Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has become a pain in the neck for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Chieftains of Nigeria’s biggest opposition political party do not quite know what to do with Wike any longer. He has become a huge problem.
It also doesn’t help that the man has promised not to leave the PDP. He has warned his ‘enemies’ within the political party that it’s fight to finish for him:
“One thing I have always told people is if anybody is thinking, doing anything to think that we will leave PDP, foul!! We will do the fight in the party. We are not like them, when in 2014 they walked out from Eagle Square. They’ve forgotten. They walked out and joined APC. Is it not correct?, the enfant terrible of Nigerian politics vowed recently.
Wike’s battles with certain elements within the PDP can be traced back to sometime before the 2019 elections, when the PDP handed its ticket to Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. Atiku was not Wike’s preferred choice for the ticket as everyone would find out in the build-up to that election’s primary exercise.
After the election, with the PDP ending up on the losing side, Wike began setting out his stall to run for President himself. He also reminded everyone at every opportunity that the PDP should know better than to hand its ticket to a northerner ahead of the 2023 election, because it was only fair that the ticket be handed to a southerner.
Much to Wike’s chagrin, Atiku not only put himself forward for the umpteenth time of asking, the former vice president went on to win the PDP Presidential primary election, with Wike and a handful of others on the losing side.
Wike has been licking his wounds since that night in May 2022, when it looked like he was played out of the game by the northern elements within the PDP at the Eagle Square in Abuja. He has been quite the sore loser. The Rivers governor has not stopped talking about PDP Chairman Iyorchia Ayu’s and Sokoto Governor Aminu Tambuwal’s ‘illicit’ roles in his loss.
After his primary election loss, Wike has drawn the battle line between himself and Ayu, insisting in no uncertain terms that the former senate president must go because the presidential flagbearer and the party chairman cannot hail from the same region, in order to reflect fair representation, equity and justice.
Last week, Wike followed up his tirade against Ayu and Atiku with an hour-long media chat in which he heaped even more insults on his party’s election standard-bearer and the party chairman, even going as far as calling the latter a corrupt so and so who pocketed the party’s N1 billion donation, among other allegations.
In recent times, Wike and his allies have also pulled out of the PDP 2023 Presidential Campaign Council, citing Ayu’s continuous stay as PDP Chairman.
The PDP therefore heads into a most crucial election, a divided house–exactly a position it doesn’t want to be in if it is serious about wresting back control of power from the APC’s grip. Wike has provided the PDP with plenty of trouble heading into the 2023 vote.
Talk of the enemy within.
Wike has also been openly flirting with politicians from the APC fold, while maintaining that he isn’t about to jump ship to another political camp.
With his Live Band in tow, the man has provided as much entertainment and comic relief this electioneering season as he has provided trouble for his political party.
Internecine wars are not uncommon within political camps as interests clash and the jostle for positions in the next government intensify. How the PDP manages Wike and his allies however, will determine whether it goes ahead to give the governing APC a run for its money in next year’s elections or not.
The Rivers governor is a formidable party man and one who has no doubt paid his dues. Just maybe he’s an attention seeker who enjoys being in the news or in the limelight. He however still needs to be carefully managed because he does bring a lot to the table, warts and all.
A disgruntled, disenchanted Wike is bad for the PDP in an election season. If in his elements, the man is a seasoned campaigner who can be relied upon to get out the votes when the rubber hits the road. He’s the kind of character you want in your corner when the chips are down.
When Wike says: “I’m not saying I’m bigger than the party. But if PDP suspends me, anything they see, they should take….Pikin wey say him mama no go sleep, him too no go sleep,” he isn’t just bluffing.