Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike yesterday recalled how the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, turned down offers to work against the reelection of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019.
Wike said after meeting with a former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and the Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, in Paris between 2017 and 2018, he was sent to the Bourdilion, to persuade Tinubu to join the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and work against Buhari.
The governor commended Tinubu for his steadfastness and loyalty to President Buhari, despite the challenges he had faced in the ruling party.
He said: “I came to your house in Bourdillon. I came and said to you sir, look at the way the country is moving. There is no way we can allow the current president to continue in 2019.
“You now asked me, okay, what are the alternatives? I said sir, we have Atiku, we have Tambuwal, we have Bukola. You laughed. You said, look, I will remain with Buhari. If these are your alternatives, I will remain with Buhari, that I don’t know them.”
The governor spoke when Tinubu, his running mate, Senator Kashim Shettima, and APC National Chairman Senator Abdullahi Adamu, visited him in Government House, Port Harcourt.
On Tinubu’s entourage were, Governors Abubakar Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi) ; Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), David Umahi (Ebonyi), former Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi, Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva and Tony Okocha.
Wike commended the APC governors for their insistence that power must return to the South after President Buhari’s tenure.
He said: “I thank APC governors for standing firm to say the unity of this country is more paramount. If you want to be president, without peace, does it make sense? You must be president when the country is united and you will enjoy being president.”
The governor described the APC presidential candidate as a man of character and courage, saying such attributes were what the country desperately required.
He said: “I wish you good luck. I support the principle of fairness, equity and justice and that is what G-5 stands for. G-5 does not stand for anybody.”
He urged Tinubu to prevail on the Federal Government to ensure that 2023 general election was not truncated.
Wike noted that the Central Bank flagrant disregard to the Supreme Court on the naira swap policy should worry the APC-led Federal Government amidst the forthcoming poll.
Wike, who thanked God that the APC presidential rally in the state was devoid of violence, however, expressed reservation whether the APC-led Federal Government was interested in conducting the election particularly with the lingering naira swap crisis.
He said: “Do you people really want this election to take place or not; or you have an agenda to truncate this election? I don’t know. Look at what is happening in Oyo today, Edo, Delta. See what is going on.”
The Rivers State governor maintained that the abrupt naira redesign and the tactless implementation of the naira swap policy by the CBN smacked of pure politics.
He insisted that irrespective of the politics, the ruling APC must ensure the conduct of the election.
He said: “I believe your party should make sure this election holds. You people are in power. Ensure that this election holds. Nobody can solve the issue of corruption in two-three months. It is not possible . This thing is purely politically motivated.”
Wike took a swipe on the governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, for his blatant disregard to the Supreme Court.
He said: “How can you people be in government at this time, governor of a Central Bank disrespecting the Supreme Court. Where has it happened in any democracy? Governor of Central Bank thinking of whether to obey Supreme Court order. Where has it happened?
“I am not talking about Federal High Court order, not Court Of Appeal. I am talking about Supreme Court. Supreme Court said do not do this and everybody is folding hand begging Central Bank to obey Supreme Court order. Which country has it ever happened? When the order of Supreme Court is not obeyed, what are you telling the poor people on the street?
Wike, who described himself as an unrepentant member of the PDP, said it was abominable for two PDP states, Bayelsa and Edo, to join the Federal Government as defendants in the suit brought before the Supreme Court by some states challenging the naira swap policy.
He said: “For the first time I have seen a government procuring opposition to join them to defend their policy. A policy that is anti-people. You are now the ones procuring we (PDP) to defend something that is totally wrong. I have seen anything like this in my life. It is a big shame.”
Wike advised Tinubu and the national leadership of the APC not to invest resources in any of the party’s candidate in the state, because none of them would win a single seat in the election.
Tinubu informed Wike that the courtesy visit was necessitated by his sheer regard and admiration for his advocacy that power should rotate to the South.
He said he joined the race to lead the country on the philosophy that power should return to the South, as consistently advocated by Wike.
Tinubu said: “Our courtesy call, not to personalise it, is out of the respect I have for you. You worked hard and you voiced loudly your commitment to unity and the critical part to that unity in Nigeria, you never advocated a division of our country. You followed history. You respect the country.”
Senator Adamu explained that APC had deliberately resolved that power should rotate to the South at the end of President Buhari’s tenure.
According to him, the decision resulted in the emergence of Tinubu as the presidential candidate for the 2023 election.
He commended the Rivers State governor for his advocacy that power should shift to the South.
According to him, Wike had by his stance on power shift, demonstrated that he was a man of conscience.