The Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has expressed dismay over the bitterness of the presidential candidate of the Labour Party in the February 25, 2023 election, Peter Obi, to him, saying he nominated him as the running mate to former Vice President and presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, in the 2019 general election.
Wike spoke on Wednesday in an interview with select journalists in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
Wike, who was blamed by Obi for his loss in Rivers State to the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress and eventual winner of the 2023 poll, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, said he did not force the candidate to support on the people of the state.
He said what he was particular about was that the winner of the poll should be a Southerner, which was why he opposed the National Chairman of his party, PDP, Senator Iyorcha Ayu, and Abubakar, the presidential candidate.
Wike said: “I never told Rivers people to vote for the candidate (of the APC).
“I told Rivers people (to vote) for the unity of Nigeria.
“As far as Rivers State is concerned, their position is that ‘look, we want a power shift.’
“And there are two candidates from the South: Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and Peter Obi.
“If Rivers people have chosen to vote for Asiwaju, and the same Rivers people also voted for Peter Obi, that tells you that their decision was to vote for a Southern President.
“There was never a time the integrity Group met and said it must be this person.
“We only agreed on southern president.
“We formulated strategies and the southern president emerged.
“Our interest is that a southern president should emerge.
“When we went to our meeting, we decided on Southern president.
“We didn’t say it must be this.
“We said whatever you are doing it must be Southern president.
“The aim of G5 was equity, fairness and justice.”
Wike also faulted Obi’s claim that he worked against his ambition because he was not the Independent National Electoral Commission that conducted the election.
He added: “I don’t work for INEC.
“I don’t have INEC documents with me.
“I am not an ad hoc staff of INEC and so I am not in a place to rig election for anybody.
“It is when you have the materials of INEC that you talk about rigging.
“But I take exception to Peter Obi’s comments that I came out against him.
“People are not being sincere, people are not appreciative.”
Wike said he has no problem with Obi as he recommended him as running mate of Abubakar for the 2019 polls.
He said: “In 2019, ask Peter Obi, I was one of the team that chose Obi to be the vice presidential candidate of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
“When we met at Abubakar’s house, he said these are the names, I will choose Obi.
“Obi was invited while we were at Saraki’s (former President of the Senate, Abubakar Bukola Saraki) house in the night.
“I was fought by people like (Senator Ike) Ekweremadu, my own friend, the governor of Ebonyi State, (David) Umahi, and Pius Anyim.
“Every blame was on me.
“Why will I be the one that will say Peter Obi?
“Why should I chose for the South East?
“Did he come out to say Governor Wike was the one who supported me to be the vice presidential candidate?
He didn’t say so.”
The rivers State Governor
Wike said G5 governors made a huge sacrifice to achieve the Southern presidency, including losing their own elections and those of the ones they backed.
He said though the Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde won his reelection, he had earlier said he would not mind sacrificing his second term on the altar of equity, justice and fairness.
Speaking on the team made up of himself; Makinde; Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom; Enugu State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi; and Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, Wike said: “Ortom said even if he loses his senatorial election, let equity, justice and fairness prevail.
“He may not gain it now.
“But history will be kind to him.
“Same applies to Ugwuanyi and Ikpeazu.
“Even Makinde said even if he lost his governorship ambition, he was interested in the unity of Nigeria.”
When asked whether justice and equity prevailed since the Southeast did not produce the President, Wike said the winning capacity of an individual and his party must also be taken into consideration.
He said: “We have different interests when you come to the South.
“People must choose who is likely to win election.
“To win election in Nigeria, you must have the spread.
“What we are saying is that power should shift to the South.”