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Wike vs North: A battle lost before the fight

by Our Reporter
By Sanya Adeleye
Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers is gradually exiting into oblivion. Like an eclipse, he is fading away from the nation’s political horizon. A very strong member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Wike has also become a very weak member of the party he once helped to build and finance.
And it is down to his vaulting ambition. In the past, Wike had played the role of king-maker in the party. He brought Senator Ali Modu Sheriff as interim Chairman. That gamble almost choked the party. Then he brought his kinsman, Prince Uche Secondus as Chairman. When he noticed that Secondus was not dancing to his tune, he engineered a scheme to kick him out. He succeeded.

The plot to kick Secondus out was carefully and thoughtfully choreographed. Secondus, a southerner from Wike’s Rivers state must go to clear the coast for the emergence of a Wike Presidential ticket in 2023. Talk about political foresight. But that foresight did not take into cognizance the Providential factor of time and chance. It did not also consider the thinking among members of the PDP National Working Committee. When foresight is driven by unchecked personal ambition, it loses sight to logic and reason. It falters in its step. The Wike ambition-addled foresight has faltered, and fallen flat on its face.

Many hailed Wike for his influence in the PDP. But not many knew that Wike was planning for his own Presidency under the PDP. With Secondus out, Wike pushed for a northerner to Chair his party. The plot was to make a northerner Chairman of the PDP to pave the way for a southern Presidential candidate. The plot succeeded and Iyorcha Ayu became the Chairman of the party ahead of their presidential primary.

Wike succeeded in keeping his plan to his chest. But in politics, there is no secret. Every wall has ear. Wike’s gambit had leaked that he was planning to dominate the agitation for southern presidency in PDP.

If the Presidential ticket was zoned to the south, Wike had thought, he would be the preferred candidate. It did not matter to him that his south-south zone has had its turn in the Presidency. His kinsman, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, has just done six years before losing to President Muhammadu Buhari. It did not matter to Wike that the south east was the best suited for the Presidency among the three zones of the South.

With south west taking eight years through President Olusegun Obasanjo and another eight years as Vice president, albeit in another party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), it was only morally justified that the PDP should narrow its hunt for Presidency in the south to the south east.

Once the PDP threw open the ticket, Wike was not fazed. He rolled out his political machinery oiled with big money. He was confident he would clinch the PDP presidential ticket. After all, in politics the world over, it has been proven that he who spends more money stands a better chance to win in an election; even in the United States. So, Wike revved his machine. But he forgot that the north also matters in this democracy. He forgot that aside the south east in the south that is yet to taste power at the centre, the north east zone which is Atiku Abubakar’s zone has never been President, whether as military or civilian.

Atiku was even more magnanimous. Ahead of the decision of the NWC of PDP on whether the presidency would be zoned or thrown open, Atiku had said the only thing that can stop him from contesting for the PDP presidential ticket is if the party zoned it to the south east. Atiku’s argument was morally justified.

Now, Wike has contested and lost. He has turned a sore loser. He wants to bring down the roof. He gives the impression that he is fighting for equity, fairness and justice for the south. Not so smart, Governor Wike. You are simply fighting for your selfish ambition. If Wike so loved the south and if he believed so much in fairness and equity why did he not support, promote and even help to finance a candidate from the south east? This would have stood him out as a nationalist, patriot and a man of justice and fairness. No, it must be him or nobody. Blind ambition.

But with the emergence of Atiku, Wike is fighting not just the north east which has over the years been shortchanged, he is fighting the PDP and the entire north. Up north, there is an unwritten consensus that the north east deserves a piece of the Presidency pie. In the north, there is an axiom that the north has two political sons – Buhari and Atiku. When both sons were on the ballot, the north voted Buhari.

Now, they realised it was an error because under Buhari, the north suffered the most in terms of insecurity and socio-economic discontent. The other political son, Atiku, is now alone on the ballot. The north will vote for him. Unlike Buhari, whose votes came mainly from the north, Atiku is seen as a more nationalistic and more liberal politician. He is loved far more than Buhari in the south. By simple political permutation, Atiku will sweep votes both in the north and in the south. This is his best opportunity to clinch the Presidency. In Atiku, the north still see itself as politically relevant and opportune.

A fight against Atiku is therefore a fight against the north. Wike is fighting the entire north. But it’s a battle he has effectively lost before the fight. If Wike does not retrace his steps, as should all the members of the G5, what will become of their political career under an Atiku presidency can only be left to the imagination.
Wike has been slumbering in dreamland. Can somebody wake him and advise him to mend his ways and make up with his party leadership.

He has garnered goodwill from across the nation on account of his development landmarks in Rivers. He should not squander such on the altar of blind ambition. Fighting the north in Nigeria’s political chess game is a battle he cannot win. He’s only kicking against a brick wall. The north counts, always.

Adeleye writes from Lagos

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