Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike on Monday clashed with former House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara over the latter’s backing of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar.
The governor asked Atiku to restrain his men from insulting the group of five governors (G-5), known as the Integrity Group.
But, Dogara fired back, claiming in a tweet that Wike was not saying the truth about their meeting.
“Thank God, there was a witness!” Dogara stated.
The G-5 governors – Wike, Samuel Ortom (Benue), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), and Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia) – are locked in a protracted feud with the party leadership over the refusal of the National Chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, to resign, contrary to his promise to quit if the presidential candidate was picked from the North.
They have insisted that Ayu’s resignation is a condition for supporting Atiku in next year’s election.
On Monday, Makinde said the governors were yet to decide on which presidential candidate to support.
The G-6 governors were also absent at the PDP’s presidential rally in Lagos on Monday.
Wike said the G-5 would fight back if Atiku’s men continued to insult the Integrity Group.
He spoke at the kick-off of Indorama-Agbonchia-Ogale-Ebubu-East/West Link Road in Eleme Local Government Area.
The governor said: “We need peace in this state and we would continue to keep the peace but nobody can take us for a ride. Rivers State cannot be a slave to anybody.
“What I want to tell the presidential candidate of the PDP is we need peace.
“We want all of us to be together for the party to win the general elections, but let me say clearly: if your boys continue to fight the leaders of our party, we would fight back.
“If anybody in the PDP presidential campaign council continues to insult the governors of the integrity group, we would fight back. Enough is enough.
“We want peace and we want equity, fairness and justice. Nobody should take us for granted.
“I cannot understand people who just left APC recently and are talking about PDP that we stayed and suffered to build. Even if anybody should talk about us, it is not these miscreants.”
The governor lambasted Dogara for allegedly backing Atiku against his earlier stance on Southern Presidency in 2023.
Wike said soon, he would reveal details of his discussion with Dogara and former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal.
He said: “At the appropriate time I will talk about how Dogara and Babachir visited me and what we agreed.
“What I don’t like in life is people that don’t have character. I can’t stand it. At the appropriate time, I will challenge them for a debate.”
He recalled how Dogara had evaded an appointment they were to have and left the PDP to join the APC.
He said: “What I don’t like in life is people that don’t have character. I can’t stand it. At the appropriate time, I would challenge them to a debate. Ask Dogara, what made you leave PDP?
“Dogara was to see me; unknown to me, he gave me an excuse and I was watching Dogara on TV being received by President Muhammadu Buhari that he had gone to APC. I say ‘Okay, no problem’.
“The same Dogara said the Presidency should be zoned to southern Nigeria for there to be peace.
“Now, I hear about the same Dogara (is endorsing Atiku from the north for the presidency). Is that how you do things? Can’t you say something and stand by it?”
Dogara faults Wike
In a tweet via his handle @YakubDogara, the former Speaker faulted Wike’s claims.
He stated: “To my brother, Governor Nyesom Wike; if there is anything you are suffering from, I never thought amnesia would be one of them.
“Why would you think no one, except you, is entitled to a certain set of principles he/she cannot compromise?
“It’s such a pity if you cannot remember what our discussion and agreement were all about.
“Why should only your own position be respected and followed? I would never betray a friend and a brother that is why I won’t respond to your tirade on live TV.
“The details of our conversation are sealed up with me but if you feel it’s okay to throw it to the public, kindly give me written consent to divulge it so that the public can judge who is saying the truth. Thank God there was a witness!”
Executive order stands, says Wike
Wike reiterated that Executive Order 21 was still in force in Rivers.
He said the order’s intent was misrepresented before the Inspector-General of Police.
According to him, political parties intending to hold their events within government facilities and schools should apply.
Wike said: “Nobody can stop anybody from rallying. There are people misinterpreting and misconstruing what we are saying.
“What we are saying is that if they want to use primary and secondary schools, apply, pay money for security so that when you destroy or mess up the place, the government can now come and clean up the place.
“We are not saying that you are not entitled to use the place for a rally. These people, I don’t know the type of school they went to, are telling lies. I am sure they misquoted the IG (Inspector General of Police).
“Some of them say they would disobey executive order numbers 21 and 22, I wish them good luck. Dare us and we would tell you we are in charge of Rivers state.”
Mimiko hails Wike
Former Ondo State Governor Olusegun Mimiko, said Wike was speaking the minds of people desiring justice, fairness and ethnic inclusivity.
He believes the governor’s voice was gaining traction because he had worked assiduously to deliver dividends of democracy to his people.
Mimiko said: “I personally cannot over-emphasise how proud I am of Governor Wike’s accomplishments.
“Today, Wike may be the indisputable poster boy of the campaign for social justice in the politics of this country…
“People who choose not to be the charitable talk of what they imagine is Wike’s stubbornness, Wike’s combative approach to issues, etc.
“For me, I can surely live with Wike’s fabled stubbornness and theatrics in so far as that is steeped in Wike’s impressive, albeit unusual dedication to good governance, quality project execution, and equity in the polity…
“Keep it on, Governor Nyesom Wike, for, you speak the minds of so many Nigerians that desire equity, just so, that our country may remain to fulfil its God-ordained destiny in the comity of nations.”
Makinde: G5 governors yet to decide on who to back
On which presidential candidate the G-5 governors would support, Makinde expressed hope that some form of alignment will be reached before the election.
He spoke with reporters shortly after signing the Bill on Emmanuel Alayande University of Education, Oyo Law 2022.
The event was held at the Executive Chamber of the Governor’s Office, Agodi Secretariat, Ibadan.
Makinde said his colleagues in the G5 were still in talks with the party leadership, adding that some demands have also been placed before them.
According to him, it was too early to determine the presidential candidate to support since talks were still ongoing with the party’s national leadership and stakeholders.
Makinde said: “It is not time. We are still talking. We have made some demands on the party. One day is a long time in politics.
“So, we are still talking and we are hopeful that some form of alignment will be reached at the end of the day.”
The governor urged those who have left in pursuit of their political ambition on other political platforms to return.