•As They Reconcile Their Political Differences
Ahead of the 2023 presidential elections, the eyes of the nation will be focused on Rivers State, not only because of its humongous multi-billion-dollar crude oil resources that sustain Nigerian’s economy but for the fact that 2 prominent politicians, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and Nyesom Ezenwo Wike of Ikwerre sub-ethnic Igbo group in Nigeria, will be at the centre stage of who will be the standard-bearers of the 2 popular political parties, namely: All Progressives Congress-APC and People’s Democratic Party-PDP. City People Magazine’s Port Harcourt Bureau Chief, Emeka AMAEFULA here X-rays how the duo will take the political landscape come 2023 general elections.
Former Vice President Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, in a bid to rejig preparations for his 2023 presidential ambition visited Governor Nyesom Ezebunwo Wike at Rivers State Government House for 2 days where many differences and strategizing factors were decidedly resolved ahead of elections.
The Tuesday, July 27th, 2021, visit to Governor Wike at Port Harcourt by Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has created ripple effects as there has been a gale of mass resignations of 7 prominent PDP national executive members-after former Vice President’s visit to Rivers State Governor Wike. The following officers resigned their positions as members of the National Executive Council-NEC, with Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Diran Odeyemi; Deputy National Legal Adviser; Ahmed Bello; Deputy National Women Leader Umoru Hadizat; Deputy National Auditor, Divine Amina Arong; Deputy National Organizing Secretary, Hassan Yakubu; and the Deputy National Financial Secretary Irona Alphonsus.
The action by the 7 officials of PDP may not be unconnected with the consultation with Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, who many describe as a powerful Governor in Nigeria based on his gregarious steps in restoring the Peoples’ Democratic Party-PDP immediately the party lost the presidential election to APC’s Muhammadu Buhari in 2015.
City People’s Reporter gathered that Wike had in 2019 aspired to pair up as running mate to Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal, Sokoto State Governor, as Presidential candidate, who lost at the PDP presidential primary election to Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. Hence the best way for Rivers State Governor to realize his political dream of occupying Aso Rock Villa as Vice President or President of Nigeria come 2023 is to make sure that the Rivers State citizen and National Chairman of PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, is shown the exit door before the Party’s National Convention in preparation of the 2023 PDP presidential primary election in which North Eastern Region of Nigeria produces President and Rivers State produces Vice President since Ikwerre ethnic National is of Igbo extraction, one of the major ethnic groups in Nigeria agitating, for a top slot in the highest political office in Nigeria. With this scenario playing out, If Prince Uche Secondus gives way for another National Chairman from other Zones in Nigeria other than the South-South geo-political zone which will automatically make way for Rivers State Governor Wike to emerge as Vice Presidential aspirant or presidential aspirant.
However, Bayelsa State’s former Governor, Seriake Henry Dickson and Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal appear to be against Wike’s plan as they insist that Prince Uche Secondus should remain in office for a second term which would pave way for Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal to emerge a Presidential candidate without Rivers State Governor as Vice Presidential nominee in 2023.
So, given the mass resignation in PDP as Chairman of PDP Governors’ Forum, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal in a statement said “The PDP Governors’ Forum has received with regret and sadness the recent rumbling in the PDP. The Governors hereby call on all members of the party and, indeed, all stakeholders to remain calm in the face of the developments. “We plead with all aggrieved persons and those with the interest of the PDP at heart to keep their gun powder dry, as efforts are being made in consultation with members of the PDP Board of Trustees and other stakeholders to resolve all contending issues.
“To this end, the PDP GOVERNORS’ Forum has scheduled an emergency meeting to discuss the affairs of the party and the way forward. The PDP as the only remaining hope of the nation for good governance must show an example to Nigerians and also take advantage of the current disarray in the APC and rudderless Government.”
For other PDP big wigs, the fear of Rivers State Governor Wike is the beginning of their political wisdom as he is much expected to use his weight on other members to look at his ways and means of controlling the affairs of the party, which majority of them abandoned immediately a former President, Goodluck Jonathan lost his re-election bid in 2015.
