Wike: The Big Picture is More Important

By Reno Omokri

In 2017, the Peoples Democratic Party zoned the chairmanship of the party to the Southwest. It was the legal, moral and honourable thing to do, being that the Southwest was the only zone, other than the South-South, that had not produced a chairman of the main opposition party.

The party had had 12 national chairmen since its inception in 1998 up until 2017, viz.

Chief Alex Ekwueme (Southeast)

Chief Solomon Lar (North-Central)

Chief Barnabas Gemade (North-Central)

Mr. Audu Ogbeh (North-Central)

Colonel Ahmadu Ali (rtd) (North-Central)

Prince Vincent Ogbulafor (Southeast)

Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo (Southeast)

Dr. Haliru Mohammed (Northwest)

Dr. Bamanga Tukur (Northeast)

Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu (Northeast)

Senator Ali Modu Sheriff (Northeast), and

Senator Ahmed Makarfi (Northwest)

The party felt that with the last elected President of the party coming from the South-South, the zone that deserved the chairmanship was the Southwest. And the party so zoned.

However, due to the personal influence of the Governor of Rivers state, Barrister Ezenwo Nyesom Wike, Prince Uche Secondus was elected as the chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party on December 10, 2017.

Before the election that brought in Uche Secondus, former Senate President, and now Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party Board of Trustees, Senator Adolphus Wabara, had averred publicly in Ibadan, the Oyo state capital, that the just and equitable thing to do would be for the PDP to elect a chairman of Southwest origin.

He had said, “I have a lot of friends from the South South that are interested in that position, but I think in the interest of the party, it is time to key in…. so we will support the South West.”

Senator Wabara was not alone. Other prominent members of the party spoke up in favour of equity. However, Uche Secondus was elected, due to the influence of Governor Wike.

The Southwest felt pained and a post-convention committee was set up under Senator Henry Seriake Dickson to placate the Southwest.

And then again, in 2021, an opportunity arose for the party to right the injustice meted out to the Southwest, after Governor Wike had quarrelled with the very same man he brought, and insisted that Prince Uche Secondus had to go.

Every appeal was made to Governor Wike, but  he refused. And so he had his way. Secondus was kicked out.

The party set up a 44-member National Convention Committee on Zoning, under the leadership of the Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi. Predictably, that committee zoned the national chairmanship position to the Southwest.

Again, Governor Wike kicked against that. And he was obliged, because, in fairness to him, he was the financial mainstay of the party.

Governor Wike backed Senator Iyorchia Ayu to emerge as the new national chairman, and again the Southwest was shortchanged.

Now, fast forward to September of 2022, and just as he did with Uche Secondus, whom he single-handedly installed, Governor Wike wants to unseat the same Iyorchia Ayu that he installed.

This time, he is basing his stance on equity and fairness for the South.

However, what happened to fairness and equity in 2017, when the party zoned the national chairmanship position to the Southwest, for purposes of balancing, and Governor Wike insisted on his zone and state producing the chairman?

What about 2021 when history repeated itself and Wike diverted the coveted position again from the Southwest to the North-Central?

You cannot approbate and reprobate at the same time. You cannot be for equity in 2022, because you have an axe to grind with Ayu, and be against it in 2017 and 2022.

Wike is a lawyer. He knows that he who comes to equity must come with clean hands. Where are his clean hands?

Mr. Wike has to understand that the party does not revolve around him, although we owe him a debt of gratitude for what he did for us in our time of need.

The instability in the Peoples Democratic Party arose because we allowed the rule of man over the rule of law. That is why Uche Secondus came and went, because Wike loved and later hated.

Now, Ayu has come via Wike, but enough is enough. We must be a party that is guided by our constitution, not by the fickle temperament of a very querulous man.

You lost an election. Deal with it! It is grasping at straws for Wike to claim that he lost the presidential primary of the Peoples Democratic Party because Senator Iyorchia Ayu embraced Governor Aminu Tambuwal and called him “the hero of the convention”.

Not only is that a nonsensical argument that cannot hold up in court, it is also an argumentum ad absurdum, because it contradicts itself.

It could make sense if Wike claimed that Ayu embraced Tambuwal and because and after that embrace, Tambuwal supported Atiku. But the reverse is the case.

