EMBLEMATIC MOMENTS, perhaps, moments of unpopularity, and embarrassing atmosphere they were for Nysom Wike, Governor of Rivers State, in Nigeria’s south-south, when, in the morning of Friday, August 12, 2022, news splashed in media space, that Wike had headed to a Federal High Court, in Abuja, to challenge the outcome of the opposition Peoples Democratic party, PDP, presidential primary election, won by Atiku Abubakar, on May 28 and 29 2022.
Atiku won the primary with 371 votes, followed by Wike, 237 votes. Bukola Saraki, former Senate President, came third with 70 votes. The strategic moment of the primary election, was the last minutes withdrawal of Aminu Tambuwal, Governor of Sokoto State, who asked his supporters to cast their votes for Atiku Abubakar, which gave him the victory.
Reports in the media had stated that Wike, and a chieftain of PDP, Newgent Ekamon, dragged the PDP to court asking the court to remove Atiku as the candidate of the PDP in 2023 presidential election. The alleged suit is marked FHC/ABJ/SC/782/2022, with the claim by the plaintiffs that PDP in May 28 and 29 presidential primary, granted undue advantage to Atiku, who emerged winner of the primary, by Aminu Tambuwal’s withdrawal.
By afternoon, the same day [Friday], during Wike’s speech, air live on national television, while commissioning housing complex, built by Rivers State government for the State House Of Assembly members, in Port Harcourt, the state capital, Wike said he was not involved in the suit. He alleged that mischief makers, within the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, want to give him a bad name. He said if he was to go to court, he would have done so within the stipulated time by law — within 14 days.
Wike told his audience, at the commissioning, that he was on course with providing services and dividend of democracy to the people of Rivers State, and would not be distracted, by those he said were mischief makers in his party, in Abuja, who were focusing on him, instead of strategizing to win the 2023 election. Wike’s usual long speech, while commissioning project, dwelt on the controversies between him and the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
Wike’s noticeable incoherent speech, touched on what observers described as “disdain issues.” He acknowledged to his Special Guest, Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of Nigeria’s House Of Representatives, that he [Wike] hosted a meeting in Abuja, were the opposition PDP, plotted not to make him emerge as Speaker of the House of Representatives. He said, though the plot failed, and Femi became the Speaker, both of them remained friends and in good working relationship.
Wike took his Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, again, to the cleaners. With threat that he would “choke” his party, and has much say, perhaps, against his party, when real election campaign commences. Wike further told his audience, that himself and Gbajabiamila, have much in common ahead, in building the future of the country.
Observers, who watched Wike’s speech, aired-live on national television, described the speech as “moments of unpopularity”, and public degrading to his party, the PDP. Worse, ahead of the 2023 national elections, commencing few months away, in September 2022. Wike’s speech, they noted, must have caused moments of national and international embarrassment to his party.
FEMI GBAJABIAMILA’S response speech, acknowledged Wike’s confession, that he hosted party chieftains, to plot him not to become Speaker, and built on it. He said he was happy that Wike was making the confession. He noted, however, that in politics, there are no permanent friends, no permanent enemies, but permanent interests. And was happy that they kept their friendship, despite party differences.
Femi’s further words: “Those whom you sat together to plot me, where those who came together to plot you during your primary, in Abuja”. And added: “I am asking you to chock them. I say choke them. I am using your words”. He said he looked forward to working together with Wike, when he moved to where he [Wike] belonged. Perhaps, looking forward to Wike decamping from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Wike’s unskilled public utterances on the soured relationship between him and Atiku, the party’s presidential flag-bearer for the 2023 election, observers noted, are becoming evidence of vanishing grounds for reconciliation, which could spell political setback for the PDP, ahead of the 2023 election. They said there must be a change of attitude, especially, on the part of Wike, whose public behaviour and utterances are becoming embarrassing to his person and the party.