Rivers State Governor and leader of the rebellious group of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governors, Nyesom Wike, yesterday, said he and his aggrieved colleagues were still open to reconciliation with the leadership of the party ahead of the 2023 general election. Wike, who spoke in Bauchi after a meeting with Bauchi State Governor Bala Mohammed, was in company with three of the rebel governors, namely, Samuel Ortom of Benue State, Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State, and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State.
Seyi Makinde of Oyo State was said to be in the United States at the time.
The rebel governors had since after the PDP presidential primaries in May requested that National Chairman of the party, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, should resign. They said the resignation of Ayu, who hails from Benue State in the North-central, and his replacement with a southerner would help to ensure a sense of balance between the north and south in the party, whose presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, is from Adamawa State in the North-east. But PDP maintained that the eve of a crucial general election was a most inauspicious time to change its national chairman.
The demand of the five governors unsettled the main opposition party, especially after the governors pulled out of the PDP presidential campaign council.
However, raising the possibility of reconciliation, Wike told journalists in Bauchi, “I have stated severally that we are here for reconciliation. We have never closed the door for reconciliation. All we are calling for is equity, fairness, and justice.
“In fact, that is the hallmark that PDP stands for. We have never closed the door and we would not close the door. All we are saying is, ‘look, let the right thing be done.’ If the right thing is done, the whole country would know that the election is over.
“This G-5 you are seeing is the bedrock of the party, so, we would not close the door for reconciliation; we are open for reconciliation any day, anytime.”
Wike’s visit to his Bauchi State counterpart followed a meeting between Atiku and Mohammed in Abuja, after the latter had threatened to leave the presidential campaign council over allegations by the governor that some Bauchi State politicians loyal to Atiku were working against his re-election bid
Wike said whatever affected Mohammed also affected them as a group, “the reason we resolved to reach out to him with support for his second term bid.
“We came here in solidarity with our friend, the governor of Bauchi State. We know that he is running for a second term in office and what we are doing to our friends is to find out how things are with them, how the elections are going. This period is a period to identify with your friends.
“Luckily, four of us that are here are not running for a second term in office, even though they are running for senate, I’m the only one, who is not running for election after I failed at the (presidential) primary (election).
“Everybody knows that I lost the presidential ticket of the party but I defeated Senator Bala Mohammed, so we are here to fraternise with him and discuss issues of synergy and support him. If there is any area we can help and advise, because what affects him also affects us.”
Mohammed expressed delight over the governors’ visit and pledge to support his second term bid, saying he is still connected with the rebel group.
He stated, “Today, I am very, very happy to receive my brothers, the governors of the G-5. They call themselves the Integrity Group. I am supposed to be with them but they ex-communicated me for some reasons best known to them, but I am highly connected with them.
“Each and everyone of them, there is hardly a day I don’t call them, because in politics, you go with the people with whom you share something in common.
“This presidency that we ran, which my brother (Wike) lost and he defeated me, has brought us very close and, of course, at the governors’ forum.
“One thing I appreciate with them is that they are concerned with your challenges, though all of them are not running for a second term, they are always worried, their own particular ideas may be slightly different from my own but expectedly I bear and feel their pains as much as they do in my own pains, we share so much in common.
“They know that I have challenges in Bauchi, challenges of anti-party, challenges of undercutting and mischief, of course, politics is about all these. But when you know that you have people behind you, of that stature, calibre, you feel secured, because there is hardly anything we can do better than what we have done before.
“Especially for those that are not going for a second term, for me, I feel that I have done well for the people, I am not the only one created on the surface of the earth from this area in Bauchi, I have left legacies and landmark. Now that they are here, I will have the opportunity of confiding to the people I believe I can confide in, some of my worries, my fears and that of my state.
“So, I am happy that you came, because some of those things cannot be said on the phone but as PDP members from the same family, I see you as my fellow comrades in this journey of life.
“Thank you most sincerely for taking the time to come for a show of solidarity.”
Meanwhile, following the backlash in some parts of the north over his recent remarks about not supporting another “Fulani President” after President Muhammadu Buhari, Ortom, yesterday, apologised to Nigerians, who might be offended by the comment.
Ortom, who spoke while responding to a question by a journalist, said, “I want to say, that was not what I meant when I was captured saying that.
“But all the same, I know that it would amount to logical fallacy if people have taken it the way I did. But I want to say to those who are so offended by my remarks, I am very sorry. I didn’t mean that.”
An angry Ortom had while reacting to killings in his state by Fulani herdsmen and the so-called “unknown gunmen”, declared he would not in any way support the emergence of a Fulani man as president of Nigeria.
One of the reasons Ortom said he would not back the presidential bid of Atiku was his alleged support for killer herdsmen in Benue State.
The governor, subsequently, accused Atiku of scolding him, when he appeared before the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF).