The Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike, has condemned some elders in the state for allegedly ganging up against him when they could not secure the PDP governorship ticket.
The Governor alleged that those elders had on his birthday last year come to him on their own accord and showed a commitment that they would stay to see through what they came to convince him about.
The governor explained that some of them, who indicated interest to fly the ticket, but failed, went to Abuja to plot against him.
Wike spoke on Monday during the 74th birthday reception organised to honour a former governor of Rivers State, Dr. Peter Odili, at a private residence built and donated to him by the state government at Old Government Residential Area, in Port Harcourt.
The governor explained, “On my last birthday, 12 midnight, some of our elders called me saying that they wanted to see me. They came to me and said they came to wish me a happy birthday. Then, they presented me with a letter that I should run for president. All of them, including Dr. Abiye Sekibo, signed the document.
“I say, okay, you people, too, should go and give me someone, who will be governor after me. They all sat there, looking left and right. I asked them, those of you who are interested to be governor should raise your hands. Everybody raised his hand. One person didn’t raise his hand, Senator Bari Mpigi. I asked why he was not interested, he replied, ‘Sir, let me hold what God has given me. I don’t want to lose the two.’”
Wike said the elders also signed a document that they would abide by whatever became the outcome of the governorship primary. But he claimed since they were not successful, they had turned around to allege that he was pursuing a third term bid.
He said, “Some people don’t know the history. They go and tell all kinds of stories. But the truth is this, all of them (elders) signed the document prepared by O.C.J. Okocha that whoever I will bring, they will abide by it.
“But now, they went to Abuja, that I must not be vice president. I also read, yesterday, when I was in Paris, one of them said I told him that if they do to me what they did to Dr. Odili, that I will collapse the system.
“I am not an ungrateful person and I will never be ungrateful in my life. What’s important is that I have done well as a governor. I am happy and I am leaving the office a happy man.”
He recalled that when Odili was to run for the office of president, he had a large crowd following happily, but noted that when the issue of governorship of Rivers State was to be decided and he did not give those who wanted it, they all left him, and ran to Abuja to thwart his presidential ambition.
Wike, however, said he had held on to the advice of Odili, hence, he was not surprised at the turn of events and the outcome of the PDP presidential primary.
He described Odili as a true leader of men, who groomed many, and supported a lot of persons to political limelight, particularly, in Rivers State and across the country.
Wike said of the former governor, “There was a time when every political class abandoned Dr. Odili. This is a man who gave us everything. Some people called him Mr. Donatus. There was no abuse he did not get. Everybody he tried to help and their families, but at the end of the day, they all betrayed him.
“For us, we have used him as a school and we thank him for making himself available for us to use him to learn so that we won’t be shocked about whatever that is going to happen.”
Wike expressed gratitude for the opportunity to know Odili and to celebrate him. He pointed to several encouragements and gains from the political tutelage under Odili that had made him successful in politics.
Wike added that Odili’s benevolence made it possible for Ikwerre sons to emerge governors of Rivers State.
In his response, Odili said he and his wife, Hon. Justice Mary Odili (retired), were overwhelmed by the birthday gift courtesy of the state government.
He explained that during his tenure as governor, Wike was the best performing council chairman in the state. He lauded the governor for investing in human capacity development, infrastructure, and building the best law school campus in Port Harcourt.
In his goodwill message, Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State emphasised the need for all Nigerians to work together to enthrone fairness, justice, and equity in all facets of the society, which Odili had always stood for.
Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, noted that Odili was a great leader, who had impacted on many lives across the country.
Similarly, a former Cross River State governor, Donald Duke, commended Odili for being a role model and comporting himself very well after leaving office.
In his homily at the thanksgiving mass, Monsignor Pius Kii said Nigeria missed the opportunity of having Odili as president, because he would have used his farsighted ability, courage and adaptive capacities to solve many problems in the country.
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