I had looked forward to the gubernatorial primaries of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Governor Nyesom Wike, I am told, loves to do things in style. I had hoped for this reason to enjoy the drama of the chief dramatis personae, the one who had come to be addressed as Mr. Projects all over Rivers State.
Make no mistake about it. Organizing a well attended gubernatorial primary where delegates were expected to cast their lot was supposed to be one of such projects.
Besides, a member of the party, I think his name is West, had indicated his interest to challenge Governor Nyesom Wike in the primaries.
So you can imagine how excited some of us in the media were when the news broke. Some one had dared to think of the impossible. Thoughts like this are impossible in Wike’s vineyard.
In Wike’s backyard, as things are, no NORMAL person (emphasis mine) would dare to utter such a sentence, not to talk of following it through. But West did take such a huge step to the amazement of the rest of us.
Somehow, nobody has heard from West ever since. Had West uttered such a claim in April, his comment may well have been the best of an April fools’ day joke.
Whereas the rival party, the All Progressives Congress held its own primaries in full public glare, I doubt there was any proper gathering where the PDP publicly proclaimed it’s own gubernatorial candidate.
Of course Wike as a serving governor was expected to return to the turf. The law allows him a second tenure. That is, if he merits it.
Our electoral laws similarly say that candidates seeking office at whatever level must go through primaries. And the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had set out dates for events like that in its electoral calendar.
If no primaries held, at least to the knowledge of all of us, how then can the Peoples Democratic Party claim to have produced a fit and proper candidate? Has the law changed?
Well that is for the PDP to worry about. I do not imagine that the APC which is preparing for a fight is giving this a thought. If it is, it has managed to keep its gunpowder dry.
As a journalist and essayist, I am simply thinking aloud and hoping any one who knows about the venue of the primaries that produced Wike would update me.
No radio station that I listened, or newspaper I read came up with such a news item. It may be that I was late in catching up with the news when it broke. If it did, it simply didn’t make headlines!
That’s my worry. It is not like Wike to act in secret. See what Wike did with the PDP Convention in Port Harcourt. It was the product of a political artisan; some one who understands the showbiz of politics.
That convention was intended to make a political statement. Wike and his associates had hoped to drive project Tambuwal through. They had hoped Port Harcourt would provide the grounds for what they had in mind.
They had said Buhari was too old. They claimed that the incumbent President is Baba-go-slow. They had hoped to run on the basis of a not too young to run philosophy.
Wike may have thought after delegates and the candidates came to Port Harcourt that their plan was working. The Rivers governor had spent his way through the PDP. Naturally, he believed every one was in his pocket.
It was obvious, as last week’s convention drew close, that its outcome would be Wike’s crowning glory and a springboard for his relaunch in Rivers circles, especially after he and his party lost grounds in terms of followership.
Alas, the story is different. Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar came to Port Harcourt and made nonsense of Wike’s invincibility. From billboards on the street to delegates who stormed the stadium that Rotimi Amaechi built, Atiku stole the show.
For the Rivers delegates who were in high spirits before the convention, the beating of their lives is what they got from Atiku.
Atiku’s votes were too staggering, so staggering Wike and his stormtroopers wondered if indeed they were hope in Port Harcourt. It was a day the mighty perished in the midst of war and everywhere lay desolate.
Publish it not in Gath or on the streets of Askelon, less the uncircumcised rejoice. These are not my words.
But within the larger PDP family, it is Atiku who is today the front runner. Wike’s chariots and his foot soldiers, used to a lot of threat, rode into the valley as Atiku’s mighty men gave chase. Neither the famed wealth of Rivers State nor the resilience of the Fulani which runs through the veins of Tambuwal could save Wike.
The man from the north east who has consistently eyed the president turned the whirlwind. By the time he was done, Wike and his cohorts were blown away.
Truly I sympathise with the Rivers strongman in the PDP. He gambled at great risk to the Rivers purse and lost. In losing, his preferred candidate however manged a distant second place. I really don’t know if this would make Wike happy as I mourn.
The difference between the two candidates, Atiku and Tambuwal some one whispered to me last night would be enough to erect a metaphorical skyscraper! I don’t disagree either. In fact, “That’s – the – way – I – see – it”, my friend and Colleague, Ngo Martyns – Yellowe would say in his usual flowery prose.
Now that the storm is over, Governor Wike would be counting his losses. Could the humbling of Tambuwal be a product of his many threats which came to the surface days before the convention?