Yes, Ayu was a referee. However, referees are allowed to embrace and congratulate winning parties AFTER the contest. It is a normal feature in sports. It will happen today during a football match somewhere. A referee would be considered unsportsmanlike if he did not do it. It is done in boxing. The famous boxing referee, Carlos Padilla Jr., congratulated Muhammad Ali and his team after Ali won the Thrilla in Manila. Referee Padilla even stopped the fight after the 14th round, against Joe Frazier’s protestation, because in his opinion, if he allowed the fight to go on, Ali could have permanently injured Frazier. Should that have invalidated Ali’s decisive TKO victory? Of course not. Referee Ayu did not even stop the voting. He allowed it to go on. One man won, and many others lost. All those others have gone on to accept the result. Why must one man be a holdout? If it can be shown that Senator Ayu interfered in the voting, then, yes, that is a foul. But to celebrate a victor after a legal win is no crime at all!

After all, we know what happened in some state primaries that produced gubernatorial candidates. We know how one man was both the referee, the counter of votes and the declarer of the results. Again, before coming to equity, you need to ask ‘where are my own clean hands?’

The election is over. The attrition must also be over. Governor Wike must realise that he is not the big picture. Nigeria is the big picture. And as long as an individual thinks he is the big picture, he will never see it.

Even if we want to talk strictly about equity, would it have been equitable for both the immediate-past Governor Rotimi Amaechi, and the incumbent Governor, Nyesom Wike, to come from the same Rivers East Senatorial zone?

Where was the cry for equity when it happened?

I remember that when Wike was interviewed by Channels Television in November, 2014, he had said, “You don’t zone what you don’t have. Zoning only applies when the party is in power.”

Is the PDP in power today? Equity, like charity, must begin at home!

The fact of the matter is that the current power structure of the Peoples Democratic Party is reflected in all the major parties. Yet, nobody is baying for blood like some in the PDP.

What do I mean?

The Labour Party has a Southern Presidential candidate (Obi) and a Southern national chairman (Abure). Yet, many Southerners are celebrating that combination as the next-best thing after sliced bread. The New Nigerian Peoples Party has a Northern Presidential candidate (Kwankwaso) and Northern chairman (Alkali), and Northerners are hailing that combination.

So, what has the Peoples Democratic Party done? Why the hullabaloo about a Northern PDP Presidential candidate and a Northern PDP chairman? Moreover, if God willing, Waziri Atiku Abubakar is elected, by virtue of the PDP Constitution and tradition, the chairmanship must move to the South.

In the PDP, you can have a Presidential candidate and national chairman from the same region. But you cannot have an elected President and the national chairman from the same region. That only happens in the All Progressives Congress (Buhari and Adamu). Wait until after the election. Do not put the cart before the horse!

Now, to address last week’s press conference (or rant) by Governor Wike, let me raise 11 points.

1. The Peoples Democratic Party Chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, never promised to resign if a Northern Presidential candidate was elected. Rather, he said openly and on video that he would resign IF the PDP asked him to. And since the PDP NEC passed a vote of confidence in him, why should he resign?

2. The Peoples Democratic Party did not jettison zoning in favour of the North. Zoning was jettisoned in favour of the South. The last PDP President is from the South. By virtue of the party’s Constitution and tradition, the next President should come from the North.

3. If Wike has evidence that the Peoples Democratic Party Chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, is not a trustworthy character, he should provide such to the police and other law enforcement agencies.

4. The Peoples Democratic Party Presidential primary was not flawed. It was transparent and watched live on TV by Nigerians. A winner emerged. Many also did not win. Saraki, Tambuwal, Mohammed, Hayatudeen, Dele Momodu, Anyim, Fayose, Emmanuel, and others have not complained of any untoward happenings.

5. If the Peoples Democratic Party Chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, convened any illegal meetings in the house of retired generals, then proof of that should be tendered by the one making the allegations. By the way, who should the PDP chairman meet? APC members, like someone we know?

6. Waziri Atiku could not have promised Governor Wike that Senator Ayu would resign, because he has no power to make Senator Ayu (who was largely brought in by Governor Wike) to resign.

7. How can a man who almost single-handedly installed the last two PDP chairmen and many members of the NEC call the same party “arrogant”? If an engineer builds a house and calls it ugly, what is he invariably saying about himself?

8. Wike says Waziri Atiku is surrounding himself with people without much political value, why is he resisting joining the PCC?  We need Wike because he obviously has much political value.

9. The Peoples Democratic Party has a NEC. The NEC can discipline any member according to the Constitution of the party.

10. Every member of the party is a vital picture, but no member is the big picture.

11. The PDP Constitution should determine the fate of the Peoples Democratic Party Chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu.

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