I did not rig election against Peter Obi – Governor Wike tells Ohaneze

Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has told Ohanaeze Ndigbo that he owes no one apology over allegations of rigging in the presidential and legislative elections of February 25 in the state.

There have been allegations of rigging against the Labour Party presidential candidate, Mr Peter Obi in his state.

But Wike reacted to the allegations on Thursday night when Ohanaeze delegation that was in Rivers State confronted him over his alleged role in Peter Obi’s loss in the election.

According to the transcription of the discussions between Ohanaeze delegation and Wike, which was made available to SaharaReporters on Friday by the spokesman for the Igbo apex body, Wike told the delegation that during the Southern Governors’ meetings in Delta, Lagos and Enugu, there was never any talk about zoning presidency to Southeast Nigeria.

The governor told Ohanaeze that delegates from the South-East to the presidential primary/convention of the Peoples Democratic Party voted for northerners despite the southern governors’ resolve that power must shift to the South after the end of President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure.

The Vice President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo (Abia), Dr Kingsley Chidozie, led the Ohanaeze delegation to the meeting held at the Exco Chambers, Government House, Port Harcourt, according to the transcript, while Dr Peter Aneke spoke on behalf of the Igbo apex body. 

After a one-minute silence for the late Ohanaeze President General, George Obiozor and the late Joel Kroham, according to the statement, Dr Aneke thanked Wike for the cordial relationship between him and the Igbo community in Rivers State.

The transcription partly reads: “Aneke wondered ‘how an Ikwere man will in good conscience, work against the Igbo in a presidential race where the candidacy of Peter Obi was a low-hanging fruit.’ He informed Wike that the ‘Igbo all over the world are aggrieved with him, especially as the alleged rigging operations are circulating on the Internet’.

“Aneke informed Wike that the Ohanaeze Ndigbo considers it a duty to confront him over the alleged widespread electoral malpractices in Rivers State against their son, Peter Obi. He expressed deep sadness that ‘Obi would win in the metropolitan Lagos, Abuja, and several other places in the North only to record so low in Rivers State’. Aneke added that the ‘delegation is on a fact-finding (mission); and that both the Igbo elders and youths are eager to know why he should go the extra mile to pull Obi down in Rivers State’.

“He expressed his worries that the body of the late Professor Obiozor would have turned in the grave because of the alleged atrocities in Rivers State. Obiozor, according to him had ‘set the Igbo project on a success line before his demise and would be sad in the grave that those he considered his sons turned against the Igbo interest when it mattered most’.

“He asked Wike to ‘imagine what could have been the outcome of the election if he, Wike had supported Obi during the presidential election’. He ended with the remark that ‘the Igbo are very sad and will want his explanations’.

“In his own remarks, Governor Wike expressed surprise that the Ohanaeze were on a fact-finding (mission); but he would however explain his roles in the last presidential election.

“Wike explained that the Southern Governors Forum first met at Asaba, Delta State and agreed that ‘power must shift to the South after President Muhammadu Buhari; and that they also met at Enugu in September 2021 to reaffirm their position for a power shift to the South’.

“Wike stated that throughout their meetings, ‘the issue of presidency to the South-East was never on the table. And that throughout his political adventure in this dispensation, he tried as much as possible to maintain the position by the Southern governors’.

“Wike expressed disgust that ‘during the PDP presidential primaries, several well-known people of the South-East betrayed and sabotaged the Southern interest by voting for the Northern candidates for presidency’.

“He added that his unalloyed commitment to the South motivated him to ‘provide logistics for Peter Obi when he was in the Rivers State for presidential campaigns and that he refused to provide even a campaign ground for Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the PDP on principles’.

“The governor stated that ‘what is circulating on the social media is the handiwork of the Wike adversaries’. For instance, the ‘full Audio of Governor Wike Caught on Tape Arranging Bribe for INEC Officials’ and published by an online medium, ‘has been on YouTube since December 16, 2016’.

“He explained that ‘some mischief makers were using some doctored and false audio and visual materials on the internet to dent his image’. The governor in admitting that all the decisions he took ‘with respect to the 2023 presidential elections were based on his personal convictions and queried if Ohanaeze Ndigbo ever requested him to support Peter Obi’.

“He added that he is a ‘man with the courage of his convictions and that he neither has reasons to tell lies nor to owe apology to anyone’. And that he is ‘always ready to defend his actions any day any time’. Wike stressed that ‘he did not rig the presidential election against Peter Obi’.

“Other Ohanaeze officials who braved the delegation include Chief Emeka Ogwu, the Vice President General (Delta); Hon Chiedozie Alex Ogbonnia, PhD; Chief Ezechi Chukwu, PhD; Prof Fred Eze, PhD, President, Enugu State Chapter; Mr. Lucky Ekeji, President, Rivers State Chapter; Comrade Okey Nwankwo, President, Abia State Chapter; Prince Nwandu, President, Delta State Chapter; among others. Several eminent persons from Rivers State such as Rt. Hon. Chibudom Nwuche were in attendance.”