Did those threats, coming from a man who had earned the reputation of being the chief sponsor of the PDP, become the chief reason why delegates and those who produced them turned against Tambuwal?
Why did Tambuwal become the victim of the political locusts who converged in Port Harcourt?
We may never know, but one thing appears very certain. While Wike may find solace in OBJ’s alleded refusal to tag alongside Atiku, he should realise by now that the steady slide downward may have started. Wike hasn’t been the one to drain the swamp. He has rather plotted for the downfall of others, weaving webs like a spider. His turn is here
I’m not a soothsayer. But I can say as I watch events that the steady decline which he apparently wanted for others has become increasingly visible since the Rivers APC rebranded; steady since the Rivers project which insists on power rotation began to gather momentum; and steady since his candidate in the PHALGA III bye elections which launched Ojukaye Flag Amachree was saved by INEC’s bell ringer.
But what are the lessons from the convention which held in Port Harcourt?
First, Rivers money which ought to be for Rivers people was spent on a vainglorious project that has added nothing in terms of investment or political capital.
There is an Etche saying which hints that when the mouth goes to war first before the legs do, those legs usually don’t find their way home.
I doubt that Wike is conversant with this proverb. Wike had spoken strenuously about getting the candidate of his choice and cajoled many as a result. He spared nothing; respected nothing; and heard nothing on his war to battle.
Lo! When the war was all over, Wike could only shove aside a man dressed like a security detail who may have tried to prevent his exit, or tried helplessly to prevail on him to play the perfect host until the end.
The video depicting strong emotions on the part of Wike, a public functionary has since gone viral.
Wike could have toned down his rhetoric. He did not. He could have kept his plan to his chest. He rather showed his hand early as they say in wrestling and paid dearly. This is the second lesson to learn from what played at the Port Harcourt Convention.
Thirdly, in terms of the presidential candidates who have been projected to the Nigerian stage on the platforms of the nation’s topmost political parties, we now have a situation of the kettle calling the pot black.
Atiku isn’t as young. He is in his 70s just like Buhari. It does not matter that Buhari may be in his late 70s and Atiku probably in his mid 70s. Seventy-year-olds are Seventy-year-olds. Period!
So, what will the PDP say now that they have a septuagenarian as their presidential candidate? I am sure most Nigerians are waiting to hear an explanation from a party that has championed the assault on Buhari’s age.
What would our own Wike do now that the PDP has seemingly beaten him hollow? He had threatened to teach the PDP a lesson. Will he? Can he?
Would he accept the encomiums heaped on him by Atiku; accept Atiku’s hand of fellowship; and move on? What really would he do at this point? Again, Nigerians are watching from the sidelines.
Honestly, the victor in the convention, older than Wike in so many ways, has thought the younger man a few lessons he would never forget in a hurry. That man from the North East came to our shores where we hold sway, saw what we tried to do with our war canoes, applied the wisdom and reflexes of a shark in battle and conquered.
Not too far away, the Rivers APC led by a lion is getting set too. What will the panther do against the lion? Can it stand the lion in battle?
How I pity Wike. This electoral season does not appear to hold as much promise for him as he would wish. I cannot see any respite from my crystal ball now that the final push begins.
Above, I can only see clouds travelling at great speed; dark clouds that are gathering over the Rivers horizon as Governor Wike prepares for battle. They are thick and black. But they are gathering round Brick House with great intensity.
Below, a wild roar can be heard. It is the cry of great pain and injury; evidence of the last resistance and the fight.
It is possible his legs are getting weary after so many battles; so weary they may be unable to take him swiftly across the undulating plains and through the valley (not of the shadow of death) where an army has assembled against him.
Like Napoleon, has fought too many wars, some needful, some not.But wounded and out of breathe, he must fight to the end.
Can he win this fight? Should he win now that he looks more like a cornered General who is looking for an escape route?
Your guess is as good as mine. Every thing that naturally has a beginning has an end in waiting. Add all of these to his growing worry about the EFCC’s allegation that Rivers State has lost aproximately N117 billion under his watch and you can at least see the extent of Wike’s worries; and understand why he has vowed to die rather lose what he says is his mandate.
It would be up to the APC and most Rivers people who think his time is up; who believe our State wants a rebirth at a time like this; and who agree it is time to cleanse the proverbial Augean stable.
All said, it is a season of abrakadabra, when great difficulty exists between reality and fiction. Rivers people must be prepared for reality cometh.