Governor Godwin Obaseki has said that the recent personal attacks by the Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, against his deputy, Philip Shaibu, are unfortunate and totally uncalled for.
The Edo State Governor expressed his displeasure at the development in a statement on Monday.
Obaseki said if Wike was one who wants to show respect and courtesy to his colleague-governors, he would have reached out to him to express his concerns about Shaibu’s views, rather than embark on an unwarranted public onslaught.
The rift between Governor Wike and the Edo State deputy governor stemmed from a comment made by the latter suggesting that many supporters of Obaseki who defected with the governor from the All Progressives Congress (APC) to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are not happy and do not feel accepted into the new party.
Shaibu asked the national leadership of the PDP to “integrate” his supporters and those of his principal into the party, threatening that there are possibilities of an exodus.
In reaction to these comments, Wike tongue-lashed Shaibu, calling him an ingrate.
The Rivers State Governor asked the national chairman of the PDP to constitute a disciplinary committee against the deputy governor of Edo State, stressing that if this is not done, he (Wike) will invoke the sanctions of the party and will make sure they must discipline Shaibu.
Defending his deputy governor, Obaseki in his lengthy statement said Shaibu “was a former National President of the National Association of Nigerian Student (NANS) and his comment is representative of the essence of the nation’s youth population, who are inclined to openly speak up and question the status quo.
Obaseki wondered how Governor Wike can aspire to lead Nigerian youths if he cannot understand and adequately respond to their style and character.
“His Excellency, Governor Wike should have taken a cue from the manner in which the National Chairman of our party, Sen. Dr Iyorchia Ayu, responded to my deputy’s remarks, as a conscientious leader who is able to show empathy and consideration,” the Edo Governor stated.
According to him, the concerns expressed by his deputy governor bordered on pertinent issues affecting the PDP in Edo State which since the September 19th, 2020 elections, has been able to register over 500,000 members; and to date, these new members have not been properly integrated into our party after two years.
He added also that the leaders, executives, and members who came with him into the PDP have still not been accepted, integrated or harmonized into the party.
More worrisome for the governor is the fact that old members of Edo PDP, who are open to inclusion and supportive of building a large party are being vilified and ostracized “by a cabal purportedly led by Chief Dan Orbih, who is your perpetual guest in Port Harcourt and is remotely used to orchestrate the destabilization of the party in Edo State.”
“It is necessary to recall at this point that a political solution gave rise to the emergence of Chief Dan Orbih first as Acting and then as Substantive National Vice Chairman, South-South, of our party, when Chief Emma Odidi resigned that position to allow Chief Orbih to ascend,” Obaseki said.
“It is, therefore, curious why this type of political solution is no longer tenable to resolve the political impasse in Edo State PDP,” the governor questioned.
Speaking further on the matter, Obaseki stressed in the comments of Shaibu, the deputy governor at no point threatened the party as Governor Wike has alleged.
“Rather, it is Governor Wike, who has at different times, threatened the PDP.
“Some of these instances include:
“1. On September 16, 2018, Governor Wike threatened the party that there would be grave consequences if it moved the National Convention from Port Harcourt in the run-up to the 2019 presidential election.
“2. On September 12, 2019, Governor Wike also threatened to cause trouble for the party over the emergence of Hon. Ndudi Elumelu as the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives.”
He said it cannot be doubted that Governor Wike has contributed to the advancement of the PDP, just like others, since 1999.
The governor further asserted that no one is against Wike’s desire to run for president. He, however, cautioned that “his ambition should not be embarked on in such a way that it would cause disruption at different levels, such as the PDP Governors’ Forum as well as different chapters of the party across the country.
“It clearly amounts to the delusion of grandeur, for any one man to nurse the idea that he owns or has more stake in the PDP and everyone should pander to him.
“We are all equal stakeholders in the party and an aggregate of the ideas, opinions, and contributions of all leaders and members should form the position of the party and not the view of one individual or a select few,” Obaseki maintained.
He said while Governor Wike is free to use his resources as he deems fit in pursuit of his ambition, he should not attempt to cow, intimidate, cajole and threaten others into doing his bidding.
“Edo State cannot and will not be procured for anyone’s personal ambition,” Obaseki declared.
The governor believes that Nigeria needs strong democratic institutions and not strong men.
“That is why we will join the great leaders of our party across the country to build PDP into a strong, large, and indomitable party that will win next year’s presidential election,” he said.
“Governor Wike and his collaborators headed by Chief Dan Orbih in Edo State will not succeed in destabilizing the PDP in Edo State as they did other states like Cross River just to secure delegates to actualize his alleged personal ambition to run for the presidency in 2023.”
Obaseki underscored that in Edo State, the people do not accept political bullies and overlords, adding that historically, the Edo people have demonstrated their capacity to unshackle themselves and dethrone bullies and highhanded leaders.
He appealed to well-meaning leaders of the PDP to call Governor Wike to order and urge his Rivers State counterpart to desist from his current unguarded and disruptive tendencies.
The Edo State governor said that from all indications today, PDP is set to take over the leadership of Nigeria provided the party can rein in the self-interest of a few leaders to put the task of rescuing Nigeria above their personal ambitions.