The apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohaneze Ndigbo Worldwide, has accused Governor Nyesom Wike of rigging the February 25 presidential election in Rivers State, against Peter Obi, presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP).
Recall that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), declared Bola Ahmed Tinubu, presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), polled the highest votes in Rivers State.
The INEC Collation officer for the Presidential election in Rivers State, Prof Charles Teddy Adias had on Tuesday, February 28, declared that Tinubu polled a total of 231,591 votes to beat his closest rival, the LP’s Peter Obi, who scored 175,071 votes.
However, supporters of the Labour Party especially the Obidients had alleged that tge Rivers governor influenced the outcome of the votes in favour of Tinubu.
DIPLOMATIC DIARY reports that a delegation of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, led by its vice president-general in Abia, Dr Kingsley Chidozie, visited Gov Wike at the Exco Chambers, Government House, Port-Harcourt, on Thursday where the pan-Igbo group expressed sadness that Obi lost in the State.
According to a statement issued on Friday by Ohanaeze’s national publicity secretary, Dr Alex Ogbonnia, during the meeting, the group asked Wike “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”.
According to the statement, Ohanaeze informed Wike that the “Igbo all over the world are aggrieved with him, especially as the alleged rigging operations are circulating on the Internet.
“Ohanaeze Ndigbo considers it a duty to confront him over the alleged wide-spread electoral malpractices in Rivers State against our son, Peter Obi.
“Obi would win in the metropolitan Lagos, Abuja, and several other places in the North only to record so low in Rivers State. Both the Igbo elders and youths are eager to know why he should go the extra-mile to pull Obi down in Rivers State.
“Imagine what could have been the outcome of the election if he, Wike, had supported Obi during the presidential election! The Igbo are very sad and will want his explanations.”
However, Wike in response, expressed surprise that the Ohanaeze were on the fact finding to his state.
He submitted that, “The Southern Governors Forum first met in Asaba, Delta State, and agreed that power must shift to the South after President Muhammadu Buhari.
“They also met in Enugu in September 2021 to reaffirm their position for a power shift to the South. The issue of presidency to the South East was never on the table.”
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 said his commitment for the South motivated him to “provide logistics for Peter Obi when he was in 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”.
On the alleged rigging of the presidential polls, Wike said, “What is circulating on the social media is the handiwork of the Wike adversaries. The audio of Governor Wike caught on tape arranging bribe for INEC officials has been on YouTube since December 16, 2016.
“Some mischief-makers were using some doctored and false audio and visual materials on the internet to dent my image.”
The governor said 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 owe apology to anyone.
“I’m always ready to defend my actions any day any time. I ‘did not rig the presidential election against Peter Obi”, he said.