2023 presidency: Wike’s endorsement of APC’s Sanwo-Olu may be sign of what to come
Rivers State governor Nyesom Wike on Tuesday irked some members of his People’s Democratic Party (PDP) when he endorsed Lagos State governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu for a second term in office.
Wike, while speaking at a women’s conference in Lagos, said his support for Sanwo-Olu, a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), was due to his performance.
“Even if you’re in my party (PDP) and you’re not doing well and invite me, I will not come,” Wike said. “But if you’re doing well and not in my party, I will come and I want you to know that I am in support of you.”
The Rivers State governor’s statement may have given a hint to the PDP and its presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar about where and with whom he will be pitching his tent for the 2023 presidential election.
For more than three months, Atiku and the PDP are yet to reconcile with Wike who said he is opposed to a ‘northern domination’ within the party. Wike insists that the PDP chairman Iyorchia Ayu must resign for a person from southern Nigeria since Atiku, another northerner is the PDP presidential candidate.
Amid continued efforts to reconcile their differences, Wike has met with members of opposition parties – the Labour Party and its presidential candidate Peter Obi and the chieftains of the ruling APC.
While Wike is yet to publicly give his support to Atiku, the decision of the Rivers governor to dump the PDP candidate in Lagos Olajide Adediran, appears to have set the tone for a likely political alliance with Tinubu.
Wike told journalists at the conference that the next president Nigeria needs is one with the interest of Nigerians, experience in governance, tackle insecurity and “not people talking about ethnicity”, a statement that appears to be a veiled shot at Atiku who earlier said “an average northerner needs is somebody who’s from the North not a Youruba or Igbo candidate.”
Reacting to Wike’s call for an apology for the ‘divisive’ statement, a spokesperson for Atiku’s presidential campaign Osita Chidoka said Atiku does not need to apologise because the comment does not warrant such.
“I think we need to move beyond these political gimmicks and political gimmickry that goes on when people say one thing, we turn it the other way round and we use it for political ends,” Chidoka said on Channels Television programme on Tuesday.
Chidola said Wike is free to associate with anyone but said the Rivers governor was morally wrong to endorse a candidate from another party.
On the possibility of Wike supporting Tinubu for the presidential election, Chidoka noted that “it is consistent with his character. He has done it before and he is doing it now in Lagos State.
“if he wants to support the presidential candidate of any party, he is free to do so but he has a moral responsibility not to be sitting on a PDP seat as a governor and be talking about another candidate.
“That moral burden is more on Wike than it’s on PDP to justify why he is taking that position for a party that has been good to him from local government chairman to being the governor of a state.”
Chidoka, however, noted that Atiku and the PDP will continue to engage Wike on the issues and do not consider him a “lost cause”.