For the incumbent Governor of Rivers Nyesom Ezebunwo Wike, founder of Grassroot Development Initiatives-GDI, a political pressure group that made its debut in 2013, his ambition to become an occupant of presidential villa ignited the desire to serve and occupy Aso Rock, Nigeria’s seat of political power. In the early days of the present nascent democratic dispensation while he was Chairman of Obio/Akpor Local Government Area in Rivers State and later Deputy National Chairman of Association of Local Government Councils in Nigeria—ALGON, he became close to those who sat in Aso Rock Villa with constant visits to Abuja. That was how national political movements started arousing his interest. He did have an encounter with the then Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who was in charge of the Economy and in whose office most of the meetings relating to Revenue allocation to the 3rd tier of Government in Nigeria were held. Yes, he crossed several Local Government Councils where his colleagues were in the administration, settling creating one political problem or the other. But when he assumed office as Minister of State For Education during President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration and later the Supervising Minister for Education, Nyesom Ezebunwo Wike became exposed to national politics and the zeal to occupy Aso Rock Villa was intensified.
It is for this reason that he first put himself forward to become elected Governor of Rivers State in 2015 and he began establishing contacts at the grassroots development initiatives-GDI that came up across the 23 Local Government Councils in Rivers State. Every weekend while he was a Supervising Minister he was on his campaign ground, launching GDI and inaugurating its leadership at each Local Government Area of Rivers State. In December 2014 it was this GDI political pressure group in the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) that supported his emergence as the Governorship candidate for the 2015 Governorship election in Rivers State.
Having twice won election as Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Ezebunwo Wike has now amassed enough experience and resources as he looks up towards realizing his ambition to occupy Aso Rock Villa come 2023 in any capacity as a Presidential candidate or as Vice Presidential Candidate. In 2018 prior to the 2019 Presidential election, he teamed up with Sokoto State Governor, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal to contest the PDP Presidential Primary where Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and Tambuwal had at Port Harcourt National Convention ground slug it out and nearly Wike could have realized his ambition if not that Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is an old political warhorse, who understands the nitty-gritty of national politics and he beat Aminu Tambuwal. Today, Wike is proud of that feat and he is not resting on his oars as he has renewed that same old Presidential ambition desire as he has established Grassroot development Initiatives in the 774 Local Government Councils across Nigeria, using his political allies in ALGON, while he was Deputy National Chairman in 2004 to 2006. He has been involved in donating N500m as relief funds to Fire Victims of Sokoto Market. He has taken up over N2b Road reconstruction in Benue State, He also was awarded chieftaincy title by the TIV ethnic nationality as a mark of appreciation of a robust relationship they have with him through his grassroots development masterplan across Nigeria. Wike has also visited Bauchi state where Governor Alhaji Bala Mohammed played host and returned the same to Rivers State with commissioning of Projects, during the visit. For Adamawa State Governor Ahmadu Fitiri, an Alhaji Atiku Abubakar’s political son, Governor Wike has been a regular face in Adamawa, having invited Ahmadu Fitiri to commission one project or the other as he too had visited Adamawa State recently.
In the South West, Oyo State Governor, Engr. Seyi Makinde is married to a Kalabari daughter, Lady Onimim Makinde and as OYO State is the only PDP governed state in the zone is another plus for Wike in relation to Yoruba ethnic nationality. In Edo State, Wike played a major role in getting Godwin Obaseki a son-in Law who married a Kalabari daughter as his wife and who Rivers State Governor Wike persuaded to defect to PDP while his All Progressives Congress (APC) denied him a second term Governorship ticket.
In Bayelsa State, Governor Wike has shown presence with over 5 million naira construction projects at Nigerian Law School Yenagoa. At Akwa Ibom State, Wike has put in 6 billion naira in charity works. For Cross River State, he has been careful not to relate with Professor Ben Ayade who later defected to the ruling APC. Given the above background, it is certain that the Rivers State Governor is not joking with his 2023 Presidential ambition. It is also on record that Wike resuscitated PDP nationally when after the defeat of President Goodluck Jonathan, the party went underground and nearly collapsed if not for the intervention of Governor Wike who became the spokesman for the party.