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Wike threatens PDP over plot to relocate convention

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Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike

Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike yesterday warned the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against succumbing to pressure from ‘planted moles in the party’ to move its national convention away from Port Harcourt.

He vowed to name the presidential aspirants allegedly working for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government to scuttle the party’s primary.

The governor gave the warning when his Gombe counterpart and presidential hopeful, Ibrahim Dankwambo, paid a consultative visit to Government House, Port Harcourt.

Wike threatened that Rivers would teach the party a bitter lesson if it allows unnamed desperate contenders to thwart the hosting of the primaries in the Garden City as originally agreed by leaders of the party.

There have been accusations from the party’s trustees and aspirants that the governor is tilting towards backing a sitting chief executive from a North West state for the ticket.

But he said: “Let me warn the party, if you dare, Rivers State will teach the party a lesson.

Those days have passed when they took Rivers State for granted. Nobody can use and dump Rivers State.

“No presidential aspirant can use and dump Rivers State.

We never lobbied for it, we never asked for it, but it will boost the economy of the state. People will make money.

Those who are against Rivers people from making money to improve their businesses will not get our support.”

The governor wondered why anyone who wants to be president would be afraid of a venue, stating those clamouring for a change of venue were ill-prepared.

He further threatened: “Nobody should dare Rivers State any longer. Enough is enough.

PDP should know that we are not a punching bag. We are not a people you can use and push. We are not harlots. Whenever you want, you come.

When you finish, you push us aside. We will retaliate at the appropriate time.

When you go, tell your colleagues, the presidential aspirants.

We were not interested, but having given it to us, you cannot insult us.”

He stressed that there were misfits among the lot who were just capitalising on the zoning of the nation’s number one seat to the North by the main opposition party.

“You come here to deceive us about restructuring. Just that Rivers State is a venue, you fight it.

Then, when you are there, what will happen? You think we are fools where you preach restructuring, then when you get the position, you abandon restructuring,” the governor fumed.

Dankwambo, however, urged Nigerians not to make the ‘error’ of 2015 when they ‘chose promises ahead of performance.’

According to him, the crisis of development being suffered by the country was as a result of the leadership vacuum at the federal level.

The visitor implored Rivers PDP delegates to support his aspiration, arguing that he has the capacity to set the country on the path of growth.

The Guardian, however, learnt the relocation idea is mooted following the sudden objection by party leaders, including some aspirants, governors and BoT members.

A member of the National Working Committee of the party, who pleaded anonymity, said: “Some of the party leaders, aspirants and their supporters said Wike’s utterances and actions since the choice of Port Harcourt was made showed that he is already working for the emergence of a particular aspirant from Northwest zone, who is also a sitting governor.

They had petitioned the party leadership and expressed fears that Wike will take advantage of the event being hosted in Port Harcourt to influence the outcome in favour of his preferred candidate.

“Some presidential aspirants and their supporters alongside some BoT members have vowed that it is over their dead bodies for the convention to hold in Port Harcourt again.

In short, a particular influential aspirant is so angry with the manner Wike is influencing things in the party, using the party’s national chairman.”

He continued: “The party leadership don’t want pre-or post-convention crisis.

That is why we are consulting with the BoT members, governors, convention committee members to make a choice on Abuja or Asaba or at worst persuade aggrieved members to accept Port Harcourt.”

PDP’s spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, also told The Guardian yesterday on the telephone that there was no controversy about the venue of the convention, adding that that the party was still discussing it.

“The party is still discussing about it. Whenever we conclude discussion, we will make it public.

As a party, certain things are natural. They will always spring up from time to time. But we will surely come up with a venue soon,” he stated.

A former national chairman and strong supporter of ex-Vice President Atiku Abubakar, said they were not unaware of “Wike’s antics and his resolve to influence the outcome of the party convention in favour his preferred candidate, who is also a sitting governor in one of the Northwest states.”

“We will not allow him to have his way. The convention cannot hold in Port Harcourt again.

It is not possible. PDP is not the governor’s property,” he added.

But Atiku’s media aide, Mr. Paul Ibe, said he was not aware that his boss is opposed to Port Harcourt.

Also yesterday, the party challenged President Muhammadu Buhari to show his zero tolerance for corruption by allowing an open probe into the alleged N2.5 billion scandal involving his wife’s detained Aide De Camp (ADC), CSP Sani Baba-Inna, currently in custody.

In a statement by spokesperson Ologbondiyan, PDP said “nothing is more scandalous than the fact that while President (Muhammadu) Buhari is in the United Nations General Assembly in New York mouthing his war against corruption, a huge broth of the menace, in which his wife is mentioned, is simmering under.


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