Rivers State governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, has confirmed that his team met with former President Olusegun Obasanjo as well as the presidential candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Labour Party (LP), Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu, Atiku Abubakar, and Peter Obi, respectively, during their recent visit to Europe.
Speaking with journalists on arrival at the Port Harcourt International Airport on Friday, Wike said his team was more interested in a better Nigeria, and they were consulting widely with those who mean well for the country.
The Rivers State governor arrived Port Harcourt from London in company of governors of Benue and Abia States, Samuel Ortom and Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, respectively.
He stated that topmost on the agenda in all the meetings was how to make Nigeria better than what it is currently, pointing out that all was not well with the country.
Wike said: “I can confirm that this is the first time as a team that we are meeting with presidential candidates. We met with the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and we met with our leader, former president of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo.
“We met the presidential candidate of Labour Party. We also met with our presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar. For whatever it’s worth, consultation is ongoing.
“Whatever we are talking about, is for the interest of Nigeria and Nigerians. It is not parochial and tied to one person or group of persons. We believe that with what is going on, it will be for the interest of Nigerians at the end of the day.”
The governor, who decried the situation where standard, training and competence have always been traded for mediocrity, said leadership should not be about one individual and the interest of his family, but about the collective interest of Nigerians.
He said: “Consultation is still ongoing. Never mind some people who do not believe in the existence of this country.
“Leadership is not about you and your family. Leadership is about everybody.
“It’s unfortunate that we are in a country now where a man finishes eight years as a governor and brings his own son as a governor too and as member of National Assembly.
“It’s only in this part of the world that you can see that, when we are talking about poverty everywhere. These are people who do not mean well for this Nigeria.”
Wike also wondered why religion and ethnicity are used as the tenable identities to describe Nigerians when competence is required.
The governor added: “The only identity they have in this country is religion and ethnicity, nothing more. It’s either, I’m a Christian or I’m a Muslim, I’m a Fulani or I’m an Igbo. Nigeria cannot move forward except they think it will be them. That’s where we are.
“We are in a country where someone with primary school certificate can be appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs. That tells you how bad this country has become.
“But with our consultations, all these will be a thing of the past. No amount of intimidation or blackmail will deter us. We are determined to right the wrong.”
Also speaking, the leader of Wike Team and Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, noted that they have met with prominent persons in the last few days because of their belief that Nigeria was in distress and required concerted effort to rescue it.
Ortom stated that they had fruitful talks with those they met and it was beyond partisan politics, because well-meaning Nigerians needed to work together in ensuring that Nigeria survives.
Ortom said: “For us, we are looking at the larger picture. Nigeria today is in distress. It is about what can we do. No man or woman alone can get it right for our country.
“We are looking at how we can harness ideas and put ourselves together to ensure that we get out of the present challenge we are in Nigeria today.
“From top to bottom, consider what has happened from 2015 and where we are today. So, what we are doing is a concern that we have for our country, Nigeria.
“This is beyond partisan politics. We are looking on how we can come together and find a way of ensuring that Nigeria survives. Nigeria is on drip, Nigeria is on oxygen and it is about how can we get out of this.”
The Benue State governor stated that the three separate meetings they had within the week were worthwhile sessions for them.
He added: “We have individually also had earlier commitments in Europe even if consultations are still going on because nothing concrete has been decided.
“The consultation is going on and will continue to go on. We are still going to meet here. We are still going to meet some persons some other time and see how we can work to ensure that the Project Nigeria works.”
On his part, Abia State governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, emphasised that they were on a mission and were determined to find a way of rescuing Nigeria.
Ikpeazu noted that they were mindful of what society to bequeath to the present generation, their children and grand children alike.
He said: “And this is a country with great potential and we have to protect it well. We think that we need to engage across board.
“We are also looking at speaking with civil society organisations and those who have ideas, with Nigerians in the diaspora. All the resources available in this country has to come together at this time to see how best we can move Nigeria forward.”