Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has said that the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Iyorchia Ayu, put pressure on other presidential aspirants to step down for former Vice President Atiku Abubakar at the party’s convention.
Mr Wike stated this in a live media chat in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on Friday.
He said Mr Ayu was calling aspirants on the phone to withdraw from the race for Mr Atiku, and that he even threatened to resign his office if he (Wike) wins the primary.
Governor Wike said the national chairman held several meetings with aspirants in this regard, hence the convention started late.
The governor said the “thunderous ovation that greeted his speech” at the national convention became a problem to Mr Ayu and other members of the party.
Mr Wike expressed annoyance at the chairman of the convention planning committee, David Mark, for offering Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State a second chance to speak at the convention.
Mr Tambuwal used his second speech to announce his withdrawalfrom the presidential race and urged his supporters to vote for Mr Atiku.
Buoyed by the withdrawal, Mr Atiku defeated Governor Wike and other aspirants in the race to emergeas the party presidential candidate.
Mr Wike said his only regret for not winning the primary is that he would not have “the opportunity to fight bandits and oil theft”.
He said in the media chat that he “wanted to fight insecurity head on” if he had won the primary and then eventually elected president of Nigeria.
Mr Wike said Mr Atiku visited him in his Abuja residence and told him “look, governor, Ayu will go” because the presidential candidate and the national chairman cannot come from the same zone.
The governor, at the media chat insisted that Mr Ayu must relinquish office for a southerner to ensure “inclusivity.”
He repeatedly described the leadership of the PDP as “arrogance” and added that “no party that wants to win an election can be arrogant like this”.
The party has been enmeshed in a leadership crisis after its presidential primary.
Mr Wike’s group is demanding the resignation of the national chairman to achieve a “regional balance” since Messrs Ayu and Atiku are both from the north but Mr Ayu has insisted he was elected for a four-year term.
The Chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees (BOT), Walid Jibrin, who is also from Nasarawa State in the north, resigned a few days ago, apparently to placate Mr Wike and his group.
The Deputy Chairman, Adolphus Wabara, a former president of the Senate, from Abia State in the South-east, is the acting BOT chairman.
However, Mr Wike’s camp, not impressed with Mr Jibrin’s resignation, has insisted Mr Ayu must step down from his position.