If a soothsayer had told the 58-year-old Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State that Peoples Democratic Party would paddle him into excruciating hibernation, after expending energy and resources to sustain and strengthen the opposition party, he would not have believed. Yet, it happened because politicians often consider political virtue as the strength of the weak and interest as the opium of the might.
It all started with Wike’s inordinate ambition, which blinded him from conceding for the presidency to be zoned to the South-East due to the zoning formula as written in the PDP constitution. But Wike, deluded by his popularity and financial muscles failed to see the handwriting on the wall. He pursued a project that made it easier for Atiku to grab the trophy. Had Wike sacrificed his burning ambition, allowed the PDP presidency zoned to the South-East, and supported the 60-year-old Mr. Peter Obi, the former governor of Anambra State, as the flag bearer of PDP in the 2023 presidential election in Nigeria, the approval rating of his party would have been sky-high. Unfortunately, he lost the opportunity of allowing the brightest politician in the South-eastern political firmament to emerge as the PDP presidential candidate.
Governor Wike was so full of himself to grab the PDP presidential ticket. On 14th March 2022, before the PDP 2023 presidential primary election, it was on record that Governor Godwin Obseki of Edo State had cautioned him that his presidential “ambition should not be embarked on in such a way that it would cause disruption at different levels, such as the PDP Governors’ Forum as well as different chapters of the party across the country. It clearly amounts to the delusion of grandeur for any one man to nurse the idea that he owns or has more stake in the PDP and everyone should pander to him. We are all equal stakeholders in the party and an aggregate of the ideas, opinions and contributions of all leaders and members should form the position of the party and not the view of one individual or a select few.” Obaseki made the comment after Wike threatened his deputy, Philip Shaibu.
True to his colour, Wike would not sheath his sword but lambasted Obaseki: “If you check the DNA of Obaseki, what you will see in that DNA is betrayal, serial betrayal, and ingratitude…We have voted for PDP since 1999 till now; ask Governor Obaseki if he has done anything for PDP, voted for PDP. The only election he voted was his own election – where we gave him an umbrella.”
Wike’s unguided and unpolished remarks against Peter Obi during the Politics Today programme on Channels Television dated 26th May 2022, were unworthy to note. According to Wike, “how would he have won? I went to Anambra and told them that, ‘don’t waste your vote.’ Since Peter Obi left APGA then as a governor, he has never won election. That is not even the issue. The issue is that there must be integrity, there must be character. How can a man who had gone to all the states to tell them how he had been a trader, how his family has been trading, how everybody should support him, how he wore one shoe, how he did not allow anybody to carry his bag, and all those things. Three days to the primary, he said he had left the party.”
Such unsavory comments were not a plus to him. It could have influenced the former governor of Niger State, Babangida Aliyu, while defending Alhaji Atiku Abubakar’s choice of governor Ifeanyi Okowa as his running mate to berate Wike. During his interview on Channels Television on 20th June 2022, Aliyu said: “You do not go around choosing people that will not complement you. You choose people who will complement your office. People that are ready to take over from you and will make you comfortable.
“Unfortunately, I don’t know if it is his temperament. Sometimes when you speak too much, when you insult your way to power, it does not always happen.
“I can count many people who he [Wike] has insulted. People will say he is always speaking his mind. But there are times you don’t need to speak your mind.”
The blow was coming after Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State cut short his presidential aspiration to support Alhaji Atiku Abubakar to win as the PDP 2023 presidential candidate on 28th May 2022. The political conspiracy was a sudden shock to Wike considering that he had supported Tambuwal’s presidential ambition in 2019. From the 2019 PDP Presidential primary result, Atiku won with 1,532 votes while Tambuwal came second with 693 votes. After the election, Wike twitted on 9th October 2018: “In the buildup [to the PDP 2019 primary election], I had a candidate and I supported my candidate [Tambuwal] openly, that doesn’t translate to not accepting the outcome which was sincerely in favour of Alhaji Atiku. We will stop at nothing in the support of Atiku to make sure the party comes out victorious in 2019.”
If brooding over his defeat was enough, Atiku’s rejection of Wike to be his running mate was the last straw that broke the camel’s back. Wike rumbled and PDP started to quack. This is coming on the heel of the PDP constituting an advisory committee to aid in suggesting the most acceptable candidate to become Atiku’s running mate. It was alleged that among the three people selected for Atiku to choose, Governor Nyesom Wike polled the highest votes over Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State and Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State. To the surprise of all, Atiku chose Okowa and noted:
“In arriving at the decision, I held wide consultations with various stakeholders in our party, including our governors, National Working Committee, Board of Trustees, and other leaders to seek their inputs and their wisdom. In these consultations, I made clear that my running mate would have the potential to succeed me at a moment’s notice, that is, a President-in-waiting.
