2023 presidential running mate: Wike hits Atiku, accuses him of blackmail, lying to Nigerians

Says ex-VP sent Lamido, Aliyu, others to attack him

Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike yesterday fired the first of his salvos at the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP’s) presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, over the process that produced Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa as the party’s presidential running mate.

Wike, who came second behind Atiku during the PDP presidential primary and was widely tipped to be picked as vice presidential candidate, labelled statements by the former vice president on his Arise Television interview last week as lies, and declared that he was not yet done with Atiku.

He told reporters at the Port Harcourt International Airport that he would devote reasonable time after inaugurating his newly completed projects to respond to all the ‘lies’ told by Atiku and those he branded ‘attack dogs’ of the PDP flag bearer

Among other things, Atiku had said during the interview that he chose Okowa as his running mate because he wanted someone he could work with amicably.

“You must understand that it’s the prerogative of the candidate to pick his running mate — a running mate he believes he can work with amicably, and then also deliver the policies of the party, and also try to unify the country,” he said.

He also denied that a party committee recommended Wike as his running mate, adding that he was already reaching out to the Rivers State governor with a view to settling their differences.

Wike’s office had said moments after the interview that he would respond in due course to Atiku’s statements.

“You can imagine the presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, when he unveiled his vice-presidential candidate; no right thinking and lover of this party will say that the speech he made on that day was fair,” Wike said yesterday.

“Forget about the scavengers. But I never reacted to it because this party belongs to us,” he added.

Continuing, he said: “He appeared on the Arise TV. See the statements he made. So many lies were told and then you said I should not react to the issues. That will not be fair.

“Assuming today I am not alive, it will be accepted as the truth.

“Look at his attack dogs, Sule Lamido, Babangida Aliyu, Maina Waziri; look at the statements they issued. Look at the abuses they rained on me.

“It is important that as a person and for my own future and for those who are around me, to say that this is not fair. I will react line by line the statements made by Atiku Abubakar himself and his attack dogs.

“Anybody who loves me will not advise me not to react. If a presidential candidate, who believes he wants to win an election, and somebody who contested fiercely with him has never raised any issues, just kept quiet minding my business to see how my state can move forward; but everyday his people come up to attack me. It is quite unfair.”

When asked to confirm claims by Atiku that he had reached out to him, he said: “When people tell lies, it is most unfortunate. Some senators called me and said Atiku Abubakar said he sent Saraki to me. That is unfair. It is not correct.

“I was in Spain, Bukola came to me and said, ‘My brother, how do we settle this problem?’ I asked, ‘Were you sent by Atiku Abubakar?’ He said no. I said okay, what do you want me to do? Look at the issues. He said he didn’t know this and that. He said the matter was serious.”

Wike said scavengers hanging around Atiku to seek survival were trivialising the matter by calling him and asking him not to leave the party.

He recalled that before to the primaries, Atiku visited him in Port Harcourt to solicit his support, and wondered whether Atiku no longer knew the road to his house after winning the ticket.

Wike said: “Abubakar has never reached out to me. Forget about sending scavengers. Some of them will call my friends and say tell your guy to support us. It has reduced to that level. Some of them, I don’t know, would call me and be begging me not to leave the party. Who is talking about leaving the party?

“Atiku Abubakar came to my house and asked me to support him. So he doesn’t know my house again? Now, people I don’t even know are calling me to support him. They are trivialising issues. No way. I will not accept that.

“Atiku Abubakar cannot say he had sent somebody to me. Let one person say he was sent to me by Atiku Abubakar.

“Every day I read in the newspaper you sent a committee to come and see me. I love this party and I have remained committed and I have been able to build this party. I am not one of those who are running around the presidential candidate. They are all scavengers looking for how they will survive.

“General election is not primary election. What is the hope for this country? Who are those who love this country not by mere talking?

“National Chairman said he spoke to me. With all due respect, he never called me. Not one person has called me to talk to me.

“I urge everybody to be patient. After commissioning the projects we line up, I will speak.

“In this part of the world, when lies are being concocted and you allow it, they become facts. I have always believed that when the left speaks, allow the right to also speak.

“We are not getting younger. It is important that when issues are raised you should be able to say this is the path we are toeing so that the public will know the truth and the lies.

“Since after our primaries, I have decided to be quiet because it is the party I love so much. I decided to go back home and focus on fulfilling the main promises I made to the people of the state.

“But there comes a time that people will understand the true facts of things. It is not in doubt that I will speak and let Nigerians know the actual truth.


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