Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers state says he was worried when he learnt of former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s endorsement of the Labour Party (LP) presidential candidate, Peter Obi.
Following Obasanjo’s endorsement, the governor had scathing words for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, who served as Vice President under Obasanjo between 1999 and 2007.
“I was praying that Obasanjo should not say anything. When I saw the letter last night, I was touched. If your principal cannot recommend you, then there is something fundamentally wrong,” the governor said on Monday.
Since the PDP primaries in May 2022, Wike has been at odds with Atiku, insisting that the party’s National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, must step down on the grounds that he is from the same region as the standard bearer.
Wike’s comments were met with strong criticism from several PDP members, including the spokesperson for the party’s Presidential Campaign Council (PCC), Senator Dino Melaye, who accused him of disrespect and unwarranted insult on the former vice president.
But the governor pushed back, saying his intentions were not evil.
“I meant no bad. I’m only worried as a prominent PDP member. A man who loves PDP should be worried. That’s all – my concern. I was not mocking anybody,” the Rivers governor said on Tuesday during the flag-off of construction on Mgbuodohia Road.
“I was merely worried because my prayer was ‘Let Obasanjo remain quiet and not say anything.’ That was my prayer but my prayer didn’t work.
“My prayer was that if this man makes any statement, it indicts us because he was president under the Peoples Democratic Party for eight years and he worked with our presidential candidate for eight years.
“One now concludes that having done so, then the principal will hand over to [him] having thought that this is the person that I think should do this job better. But when the principal has said, ‘No, it’s another person,’ it worried me and that’s why I said something is fundamentally wrong.”
“If you care for this party, it is for you to now go back [and ask]: ‘What is it that is fundamentally wrong that this man did what he did?’ And then you’re abusing me. I don’t understand. You’re abusing the man that is worried that the party should do something.
“I’ve told people, those who love this party – those who know that if anything happens to this party are those who are worried about the party, not those who are moving around every day.
“They are not bothered but those of us who since 1998, we joined this party, contributed for the survival of this party till now, that’s why we’re always shouting,” he said.
The governor echoed the views of the G5 or Integrity Group, a group consisting of him and four other aggrieved PDP governors, saying the issue was not about him, but equity, fairness and justice.
“I don’t need anything. If anybody thinks that you can just sit in your house and dish our orders, it will not work. The house will collapse on you. So, you better think twice. So, stop sending all these your errand who don’t have any jobs. I have a job, that’s why I’m working up till now till May 29,” he said.
The governor chided those attacking him on behalf of Atiku, saying they should instead be in search of a remedy to the issues he pointed out.
“Instead of them to say, ‘What do you think is wrong?’ you are abusing me. What did I do? I didn’t do anything; all I [expressed] was a concern: ‘something is fundamentally wrong.’