“In other words, the person must have the qualities to be president. The person must have an appreciation of the deep rot, which our country has been put into by the rudderless APC government; understand the great suffering that most of our people are going through and the urgency of relieving them of that suffering; understand the critical importance of economic growth and development to provide our young people with jobs, hope, and a pathway to wealth.
“The person must appreciate the critical importance of education in the development of modern societies so we can prepare our young people to be able to compete in the increasingly competitive and globalised world. My running mate must understand that without security, development will be very difficult, because local and foreign investors, who have been scared away already, would not return to invest in our economy. Thus, my running mate will be a person, who will stand by me as I confront the frightening level of insecurity in our land.”
As we write, the loyalists of Wike in PDP have set ready their bayonets for a fight. The former governor of Ekiti State, Ayo Fayose, through his verified Twitter handle, @GovAyoFayose, twitted on 29th June, 2022: “The current President of Nigeria is a two-term northern presidency, thus implying that it MUST be a southern presidency in 2023 or NOTHING. Awa ‘South’ lo kan’. Nigerians should await details soon.
“The PDP Constitution provides for a rotational Presidency. Section 3(c) provides that the Party shall pursue its aims and objectives by ‘adhering to the policy of the rotation and zoning of Party and Public elective offices in pursuance of the principle of equity, justice and fairness.”
The Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, was no less in expressing displeasure against Atiku’s selection of Okowa as running mate. During an interview with Arise Television on 29th June 2022, “Some of us believe that Wike has the capacity but Nigerians or let me say the PDP people did not give him the opportunity. Some of us rooted for him. I was amongst the 17-member committee that was set up by the candidate himself and the party and some of us said that for the vice presidency of the party, we needed Wike to be the vice president so that he can bridge the gap.
“We said it does not matter whether he supported the presidential candidate or not, all we are looking for is unity and how we can make things work. Unfortunately, it was said that it is Governor Ifeanyi Okowa who is also a PDP member. And that is the wisdom of the presidential candidate.
“Some of us have resorted back to prayers because I am really confused. I felt that Wike would have been the vice-presidential candidate of the party after losing the presidential ticket to Atiku. He was the second person to Atiku and Wike has the charisma.
“All of us have our weak spots. Wike can be ‘something something’, but when it comes to mobilisation, impact, value addition and reaching out, and making sure that the party works, Wike is an instrument. Wike is somebody who stood for the party and makes sure that things work.
“So, for some of us, we believe in him but unfortunately, it was somebody else and it doesn’t matter because the party is supreme. But for some of us, now I have resorted to prayers and if you haven’t seen me in Turkey, it is because I am praying.
“I have resorted to prayers: Lord God, where do we go from here? Where is our country going and what is our problem? I tell you as a Christian, that I believe that power belongs to God. John 3:27 says “A man can receive nothing except it is given to him from above”. If God says it is Atiku and if God says it is whoever, that is all…But I am waiting for him, there are more that is expected, I expect him to reach out to Wike who came second and he denied him the popular view of PDP members, 14 out of 17, said that Wike should be the VP. In his wisdom, he chose that it should be Governor Okowa. Governor Okowa is a nice man and is my friend and I have no problem with him.
‘’If we are in a democratic era and 14 people out of 17 said that it should be Wike and he in his wisdom gave it to Okowa, I expect more explanation, I expect him to talk to Wike first that we are supporting, I expect him to even reach out to some of us so that together we can work as a party.
‘’So that the bottom line is that for me I have gone into hibernation and I am praying and at the end whatever God direct me, I can assure you I will do it.’’
It was alleged that Wike has not given access to PDP conciliatory committee to reconcile him with Atiku. In what seems as anti-party activities, Wike had allegedly welcomed in Rivers State government leaders of different parties, including Peter Obi of Labour Party, Rabiu Kwankwaso of New Nigeria Peoples Party, and three South West APC governors, Babajide Sanwo-olu of Lagos State, Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, and Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State.
It is alleged that Wike’s loyalists are gunning for the replacement of the National Chairman of PDP, Senator Iyorcha Ayu, as a condition for the unity of the party. As would be expected, during the gubernatorial PDP rally in Osun State, none of Wike’s loyalists attended the rally. Basklifenews is yet to confirm if Wike and his loyalists have congratulated Senator Ademola Adeleke after he defeated Governor Gboyega Oyetola with 402,979 votes to 375,077 votes on the 16th July 2022 Osun State gubernatorial election.
No doubt, Governor Wike could have felt betrayed by the party he fought through thick and thin to sustain, nurture and nourish. Even if Wike reconciles with Atiku, it may be difficult to sincerely work for him to make the PDP party win the 2023 presidential election in Nigeria.
Photo credit: politiciansdata.com