He had everything going for him before the primaries. He was so sure of victory. For all you know, he would probably have outrightly declared himself winner of a yet-to-be-held primaries, and was being restrained by his handlers. Yes, he had his assurances here and there. He bragged with great gusto. And, let us say this for the record, he was actually one of the few candidates who spoke frankly, boldly and with the fire of personal conviction. Then Nigeria happened to him.
The assurances went up in smoke. His much-vaunted friends turned coat and fled in the direction of where the smell of conspiracy and cash led them. It was typical of the political elite and its unprincipled and inanity-driven orientation. Pitiful, is it not? That, somehow, the PDP, and all our political parties, believe that anyone but themselves think that they are platforms for any form of democracy. Its like a bat claiming that it is a bird, simply because it can fly. Utter bunkum! ‘
The delegates themselves knew beyond doubt that the primaries were the only bazaar season they could be sure of every four years. So, let’s get real, and remain real. A scam is not any less of a scam because people take the name of democracy in vain while they are at it. If anything, our twenty years of democracy has made spectacular achievements in convincing the people that they should pass a resounding Vote of No Confidence on the democratic enterprise and just make money in its name. Meanwhile, it need not be so.
Now, to the much-talked-about betrayal choreography between Atiku, Tambuwal and Iyorchia Ayu. It must be said, forthwith, that Ayu conducted himself like a cad. To boot, he was also thoughtless and tactless in his post-betrayal comments and triumphalism. He declared a candidate who stepped down for another as a hero and crowned him the “saviour” of the party. So, what did the man save the party from? From having someone other than the man he stepped down for as the candidate, right? Which means that the emergence of the candidate in question was the plan all along. Ayu’s inability to control his excitement at the outcome he was working towards gave away the game and drew him some deserved flack.
As for who actually betrayed the other, that is between Wike and Tambuwal, it may well be a matter of perspective. Seriously! For a political party that is supremely characterized by depravity of the worst kind, this is the usual pattern. We were leaving Gen Babangida’s house, enroute Port Harcourt for the 2019 PDP primaries when my phone rang. “…So, what I am saying is that it is not the man you are with that will get the ticket. We have decided it will be Atiku, so we want you to join his team and give it some vitality and sophistication”. I decline, explaining that his man was unlikely to run a good campaign or a good government.
But he persisted. “You see, you need to ask yourself where these people were and whether they were in any reckoning before 1999. The money they are spending is easily traceable to their involvement in politics since 1999. Nigeria and its politics are much older than that. They are small boys, who think that they can take over the party machinery and also give us a new president. A loaded political trailer will run over them in Port Harcourt. Look, Wike is the only person who is really behind your man”.
And Atiku emerged the presidential candidate of the PDP in 2019. This was despite clear assurances to the contrary, even in Minna. The dummy sold to our team, and bought by all, that someone was behind a strong political consultancy for Atiku and that Minna and co knew nothing about it was at best an interesting tale. You see, I got that call! And it was from someone I did not know, but who knew where I was and who gave clear indications about what happened about 24 hours later.
It was the same story with Dr Sam Egwu; who was advised, a few hours before the election to choose a new party chairman, that “they” had decided that it would be Ogbulafor. Sam Egwu, with whom I visited every single party office in Nigeria, and who ran the best PDP party machinery as Governor of Ebonyi State, did not even turn up as contestant for the post of party chairman.
As for the presumed betrayal of Wike by Tambuwal, it may all depend on how one chooses to look at it. Truth be told, Wike was not just the main, but actually the only visible strong and determined, supporter of a Tambuwal presidency in 2019. He practically violated all the rules in pursuit of his goal. The 2019 Wike/Tambuwal project cost the PDP the South-west, because the zone simply walked away after the Chairmanship that was zoned to it suddenly metamorphosed into a Secondus/South-South tenure, under the curious midwifery of Wike and his revised version of the party machinery and loyalties.
