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Wike’s Unending Confusion and Self-delusion
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike’s recent political volte-face denying ever promising to publicly announce his preferred presidential candidate was a clear evidence of confusion in his collapsing world of fantasy, Ejiofor Alike reports
Recent events have shown that the Rivers State Governor, Mr. Nyesom Wike, may have lost ideas on how to handle his disagreement with his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
Following their disagreement with Atiku, the governor and other members of his so-called G-5 governors – Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State, Samuel Ortom of Benue State and Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State – have been entertaining Nigerians with their “Asoebi” clothes, gallivanting around the world, identifying with rival political parties and threatening to unveil their preferred presidential candidate.
With the unlimited resources at his disposal, Wike is believed to have overestimated his relevance in Nigerian politics, parading himself as the strongman who will determine President Muhammadu Buhari’s successor.
Many political analysts argue that he forgot so soon that Governor Aminu Tambuwal whom he supported in the party’s presidential primary in 2019 lost to Atiku and could not make it to the presidential election, let alone unseating Buhari.
Analysts now wonder how Wike who could not make himself the PDP presidential candidate, could make anyone the President of Nigeria.
Despite their repeated vows to adopt a presidential candidate, Wike and his G-5 have continued to wallow in confusion and indecision.
Barely three days to the last Christmas, Wike, while inaugurating a flyover in Obi-Akpor Local Government Area of the state, vowed to unveil his preferred candidate in January 2023.
He also vowed to mobilise people “from state to state” for his preferred candidate.
“From January next year, I will campaign to my people who they will vote for. So, all of you who have been suspects and have been saying all kinds of things and abusing me, wait. January has come,” he said.
“Not only will I tell them where they will vote, I will also move from state to state and (tell them) why they should vote for people I think they should vote for.”
But by mid-January, Wike had not named his preferred candidate.
When asked about it in an interview with the BBC, the Rivers State governor retorted: “Why are you in a hurry? I didn’t mention the particular date in January. People should calm down. We are all politicians; we have political strategies. I don’t work as an individual. That’s what people don’t understand.”
Wike’s apparent confusion came to a peak last Wednesday when he denied ever promising to publicly announce his choice of candidate. He declared that he never told the public the method by which he would disclose his choice.
After vowing to mobilise support from “state to state” for his choice of candidate, Wike’s courage may have abandoned him after heating up the polity for several months.
Replying to a reminder served him by a former Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside, about his promise to announce his preferred presidential candidate in January 2023, Wike said: “I never told anybody one day, I will bring a camera and announce to you this is who will go. I said I will tell Rivers people the candidate they will support. I did not tell you the method of saying it. I did not tell you I will bring live coverage and say it. But Rivers people know,” Wike reportedly said.
He is believed to have opted to work secretly for a rival presidential candidate for fear of sanctions by the PDP. In the middle of the dilemma he plunged himself into, he had provided logistics support to the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi when the LP candidate campaigned in his state. He was also reported to have reached a deal with the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu in London, but he quickly denied the reports.
“I am not someone who will go and see somebody and hide. Hide for who? Who is that person that will threaten me? They said Wike had a deal with so, so, and so person. Meanwhile, no video, no anything! And some of you waste time listening to such things. Don’t you know when I want to do something, I do it? You don’t need to speculate,” he reportedly said.
However, there are strong speculations that he instructed the local government chairmen in the state to work for the APC presidential candidate, while intensifying his war against the party’s governorship candidate, Mr. Tonye Cole.
The same PDP governor had in September 2021 told the then Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio that the “APC has cancer in stage four that can kill.”
Speaking at the inauguration of a new police headquarters in Rivers State where Vice President Yemi Osinbajo represented President Buhari, the governor had declared that “I prefer to stay where there is malaria than to go to where there is cancer. Cancer at the fourth stage, you’re likely to die. So. I don’t want to die now”.
The question is: Has the current self-inflicted confusion pushed Wike to swallow his words?
During his campaign for the PDP presidential primary, he berated the APC presidential aspirants who had promised to continue the good works of President Buhari and wondered how the current insecurity, inflation and other vices allegedly inflicted on the country by the APC-led government could be called good works.
In a fit of rage, he cancelled the approval given to Atiku for the use of the Adokye Amiesimaka Stadium for his campaign on February 11.
In a letter with reference No: MOS/C/409/S.49/T/15 of 11 January 2023 signed by the Rivers State Commissioner for Sports, Christopher Green, the state government alleged that the Atiku Presidential Campaign Organisation and a faction of APC, led by Cole were working in collaboration to share the facility for their campaign.
The state government said it cancelled the venue because the activities of the APC in the state have always been marred by violence.
Wike, who has indulged in anti-party activities more than any other politician under this current dispensation, last week accused the national leadership of the PDP of anti-party conduct for withdrawing from the suits filed by the state PDP against some opposition parties in the state.
The governor who overrated himself as having a monopoly of everything had expected the national leadership of the party to defend the state leadership when he attacked the national leadership on a daily basis.
As Wike continues to weigh unpleasant options, his political missteps have already claimed casualties in Edo State PDP where the camp he allegedly empowered to fight Governor Godwin Obaseki was recently rendered politically irrelevant by a judgment of the Supreme Court. Wike is said to be behind the Legacy Group of PDP in Edo State led by the party’s National Vice Chairman, Mr. Dan Orbih.
But the Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that the candidates who emerged from the primaries conducted by the Obaseki-led faction are the authentic candidates and not those produced by the Orbih group.
The judgment brought to an end the control of the party in the state by the Wike-backed Orbih-led camp.
As Orbih and his group are licking their wounds, nobody knows the next victims of Wike’s political miscalculation.