“Tricks and treachery are the practice of fools that don’t have brains enough to be honest.” —Benjamin Franklin
By Cosmas Omegoh
Rivers State governor, Nyeson Wike, is not everybody’s man. That he knows, and does not pretend about it. He does not care a hoot either about what anyone might have against his decision. He is always unfazed about whatever misgivings anyone might have against his will and ways.
Lately, a lot has been happening around Wike. So much about his person and his politics have been in the public domain and he seems to be enjoying every episode as it comes.
Many see Wike as an enigma. They tell you that recent developments around the Rivers’ helmsman lend loads of credence to their belief.
Those who have been following his recent optics might not agree to the contrary.
However, there are people who feel nauseated by Wike’s recent ways. They want none of his many tactics and antics. They see him as gradually on the move to over reaching himself.
But whichever divide anyone might fall, there is one thing about Wike that cannot be wished away: the trajectory of his political sagacity has not remained stagnant lately. That curve keeps moving.
Political watchers agree that since Wike lost the PDP May 28, 2022 presidential primary election to Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, his voice has been loud in the political space.
For a fact, what went down in Abuja on that fateful May 28 leaves Wike distraught. Everyone is still guessing at it. His friends and foes alike have been keenly watching to see what he, Wike, will do next. They want to understand where his political road will lead, given the wrangling in the PDP.
Now, here is this. Days ago, it emerged that Wike had gone to court to challenge the outcome of that primary that produced Atiku. But yesterday, Wike came out to deny all that. He said: “I didn’t go to court and have no reason to go to court.
“Those who said I went to court, shame will be on them.”
Then he added, that a child that insists his mother won’t sleep, will in turn not sleep. Whoever he was referring to remained unclear.
He also denied directing the removal of PDP flags from Rivers State Government House.
Having cleared the air, the Atiku camp will now be relieved as they have obviously been having sleepless nights over the matter. Of course, it needn’t be said that if Wike made good that alleged plan, it would have been an obvious death knell a touching distance away.
Until some days ago, the fears were whether Wike would remain in the PDP as his body language kept suggesting he had his sight somewhere else. Even the air around him now speaks so much about his body being in PDP, and his spirit warehoused somewhere else.
But Wike maintains his resolve to remain in PDP, declaring that he would be in the party to fight his fight. But some people are determined that he is playing the spoiler’s game by waging a war of attrition against his party – a war whose outcome promises to be a cliffhanger. Call it an ill wind that might blow anyone any good.
But how did the trio arrive at this crossroads? After the PDP presidential primary which Wike lost, he was said to have nursed expectations of grabbing the vice presidential slot. A PDP committee set up to select a quality candidate with the wand was said to have favoured Wike. But he was later overlooked. Atiku preferred Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State. Having seen this, Wike felt he was left in the lurch to seethe with anger. He then concluded he had been handed the short end of the stick.
Pundits said the right way to go at that time was for Atiku to give Wike a respectable “I’m-sorry look in” – in obvious recognition of the supposed ace the former holds in the party.
But as it is, only a few know what transpired between both men. What is clear, however, is that they couldn’t grind out anything of substance. Efforts in that regard came to naught. All of that leaves Wike bruised, vexed.
While some sources blame the Atiku camp for not doing enough to woo Wike, another source accused the River’s strong man of placing too many cards on the table.
The Atiku camp had, for instance, alleged that for peace to reign, Wike had asked for a double-digit number of ministerial slots for his men in the would-be Atiku cabinet. It was further alleged that Wike demanded a commitment from Atiku to serve for just one term in office if elected, among others. More obviously, he had demanded the immediate resignation of the current PDP chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu.
Wike insists that Ayu stands down, because he, Ayu, had earlier vowed to do so if the party’s presidential standard bearer emerged from the North. Wike is insistent, therefore, that, that rule is enshrined in the party’s books.
But sources from the Atiku camp had maintained that Wike’s demands were simply unacceptable. Or at best gaseous.
Amid the logjam, it was learnt that the Atiku camp had begun poaching Wike’s men, intent at whittling his sphere of influence. If they succeed, that would cast Wike in the wilderness. He would be rendered a general without troops. That would either frustrate him out of the party, or to force him remain in PDP marooned.
Apparently having seen the landmine laid for him, Wike had moved to generate and sustain a certain momentum which some people would call a sleight of hand. He began hobnobbing with the opposition lately, sending clear signals that he would activate his power to sting.
Yesterday, he brought in the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila of the APC to commission projects in Rivers State. Days before, he also ferried in Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of the Lagos State – also of the APC to commission a project in Rivers State. He also brought in another APC stalwart, Aliyu Wamakko, from Sokoto State for similar mission.
At the moment, the Wike moves have left tongues wagging. Is he leaving the PDP for the APC? Or is he playing a mind game? Or is he playing poker? Or is he doing the three?
Those who know suggest that PDP can ill afford to head into the 2023 elections factionalised. They are clear that the party, Atiku and Wike need to close ranks to save the platform, and to seek a return to the winning ways. They are certain that calling Wike’s bluff will not help the fortune of Atiku and PDP. And for Wike, leaving the party about now might not turn out in his best interest. Doing so, for both of them, might be akin to political ‘hara-kiri.’
Born on March 13, 1963, Wike is the sixth and current governor of Rivers State. A lawyer, he was educated at Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt. He is Ikwere from Rumuepirikom in Obio-Akpor Local Government Area.
Wike was one-time two-term executive chairman of Obio Akpor Local Government Area between 1999 and 2007.He became Minister of State for Education on July 14, 2011, and later acting Minister of Education. But he later resigned in 2015 before finishing his term to contest for governor of Rivers State.