Shittu, Peterside confront Ajimobi, Wike over interest in 2019 poll

By Kelvin Ebiri (Port Harcourt) and Sam Oluwalana (Ibadan)   |   18 April 2017   |   4:32 am  

Nyesom Wike

Beyond the obvious divisions currently manifesting in the relationship among leaders of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), it is not a hidden fact that some members of the party in federal appointments have been engaging in subtle battles of supremacy with their home state governors, primarily over their 2019 ambitions.

Some of these frosty relationships include the executive versus Senate crisis over the confirmation of some appointments by President Muhammadu Buhari; the intrigues preventing the party from setting up its Board of Trustees (BoT) almost two years after assuming power; the ongoing face-off between the APC-led House of Representatives and the governors over security votes and emoluments among others.

But Nigerians are beginning to query the motives behind the crisis, particularly the ones involving the ministers and governors who are on the same platform, wondering whether they are serious and committed to discharging the responsibilities for which they were elected or appointed.


For instance, the Minister of Communications, Bar. Adebayo Shittu, who represents Oyo in the federal cabinet, has been at loggerheads with Governor Abiola Ajimobi on issues that bothered on personal and political ambition.

The minister recently challenged Ajimobi to a public debate in a local television station based in Ibadan, the state capital, over certain allegations and counter allegations involving their political camps in the state.

In a message released to The Guardian, Shittu asked to be given the opportunity to defend himself in a programme aired in a local television, saying: “This is Barrister Adebayo Shittu, on line from Saudi Arabia. I demand the right to respond to the false hood on your programme now. I also demand a public debate between me and Governor Ajimobi on your program.”

It would be recalled that the duo have been at loggerheads over the minister’s ambition to contest the 2019 governorship elections in the state.Shittu had accused Ajimobi on a local television programme that the governor has been handling the state chapter of the party like a personal estate, without recourse to the state executives and that he had unilaterally installed some of his protégés as local government chairmen and Local Council Development Areas (LCDA).

The minister also claimed that the governor has deliberately schemed him (Shittu) out of the party’s functions without any tangible reason or explanation.
However, an aide to Ajimobi, who preferred not to be named, dismissed Shittu’s allegations as ‘mere ranting’ as he also accused the minister of ‘arrogance and unnecessary personal aggrandizement.’

Nonetheless, it appears that Shittu is a lone ranger in the confrontation with the incumbent governor. The Guardian gathered that all the APC lawmakers representing the state are with Ajimobi.

The Chairman, House Committee on Communications, Chief Saidi Fijabi, averred that the three Senators from the state and majority of members of the House are members of the APC and they all support and endorse the decisions of Ajimobi. He wondered why is it that only Shiitu has been having issues with the governor.

He asked, “What has been the relevance of Shittu to the party. What has been his contribution to the party, which he joined through the back door?”Also, Fijabi said all the local government caretakers, whose names the governor forwarded to the House of Assembly for ratification, were those nominated by the party leaders and that the governor never met most of them before their nominations.

According to him, “Governor Ajimobi did not know most of the local government chairmen and LCDA before he sent their names to the House of Assembly. They were all nominated by the party leaders in their local governments and council areas contrary to speculations that the governor included names of his relatives and that of his friends.”

The lawmaker denied any crisis in the party insisting that the minister is only trying to create problems because of his selfish ambitions. Said he, “There is no crisis in the party, he (Shittu) is only trying to create one for his selfish ambitions.”

Interestingly, the minister placed a call to the TV station during the programme where he allegedly used unpalatable words against the governor’s associate.On his part, Shittu wondered how someone could have said that he (Shittu) joined the APC through the back door, when he was the governorship candidate for the defunct Congress for Progressives Change (CPC) in 2007 and had also contested against the incumbent governor.

He said he was a national leader of CPC and a member of the merger committee that midwifed the merger between the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and CPC in 2011.His words: “How can they say, I came into the party through the back door, when I was one of those who put the merger of both parties together as national leader. I have known Ajimobi for long. I contested against him in 2011 and he defeated me. I went to his house to congratulate him.

‘’In 2007, on the behest of our former governor, Chief Rasheed Ladoja, I put together a legal team to help him win his court battle after the election in that year, he lost.”

Furthermore, he alleged: “What I am saying is that Ajimobi has taken Oyo State APC hostage. He has refused to conduct local government elections for six years and rumours have it that each local government has been collecting about N100 million as allocation, out of which he has only been releasing only N20 million to council chairmen.”

MEANWHILE, the Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and governorship candidate of Rivers State in the 2015 elections, Dakuku Peterside is battling his home state governor, Nyesome Wike over the 2019 governorship ambition.Wike and Peterside were both members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) before the NIMASA boss defected to the APC along with the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, ahead of the 2015 elections.

Peterside has vowed that Wike, will not secure a second term in office come 2019.He argued that in a bid to hide his inability to provide good governance for the people, Wike has resorted to blackmailing Amaechi and the Federal Government.

Peterside told journalists in Port Harcourt that the end of the governor’s reign was in sight.According to him, “It is very clear that he was not elected in the first instance by the state electorate. Rivers people never gave him their vote. He was foisted on the people and in approximately two years they will have a chance to correct that wrong that was done to them. And I want to assure you that they will grab that chance with two hands, maximize the opportunity and throw these chaps out of the Government House, accelerate development and give the people course to smile again.”

The NIMASA boss regretted that Rivers has had the unenviable record of killings, assassination and other related crimes due to the inability of the Wike’s administration to ensure safety of life and property.

According to him, “The governor has abdicated his constitutional responsibilities, to churning out propaganda against Amaechi and the federal government. “Wike is trying to create a victim narrative to Rivers people to provide excuse why he cannot perform. He is trying to create a victim narrative and use it as justification why he cannot deliver good governance, why he cannot deliver on development, why he cannot deliver social services. But our people can see through that”

He recalled that when governor Wike was a minister under the immediate past administration, he did aligned with the centre to use the police to destabilise the government of Amaechi.

Peterside dismissed insinuation that the APC in Rivers was in disarray following an alleged friction between representative of the Rivers South East senatorial district, Senator Magnus Abe and Amaechi over who becomes the standard bearer of the party in 2019.

However, the governor maintained that his administration has been fulfilling the electoral promises it made to the people of Rivers, which would secure it a second term on a platter of gold when the time comes.

Speaking through the state’s commissioner for Information and Communications, Dr. Austin Tam-George, Wike said his administration remains committed to the delivery of all electioneering promises.


Tam-George insisted that Wike’s developmental strides in Rivers were evident in the quality of services provided in the state, as the governor has demonstrated that he is a pragmatic leader by marching words with actions.

He also flayed Amaechi’s government for failing to rebuild the burnt Mile One Market after making a promise to that effect, thereby plunging the affected traders and other users of the market into pains and misery.However, the slight different in the two states is that while Shittu and Peterside may be interested in contesting for governorship in their respective states in 2019, Ajimobi would complete his second term in same year while Wike is not without a second term ambition.

The two federal appointees have contested and lost against the same incumbents at on time or the other. Shittu contested and lost against Ajimobi on the platform of CPC in 2011 while he also lost in the primary of the APC to the governor in 2015. Peterside on his part lost to Wike in the 2015 governorship election in Rivers.

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