PRESIDENTIAL standard bearer of the ruling All Progressives Congress APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has again defended his choice of a fellow Muslim, Senator Kashim Shettima, as his running mate, saying though he has heard and read the backlash generated by his decision, he was committed to the joint ticket because he believes in Shettima’s competence.
Tinubu’s explanation at the unveiling of Shettima, yesterday, came as the party leadership conceded that though the former Lagos governor had exclusive rights to the choice of his running mate, Shettima’s emergence was a product of wide consultations between Tinubu and other party stakeholders, including President Muhammadu Buhari.
This was as Shettima also subtly waded into the controversy, saying he was picked as Tinubu’s running mate after a diligent assessment of the threats ahead of the party.
He said if he was an unpopular option, “as the cast of partisan provocateurs has attempted to paint,” there would not have been the tons of goodwill messages, especially from Christians, from all over the country.
The APC vice presidential candidate hailed those he called “rational citizens” who viewed the Muslim-Muslim ticket as nothing but a pragmatic permutation to defeat the party’s opponents at the polls.
The event witnessed heavy security deployment as hordes of party supporters and a coalition of some pentecostal bishops stormed the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre in apparent solidarity with the party.
In spite of the backlash generated by the Muslim-Muslim pairing of the APC, one of the clerics who described himself as a Bishop but failed to give the name of his church, said they were at the event to drum massive support for the Tinubu-Shettima ticket.
Shettima is the best — Tinubu
Unveiling Shettima, Tinubu noted that much has been said and written about his decision to select Senator Shettima he believes in the capacity of his running mate.
His words: “As a committed democrat and progressive, I have read and listened to all that has been written and said. It has been an emotional and moving period. I understand the strength of feeling that has been displayed by some within our party and I cherish and respect the views of all.
“Yet, I remain steadfast in my belief in the selection of Senator Shettima. I am unwavering in my belief that he is the very best person to run for office and to, hopefully, govern by my side.
“I believe in the project this party embarked on at the moment of its foundation. I believe our diversity is our strength and I believe that we must be victorious in order to achieve the greatness of which this country is capable.
“All my life, my decisions regarding the team around and supporting me, have always been guided by the principles of competence, innovation, compassion, integrity, fairness, and adherence to excellence.
“In politics, these principles are sacrosanct. Without them there can be neither victory nor good governance. I seek both. I applied them as Governor of Lagos. I apply them again now.
Bold, pragmatic approach, hard choice
“This chapter in our nation’s history demands a bold yet pragmatic approach. In selecting Senator Shettima I have committed myself to this path. I have made the hard choice because I believe it is the best choice.
“This is where politics must end and leadership must begin. True Leadership is not grounded in religion, populism or sentiment. To forge ahead as a nation toward development and prosperity, we must break free of old binds.
“Senator Kashim Shettima’s career in politics and beyond shows that he is eminently qualified not only to deliver that all important electoral victory, but, also, step into the shoes of the Vice President. As a man with the talent, maturity, strength of character, and patriotism he has my implicit confidence and faith.”
Tinubu chose to walk Abiola’s path — Adamu
On his part, National Chairman of the party, Senator Abdullahi Adamu said in choosing Shettima as his running mate, Tinubu has chosen to walk along the path of late Chief M.K.O. Abiola.
“He (Abiola) chose a Kanuri, Alhaji Baba Gana Kingibe from the North-East geo-political zone, as his running mate in the 1993 presidential election. We are beginning to suspect there must be some synergy between the Yoruba and the Kanuri. Maybe there is a mutual attraction between them that the rest of us do not know. Never mind, we will put the searchlight on them.
“The 1993 presidential ticket and the current one bridged one of our fault lines in the management of our diversities. Nigerians overwhelmingly voted for that ticket because they trusted Abiola, a man who opened his arms to every tribe and religion in the country, to run an inclusive government in which no man or woman would be denied his or rights as a Nigerian citizen by the profession of his faith
“Asiwaju Tinubu is a man who has also thrown his arms around every tribe in the country. He has offered his shoulders for those in pain to lean on; he has used his wealth to bring succour to the needy. He can be trusted to run an inclusive government in which character, competence and vision matter to his administration.
Shettima fits the bill
“In our political tradition, the choice of a running mate is the exclusive right of the presidential candidate. He exercises that right with due consultations with stakeholders in the party. Jagaban, being an astute politician, could not have made the choice of a running mate without widely consulting the stakeholders in our party, including President Buhari. Having made his choice, the party wholly and unconditionally accepts his choice. The party has a duty to work for their victory at the polls next year.
“At this time in our national development, and given the myriads of our national challenges, we should look for men and women of character, competence and demonstrable evidence of their performance in public or private offices. We believe these informed Jagaban’s decision to select Senator Shettima because he fits the bill,” Adamu stated.
Elections’re not magic shows
In his acceptance speech, Shettima noted that elections are not magic shows, adding that the successes of the APC in the past two presidential elections were not by magic.
“They were rewards for our foresighted and pragmatic decisions, to sacrifice our personal interests and sectional sentiments for the overriding prospects of our great party. We are again on the cusp of history, and left with no option, other than collaborating assiduously again, to pursue the collective interest of APC’s stakeholders, across ethnic, religious, and regional stations.
“My emergence as the running mate of the inimitable Jagaban Borgu, is based on the party’s very forthright assessment of the threats ahead; and I am most honoured by the consensus of the distinguished stakeholders of our party, to trust me, with representing the nation’s interests, under the leadership of the very sage, the youths all over our country, fondly refer to as ‘City Boy’, in honour of his cosmopolitan profile.
“I am not unaware of the difficult political arithmetic that produced this moment, especially the understanding of our great party’s stakeholders and supporters, across religions, regions, and ethnicities. Their resolve to settle for this ticket is a testament to the faith they have in us.
“This ticket is not an imposition; it is an outcome of democracy at its practical best, and based on the aggregation of the ideas and insights, of our great party stakeholders.
“If this were an unpopular option, as the cast of partisan provocateurs has attempted to paint, there wouldn’t have been the tons of goodwill messages, especially from distinguished Christians, from all over the country. This ticket is a Nigerian project, not a sectional agenda that the frightened camps have been struggling to sensationalize.
“I am sincerely proud of the rational citizens, who view this, as nothing but a pragmatic permutation, to defeat our opponents at the polls, and based on acknowledgment and implementation of the candid perspectives of our Christian brothers and sisters in the APC, who, like us, are bound by the passion for us to retain power, in order to deepen the delivery of unifying and transformative governance, to Nigerians.
“About 30 years ago, Nigerians from both sides of the Niger, came together to market the ideals of a ticket like ours. They overlooked the pedestrian attempts to politicize the religious affiliations of the presidential candidate and running mate, and yielded to the message of hope; and the manifesto of prosperity promised them. The MKO Abiola and Babagana Kingibe ticket, defied the stereotype of Nigerians, as hopelessly sectional, and incapable of prioritizing reason over sentiments. That ticket, even though it was opposed by the same agents that doubted its success, has remained the best moment of our various experiments with democracy, so far.
“This reincarnation of the 30-year-old hope that produced the late MKO Abiola and Babagana Kingibe, came at a time the country is being pushed to the edge of anarchy, by conflict entrepreneurs, in gaudy suits and babanriga. But the overwhelming endorsement of Asiwaju Tinubu, at the APC presidential primaries, by aspirants from the very groups predicted to reject him; and his subsequent election by delegates from the same groups, is a clear message, that Nigerians are beyond the stereotypes of those desperate to tear the people apart.”
Tinubu’ll find no better companion than Shetima
– Gov. Fayemi
On his part, Governor Fayemi of Ekiti State insisted that Asiwaju Tinubu would find no better assistant than Shetima. Saying: “For those who followed closely the trajectory of our party would remember the Lagos declaration or the Marina declaration of February 5, 2013. If you remember that declaration, you will remember that that was where the 11 governors of the emerging parties that came together to form APC met. That was where we finalised to commit ourselves to a merger as governors of ANPP, CPC, ACN as well as APGA at that time. The person who read that communique of the Marina declaration was no other person than Senator Kashim Shetima. And he gave his commitment to rescue our country from the injurious situation that we were in at that time. I want to associate myself with everything Bagudu has said about Governor Kashim Shetima.
