Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike returned to Nigeria on Friday after a week’s vacation in the United Kingdom, and confirmed he had met with All Progressive Congress (APC) presidential candidates Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who is the Labor Party (LP) ), Peter Obi, and his own People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
In the eye of the storm of crisis that rocked the opposition PDP after the presidential primaries and the choice of Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa as Atiku’s running mate, Governor Wike also confirmed that he VK also met the former President, General Olusegun Obasanjo, in the company of Governors Samuel Ortom of Benue State, Seyi Makinde of Oyo State and Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State.
The Governor of Rivers State, who arrived at Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa in the state’s Ikwerre Local Government Area, hinted that the UK meetings were part of wide-ranging consultations aimed at a better Nigeria during the 2023 general election.
Wike, Makinde, Ortom and Ikpeazu, who have held the trump cards for lasting peace in the PDP over the past two months, have pushed the nation’s political terrain to the brink as rumor spread across the city that they were meeting with Senator Tinubu in London, fueling speculation that Wike could dump PDP and start working for the APC candidate in next year’s election.
However, the relief came when Atiku Abubakar flew to London on Thursday and held another round of meetings with Governor Wike and his governor friends on the same side of the divide in the PDP crisis.
Confirming the series of meetings he has held with the various political interest groups in London, Governor Wike said: “This is the first time we have met presidential candidates as a team. We met with the APC candidate and our leader, former president of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo. We met the Labor Party presidential candidate, our presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
“For whatever it’s worth, the consultation is ongoing. Whatever we are talking about, it is in the interest of the Nigerians. It is not parochial and tied to one person or group of people. We believe that what is going on will ultimately be in the interest of the Nigerians.”
According to him, “the consultation is still ongoing. Never mind that there are people who don’t believe in the existence of this country. Leadership is not about you and your family. Leadership is about everyone.”
He lamented that Nigeria had entered a stage where a governor, after serving his two terms as permitted by the constitution, would bring his son as governor while seeking to join the National Assembly, adding that that was why poverty was central to the country.
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He also rebuked what he termed as “abuse of religion and ethnicity” rather than competence, complaining that “the only identity in this country is religion and ethnicity, nothing more”.
“It’s either I’m a Christian or a Muslim, I’m a Fulani or I’m an Igbo. Nigeria cannot move forward unless they think they will. We are in a country where someone with a primary school diploma can be appointed as foreign minister,” he said.
Reiterating his desire to join hands with others for a better Nigeria, Wike said no amount of blackmail would stop him from taking that course.
“That tells you how bad this country has become. But with our consultation this is all a thing of the past. No form of intimidation or blackmail will deter us. We are determined to right the wrong. For us, we look at the bigger picture. Nigeria is in distress today. It’s about what we can do. No man or woman alone can do good for our country.
“We are looking at how we can leverage ideas and bundle ourselves together to make sure we get out of the current challenge we have in Nigeria today. From top to bottom, consider what has happened since 2015 and where we are now. So what we do is a concern we have for our country, Nigeria.
“This goes beyond party politics. We look at how we can come together and find a way to make sure Nigeria survives. Nigeria is on the IV, Nigeria is on the oxygen and it’s about how we get out of this.
“The consultation is ongoing and will continue. We’re going to meet here again. We’re going to meet some people another time and see how we can make the Nigeria project work.”