The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has postponed its National Executive Committee (NEC) and National Caucus meeting, following the protracted rift between its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, and Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike.
The meetings of the two critical organs were originally scheduled to hold tomorrow and Thursday.
A statement by the PDP National Secretary, Senator Samuel Anyanwu, said the postponement was due to “unforeseen circumstances”.
He said new dates for the meetings would be announced in due course.
Although the secretary did not disclose the “unforeseen circumstances” that warranted the postponement, party sources said the decision was informed by a hardline position taken by the Rivers State governor in the ongoing effort to reconcile him with Atiku.
Among other demands, the Wike camp has called on the National Chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, to step aside and allow one of his deputies from the South to take the office.
The demand is being made in view of the fact that the PDP presidential candidate, the chairman of the Board of Trustees (BoT) and the National Chairman are all from the North.
A source said the invitation extended to Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu by Wike to commission projects in Rivers State ruffled some feathers in the top party hierarchy of the PDP.
According to the source, Wike’s decision to invite the Lagos State governor, who is of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), to commission projects in a PDP-controlled state, was meant to spite the party leadership.
Wike had on July 8, received three APC governors – Governors Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State and Sanwo-Olu – a few days after Atiku announced Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa as his running mate.
PDP stakeholders are said to be uncomfortable with the latter-day hobnobbing of the Rivers governor with APC chieftains, especially close allies of the APC presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
Wike was reportedly favoured by some highly placed PDP stakeholders and powerful interest groups for the party’s vice presidential slot.
But Atiku on June 16, announced Okowa as his running mate, against a recommendation by a selection committee, which tipped Wike for the position.
Atiku had won the May 29 PDP presidential primary with 371 votes while Wike came second with 237 votes.
Underate Rivers at your peril, Wike warns
Wike yesterday vowed that anybody undervaluing his state’s political capability would be taught a painful lesson in 2023.
He spoke in Port Harcourt during the inauguration of the Orochiri-Worukwo (Waterlines junction) Flyover by Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
According to him, the dynamics of contemporary politics had made it unpopular to just gift votes away without the assurance of derivable benefit for the people.
Wike said: “If you say Rivers State does not matter, Rivers State will tell you that you don’t also matter at the appropriate time. If you don’t like us, we will not like you. If you like us, we will like you.
“Nobody will use our votes for nothing. Our votes will matter and Rivers State must benefit from anybody that we are going to support.
“Politics now is no longer just voting for somebody; it is about what you will do for the people of Rivers State.”
He said it would be difficult for any conspirator to upset the voting pattern of Rivers State and support for the PDP.
The governor added that those who looted the treasury of the state would not be supported to become Rivers State governor.
He said: “Those who looted the treasury of the State will not come here to be governor of Rivers State and I have challenged them.
“I am fully in charge. I am not that kind of governor people will go to Abuja and hold meetings against. I am fully in charge here.”
Wike also berated a columnist, Mr. Yemi Adebowale over an article titled, “Wike, a Governor Possessed By Spirit of Flyovers.”
He said the writer goofed on claims the governor was building flyovers at the expense of pension gratuities, salaries and promotion arrears to civil servants.
He further explained that the invitation of the Lagos State Governor was not the first time persons of other political parties were urged to inaugurate projects in Rivers State.
Sanwo-Olu, who inaugurated the flyover, commended Wike for his strong commitment to the delivery of physical infrastructure in Rivers State.
He said: “I would like to specially commend my brother, Governor Wike, for his strong commitment to the delivery of physical infrastructure in Rivers State, a commitment that has been recognized by all and sundry, and which has earned him the appellation of ‘Mr. Projects’ within and outside Rivers State.”
Sanwo-Olu said though he and Wike belonged to different political persuasions, the invitation extended to him sent a very strong message that politicians and political leaders, could come together across political and ideological divides, for the good of the people.
He said: “There is also a strong message being made today about expanding our capacity to play politics without bitterness. This symbolic gesture by my friend and brother is one that should become standard practice across Nigeria.
“There is also a lot that we can learn from one another, and experience that we can translate from one part of the country to the other.
Rivers State Commissioner for Works, Dakorinama George-Kelly said the project had been completed on schedule with specified quality.
He said: “The project has an overall length of 840 meters and the overall cross-sectional width of 17.6meters, 7.3 meters on each lane. It has a one-meter walkway on both sides and two meters of media. We have a total asphaltic pavement area of 29000 square meters.”