So Asiwaju will find not just a governing partner, a bridge builder, a consensus builder, a talent spotter and a voracious reader for those who don’t know him. All the gifts I have from him are books. Our country is going through a very difficult pain. Shetima is not going to be a yes man.
“He is going to offer honest, sincere and verifiable advice to the betterment of our country. He also bows to superior argument and logic. That is the leader that we want, that is the leader that we can trust, that is the leader that will deliver the promises that we make to Nigerians. We would have love this partnership to be between a former governor and a current governor be that as it may we will take both of them as current because they know what it is to be governor and a leader and in a federation where all hands need to be on desk, we shall be excited to support them”
Drama as pastors, bishops attend Shettima’s unveiling
Journalists assigned to cover the official presentation of Shettima, watched in amusement as pastors and bishops from different Christian denominations showed up at the venue.
Their presence seemed to cause a stir as onlookers and guests stared hard at them as they walked into the reception of the Musa Yar’Adua Centre dressed in their cassocks and habits, amid heavy security at the venue.
Earlier, the media had been awash with reports from religious bodies urging Christian leaders to boycott the unveiling to drive home the point of their grievances.
We’re not part of it, CAN disown bishops at Shettima’s unveiling
The Christian Association of Nigeria, yesterday, disowned the bishops and clerics who caused a stir with their presence at the unveiling of Senator Shettima as Tinubu’s running mate.
The apex Christian body explained that the bishops were not part of its fold at all levels, describing them as hirelings brought in to endorse a move that clearly contradicts its position on same-faith presidential ticket.
The CAN President, Rev. Samson Ayokunle, who spoke exclusively to Vanguard through his Special Assistant (Media and Communications), Pastor Adebayo Oladeji, said no true church leader would grace such a high political party event in order to create the false impression that there was division within the organisation’s ranks over Tinubu’s choice of a fellow Muslim as running mate.
He said: “Though, the bishops in question are not members of the Christian Association of Nigeria at all levels and so, they are not known to us, but the fact that they claim to be leaders of Christian churches necessitates that we clear the air and reiterate our stand against the Muslim-Muslim ticket.
“Anyone can put on a cassock and claim to be a priest or a bishop. However, none of those men at the event is known to CAN as a church leader.
“Some desperate politicians are only seeking to deceive unsuspecting Nigerians and hoodwink them into accepting a Muslim-Muslim ticket by hiring fraudsters to brandish as Christian clerics to endorse their unpopular decision.
“Let them name the CAN officials at the programme and their offices. If they could use 2017 photos to claim that some pastors visited Shettima and lied that the CAN chairman in Borno endorsed him as vice presidential candidate using an old interview he granted five years ago, then we are not surprised.
“This one thing is clear: CAN was not part of the unveiling programme of Shettima as Tinubu’s running mate.”
They are hired crowd not bishops —PFN
Reacting to the development, the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, PFN, said those who turned up at the event were a hired crowd of faceless individuals who were unknown in the body of Christ in Nigeria.
The National Secretary of PFN, Bishop Cosmas Ilechukwu, told Vanguard that no true Christian body would send that number of bishops to any political rally.
“Those fellows are a hired crowd of faceless individuals who are unknown in the body of Christ in Nigeria. They are neither members of CAN nor of the PFN. No true Christian body can send that number of bishops to any political rally. They are on their own,” he said.
My Muslim-Muslim ticket with Gbajabiamila didn’t harm House of Reps — Dep Speaker, Wase
Also, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Ahmed Idris Wase, said that the choice of Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket will not affect the country negatively.
