Nyesom Wike, governor of Rivers State, has said some southern governors betrayed him at the PDP presidential primary held on Saturday.
Wike who lost the ticket to Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, blamed his loss on betrayal by some southern governors.
According to him, one of the governors was dancing after he was defeated when he didn’t even get a single vote.
The Rivers governor who spoke at a reception in his honour at the Government House in Port Harcourt following his return from the party’s presidential primary in Abuja, however called on his supporters to remain calm.
Wike who has since congratulated Atiku Abubakar, promising to give him all the support he needs to win the presidential election in 2023, noted that the PDP must not be destroyed.
He said he was tempted to obstruct the process when an aspirant who had spoken previously was allowed to return to the podium to pronounce his withdrawal – referring to Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State who withdrew and endorsed Atiku – in contravention to the guidelines of the election.
“I have never seen how people can violate procedures and guidelines. Somebody has spoken, it is at that point he was speaking that he would have said I am withdrawing. You don’t call him back,” Wike said.
“I just said, ‘Look, this our party must not be destroyed.’”
He, however, called on his supporters to remain calm, describing his loss at the PDP presidential primary as the will of God.
“As far as I am concerned, there is nothing to worry about. I contested election based on principle and agreement with all the southern governors and the leaders of the south that the presidency should go to the south this period,” he said.
“We have done our own part and we never betrayed anybody, because it is not in our blood to betray. But it’s a shame to those people. Some of the governors from the south are the people they used to sabotage our interest. However, we have shown them that we are not like them. We have the capacity to do whatever is good for us.
“I don’t want to talk about some other people who cannot even win election in their own places. I’ve told them that this election, whoever emerges, I will support, and I am not going to go back.
“Yes, it may be painful to you, it may be painful to us, but we cannot abandon the party. And let me also say to those who do not understand, and who take Rivers state for a ride, now they have learnt their lesson. You need us. Forget about these people who have nothing to offer and who make noise up and down.
“I saw one governor who was dancing. Meanwhile, he did not win one delegate. I told Atiku Abubakar this afternoon when he came to see me that ‘some of the people following you here, they don’t have votes; they’re empty.’ I have votes. I have something to offer. Do they have anything to offer?
“In 2019, I was the only governor from the south-south who never negotiated with the present government. They came and I said ‘no, I’m not going to be party to that.’ And that’s why APC never had 25 percent in his state. I said I was not going to sit down with them to negotiate.
“When you see people, they can’t confront me. They can’t face me. It’s merely envy. If somebody is bigger than you, somebody is bigger than you. I told them ‘look, it’s not to go back. If they give you vice-president, you need my support. So, you will come to me.’ PDP knows. Three states determine elections in Nigeria — Lagos, Kano, and Rivers. Anybody who tries to say that Rivers state is nowhere, it’s at your own peril. If you want to bury yourself, let it be.
“So, for me, we have done what we are supposed to do. Leave history for those betrayers of their people. History will judge them. They will live and see how betrayers suffer. We have done our best and the whole world has seen that we have done our best.”
He also made a reference to a governor who “sold out his people”, adding that such people have no right to complain about the south being referred to as the minority.
“Shame to those who will sell out their own thing. I’ve never seen a thing like this in my life. A governor? And tomorrow, you’ll say ‘oh, the south is a minority.’ You are the one making yourself to be the minority. Shame! You’re holding something in trust for your people, and you claim that this is what your people want. Then, you sell out,” he said.
Governor Wike said though he did not clinch the PDP Presidential ticket, he believes, just like his supporters, that his performance has raised the political profile of Rivers State and other minority groups in Nigeria.
Meanwhile, Atiku Abubakar, earlier on Monday held a closed-door fence-mending meeting with the Rivers state governor.
“The meeting is at the instance of Atiku, who decided to reach out to Wike so that the party can be united ahead of the presidential election,” a source at the meeting told reporters.
The meeting, which took place at Wike’s residence in Abuja, was attended by Ayo Fayose, Mohammed Bello Adoke, former attorney-general of the federation, Adamu Maina Waziri, former minister of internal affairs, and other PDP members.
Wike was said to have complained about the role ethnic politics played in making Atiku candidate as northerners rallied behind the former VP.
His team was also said to have frowned upon the role of Iyorchia Ayu, the PDP national chairman, who was recorded on video thanking Tambuwal and calling him the “hero of the convention”.
“You expected the chairman to be neutral,” one of Wike’s associates reportedly told the meeting.