The Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, has lashed out at the Nigeria Governors Forum, describing it as being a “beggars forum.”
Mr Wike’s attack on the forum, of which he is a member, is apparently in connection with the travails of Governor Godwin Obaseki who has been disqualified by the All Progressives Congress (APC) from contesting the forthcoming governorship primary of the party in Edo state.
Mr Obaseki’s disqualification on Friday climaxed the protracted political battle between him and his predecessor, Adams Oshiomhole, who is the APC national chairman.
There have been speculations that Mr Obaseki is planning to defect from the APC to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The speculations have been fueled by Mr Obaseki’s visit to Mr Wike on Sunday.
Shortly after his meeting with Mr Wike in Port Harcourt, Mr Obaseki travelled to Uyo where he also met with the Akwa Ibom governor, Udom Emmanuel.
Both Mr Wike and Mr Emmanuel are members of the PDP.
“Before 2015, the Governors Forum used to be very powerful as symbols of their respective states but APC killed it because they were protecting the interest of the ruling party,” Governor Wike said on Monday during a press briefing in Port Harcourt.
“During one of the rerun elections in this state, my security aides were withdrawn thus exposing me to danger, the Forum did not say anything because the chairman was a member of APC.
“I told them then that what they were doing was wrong. Now they have become a beggars Forum even when there are constitutional infractions.
“You can see that APC governors say that they are progressive. You can see how progressive they are when they keep quiet when a fellow sitting governor is disqualified from contesting elections.”
The governor’s remarks at the press briefing is contained in a statement issued by the Commissioner for Information in Rivers state, Paulinus Nsirim.
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“Adams Oshiomhole campaigned for Governor Obaseki four years ago. The same man has turned around to say that Obaseki has a defective certificate.
“Has Oshiomhole apologised to Nigerians that he supported someone with a defective certificate? Who is saying that a sitting governor has a defective certificate? Is it a man that does not have a certificate?”
Mr Wike, who said the APC national chairman should practise what he preaches, and accused the APC of wanting to perpetuate impunity in Edo state.
“They think because they have the army, police and INEC, they can do anything and get away with it.
“They tried it in Rivers State but God gave us the will to say no. I hope Edo people will also say no to their impunity,” Governor Wike said.
The governor said he would be happy to receive Mr Obaseki if he defects from APC to PDP, but said he could not guarantee him an automatic ticket in PDP as that is left for the Edo people to decide.
“Edo PDP have a role to play. There is nothing like endorsement,” he said. “But I must tell you that I am not happy the way he was disqualified by the APC because it will affect his integrity.”
PREMIUM TIMES reported how Mr Wike, earlier on Monday, tweeted, “Obaseki was disqualified by someone who doesn’t have a certificate”.