Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has explained why the photos of the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, and its National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, were missing in the party’s campaign materials in the state.
Mr Wike said Mr Atiku picked people from Rivers into the PDP presidential campaign council without his “contribution”.
“Some people have asked me why it is that they don’t see the presidential candidate’s picture (and) the party’s (national) chairman in the party’s campaign materials. I said what are you talking about?
“The presidential candidate entered my (Rivers) state and picked members of the presidential council without a whole governor of the state having a contribution.
“So they don’t want us to campaign for them, let’s campaign for those who want us to campaign for them – the senatorial, governorship candidates want us to campaign for them, so we are here to campaign for them.”
Governor Wike stated this on Monday at the inauguration of the State PDP Campaign Council in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, according to a report by the Punch newspaper.
“They say they don’t want Rivers people to campaign for them, will you force yourself?
“No”, the cheering crowd retorted.
Speaking further, Mr Wike said Mr Atiku appointed “enemies of Rivers as members of his campaign council.
“I have never seen how people would disrespect a state like Rivers, and go and choose those who are enemies of the state without the contributions from us.”
The governor did not, however, mention those he described as “enemies of Rivers State”.
But PREMIUM TIMES understands that a former national chairman of the PDP, Uche Secondus, who hails from Rivers State, has been appointed Technical Adviser by Mr Atiku.
Besides Mr Secondus, other PDP members from Rivers State appointed to the presidential campaign council include two former deputy speakers of the House of Representatives, Chibudom Nwuche and Austin Opara.
Others are a senator, George Sekibo; a former senator, Lee Maeba; and a former transportation minister under Olusegun Obasanjo, Abiye Sekibo, as well as a retired army general, Kenneth Minima.
The PDP has been enmeshed in a leadership crisis after its presidential primary which was won by Mr Atiku.
Mr Wike is leading a group of four other governors and other party chieftains who are calling for the removal of Mr Ayu as the PDP chairman, to achieve a “regional balance” since Messrs Ayu and Atiku are both from the north.
Mr Wike’s allies who were appointed to the PDP presidential campaign council last month announced their withdrawal from the council.
Members of the group also boycotted the presidential campaign flag-off of the party. They are adamant that Mr Ayu must be replaced with a southerner.