The presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu had described as “fake news” media reports that he had a meeting with Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike in France.
Wike, first runner-up in the presidential primary election of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) but who lost the push for running mate with the party’s candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has been touted as a likely opposition to the PDP in next February’s presidential election.
A statement from the Tinubu Media Office Friday described media reports about the meeting as “fake news.”
A statement by Tinubu’s spokesman, Tunde Rahman stated: “It has become imperative to set the record straight. Although Asiwaju Tinubu is presently in France, he didn’t have any meeting with Governor Wike whether in that country or anywhere whatsoever.
“This, however, does not detract from the fact that the APC presidential candidate holds Governor Wike in high esteem”.
Tinubu is in France for what is said to be “an important meeting”, while Wike is on holiday in Turkey, just 3,000 kilometres away.
“Asiwaju Tinubu’s supposed meeting with Governor Wike in France is Fake News,” Tinubu Media Team’s statement read.
The full text: “We have seen a viral social media post made by one of the chieftains of All Progressives Congress in Lagos State and media reports emanating from same about a supposed meeting in France between APC Presidential Standard-bearer, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and His Excellency, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State.
“It has become imperative to set the record straight. Although Asiwaju Tinubu is presently in France, he didn’t have any meeting with Governor Wike whether in that country or anywhere whatsoever.
“This, however, does not detract from the fact that the APC presidential candidate holds Governor Wike in high esteem.
And given the national and across-party lines appeal of Asiwaju Tinubu’s candidature, he will not hesitate to meet any important national leader when desirable.
“As made public earlier, Asiwaju Tinubu is in France for some important engagements. He will return to the country shortly.
“We would like, once again, to advice journalists to always cross-check their information with appropriate officers before rushing to press to avoid unintended errors”.
PREMIUM Times had exclusively reported that Wike snubbed emissary from the PDP candidate, Atiku. The Rivers State Governor had said to have avoided several attempts for rapprochement by Atiku, whose delegation to Turkey was led by former Minister of Police Affairs, Alhaji Adamu Waziri.
Atiku, a former Vice President, has been unable to see Wike since he overlooked him to pick his Delta State counterpart, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, as his running mate.
Sources said Atiku had wanted to personally inform Wike that he was not his choice ahead of announcing Okowa, but the Rivers State Governor left Abuja the night before the announcement, having found out that Atiku had settled for someone else.
Wike is also said to have refused to speak on telephone with Atiku and his emissaries who were trying to have a meeting with him.
Having got wind that Wike was away in Turkey, Atiku deployed Waziri on the mediation task. Atiku’s target was eventually tracked to Hilton Conrad Hotel in Istanbul on Thursday.
However, despite the two men running into each other in the lobby of the hotel, Wike declined Waziri’s request for the two of them to huddle to enable him deliver a message from Atiku.
In interviews two major television networks – Channels TV and Arise TV – Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom accused Atiku of not being fair to Wike.
“Atiku should go to him (Wike). Why won’t he ignore their calls? Is that not an insult? Wike is a pillar in the party.
“Currently, Nobody in the party has contributed more for the party to move forward than Wike. If Atiku was not going to honour the decision of the committee, he should have called Wike earlier and informed him. He didn’t do that. You can’t do things anyhow and expect us to be happy”, Mr Ortom said.
A selection committee set up by the PDP had voted overwhelmingly in favour of Wike over Okowa as Vice Presidential candidate.
Wike had been spotted with Abia State governor Okezie Ikpeazu in Turkey. Another picture on Thursday showed the two governors and their Oyo State counterpart Seyi Makinde together in Turkey.