The Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, has expressed mixed feelings over comments credited to the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, advising Northerners that they should vote for him in the 2023 election because he hails from the northern region.
Wike said if true, such a statement was a threat to the unity of the country at a time when concerted efforts should be made in giving every citizen a sense of belonging.
The governor spoke on Monday at the international wing of the Port Harcourt International Airport, shortly after arriving from Spain.
Wike was accompanied by Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu and Samuel Ortom of Abia and Benue States.
“I don’t believe that my candidate for the Peoples Democratic Party could make such a statement. But assuming he did make that statement, and this is one of the things we have been saying, this country needs to be united and part of the way you unite it is to include everybody,” he said.
The governor said Atiku’s handlers should also share in the blame for allowing their principal to make such a comment in public.
“That has now confirmed to me one of the reasons why those of them in their camp do not want Ayu to resign because they do not want inclusivity.
“Given that the statement is now in the public domain, Wike advised the leadership of the PDP to apologise to Nigerians while explaining the circumstances in which the statement was made.
He added, “If it (statement) was made, as they said, I think, as a party, we need to apologise to Nigerians, assuming the (statement) was made.
“People are denying that it was made but if you watch the video, it appears true but people are saying with recent technology, anything can be done.
Speaking further, Wike took a swipe at the PDP national chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, saying going by his responses to the allegations levelled against him, he stands indicted except proven otherwise.
He added, “Luckily for me, he (Ayu) has now mentioned that he went to the presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the Waziri of Adamawa where they discussed the issues of borrowing.
“Now, the question is, when you talk about borrowing, who approves borrowing? You must go to the National Working Committee.
He also described as out of order the PDP Board of Trustees resolution that mandated Ayu to commit that he would resign after the 2023 elections.
The governor wondered why the BOT could not make Ayu to fulfil his initial commitment that he would resign if a northerner emerges as presidential candidate from the PDP convention.
“To say he should make another commitment that he will resign after the elections, for me, BOT resolution is ridiculous,” the governor said.