March 15, 2022

Gloves off: Obaseki, Wike fight dirty over party issues

Wike, Obaseki

…Obaseki rises to Shaibu’s defence, tells Wike PDP not his personal property

...Says Rivers gov can’t intimidate, cow, or procure Edo people for his ambition

…Wike fires back at Obaseki, says he’s a serial betrayer, asks him to apologise to Oshiomhole

By Egufe Yafugborhi, PORT HARCOURT 

Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State and his counterpart in Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, both of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, are currently at daggers drawn over purported verbal attacks on the deputy governor of Edo State, Philip Shaibu by the latter for threatening to quit the party if their supporters were not integrated fully into the PDP.

The rift between Governor Wike and the Edo Deputy Governor stemmed from a comment made by Shaibu, suggesting that many supporters of Obaseki, who defected with the governor from the All Progressives Congress (APC), to the PDP are not happy and didn’t 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.

This did not go down well with the Rivers governor who tongue-lashed Shaibu, calling him an ingrate.

Wike also asked the national chairman of the PDP, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, to constitute a disciplinary committee against the Deputy Governor of Edo State, stressing that if this was not done, he (Wike) would invoke sanctions of the party against the deputy governor.

Although Ayu promised to look into the complaints raised by Comrade Shaibu, this did not sit well with the Rivers governor, who launched verbal attacks on the Edo deputy governor.

However, Governor Obaseki, who saw the attacks on his deputy as unacceptable, described Wike’s action as most unfortunate and uncalled-for.

Expressing his displeasure in a statement in Benin City yesterday, Obaseki said if Wike was one who showed respect and courtesy to his colleague-governors, he would have ordinarily reached out to him to express his concerns about the views made by Comrade Shaibu, rather than embark on unwarranted public onslaught.

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Obaseki rises to Shaibu’s defence

Defending his deputy, 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.”

He was of the opinion that if Governor Wike could not understand and adequately respond to the style and character of the Nigerian youth, how could he aspire to lead them?

“Governor Wike should have taken a cue from the manner the national chairman of our party, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, responded to my deputy’s remarks, as a conscientious leader, who is able to show empathy and consideration,” he 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 19, 2020, elections, has been able to register over 500,000 members.

He noted that to date, the new members had not been properly integrated into the 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.

Obaseki alleged 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 a party leader in the state, who is Wike’s perpetual guest in Port Harcourt and was remotely used to orchestrate 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 the said party leader, first as acting and then as substantive national vice chairman, South-South, of our party, when Chief Emma Odidi resigned that position to allow him to ascend.

“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 said.

Obaseki recalled that in the comments of Shaibu, the deputy governor at no point threatened the party as governor Wike alleged.

Wike serially threatened PDP — Obaseki

He said: “Rather, it is Governor Wike, who has at different times, threatened the PDP.

Some of these instances include:  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.

“On September 12, 2019, Governor Wike also threatened to cause trouble for the party over the emergence of Ndudi Elumelu as Minority Leader of the House of Representatives.’’

He said it could not be doubted that Governor Wike had contributed to the advancement of the PDP, just like others, since 1999, asserting that no one is against Wike’s desire to run for president. “However, 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.

‘You can’t procure Edo State for your ambition’

He said while Governor Wike is free to use his resources as he deemed 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.

He said what Nigeria needs now are strong democratic institutions and not strong men, adding that explained the reason every member of the party should join great leaders across the country to build PDP into a strong, large and indomitable party that would win next year’s presidential election.

Obaseki added: “Governor Wike and his collaborators 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.”

He underscored the fact that in Edo State, the people do not accept political bullies and overlords, adding that historically, Edo people had demonstrated their capacity to unshackle themselves and dethrone bullies and highhanded leaders.

The governor appealed to all well-meaning leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party to call Governor Wike to order and urge him to desist from his current unguarded and disruptive tendencies.

Wike fires back, calls Obaseki a betrayer

The situation took a new twist later yesterday, as Governor Wike fired back at his Edo counterpart, describing him as a serial betrayal and an ungrateful person.

Addressing a crowd at the commissioning of a secondary school in Omuanwa community, Rivers State, Wike alleged that the Edo governor has refused to be grateful to the party and the people who supported him to be re-elected when he left the APC.

He, however, apologised to the former national chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole, whom he said had initially warned them about accepting Governor Obaseki into the PDP fold.

“If you check the DNA of Obaseki, what you will see in that DNA is betrayal, serial betrayal, and ingratitude.

“Let me stand today to apologise to Adams Oshiomhole, who has been vindicated by telling us that we will see the true colour, the insincerity, the ingratitude of Governor Obaseki.

“We have voted for PDP since 1999 till now; ask Governor Obaseki if he has done anything for PDP (or) voted for PDP. The only election he voted was his own election – where we gave him an umbrella.”

Governor Wike, who described the comments by Obaseki as a rant, said governance is about feeling and touching, and not a memorandum of understanding.

While highlighting his contribution to the efforts that led to Governor Obaseki’s re-election, having served as the Director-General (DG) of his campaign organisation in 2020,  the Rivers governor said:  “Let me clearly say without any apology to anybody that one of the problems in this country is leadership – people who cannot stand firm and say: this is white; this is black at all times.

“I am not in the class of Obaseki, never! We are not the same, we can’t be the same. I was the D-G of his campaign, I went there (to Edo) for three days. I stayed there without having my bath. I have never seen somebody like that in my life – a serial betrayer.

“Let me tell you, Obaseki, I know your cohorts and I will smoke all of you out. This is not the Benin artefact that you were challenging the Oba (of Benin), this is politics. Obaseki, I have more stake in PDP than you. I have fought for this party, mention one thing you have done for the PDP.”

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