Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has narrated his ugly experience with some northern politicians whom he said he had meaningfully supported to actualise their political aspirations in the past but had declined their support for his 2023 presidential ambition.
Wike expressed displeasure over the betrayal attitude of the northern politicians who operate with the mentality of ‘using and dumping’ their southern counterparts.
The Rivers State Governor who Monday, featured on Channels Television programme ” Politics Today,” expressed disappointment that the North was scheming to retain power beyond 2023.
He fumed that despite his massive support to Vice President Atiku Abubakar in 2019 when he was the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Atiku, is bent on contesting for the same office in 2023, instead of supporting a Southerner.
Wike who said Atiku was not his initial choice for the position, explained that the moment the former Vice President emerged the PDP flag bearer after the party’s primaries, he gave him the highest support from any single individual.
He said that Rivers State was the only state in the South-South where the All Progressives Congress, APC could not get the needed 25 per cent vote as PDP swept the oil-rich state.
Wike, therefore, wondered why Atiku should not rather reciprocate his gestures by supporting a Southerner to become the President in 2023, instead of dragging the position with the South again, more so when, according to him, there was an understanding that in 2023, power should shift to the South.
Wike made similar remarks on Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State whom he said he vigorously aided to become the Speaker of the House of Representatives, as well as supported his presidential bid in 2019.
He regretted that instead of paying him back in his coin, Tambuwal is now bent on contesting against him in 2023.
Similarly, Wike expressed disappointment that former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, who received his firm support to emerge Senate President could not appreciate him by throwing his weight behind power shift to the South.
Wike accused northern politicians of taking the South for granted and vowed to pursue his presidential project irrespective of the opposition from the North.
He, however, said that he had no apology to anybody for previously supporting the northern politicians.
In his own words: “People don’t want to tell the truth and I feel so bad. There is nobody today contesting for president of this country from the North that I did not have a relationship with or that I did not support. There are nine of them who have not come to me to say, ‘Wike, with you, I think I will have my way.’ And I always told them, ‘I agree, but what is on the ground; what is on the table?
“If you ask most of my friends, the problem I have with friendship is that if we agree on something, let’s keep to it. If there is any reason why that shouldn’t be done, I should be notified.”
“I will tell you one. Sadly, it is with one very intelligent young man Nigerians listen to – Bukola Saraki – with all due respect. I was one of those who made sure he became a Senate President. He was in APC. I tweeted and spoke about his intelligence. Whether you hate him or you don’t like him, this young man is intelligent. Why would you not allow such a person to be at the helm of affairs? I never hid my feelings.
“My brother and friend, Tambuwal, when he wanted to be Speaker, the government and the PDP didn’t want him to be the Speaker. I was one of those who said no, we shouldn’t do that. I came out and said he should be Speaker. Even when he wanted to be president, I was one of those who said he was a vibrant young man, and it didn’t matter; that we should not do it by age. People were fighting me all over… in the South, in the West, in the North, in the East. They all fought me. ‘Why are you bringing Tambuwal?’ I said it was not about me bringing Tambuwal. I said I had found somebody that I thought had all it takes to lead.”
Wike stated that he had no apology to anybody for previously supporting Tambuwal and Saraki.
“I want to challenge anybody, any governor, any person in this party who would say they gave Atiku the support I gave. In fact, I can tell you that in the South-South, it was only in my state that APC never got 25 per cent (votes). Atiku knows that I came all out and supported him.
“If there are factors that have come up, you can say, ‘look, gentleman, my brother, I think what is now is not what was available then.’ And then, we can sit down and talk about it. So, what I do not like… I feel bad when people say, ‘oh, it is not right for a Wike.’ No group can win an election without the other group. No Northerner can win without the Southerners.”