The Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, on Saturday, broke silence on the internal crisis in the Peoples Democratic Party following the party’s presidential primaries and subsequent selection of its vice presidential candidate.
The PDP’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, chose the Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, as his running ahead of Wike whom many party chieftains had believed would emerge as the PDP’s vice-presidential candidate.
Those who opposed Atiku’s choice include the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom. The governor, had on June 29, 2022, during an interview on Arise TV, said Wike, and others who backed the Rivers governor for the PDP vice-presidential ticket slot deserved a detailed explanation from the party’s presidential candidate on his choice of running mate.
Ortom said it was surprising that Atiku could jettison the recommendation of 14 out of 17 members of the committee that recommended Wike as his running mate
“I am waiting for him (Atiku) because there are more things he is expected to do. I expected him to reach out to Wike who came second and he denied him the popular view of PDP members.
“14 out of 17 members say that Wike should be the VP but in his wisdom, he chose Governor Okowa. Governor Okowa is a nice man and my friend and I have no problem with him.
“But if we are in a democratic era, and 14 people out of 17 said that it should be Wike, and he (Atiku) in his wisdom gave it to Okowa, I expect more explanation, I expect him to talk to Wike first, I expect him to even reach out to some of us so that together we can work as a party,” Ortom said.
But speaking in an exclusive interview with Arise TV which was aired Friday morning, Atiku said he chose who he felt could deliver among the nominees that were presented to him.
He added that Wike was not rejected and that he only picked who could deliver.
Atiku said, “I didn’t reject Wike, I picked who can deliver. Wike is brilliant and tenacious. Going by history, I picked an Igbo as running mate in 2007, in 2019. I still picked an Igbo as running mate for 2023.
“The committee that presented the three nominees was chaired by the Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom. They recommended three people, so I picked one. People should be fair to me and state the facts.”
However, in his first reaction to the controversy after Okowa’s emergence on Saturday, Wike who tweeted via his official Twitter handle @GovWike noted that he would soon speak on recent happenings in the party.
“I will speak soon and Nigerians will know the actual truth of all that has transpired in the PDP in recent times,” the Rivers governor said.
Media reports that Atiku had after announcing Okowa as his running mate clarified that he picked the Delta governor because he (Okowa) had the qualities to be a President, adding that he “is a President-in-waiting.”
He said, “In arriving at the decision, I held wide consultations with various stakeholders in our party including our governors, the national working committee, board of trustees, and other leaders to seek their inputs and their wisdom.”
“In these consultations, I made clear that my running mate would have the potential to succeed me at a moment’s notice, that is, a president-in-waiting.
“In other words, the person must have the qualities to be President. The person must have an appreciation of the deep rot which our country has been put into by the rudderless All Progressives Congress government; understands the great suffering that most of our people are going through and the urgency of relieving them of that suffering; understands the critical importance of economic growth and development to provide our young people with jobs, hope, and a pathway to wealth.”