Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike has expressed mixed feelings over comments credited to Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate Alhaji Atiku Abubakar that what the North needs in 2023 is c It is a northerner, not an Ibo or a Yoruba as the next president of Nigeria.

At the Arewa Town Hall policy dialogue in Kaduna on Saturday, Atiku reportedly said, “What the average northerner needs is someone from the north; he doesn’t need a Yoruba candidate or an Ibo candidate. The former vice president had clarified the statement, saying it had been twisted by the opposition to carry out its malicious agenda.

Such a statement, if true, Governor Wike said, is a threat to the unity of Nigeria at a time when efforts must be focused on giving every Nigerian a sense of belonging.

Wike spoke at the international wing of Port Harcourt International Airport on Monday upon his arrival from Spain.

Wike is embittered ever since Atiku chose the Governor of Delta State as his running mate. Several efforts to appease him failed as he insisted that PDP National Chairman Iyorchia Ayu resign.

Wike, returned from Spain with key members of his camp – Governors Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia) and Samuel Ortom (Benue).

Additionally, a retired Assistant Inspector General of Police, Ambrose Aisabor, called on Atiku to step down from running in the 2023 election.

He hinged the call on the comment attributed to the presidential candidate during his visit to Kaduna, where he allegedly urged northerners not to vote for a Yoruba or Ibo president.

Speaking to Daily Trust, Aisabor insisted that Atiku “has no moral right to run in the February 2023 presidential election”, describing him as an “ethnic irredentist”.

But outgoing PDP board chairman Senator Walid Jibrin said Atiku was misquoted.

Jibrin, in a statement in Abuja, said Atiku is a pan-Nigerian candidate who has tentacles across the country, adding that he was “seriously misquoted in Kaduna”.

“Atiku is a typical Nigerian married to Yoruba and Ibo wives. He is a typical Pan-African. He was at Arewa House to seek support from the North to convince the South, especially the Yoruba and Ibo, to become President of Nigeria in 2023.

“He needs the support of all tribal groups in Nigeria even though he is from the North. This is why he appeals to all northerners through the Arewa house to convince all groups in the south, in particular the Ibo and the Yoruba, to give him maximum support, like the support given to the elders. Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan.