The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governor of Rivers, Nyesom Wike, claims that some elders who were unsuccessful in the state’s governorship primary conspired against him to prevent him from receiving the vice-presidential nomination of the party.
Many members of the PDP national working committee (NWC) reportedly chose Wike for the vice-presidential position after he finished second in the party’s presidential primary in May.
The Delta governor Ifeanyi Okowa was selected by PDP presidential contender Atiku Abubakar as his running mate.
The governor spoke on Monday during a celebration honoring Peter Odili, a former state governor, at his 74th birthday, according to a statement from Wike’s spokesperson Kelvin Ebiri.
Ebiri said the event took place at the private residence of Odili in Port Harcourt, which was donated to him by the state government.
According to Wike, the elders came to him voluntarily and pledged to support whoever would win the party’s governorship ticket, but they turned against him after they lost the primary.
“On my last birthday — midnight — some of our elders called me that they want to see me. They came to me and said they came to wish me happy birthday,” Wike was quoted as saying.
“Then they presented to me a letter that I should run for president. All of them, including Dr Abiye (Sekibo) signed the document.
“I said okay; you people too should go and give me someone who will be governor after me. They all sat looking left and right.
“I asked them: ‘those of you who are interested to be governor should raise your hands.’ Everybody raised his hand. One person didn’t raise his hand, Senator Bari Mpigi. I asked why he was not interested. He replied: ‘sir, let me hold what God has given me. I don’t want to lose the two.”
“Some persons don’t know the history. They go and tell all kinds of stories. But the truth is this — all of them (elders) signed the document prepared by O.C.J. Okocha that whoever I will bring they will abide by it.
“But now, they went to Abuja that I must not be vice-president. I also read yesterday when I was in Paris one of them saying that I told him that if they do to me what they did to Dr Odili that I will collapse the system.
“I am not an ungrateful person And I will never be ungrateful in my life. What’s important is that I have done well as a governor. I am happy and I am leaving office a happy man.”
The governor described Odili as a “true leader” who has helped “a lot of persons” gain political limelight in the state.
“There was a time every political class abandoned Dr Odili. This is a man who gave us everything; some people called him Mr Donatus. There was no abuse he did not get. Everybody he tried to help and their families, at the end of the day all, betrayed him.
“For us, we have used him as a school and we thank him for making himself available for us to use him to learn so that we won’t be shocked by whatever is going to happen.”