By Agbefe Sebastine
It is common knowledge that the country is overwhelmed with mixed reactions over the nomination of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta state over Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers state as the PDP presidential running mate to Atiku Abubaka, Former Vice President of Nigeria.
Days ago, we read in the dailies on how the PDP presidential advisory committee, charged with the responsibility to select and or nominate the party’s Presidential running mate came up with the name of Governor Wike, having embarked on a voice vote which saw Governor Wike scoring sixteen votes and his closest contender, Governor Okowa, pulling mere three votes.
Apparently, the party’s hierarchy was uncomfortable and worried as the outcome of the assignment became public knowledge even before the committee could submit her report.
However, in a dramatic twist of events, the committee would later submit her report with clause(s) that suggest that it was still open for Atiku to choose amongst three names, Wike, Okowa, and Governor Emmanuel udom of Akwa-Ibom state. Ordinarily, one would have thought that having voted in favor of Wike, only his name would be recommended by the committee, but politicians have a way of finding their ways.
Obviously, the northern cabal seems to be more comfortable with a Governor Okowa who most of them consider to be a weak, fragile, and gentleman—an opinion that the majority of Deltans consider incorrect. Okowa is actually, a smooth operator
. A skillful and tactful politician with an innate reservoir of con and deceit flowing in his arteries. Of course, a man who could successfully dribble his boss and Godfather, Chief James Ibori, in the recent struggle for the governorship candidate of the party is not one to be seen as weak, gentle, or even loyal.
Governor Nyesom Wike on the other hand is considered too forceful, pro-southern Nigeria, and outspoken. A man in the mould of Wike is not one the northern oligarchy can afford to entrust the alternate heartbeat of a president from the North in his hands. Especially so because the North has come to the realization that a Vice President is just a second away from being a president, with reference to the president Yaradu and Goodluck Jonathan’s political episode not too long ago. Wike is though and a proper replica of a lion in humans’ appearance, to say the least.
There’s also, this belief that the remote and immediate cause of Governor Wike’s rejection by the northern oligarchy can not be unconnected with his stand on value-added tax(VAT) remittance to states.
It is pertinent to say that Atiku and the national chairman of PDP underestimated the capacity and influence of Governor Wike within the ranks of the party. Otherwise, they won’t have nurtured the idea to set up a committee to advise and recommend his running mate in the first instance.
He, Atiku Abubaka would have announced Governor Okowa during his nomination acceptance speech, then embark on reconciliation thereafter.
It is common knowledge that Governor Okowa is not as popular as Governor Wike in the region. Whereas Governor Wike controls his state absolutely, Governor Okowa suffers from the opposition of APC with two opposition senators, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, Deputy president of the senate, and Senator Peter Nwanboshi, who are strong enough to squeeze his testicles at the slightest impulse.
I have read some opinions wherein it is believed that Atiku Abubaka prefers a cool-headed Vice President. That is very correct if you ask me. It is the desire of every leader to have a loyal subordinate. However, Atiku Abubaka would have thought of winning his election first before having a “loyal Vice President”. What ought to have been the priority of the party’s hierarchy is to choose a running mate that can muster majority votes from the south-south region, because it is clear that the APC presidential candidate, Ahmed Bola Tinubu, will sail smoothly in the southwestern region. PDP would only sweep the south-south region if they had someone with governor Wike’s influence and pedigree on the ballot. I say this because rivers state boast of the highest votes in south-south and whatever happens in rivers state has a trickling effect on Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa, and Delta states.
Unlike Governor Okowa, Wike also commands huge respect from the people of the region due to his developmental strides in his state.
Having dropped Wike for Okowa, it is expected that egos would have been bruised and feathers ruffled. A reconciliation move, as usual, will be initiated immediately, but, to what extent would the reconciliation move achieve its purpose is another kettle of fish entirely.
Wike, who a lot of people consider to be very vociferous on issues has surprisingly been silent since the announcement of Governor Okowa as the presidential running mate of Atiku. His silence is as loud as the drums of war. Indeed there must be consequences for the actions and inaction of the PDP, the cabal, and Atiku. There’s no gain in emphasizing the possibility of Governor Wike being wary of Atiku Abubaka should he win the presidential election. That said, Is it impossible for Wike to align with Bola Tinubu? We expect to see a lot of political intrigues, alignment, and realignments in the coming days.