Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike has expressed mixed feelings over comments credited to the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, that what the North needs in 2023 is a northerner, not an Ibo or a Yoruba person as the next president of Nigeria.
Atiku had during the Arewa town hall policy dialogue in Kaduna, on Saturday, reportedly said, “What the average northerner needs is somebody who is from the North; he doesn’t need a Yoruba candidate or an Ibo candidate.” The former vice president had clarified the statement, saying it was twisted by the opposition to achieve their mischievous agenda.
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Such statement, if true, Governor Wike said, is a threat to the unity of Nigeria at a time when efforts should be concentrated on giving every Nigerian a sense of belonging.
Wike spoke on Monday at the international wing of the Port Harcourt International Airport on arrival from Spain.
Wike has been embittered since Atiku picked the governor of Delta State as his running mate. Several efforts to placate him have failed as he insisted that the national chairman of the PDP, Iyorchia Ayu, must resign.
Wike, returned from Spain along with key members of his camp – governors Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia) and Samuel Ortom (Benue).
Also, a retired Assistant Inspector General of Police, Ambrose Aisabor, has asked Atiku to step down from contesting the 2023 election.
He hinged the call on the comment attributed to the presidential candidate during his visit to Kaduna, where he reportedly urged northerners not to vote for a Yoruba or Ibo president.
Speaking with Daily Trust, Aisabor insisted that Atiku “has no moral right to take part in the presidential election coming up in February 2023,” describing him as an “ethnic irredentist.”
But the immediate past chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT) Senator Walid Jibrin, said Atiku was misquoted.
Jibrin, in a statement in Abuja, said Atiku is a pan-Nigerian candidate who has tentacles across the country, adding that he was “seriously misquoted in Kaduna.”
“Atiku is a typical Nigerian married to Yoruba and Ibo wives. He is a typical pan-African. He was in Arewa House to seek the support of the North to convince the South, especially the Yoruba and Ibo, to become the president of Nigeria in 2023.
“He needs the support of all tribal groups in Nigeria even though he comes from the North. That is why he is appealing to all northerners through the Arewa House to convince all southern groups, especially Ibo and Yoruba, to give him maximum support, like the support given to former presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan.”