• Says I’ve capacity to remove APC • Southeast PDP backs Southern governors’ stance on zoning of presidency to South
• Ortom: On Southern presidency I stand • Party won’t preempt zoning committee’s recommendation, says spokesman
Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, yesterday, came out of the shadows to declare for the presidency, saying he has the capacity to win the 2023 presidential election for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
This is coming days after former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, declared his presidential ambition, joining former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, ex-Senate President, Anyim Pius Anyim, Sokoto State governor, Aminu Tambuwal and his Bauchi State counterpart, Bala Mohammed in the race to fly the flag of the main opposition party’s ticket next year.
Wike made the declaration during a consultative meeting with stakeholders of the Benue chapter of the PDP at the Government House in Makurdi. The governor, who intimated stakeholders about his intention to run for the nation’s number one office, solicited for Benue PDP votes in the coming national delegates convention of the party, even as he stressed on zoning.
“To remove APC from power, I’m the person who can tell them enough is enough. We must take this power and I’m ready to take it for PDP. God is with us, that’s why APC keeps failing everyday. I’m declaring it (presidential ambition) for the first time in Benue. I’m going to run for election,” Wike said.
Wike, who addressed the party delegates, said that most of the presidential aspirants from the party were responsible for PDP’s defeat in 2015.
Apparently taking a dig at Atiku and Saraki, Wike added that some of the aspirants left the party when it mattered most, noting that those founding fathers who ran away from the party and still wanted to be so recognised have lost their shares.”
He said: “Let these people who are interested in presidency in the PDP tell us their contributions. You claimed to be one of the founding fathers of the party, but you left and came back; you have become an ordinary person in the new PDP.
“If you form a company and run away because the company is not doing well, then you come back and found that it is now doing well, will you want to come and take over?
He, therefore, warned stakeholders not to sell their votes, but give it to him, adding that some of the party’s presidential aspirants were only after power for personal gains.
He said: “By the time you ran away, you sold your share as founding fathers, so, you can no longer retain your position of founding fathers. I stood for this party. I worked for this party since 1998. I have nowhere to run to and that’s why anything that happens to this party, I take it personally. I have never relented.
“In 2015, those who ran away made us lose the election. Today, they are crying but some of us stood and said PDP will not die.
“Some people want to use Nigeria to buy back their personal business. They talk about private sector – let them mention the private business that had survived.
“I have performed as a governor and can carry my shoulders high anywhere. I have the capacity to face this evil government, give me the mandate. I will speak the truth to power and nothing but the truth. I have the capacity to move this country forward.”
Wike said he had stood firm for the party through thick and thin, adding that he had contributed immensely to the growth of the party.
“I have spoken truth to power. I don’t have problem with anybody but have to tell them the truth. Dave Umahi and others abused me because I told him that you cannot take our mandate away.
“As a governor, I have performed well. I can go anywhere with my shoulder high. How many of them have challenged this government (APC)?”
His host, Governor Samuel Ortom, prayed that God will grant Wike his desire to rule the country. Ortom recalled that his Rivers counterpart had never turned his back on Benue, especially in caring for the teeming displaced people occasioned by herders’ invasions in some parts of the state. “On southern presidency I stand,” Ortom said.
“Periodically, you have been helping us, particularly during the 2018 herdsmen crisis in the state. We will support your aspiration because you have sown seed and you need to reap,” he said.
EARLIER, the PDP in the Southeast geo-political zone yesterday aligned with the position of the Southern Governors’ Forum that the next president of Nigeria should come from the southern part of the country.
The PDP Southeast also directed that the existing zoning patterns in states and constituencies of the zone must be strictly observed and adhered to in every state and constituency of the zone.
Briefing newsmen after the Zonal Executive Committee (ZEC) meeting of the PDP, held in Enugu, and attended by the leader of the party in the Southeast and Governor of Enugu State, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, his Abia State counterpart, Dr. Okezie Victor Ikpeazu, National Secretary of the party, Senator Sam Anyanwu, members of the state and national assemblies, members of PDP National Executive Committee (NEC), Board of Trustees (BOT) members, among others, the National Vice Chairman (Southeast), Chief Ali Odefa, disclosed that it was unanimously agreed that the PDP should zone the presidency of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to the Southern part of the country ahead of the party’s primary.
Odefa added that the PDP Southeast stands with the resolution of the Southern Governors’ Forum “that the office of the President should be zoned to the Southern part of Nigeria.”
On the issue of zoning at the state and constituency levels in the zone, the PDP National Vice Chairman stated: “We said where there are zoning patterns they must be strictly observed and adhered to in every state and constituency.”
Odefa added: “We also went ahead to make interventions for our members who are holding political and elective positions in Anambra State who didn’t defect to other political parties in the time of the election but stood by the party in times of bad weather, that they should be given support to return back to their various offices.”
He, therefore, revealed that the zonal leadership of the party would make a presentation to the National Working Committee for assistance in that regard.
AFTER his meeting with Benue delegates, Wike yesterday visited Enugu State government house, where he met with stakeholders of the party in continuation of his nationwide consultation. He had visited the state three months ago where he met with PDP stakeholders at Orba, Udenu council.
Those who received Wike at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport Enugu included Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, Speaker of Enugu State House of Assembly, Edward Ubosi, National Vice Chairman of the PDP, Southeast Zone, Chief Ali Odefa, members of Enugu State National Assembly Caucus and the State Chairman of the PDP, Augustine Nnamani.
MEANWHILE, as the PDP committee on zoning prepares to submit its recommendation to the party’s NEC next week, national publicity secretary of the party, Debo Ologunagba, has said no official position would be taken until the panel is done with its assignment.
The 37-man committee chaired by Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, is expected to either advise the party to zone the Presidential ticket or throw the same open to all regions ahead of the 2023 poll.
Speaking with newsmen yesterday, Ologunagba said whatever the committee comes up with would be taken to NEC, “which will guide us accordingly.”
He said: “We don’t want to preempt the committee. Their recommendation will be taken to NEC, which will guide us accordingly. Of course, the calls to zone here and there will be taken into consideration and a position will be taken that is good, not just for PDP but for Nigeria at large.”