NIGERIA’S LEADING opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, is still in the woods. At the party’s presidential primary, held May 28, 2022, Atiku Abubakar, former Nigeria Vice President, emerged winner with 371 votes; follow by Nyesom Wike, Governor of Rivers State, second with 237 votes; and Bukola Saraki, former Senate President, third with 70 votes.
Wike felt betrayed and schemed out of the race, especially, by his governor colleagues, whom he relied on for massive support to clinch the presidential ticket. His closest friend, among the governors, Aminu Tambuwal, Governor of Sokoto State, got the first shot of Wike’s irk. In a last-minute manoeuvre, Tambuwal stepped down for Atiku before the commencement of voting, and asked his supporters to vote for Atiku.
During an event organised in Port Harcourt, capital of Rivers State, to welcome Wike from Abuja, after the presidential primary, Wike described governors from the south-south, his political strong hold, as “betrayers”. And added that they will “suffer” for their actions in the near future. Wike attacked his governor colleagues, few hours after Atiku visited him at his Abuja resident after the primary, perhaps, to begin reconciliation with Wike.
Atiku, also, visited Aminu Tambuwal in his Abuja residence for his comradeship, that led to his picking the party’s presidential ticket. Many saw Atiku’s immediate action in reaching out to his fellow contestants as statesmanship. And a swift way to reconciling with aggrieved contestants. Other constants imbibed the spirit of sportsman, on the outcome of the primary.
Wike persisted in despair and resentment, despite reconciliation moves. He shunned every party activity, including Ekiti and Osun States governorship elections that were itching closer. Wike held key governors of the PDP to his side. The governors could not come together for a formidable campaign in support of their party’s candidate in Ekiti election. The party’s lose of Ekiti governorship election was seen as Wike’s factor.
WIKE’S WOES COMPOUNDED with Atiku’s choice of Ifeanyi Okowa, Governor of Delta State, as his vice presidential running mate. In further desperation, Wike began to felicitate and received in audience, chieftains of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC; as well as, Rabiu Kwankwaso, presidential candidate of New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP; and Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of Labour Party, LP.
Observers believed Wike was taking matters to far. His actions were close to be linked with anti-party activities. Wike actions further fueled speculations that he may defect from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. The PDP chieftains and stakeholders became apprehensive of a likely move by Wike to defect from the party, and join another political party.
Walid Jibrin, Chairman, Board of Trustees, BOT, of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, June 27, 2022, addressed journalists in Kaduna. He stated that the party would do whatever it could take, to make sure that Nyesom Wike did not defect from the party. Jibrin said: “We in PDP know how to solve our problems. We know that Governor Nyesom Wike may not be happy.
“It is the intention of this party to constitute a reconciliation committee that will meet Wike to talk to him, appeal to him, and pray that he will not leave our party”. He described Wike as “a great man who has been fighting for the party, and the party will not want to see him move to another party. We will all visit Wike together and if it means kneeling to Wike, we will kneel for him”, the BOT Chairman further added.
Political analysts seemed not to agree with PDP’s Board of Trustee’s Chairman, Walid Jibrin on the party’s approach to get Wike to remain in the PDP “at all cost”, including “kneeling to Wike”. They believed it would giving Wike a “lager than life status”, further giving him the prominence Wike does not deserve. They noted that this could further spell doom for the future of the party.
FOUNDING FATHERS of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and the party’s stakeholders, analysts argued, have never been as “vociferous”, and displayed show of “rascality” on the party’s affairs, as Wike. They asked: “What is the difference between Wike and other contestants” who lost to Atiku at the primary? While others took their defeat in stride, Wike seemed to want to pull the roof down on the party. Why should Wike be at loggerheads with Atiku, the presidential candidate of his party? They asked. The issue is a party affair and not personal.
Analysts further noted that: “Wike should take his defeat in stride and emulate others who lost to Atiku”. And “strop giving the impression that he is the owner of the party”. Analysts agreed that Wike, no doubt, had been a factor in shaping the PDP, after the party lost the 2015 presidential election to the All Progressive Congress, APC. At the party’s most challenging times, Wike was there for the party, including funding.
Sula Lamido, former Governor of Jigawa State, puts it succinctly to Wike, in a recent interview with ThisDay. He advised him to emulate Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; Senate President Ahmad Lawan; his predecessors in Rivers State, Peter Odili and Rotimi Amaechi; for their show of maturity when they lost presidential tickets of their parties. And urged Wike to display similar maturity on issues from the concluded presidential primary.
Lamido further schooled Wike, that it was “uncultured” for a younger person to label an elderly person, like Atiku Abubakar as “lying”. Wike had publicly stated that Atiku, in an interview he had with Arise Television, “lied”, on the comments he made about on him. Wike did not, specifically, state what the lie or lies were. But roamed around Atiku’s comments during the Arise interview, which he (Wike) could not define or debunk as lies.
YESTERDAY, ATIKU took the bull by the horn, despite Wike’s recalcitrance, and met with him at closed doors, at Abuja residence of Jerry Gana, a Chieftain of PDP and member, Board of Trustees, and a former Minister of Information, during Olusegun Obasanjo’s presidency. Official details of the discussion between Atiku and Wike were not made public. Media reports about the meeting have been speculative. This time, around, observers noted, hope for peace between Atiku and Wike must not crash.
Observers further stated that the way forward, ahead of the 2023 elections, for the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, was necessary and should be given deserved attention. Nyesom Wike must not be a hindrance. Sule Lamido urged Wike to see the outcome of the presidential primary as over. Wike, he said, should see the process that threw up Atiku and his vice presidential running mate, Ifeanyi Okowa as not personal, but party affairs. The party is “always supreme” at all times, Lamido added.
Further reconciliation talks between Atiku and Wike, perhaps, involving other party stakeholders could be on the way. Wike, observers noted, needs to embrace peace and move on. Others see Wike’s attitude and actions, as justifying Atiku’s choice of Ifeanyi Okowa, a straight and forward looking, and less cumbersome personality, as vice presidential candidate. Atiku had stated that Okowa was his right man for the job of vice president, over Wike. And the choice was his prerogative to make.
Lamido urged Wike to learn from Peter Odili, former Governor of Rivers State, and one time presidential candidate of PDP. His words: “A day to the PDP’s presidential convention, which Peter Odili of Rivers State was bound to win and was also bound to win the presidential election, he was stopped by the party which went on to nominate President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, who did not even show interest. He was promised a vice presidential ticket and yet he was not given. He took everything as the mature man he is.
“Look at the APC, Vice President Osinbajo was humiliated; the Senate president was also humiliated and even his countryman, Amaechi was given the same treatment; they took it as mature men and did not go about complaining as Wike is doing. This is called maturity.
“Do you know why? This is because the party is supreme. You cannot be bigger than your party. Party is organic. The convention has come and gone. Osinbajo, Lawan and Amaechi have shown maturity because their party has spoken. If Wike is in the APC will he be talking and behaving as he is doing now?” Lamido further stated.
With the latest development, on the reconciliation move by Atiku, to enable the party be on the same page with Wike, and move on; there could be less anxious moments and less distractions for the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, ahead of the 2023 elections.