Since he contested against Tambuwal this time, taking his campaign everywhere, as any man who believes in what he is doing would, we must ask this: “When and how, did he realize that he should be president instead of Aminu Tambuwal? What faults did he see, or what prognostications did he traverse, to the point that the need for him to contest against Tambuwal became an inevitability? Could Tambuwal not say, and feel, as they were all standing toe to toe and eyeball to eyeball on the night of the primaries, that Wike had betrayed him? Does a man like Tambuwal not have the right to see Wike’s involvement as betrayal, in the sense that the very person who threw everything into the ring for him had joined the hustings and is standing in his face and asking him to move aside? See what I mean? Perspectives and illusions all over the place.
One of the unfortunate fallouts of the PDP primaries, for Tambuwal that is, is that it would seem to have unwittingly played up a less than commendable quality that people easily ascribe to him in political circles. It is that of being less than absolutely dependable when people go into deals with him, or expect him to keep his word. True or not, it is a perception. And perceptions are reality for the perceiver.
In terms of record of performance between the two men as governors, Wike is light years ahead of Tambuwal. The latter, in my view, diligently aborted his chances of being cheerfully and robustly marketed today as a young and vibrant presidential candidate. His pathetic performance as the governor of Sokoto State is an issue here, because it differs radically from what he left behind in his days as Speaker of the House of Representatives. Boldly and without apologies, he stood against the most powerful political forces in the PDP and the Executive Arm of government combined. He came out of it standing tall, with the active partnership and commendable loyalty of Emeka Ihedioha. Aminu Tambuwal was the first Speaker of the House who was, in real terms, actually chosen and elected by his colleagues. And this happened against all odds.
And it did not end there, no! Tambuwal presided without rancour. He evenly distributed positions, committee headship and all, without emphasizing party affiliation or personal loyalty to him. He simply ran “a whole house of elected representatives who worked together as one”. His tenure also saw the emergence of a well-organized review/amendment of some key provisions of the constitution. This was done in such a way that what his tenure gave Nigeria at the time was actually a template that could be used for the much-vaunted restructuring.
Then he became governor. In sum, he went into oblivion the moment he was sworn in as head of affairs in Sokoto State. Notwithstanding contrived projections to the contrary, executive capacity, reliability and steadfastness were the issues that progressively made nonsense of his tenure as governor. How, and why, Tambuwal would aspire to be president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria after his performance in Sokoto State remains a mystery to many perfectly rational observers. Why he would argue, as he did on national television, that Nigerians should worry about who can win the election instead of focusing on competence is understandable from the standpoint of one who does not know the limits of political realism in a severely underdeveloped nation like Nigeria.
But back to the Wike matter. Whereas it can be said, as is being said in some quarters, that Wike was partly responsible for what happened to him, that he played his music too loudly for his ethnicised Nigerian audience, and that he dared people who do not like being dared, it must also be said that those who unleashed the wind in the PDP primaries are bound to reap the whirlwind. Yes, Wike said a few days ago that he is a loyal party man. We believe him. He said that they will all work together to win and then settle their “domestic” issues inhouse later. Nmanwu!
The PDP is not just in trouble but facing a benumbing fate of cataclysmic proportions. The party has learnt nothing, as it brays forth everything a serious opposition party should not be associated with. It has now lost the chance to be taken seriously within its own ranks. Just as happened in 2019, its post party primaries reflexes reeks of incoherence, incompetence and outright tomfoolery. Wike is an Albatross of great weight around the neck of the PDP today. Worse still, Peter Obi has just chosen a running mate. Enough said!
A Presidency a Work
Just think about it. What if the Skirmish in Katsina had taken out the number one citizen? It was “only” the advance team that was attacked and injured personnel were receiving good treatment in hospitals, said the Presidency. The invasion of Kuje correctional facility lasted until the intruders completed their mission and left. The President visited the scene and expressed disappointment. If I was Yoruba, I would have said: “Olori buruku, ma ba temi je o!”