PDP Should Apologize For Atiku’s ‘North’s Do No Igbo and Yoruba Statement’ – Wike

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Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) received a heavy knock yesterday from Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike for the widely reported “don’t vote Yoruba, Igbo” remark by its presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar.

Wike said the opposition party should apologise to Nigerians for the comment which, he argued, did not only amount to “Northernising the Presidency” but was capable of threatening the nation’s unity.

The governor also flayed Atiku’s handlers for the remark, saying the “circumstances in which it was made” should be explained to Nigerians

He spoke just as Atiku’s Media Adviser, Paul Ibe, clarified that the former vice-president was jokingly responding to a question by a man who centered his question on the presidential candidate to issues affection the North.

Wike, who arrived at the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa in Ikwerre Local Government Area on arrival from Spain in company with Governors Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia) and Samuel Ortom (Benue), also reiterated his stance on the continued stay in office by the PDP National Chairman Iyorchia Ayu and the N1b controversy rocking the party.

The governor, in a statement by his Special Assistant, Media, Kelvin Ebiri, maintained his stance against anything that could relegate any section of Nigeria.

He said; “I don’t believe that my candidate could make such a statement

“But assuming he did make that statement, and this is one of the things we have been saying, this country needs to be united and part of the way you unite it is to include everybody

”That comment has now confirmed to me one of the reasons why those of them in their camp, do not want Ayu to resign because they do not want inclusivity

“I don’t know how those who are packaging the presidential candidate will allow him to make such a statement. I was reading where somebody was saying that it was a direct response to a question he was asked

“Given that the statement is now in the public domain, I will advise the leadership of PDP to tender an apology to Nigerians while explaining the circumstances in which the statement was made.

“Be that as it may, I don’t think that it was necessary at this time, as people who are going in for an election, as people who want Nigerians to trust them to have allowed such a statement to be made. If it (statement) was made, as they said, I think, as a party, we need to apologise to Nigerians, assuming the (statement) was made

“People are denying that it was made but if you watch the video, it appears true people are saying with recent technology, anything can be done

“This requires further explanation by our party, because Nigerians, as it is today, we can’t go this way if we want this country to remain as the way our founding fathers struggled, laboured, and toiled all the night to see that there is a country called Nigeria.”

Wike took a swipe again at Ayu, saying going by his responses to the allegations leveled against him, he (Ayu) stood indicted except proven otherwise.

He said: “Luckily for me, he (Ayu) has now mentioned that he went to the presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the Waziri of Adamawa where they discussed on the issues of borrowing

“Now, the question is, when you talk about borrowing, who approves borrowing? You must go to the National Working Committee (NWC) to say you want to borrow money.

“I challenge him to bring the records where NWC approved that the party should go and borrow N1billion

“What is the collateral?”

Wike explained that in matters of funding the party, the governors had been up to that responsibility dutifully.

He said it was unthinkable that Ayu would, in the guise of seeking funding for the party, opt to collect loans without notifying the NWC and governors.

He said: “How can you talk of an N1billion loan without the NWC mooting the idea, without the governors knowing?

Then you talk about the N100million he said he told the Board of Trustees (BOT).

“If any governor gives you N100 million in order to rebuild one of the structures of the party, the Democratic Institute, let him show the minutes of the NWC where he said a governor has contributed N100 million

“Let him show the account to reflect this N100million

“Let him also say that the 100m was in Naira or in Dollars

“He said he gave it to the treasurer

“I thought he would have told the world that NWC was aware.”

The governor also asked Ayu to mention the names of those contacted to handle the rehabilitation of the PDP Democratic Institute and at the National Secretariat, Wadata Plaza.

He said: “Ask him, the contracts that are going on in this Democratic Institute and that of Wadata, who is doing that contract, is it not one of his sons?

“As a party, we believe that Nigerians must trust us.

“We must show leadership and part of that leadership is integrity

“You don’t just come and deceive Nigerians that you did not collect one billion naira

“So, let Ayu come out and tell us, tell the PDP people, and tell the public that this matter was discussed in NWC.”

Wike also described as out of order, the PDP Board of Trustees’ resolution that mandated Ayu to make a commitment that he would resign after the 2023 elections.

The Governor wondered why the BOT could not make Ayu to fulfill his initial commitment that he would resign if a northerner emerges as presidential candidate from the PDP convention.

“To say he should make another commitment that he will resign after the elections, for me, BOT resolution is ridiculous.”

Also yesterday, a Yoruba group, Congress for Rights Of Yoruba Nationalities (CROSYN), condemned Atiku’s comment, saying it was “an unprovoked aggression against the Yoruba and Igbo.”

It added that the remark “clearly revealed the true person of Atiku and the agenda he is out to execute if he emerged president of Nigeria in 2023.”

”With the nature of land-mine Atiku has laid on the road to the 2023 presidential election, for self-enlightened interest, the Yoruba should consider boycotting the election so as not to willingly arm their tormentor, advisedly ditto for the Ibo,” CROSYN said in a by its National Chairman, Abiodun Fanoro and General Secretary, Tunde Aiyenumelo.

But Atiku, in a statement by Ibe, said he would not play to the gallery to score cheap political points.

Ibe said: “For the benefit of the innocent public who might be hoodwinked, what transpired was a direct question on why Atiku should be voted for by the Northern electorate

“In answering this question, Atiku started with a joke by addressing the questioner as ‘Mr. Northerner’ which is a veiled criticism of why he limited his question to the Northern audience in the first place.”

The media aide added that Atiku went on to add: ”I know the whole of this country. I have built bridges across this country

“I think what the average Northerner needs are somebody who is from the north, who also understands the other parts of Nigeria, and who has been able to build bridges across the rest of the country

“This is what the Northerner needs. He (the northerner) doesn’t need a Yoruba candidate or an Igbo candidate

“This is what the northerner needs. I stand before you as a pan-Nigerian of northern origin.”

According to Ibe, “Atiku explained without a slur, that what matters the most to the Northern electorate is a candidate who has built bridges of unity across other parts of the country and not necessarily a Northern candidate who lacks the credentials of national spread and acceptability.”

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