Speaking to journalists after a congratulatory visit to Shettima at his Maitama residence in Abuja, on Tuesday, Wase said the choice of Shettima as Tinubu’s running mate was based on competence and his track record of excellence in both the private and public sectors
On the uproar same faith tickets are generating in the polity, Wase said Nigerians must learn to tolerate and trust one another irrespective of their religious beliefs, noting that both him and the Speaker of the House of representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila are Muslims, and it did not change anything in the House.”
He added in a statement by his media aide, Umar Puma that “the Tinubu/Shettima ticket is a good combination that will lead to success at the polls for the APC, noting that he and his other colleagues in the House of Representatives are ready to galvanize support for the Tinubu/Shetima ticket.”
Tinubu absent as Buhari meets Shettima, Zulum in Aso Rock
Meanwhile, Tinubu was absent as President Buhari met with Shettima, and the governor of Borno State, Babagana Zulum, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, yesterday.
The duo arrived at the forecourt of President Buhari’s office at 3:40 pm.
It was the first time the ruling party’s presidential running mate would be visiting the seat of power since being selected by Tinubu.
Tinubu, who had earlier in the day publicly unveiled Shettima, was not present during the visit.
‘God willing, you’re going to win’’, Buhari assures Shettima.
God willing, you ‘re going to win, Buhari assures Shettima
At the parley, Buhari told Shettima that God’s willing the party would emerge victorious.
President Buhari, who expressed optimism that the APC presidential candidate would win next year’s election and take over from him said: “I will respond to your speech when I am handing over to you and your boss. God willing, you are going to win.”
Striking a chord of humour at the State House while responding to a flowery speech by Senator Shettima, the President, according to a statement by his Senior Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu said: “I wish you the best. Your consistency in the party is very respectful. You served your two terms as governor and finished well.
“You have kept touch with your base. At every important occasion or event, you are maintaining support for the one who succeeded you. This is commendable.”
In his remarks, Shettima thanked the President for his “empathy, support and positive role,” leading to his emergence as running mate to the APC Presidential Candidate.
He praised the President for having “a special place in your heart for Borno and North-East,” adding, “I can cite 20-30 instances of support you have rendered, for which you will be remembered.”
He mentioned the establishment of the North-East Development Commission, NEDC, and the Independent Power Plant for Maiduguri by the NNPC, “after many years of darkness,” saying that “words cannot describe our appreciation of your support. We will remain eternally grateful.”
Speaking to journalists after the meeting, Shettima said “President Buhari has given me his words that he will campaign vigorously for the party.”
He said the President assured that he would campaign vigorously for the 2023 ticket for the party to win.
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2022: International Youth day:APC National Women Leader felicitates with Youths across the globe
The National Women Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Dr Betta Edu celebrates with the youths across the globe on the occasion of the International youth day with a theme *Intergenerational solidarity: Creating a world for all ages*
Dr. Betta in a correspondence released by her Special Adviser on political matters, Seun Bosede Osamaye, noted the importance of Youth Day as an awareness day designated by the United Nations to draw attention to a given set of cultural and legal issues surrounding the Youths.
Speaking as a mother in her goodwill message, the ebullient National Women Leader of the All Progressives Congress Dr. Betta Edu appealed to the Nigerian Youths to continue to be law abiding, to shun social vices, and to embrace peace as they join their counterparts all over the world to observe the *2022 International Youth Day*.
Noting that the United Nations has made a day like this very important to provide an opportunity for youths to reflect on their voices, actions, and initiatives, Dr. Betta beckons on the Nigerian Government to make it a norm in celebrating this day for the youth by raising awareness and educating people about the importance of youth in the society because the *Youths* are the pillars and future of every country.
Speaking further, Dr. Betta stressed the utmost importance of promoting youth participation especially in politics so that they can help to create a better future. She wish all Youths across the globe a successful outing and a Happy International 2022 Youth Day!
*Comr. Victoria Uko*
SA Media to NWL
Tension mounts in PDP as crisis worsens; elders weigh options
Amid tensions, some elders of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, yesterday, intervened in the crisis rocking the party by giving approval for the constitution of the presidential campaign council.
Vanguard gathered that while some PDP leaders are pushing for the party to wield the big stick against those engaged in anti-party activities, other leaders are more favourably disposed to ongoing reconciliatory efforts.
