Gov. Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has on Thursday warned the opposition Peoples Democratic Party and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, on the risk of loosing votes from his state if ignored.
While covering up his ongoing feud with the former vice president, Wike said he knew how to win elections, saying he “demonstrates that a candidate has what it takes to win an election.”
He stressed that Rivers State is too strategic politically to be ignored by serious politicians who want to win elections.
The friction between Atiku and Wike began after the governor’s ambition to become the party’s vice-presidential candidate in the 2023 general election fell through after Delta governor Ifeanyi Okowa emerged as Atiku’s running mate.
A reconciliation panel set up to resolve the crisis between Wike and Atiku had scheduled to meet in Abuja on Friday (today) but the governor’s camp is insisting on the resignation of the PDP chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, a condition that the Atiku loyalists rejected.
The two camps haven’t even agreed on a venue, so it’s unclear if the meeting will take place.However, speaking in Port Harcourt on Thursday, Wike said more politicians in the state were likely to be members of other parties claimed to have abandoned the ship and joined the PDP en masse.
He said the newcomers are doing so because his government is excited about the ongoing infrastructure development and believes the PDP is the right party to partner with.
Speaking at the flag-off of the 11th flyover project, which was performed by a former governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke, at the Rumuola- Ikwerre Road-Rumuokwuta Roundabout in the Obio Akpor Local Government Area of the state, the governor explained that the ongoing collapse of membership in other parties in the state is an electoral advantage for the PDP.
Wike stated, “It’s not to say ‘I’m supporting our candidate.’ How many people have you brought to help your candidate? We are here every day bringing people to join our party and you are there following your candidate from Abuja to Adamawa. Is it there you’ll win the votes? Come back home.”.
He reaffirmed the futility of the claims of those who once claimed to know the PDP presidential candidate, but they were not in a position to muster the votes to guarantee an election victory.
“This local government alone, Obio Akpor, where I come from; we registered not less than 600, 000 voters. This local government beats two states in their electoral strength”.
“So we are not a state that you can take for granted, not to talk about the local government where I come from,’’ Wike warned”.
The governor indicated he would not seek a settlement with the PDP presidential candidate, insisting that Atiku must meet him if he is interested in using the Rivers state vote bank.
“I believe that they must know us here because we have what it takes to deliver. They must come and know us. I’m not going to find anybody”, he said.
“You must come here. You can’t take six hundred and something thousand votes away from my local government; you can’t take 3.2 million votes from my state just like that.’’
He stressed that the days of free ballots for supporters and voters are over. He continued, “If we were Father Christmas before, we won’t be Father Christmas again? You must tell me what is there for me if I should vote. So nobody should bother himself. At the appropriate time we will talk to our people and our people will understand.
“If you say we don’t exist, we will tell you that you don’t exist. I am not a son to anybody; I am a son of Rivers state. I am working to attract what will benefit Rivers state.”