Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has restated that the presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, should ensure the removal of Iyorchia Ayu as PDP national chairman for a southern replacement.
Wike stated this on Tuesday when Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State commissioned the Akpabu-Itu-Umudiogha road in the Emohua Local Government Area of Rivers.
He accused Atiku of sabotaging the then President Goodluck Jonathan, who pleaded with him (Atiku) to support his re-election bid in 2015. Still, the Adamawa-born politician rejected the pleas of the former Bayelsa governor.
Governor Wike noted that Jonathan travelled to the Dorchester Hotel in London in 2015 to meet Atiku, but rather, the former VP “embarrassed” Jonathan and told him to relinquish his ticket to him.
He said, “We forget history. In 2015 when Jonathan as a sitting President, I am not talking as a presidential candidate but as a sitting President, when he had won his primary, Jonathan went to London to Dorchester Hotel, he went to plead with Atiku Abubakar to come back to the party and support him.
“You know the condition he (Atiku) gave Jonathan? He should relinquish his ticket not to run as the President of Nigeria. That was the presidential candidate of a ruling party. He gave him a condition, telling him to relinquish that ticket.
“Today, we are not saying the presidential candidate should relinquish his ticket; we are not being selfish, we are saying since you are now the presidential candidate, let our people take the chairmanship.”
To end the PDP crisis, Atiku and his running mate Ifeanyi Okowa visited Jonathan on November 17 at his home in Abuja. Since then, however, there has been no word from Jonathan.
There are concerns that the intra-party squabbles between Wike and Atiku over control of Ayu will impact Atiku’s chances in the 2023 presidential election, which is only three months away.
The Rivers Governor and four other PDP governors, known as the G5 or the Integrity Group, want Ayu, a Benue-born, to step down for a southerner over what they described as the dominance of the north within the party.
Wike, who ran in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) primary that Atiku won in May, claimed he is not asking Atiku to resign as the party’s presidential candidate for the 2023 elections. As opposed to that, he advised Atiku to see to it that Iyorchia Ayu was replaced as PDP national chairman by a representative from the south.