It was learned in Abuja yesterday that the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, and other organs of the party, including the National Working Committee, NWC, the Caucus and the Board of Trustees, BoT, have agreed to go ahead with the constitution of the party’s presidential campaign council.
This came on a day former Deputy National Chairman of the PDP, Chief Olabode George, urged the PDP National Chair-man, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, to honourably resign.
George, however, urged Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State not to join the All Progressives Congress, APC, despite misgivings over the choice of running mate to the PDP presidential candidate.
Party elders wade in, mull options
A top ranking member of the party, who is familiar with the issue but elected to speak in confidence, said: “We held a major consultative meeting on Tuesday and I can assure you that the membership of the council will be announced in the next two weeks.
“Campaigns start next month; we want to be up and running before this happens. We have been reaching out to our members nationwide, including our respected leaders in Rivers State.
“Details of our next steps are being worked out. You know the PDP, being a very large family, has a lot of tendencies and individuals and groups have egos that require massaging. We are doing that.
“There are those pushing for us to wield the big stick but the majority are more favourably disposed to ongoing reconciliatory efforts because we are in opposition; we need everyone more than the ruling party.”
Another party leader, who spoke on grounds of anonymity, said: “The PDP has dealt with bigger challenges; this one too has come and it will go. Governor Wike, whose name is being mentioned anytime our current challenges are cited, is a party man, he has said it himself.
“He has other party leaders who respect him and look up to him to protect their political interests. Whatsoever those interests may be, he feels an obligation to protect those who stuck out their necks for him during his bid for the ticket.
“It is the pursuit of this that has delayed us till now but we must make progress; we have an election to win and there will be positions of responsibilities to be given out. It is the patience component that is the issue at the moment.”
Substantial progress is being made — Atiku’s camp
When contacted, Mazi Paul Ibe, Media Adviser to the PDP Presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, said: “Substantial progress is being made with regards to resolving outstanding issues. My principal has assured the party and all members that everyone will be carried along. That commitment has not changed.”
We’ll resolve crisis soon—PDP leader
Also speaking, a top PDP leader told Vanguard that leaders are making moves to resolve the crisis.
The PDP leader, who spoke in confidence, said: “We are making efforts to resolve the crisis.
All I know is that Wike will not leave the party. As regards inviting APC leaders to commission projects in his state, he has said it before that he would invite leaders across party lines to commission projects in Rivers. I can assure you that the crisis within the party will be resolved soon.”
Ayu should resign honourably —Bode George
Commenting on the crisis rocking the party, George, who addressed newsmen in Lagos, insisted that Ayu should honour his words by stepping down as national chairman of the party.
He, however, urged Governor Wike not to join APC, despite misgivings over the choice of Atiku’s running mate, saying “you don’t win all the time.”
Heis words: “In democracy, we must talk and exchange ideas. We must agree and disagree without actually being disagreeable. Any organisation with human beings will always have issues but the ability to manage that crisis will be the determining factor.
“I want to appeal to all sides to sheathe their swords. Nigerians are waiting for us and we must convince them that we can manage the resources of the country in an equitable manner.
“They should all cease fire. Statements of arrogance and innuendos that can destroy the party should stop forthwith.
“Zoning has sustained our democracy for this long because it’s the concept that established our party.
“My plea is that all should cool temper because if we don’t get it right this time around, this nation will never forgive us. Nigerians are waiting for the PDP.”
On 2023 general election, George said it was not yet uhuru.
While expressing worry over the security situation in the country, he said: “My fear is that if the insecurity continues, who will be bold enough to campaign or cast votes during election?
“These are serious issues we must consider. Are we thinking about it? It’s scary. How will people go out to vote on the day of election?”
Wike, one man balancing force —Mimiko
Meanwhile, former Ondo State governor, Dr Olusegun Mimiko, yesterday, commended Governor Wike’s boldness to lawfully speak truth to power, saying he has averted bids by desperate politicians to force Nigeria into a one-party state.
