By Okonicha Jibunor
TWO friends, Tobs and Ede, overtly apolitical but mutually share deep concern about Nigeria’s polity. They take time off occasionally to discuss it. Some hours ago, they engaged themselves on the issues around the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Tobs: “My brother, this Governor Nyesom Wike and PDP issue is becoming so intriguing. Please, let me ask, ‘what does Wike really want?” Ede: “What else does he want other than what has been in the news – vice presidential ticket, since he missed being the main flag-bearer of the party”.
Tobs: “Are you sure that is all he wants? I think there is more to it because you can recall that on more than two occasions when he was asked the question in the build-up to the party’s presidential primary, he declared bluntly that he was not asking for a vice presidential ticket, and would not be one. In fact, he said that such level of presidency for him shouldn’t be discussed at all as he was never contemplating that. I see Wike as honourable, assertive and as a man of integrity who cannot double-speak, especially on serious matters such as the one we are talking about. I may be wrong now, though”.
Ede: “Tobs, unfortunately, all that integrity and honour stuff has been mortgaged and eroded by what I see as inordinate ambition, greed and survival jostling by not just Wike himself, but by some who, albeit are Wike’s seniors and contemporaries in politics, have adopted him as their godfather and are looking up to him for political relevance”.
Tobs: “Really? But, if Wike does not know, those his ‘disciples’ know and rightly too, that the man is everything but presidential. They should not delude themselves or pretend about it. Tell me, my brother, what in truth, is presidential about Wike? For God’s sake, the whole world knows that yes, Wike has a war chest, some element of street credibility and is generously endowed with venomous vituperations, which he unleashes at will at anyone and at any occasion, status notwithstanding, and that these traits are albatross to any aspirant of the two plum offices at the Presidential Villa.”
Ede: “I am really amazed at the way he and his group are pushing, and have so much fouled the atmosphere in PDP and even, the entire country. The PDP Presidential Candidate, Atiku Abubakar, didn’t mince words on the quality of a running mate that he wanted. He reeled out the criteria while announcing Governor Ifeanyi Okowa as his choice. I thought that Atiku’s choice which, he stated unambiguously, was guided by the attributes he listed, was instructive enough to subdue Wike and make him do some soul-searching, asking himself basic questions such as ‘so, I don’t possess these qualities that Atiku saw in Okowa? Am I not intellectually stable and civilised enough to bring value to governance at the federal level?’.
Tobs: “Yes, you are right. The choice of Okowa, an urbane and total gentleman, as running mate, should have humbled Wike and taught him that being presidential transcends battle-mongering, brashness, tepid and indecorous language laced with acidic irreverence. I think that somebody should have saved Wike this mess (because that is what it is) by advising him differently, and letting him know that for the presidency, people in his bracket should best be rugged team-players, supporting the flag bearers whose charisma and aura are roundly acceptable and attractive to all.
“Truly, if I were Wike, rather than grandstanding and trying to rock the boat because I was not chosen, I will recline in shame for the simple but hard fact that I did not meet the standard required by the presidential candidate, and I will not allow any word of how I feel go out. Unfortunately, his group (abi his campaign council?) that should have counselled him is using him as a bait to arm-twist and blackmail Atiku and PDP. It is quite nauseating, especially after the candidate had picked a running mate who, by all considerations, fits the bill. Except for obvious delusion, Wike should know, and I know that in and out of his closet, he knows that Okowa is better in terms of quality.
Ede: “Money and noise do not count in matters like this. Or does Wike and his group think that Nigerians are unaware of the stupendous funds he deployed to induce members of the committee benevolently constituted by Atiku to help in selecting three persons for him to pick from? The committee’s assignment became so monetised that the members became blinded to the sterling qualities of Okowa, and though did not vote because that was not their brief from Atiku, they started speaking ‘in tongues’ to justify the ‘influence’ on them.
But, Wike ought not to go in that ridiculous way. He knows that by his acknowledged contributions to the PDP, he will get prime recognition in a Federal Government run by the party. “I just think that he is being goaded rather disdainfully, into an unnecessary fight with Atiku, Okowa and PDP by his group peopled by persons needing rehabilitation and some, struggling to ensure relevance for themselves in the emerging transition. What I am saying, in other words, is that what we are seeing in the Wike’s macabre dance is Jacob’s hand, Esau’s voice. Na wa!”
Tobs: “I can’t agree less on this last point you made. Wike’s group is using him as the face of their agitation for relevance in 2023, hoping that PDP will win the presidential election. But, their route to that destination is undulating, crooked and steep, and the ‘product’ they are moving, not quite good. What with the foul and uncouth language that appear to be innate in their ‘product’. That certainly cannot be associated with anyone likely to reside at the Villa on our behalf. Remember former governors and men of means and pedigree hitherto, being dubbed ‘attack-dogs’? That obviously was very un-presidential – terribly assaulted the sensibilities of discerning Nigerians. Well, many waved it off as ‘not surprising’ because such outbursts are patented, I mean, are exclusive to him.”
Ede: “All I know is that Atiku’s choice of running mate cannot be faulted in any way. His great sense of evaluation was on display, and its propriety was right. Governor Okowa is first class in professionalism, leadership and administration. By the records, he did not contribute any less than Wike in keeping PDP together in tough and good times. He just does not mouth or brag about his deeds. He is renowned for deft actions, and till date, PDP regales over the mini-conventions and full conventions coordinated by him to put it back on track. Ifeanyi Okowa is a great man. My humble advice to Wike and his group is that they should queue behind Atiku, Okowa and the PDP against APC and the Obi-dient Movement.
Tobs: “I need to add that Wike has no reason to be crossed with Atiku. They were opponents at the convention, and there is no rule anywhere in the globe that a runner-up at a primary election for presidential or governorship candidate, automatically becomes a running mate of the winner. As has been said for the umpteenth time, the winner reserves the right to choose who should run with him on the ticket, because when the chips are down, the buck stops at his table. Wike should really, really sheath his sword and be a true party man he is famed for.
“Somebody also needs to tell Wike how vulnerable he has shown that he could be. For redemption, he should elevate and dignify himself by shedding the weight of some persons around him. If he is not circumspect, they may pull him down. Each of those persons nudging him into a combat with Atiku and leadership of the party should have an identity by their deeds and stand to be counted. Governor Wike should end the fight now. He needs the PDP as the party needs him. A stitch in time, they say, saves nine.”