Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, says his party, the Peoples Democratic Party, will take over the much coveted presidential seat from the ruling All Progressives Congress in 2023 if the Independent National Electoral Commission continues with its current system of conducting free-and-fair elections.
Wike stated this on Monday at the inauguration of some projects in Rivers State on the occasion of his 58th birthday.
Currently, the PDP controls 13 states, while the All Progressives Grand Alliance has one with the APC dominating the others.
Opposition politicians and civil society organisations have in recent times applauded INEC for introducing systems like the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System used for accreditation during elections.
The electoral umpire has also been commended for standing against pressure mounted by the ruling APC government at the centre to influence the outcomes of the Edo (September 2020) and Anambra (November 2021) governorship elections, which were won by PDP and APGA respectively despite the participation of APC candidates in the two elections.
Speaking on Monday, Wike commended INEC under the Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, for standing against electoral malpractices and political intimidation.
The Rivers governor said, “By the grace of God, PDP will take over (in) 2023…I pray that INEC will continue with the system they have introduced where everybody will go and campaign and people’s votes will count, because when people’s votes count political office holders will now be accountable. When your votes don’t count, political office holders will not be accountable to the people.”
Wike said though the APC in the state “would have the courage to campaign, they still believe that somehow there would be room to manipulate but with the way we are seeing INEC now, I think INEC is very serious and I want to commend them to still be firm and courageous. It is not easy but let them continue to be courageous and give Nigeria the best.”
The governor added that he had begun the process for the emergence of his successor in 2023 after his eight-year tenure, noting that he won’t impose any candidate on the people of the state.
He also ordered appointees willing to contest the next governorship election in Rivers to resign forthwith and not cause distraction to his administration in the remaining months before the expiration of his tenure in May 2023.