The Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, has criticised the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, over the party’s failure to zone its presidential ticket to the South.
Wike has been unequivocal in his opposition to Senator Iyorchia Ayu remaining in office as the PDP Chairman amid Atiku’s candidacy, both men being northerners.
Speaking during a live appearance Monday on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, Wike reacted to a quote attributed to the PDP presidential candidate saying he would step down if the party was zoned to a specific region.
Dismissing such a position as insincere, the Rivers governor argued that the party led by Ayu had made zoning impossible.
“‘He would have stepped down.’ As an elder statesman, what was he [doing] then? You see, these are the things that we don’t like – ‘he would have stepped down, if the party had…’,” Wike said.
“When you have set up a strategy where the party cannot zone? You were the people who refused the party to zone (sic). He was one of the major opponents of zoning, which is against the spirit of the constitution.
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“So, him saying that he would have stepped down, who is he talking to? They sabotaged it; they didn’t want it to be zoned.”
According to the governor, the presidential race was thrown open to all members of the party, regardless of their geopolitical zone, antithetical to the party’s philosophy.
“You set up a zoning committee today. Tomorrow, you opened it up that people should come and buy forms. What have you done at that stage? When everybody has now bought forms, you now came back to say, ‘Well, since people have bought forms, there’s no need,” he said.
“You think that people are not intelligent. You think you’re too smart. How could you have set up a zoning committee today to go and look at the zoning of the office of Mr President, then in the next 24 hours, you open up the gates that people should come and buy forms?”
Addressing the role of his ally, Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State, in the debacle, Wike argued that despite having been appointed to lead the zoning committee set up by the PDP National Working Committee (NWC), he had no say in the matter.
“Their hands were tied. What do you do at that stage? Somebody has picked a form; do you want to tell them they should withdraw, knowing that that is their strategy, thinking that they can play on everybody? Now, see where we are,” he said.