoned to the north and that was why no southerner contested the position.
“When we lost election in 2015, the party sat down, formed a committee under Ekweremadu. The committee came out and said we should zone the presidency to the North. That was why in the 2018 convention, there was nobody from the South who contested that position.
“All the presidential aspirants came from the North, and everybody would remember we gave Atiku all the support. No state contributed more than Rivers.
“Those of them who claim they are highly connected and that they are the founding fathers of the party, now said there should be no zoning of the presidential ticket, leave it open, let the best candidate emerge, because they thought they had the number.”