By Ifeanyi Maduako
Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has benefitted immensely from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) since its formation in 1998. He became a local government chairman on two terms, a chief of staff to a Rivers governor, a minister and rounding off his two terms as Rivers State governor, all on the platform of the PDP. By 2023 when his tenure as a governor will elapse, Wike would have been in office, from one political position to the other, for a cumulative 24 years. There’s also a possibility of him getting another political position through appointment depending on how he plays his politics before, during and after the 2023 general elections.
There are very few politicians in Nigeria as lucky as Wike. Overweening or too much success sometimes makes politicians haughty and arrogant. Wike has remained implacable since he lost the presidential primaries and was not chosen as the vice presidential candidate of the party. His primary focus now is the removal of the national chairman of the party, Sen. Dr Iyorchia Ayu. If Wike had emerged as the vice presidential candidate of the party, I believe that this call for Ayu’s removal wouldn’t have arisen. Of course, if Wike had emerged as the presidential candidate of the party, Ayu would have been celebrated as the best human being on earth by Wike and his supporters.
Wike’s call for the position of the national chairman to shift to the south is altruistic and equitable, but the timing is very wrong. The general election is four months away, what impact would a southern national chairman make to the fortune of the PDP in these few months?
President Buhari had ruled Nigeria for almost eight years with all the key positions in the military and para-military wholly domiciled in the north. Has the south collapsed or gone into extinction because of the current brazen marginalization by the All Progressives Congress (APC) led-government? The insistence on Ayu’s removal borders on mountainous ego just to get even with him over his remark after the presidential primaries convention where he remarked that the governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, was the champion of the convention.
If Wike had any issue with his loss of the primaries, it should have been with Tambuwal who made a deft political move at the eleventh hour which made Wike to lose the primaries, it shouldn’t be with Ayu. Ayu is a politician with political interest and not a football referee. By the way, it was Wike who championed his election as the national chairman of the party, it was neither Atiku nor Tambuwal.
From all indications, Wike’s insistence on Ayu’s removal and emplacement of a southerner implies that he does not wish the party success at the general election. It does appear that Wike is already planning post 2023 general election, otherwise how does he expect to control the party with Atiku as a sitting president of Nigeria if PDP wins? Even if the party concedes to his request for Ayu’s removal and Atiku emerges as the President of Nigeria, can Wike still control what happens in the party thereafter? What if the position shifts to the south now and Atiku removes him immediately he takes office as President?
Political deductions from the current impasse in the party are that Wike does not wish the party well. He does not want Atiku/ Okowa to win the presidency so that he can control the party post 2023. But, can PDP survive another eight years in opposition. If Atiku could defeat Wike as a sitting Governor on two occasions, that is, the primaries of 2018 and 2022, he will also defeat him when he becomes a former governor as long as the control of the party is concerned. With Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the APC as the President of Nigeria, it will be requiem for the PDP. With Tinubu as president, PDP can never get the presidency of Nigeria again except the fourth republic civilian dispensation is dissolved. The current fate of the PDP in Lagos State will be replicated at the national level.
If Wike wishes the PDP to survive, he should soft-pedal on his call for Ayu’s removal. The position of the national chairman should shift to the south when Atiku assumes the presidency. That was the situation during late President Yar’Adua’s tenure. Everything must be done to ensure that the APC does not elongate its stay beyond 2023.
The sufferings and religious/regional divisions in Nigeria now are unprecedented. Wike should not play into the hands of the APC because the party has nothing to offer to him. Will APC make him a president or vice president? Even if they offer him a ministerial appointment as a Greek gift, was Wike not a minister under the PDP? Wike should not destroy the party that brought him to prominence and opulence.
How I wished that this crisis in the party didn’t rear its ugly head at all, Wike should have been the appropriate person to be appointed as the Director-General of the presidential campaign council. He has the political gravitas and sagacity to achieve a favourable result for the party. There’s no permanent friend or foe in politics. Nothing is late yet. Twenty-four hours is enough time in politics after all nobody saw the Atiku-Tambuwal collaboration coming during the primaries.
Wike had sustained the party quite alright over the years, especially since 2015 but the party has equally done him well. What he achieved under the party, he couldn’t have achieved as a lawyer even if he reached the pinnacle of the legal profession. It’s still possible to make Wike the Director-General of the campaign council, but the fear of sabotage looms large. Tambuwal should concede the position to Wike but the call for Ayu’s removal should cease until after the election.
Maduako, writes from Owerri via email@example.com