Mimiko said this while performing the flag-off of Rivers State project for dualisation of Azikiwe-Iloabuchi Road in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
Noting that through bold legal challenges, Wike has deepened national consciousness by combating the defective federal system towards actualising true federalism.
Mimiko said: “Beyond the self-evident physical transformation, you (Wike) have stood as a bulwark against those sworn to emasculating the main opposition party, all in their bid to force a one-party state down the throats of Nigerians.
“You were at one point virtually a one man countervailing force, defending and protecting our dear PDP. You have also, through bold legal challenges, deepened the national consciousness on the defects in the running of our defective federal system.”
Hoping Wike remains committed to the struggle to entrench true federalism for just development across ethnic divides and religious persuasions in Nigeria, the former governor said: “Our party, the PDP, a party for which you have laboured so much, seems saddled with the historical duty of forging this unity, a unity premised on truth, equity and justice, a unity upon which rescuing Nigeria from unsatisfactory performance of the past seven years will be built.
“It is a mission that must be accomplished, a mission for which you are specially positioned and favoured to play a major role, a mission that must be subscribed to by all lovers of our country.”
Speaking on the project, Wike said: “As a man who respects leaders, I have to honour them by making sure this road is awarded and completed within six months.
“This is the last project here in Port Harcourt I’m going to embark upon before I leave office. All promises I have made in Port Harcourt, I have fulfilled. Let somebody come and tell me which one I have not fulfilled. “Because you voted for us, we too will work for you by providing basic infrastructure. That is what politics is all about. It is about talking and doing, not giving of excuses.
“No right-thinking person in this state would want to mingle or identify with such people that would make promises without fulfilling them.
“Our campaign has always been operation show your report card. We are showing our report card. Tell anybody who comes to you to show his report card.”
Wike’s romance with Tinubu’s men rattles Amaechi’s base
There are strong indications that the Rivers State All Progressives Congress led by immediate past Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, is angry about the romance between the APC presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu’s men; and the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike.
Wike has in recent times been meeting with some APC chieftains, including Tinubu’s allies. On Monday, the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, was invited by Wike to inaugurate a road project.
The Rivers governor also invited former Governor Aliyu Wamakko of Sokoto State and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila to inaugurate some projects in his state.
Earlier, some APC governors led by the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, Kayode Fayemi, had also met Wike in his state amid his feud with the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar.
However, sources close to Amaechi, told The PUNCH that the romance between Wike and Tinubu was disrespectful especially since it was public knowledge that Wike and Amaechi were political foes.
They also accused Tinubu of supporting Senator Magnus Abe who recently dumped the APC to run for governor on the platform of the Social Democratic Party.
An associate of Amaechi who wished to remain anonymous because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, said, “The APC leaders have been coming to Rivers State to lobby Wike and make all manner of promises to him. These people never came to Rivers even when the party was having a crisis.
“They should not forget that Amaechi came second in that presidential primary and is still the leader of the APC in Rivers State. Rather than rally around him, they have been romancing Wike. Tinubu is among the sponsors of Magnus Abe who has defected to the SDP.
“Magnus Abe is Tinubu’s boy. He is always with Tinubu. Even after joining the SDP, he is still with Tinubu and has promised to work for Tinubu’s campaign. Yet they cannot caution him.”
The source stated that Atiku might begin to woo Amaechi soon if quick action was not taken.
Speaking with The PUNCH, an APC chieftain, Chukwuemeka Eze, said he was not aware if Atiku had begun reaching out to Amaechi.
Eze, however, said if Amaechi decides to join the PDP, then Tinubu should be blamed.
He added, “If Amaechi decides to rejoin PDP, it may not be of his own making but due to the acts and attitude of Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu and managers of his campaign team coupled with the new style of leadership of those currently running APC.
“Let me state unequivocally that the manner and ways Amaechi and his political Team are being neglected both in the formation of the APC Presidential Campaign Council and most of the activities of the party since after the APC Presidential Convention is not the best way to treat a leader with the stature or status of Amaechi. You don’t do that.
“To worsen the situation, the manner in which Tinubu and his associates continued to associate with Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State without any consultation with Amaechi or any member of his political family is not only sad but very unfortunate.”
Eze said Amaechi remained an institution in Rivers State politics and that anybody or political leader who feels he can undermine him is doing that at his or her own peril.
He recalled that Amaechi as the Director-General of the Presidential campaign that orchestrated President Goodluck Jonathan’s defeat in 2015
“Based on his rating, I will not be shocked if Atiku Abubakar is wooing him based on the fact that the two leaders are not only very close associates politically and but have remain great partners in the progress of this country so I have nothing against such a union,” he said.
When contacted, the Rivers State APC Publicity Secretary, Chris Finebone, told The PUNCH that Wike was desperate for an alliance with Tinubu and the APC to remain relevant after 2023.
Commenting on the romance between Tinubu’s men and Wike, he stated, “In politics, the concentric circles of conspiracy are numerous. Sometimes they overlap and other times they are incongruent. But very often, the end result is one – how to appropriate political power at the expense of others or competitors. Therefore, in the instant case, whether it is Asuwaju that is going after Governor Wike or the latter that is courting Asuwaju, the end result is how to survive 2023 general elections and remain politically relevant thereafter.
We know that the desperate party or side in the entire calculation is Wike. Reason is that head or tail with Atiku, he’ll lose. Assuming without conceding that Atiku wins, he’ll surely put away Wike in a cold manner. Wike understands this. In a scenario where Asuwaju/APC wins, Wike deserves the grace of God to walk free. He needs the protection post 2023 so badly. Therefore, it is clear that Wike is the one chasing after Asiwaju/APC and not the opposite.
Whether asked if the romance was a slap on Amaechi, he stated, “I have a biblical verse as an answer. ‘Thou sayest!’
Also in a chat with The PUNCH, the Deputy spokesman of the APC in the Rivers State, Darlington Uwauju, said Amaechi was one of the few political leaders that could be trusted and that he would not leave the APC for the PDP.
The Chairman of the Lagos State chapter of the APC, Cornelius Ojelabi, said anyone was free to visit Wike as he was not Tinubu’s enemy.
On Tinubu’s alleged link to Magnus Abe’s defection, he said, “I don’t know anything about that. All I know is that politics is a game of numbers. When you are in a contest, you just have to approach all that is approachable and solicit support.”
On whether he sees the possibility of Wike forming an alliance or crossing over to the APC, Ojelabi responded, “It is all about passion and you know Wike has a passion for politics. Wike was part of the southern governors who came to Lagos State before now and said that the Southern governors won’t support any presidential candidate from the North.”
‘Wike a tactician’
Also speaking with The PUNCH, a former Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, who is also a Tinubu campaigner, said there was nothing wrong with the new romance with Wike.
Shittu said Amaechi should be happy that someone like Wike was being linked to the APC.
“Nobody will stop Wike if he wants to come to APC. Again, you know Wike is a tactician. If I were in Amaechi’s shoes, I would see Wike’s coming as an opportunity to settle reconcile with him. What he should be thinking of at that point is that with Wike coming into the party, will there be an in-fighting anymore?,” he asked.
Shittu also rubbished reports that Tinubu had a hand in Abe’s defection, adding that Tinubu could not be blamed for longstanding crisis in the party in Rivers State.
“Is it not a stupid idea for anybody to suggest that Abe is not intelligent enough to take a decision on his own? There are certain things that sound silly to one’s hearing, except that it is always news to the media.
“Abe has been running a battle politically with Amaechi. Even at the last governorship primary, he didn’t win the ticket to fulfil his ambition. Tell me, does he need anybody to tell him the next step to take if he fails to clinch the APC ticket,” he asked.
Shittu added that Tinubu was not fighting with Amaechi whom he described as a brother and friend. He noted that when Amaechi accused APC delegates of selling their votes, Tinubu refused to respond.
“Is he fighting Amaechi? Even when he alleged that some delegates were given bribes for vote-buying, did Tinubu say anything? That’s because he doesn’t want to join the fray. If you study Tinubu well enough, you will know that he doesn’t take issue with people. That’s why you see people who fight him coming back to him at the end of the day,” he said
When contacted, Atiku’s Media Adviser, Paul Ibe said reconciliation and discussions with Wike was still ongoing and declined further comment.
An analyst, Sunny Anyanwu, argued that it was almost impossible for Wike to defect to the APC, adding that he may have been hurt, but he would not dump the PDP.
‘’It will amount to a dog eating its vomit if Wike defects to APC. Yes I agree Wike has been hurt. The committee set up by the PDP to select a vice- presidential candidate recommended him but Atiku on his own picked Okowa. Now, it was like injustice was done to him. I don’t think Wike will finally settle for APC. I don’t think so. But if he does it, he has brought his personality to the mud, and he will have no political relevance again,’’ the lawyer submitted.
Amaechi could not be reached for comment on Tuesday. Calls placed to the ex-minister’smedia aide,Paul Iyiofor, rang out and he had yet to reply to a text message seeking his comment on Wike’s alleged romance with Tinubu’s allies and other APC chieftains.
Meanwhile, the crisis in the PDP worsened on Tuesday with tWike, attacking a former senator, Lee Maeba, an ally of the PDP presidential candidate.
Wike and Maeba traded words over the governor’s statement on the control of the votes in the state and the benefits which accrued to Rivers when Atiku was the vice-president between 1999 and 2007.
Speaking on Tuesday at the inauguration of the dualised Ogbunuabali -Eastern Bypass Road which was performed by the former governor of Sokoto State, Senator Aliyu Wamakko, the governor said Maeba was wrong when he quoted him (Wike) to have said he was in charge of Rivers State’s votes..
This was contained in a statement issued by Kelvin Ebiri, media aide to the governor and made available to newsmen..
He said, “Because some people went to school late, they don’t understand when somebody says I am in charge of this state. I never said I am in charge of votes in this state. But I know I can talk to my people and my people will listen to me. Some people say, I have only one vote, I agree. I can’t vote two times. I will only vote once. But because of the services I have rendered to the people of this state, the state will listen to me.”
The governor stated that he had remained a consistent politician, not playing double games and urged Rivers people to be happy that they have a governor who would always defend the state.
The statement said, “Leadership is not about party, leadership is about individual. Party is only a vehicle to actualize your ambition, to be able to tell your people I have this capacity, I have this quality to render services to you.
“If you take me away today from the PDP to another party, I will still perform. So, it is not because I’m in the PDP that I’m performing. It is because I have that passion for my people. It is because I have the commitment to serve my people. Take me to the YPP, allow me to become whatever I will become there, I will perform. Take me to any party, I will perform. So, it is not the party that makes you perform.”
He stated that the state did not benefit from some politicians’ closeness to Presidents and Vice-Presidents.
Maeba replies Wike
But reacting to Wike’s comment, Maeba told The PUNCH that Rivers State benefited from Atiku on account of his and a former House of Representatives deputy speaker, Austin Opara’s closeness to the former vice-president.
The former federal lawmaker explained that his relationship with Atiku brought Intels, a logistics company owned by the PDP presidential candidate, to the state.
He said, “It (Relationship with Atiku) brought Intels. Atiku established Intels which employed many people. It was because of us that he (Atiku) invested more in Intels Rivers.
“Must friendship bring something? What has his (Wike’s) friendship brought to me? His friendship to me has only brought me pains; his friendship to me has brought me more pains.”
Also speaking in an interview with an online television station monitored by our correspondent, Maeba disclosed how Wike threatened to collapse the party if he failed to secure the party’s ticket to contest the 2023 presidential election.
He said, “Wike told me during one of our campaigns that if he failed the primary that he will collapse the whole system if they do to him what they did to (Ex-Rivers state governor, Peter) Odili. He said he will collapse the system and everybody will go home. That is the fear here.”
He wondered why the governor had refused to move on like Odili did when he failed in his bid to become the president in 2007.
When contacted, Atiku’s Media Adviser, Paul Ibe said reconciliation and discussions with Wike was still ongoing and declined further comment.
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