Nigeria’s most colourful political drama group in recent times, otherwise known as G5, is on the verge of coming unstuck. 

Early this year, when the troupe returned to the country after one of its tours of Europe, the members radiated characteristic infectious confidence and satisfaction with its trip. Jaunty as ever as it left the airport, the group, very much like the masters of their art, left their teeming audience in suspense about their next move. The gait of the quintet appeared well choreographed, as always, their smiles and banter not betraying the next act of the plot. They really had the public where they wanted them, as in almost all  of the whole country was left gasping for breath in anticipation of the promised masterstroke from what had seemed the most cohesive mobile drama troupe in Nigeria’s political landscape in the last decade.

Led by their voluble leader, Nyesom Wike, whose imperial bearing, walking stick and resource control hat to boot, always spoke of the assuredness of the G5, the group has always teased the public with hints of how earth-shaking its ultimate action would be.

The group’s last trip to Europe, like other such trips since it came into being, was neither preceded nor followed by any definite announcement of the goal or essence of the trips. With the public left to conjecture the reason and need for the intermittent trips, especially as they never resulted in concrete actions, cynics soon started wondering whether the intermittent G5 tour of Europe was not merely a recreational trip for the troupe members to go and watch top fixtures in La Liga and Premier League.

G5 or Group of Five governors from the fold of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), lest anyone forgets, came into being as a protest group. Consequent upon the emergence of Atiku Abubakar as presidential candidate of the PDP at its 2022 national convention, Wike, leading the other four governors, demanded that Professor Iyorchia Ayu, chairman of the party, who was also from the northern flank of the country, relinquish the office of chairman for a southerner, for balance. Ayu bluntly refused to move. That was identified as the immediate, even if not remote, basis for the birth of the G5 and its agitation subsequently.

With Atiku apparently determined to swim or sink with Ayu in the saddle of PDP, the G5 vowed resolutely to help sink the ship. How they will do it or when has been at the heart of the national drama around the G5. For as long as the faceoff between the group and the Ayu-led PDP has existed, every new week always appears to be the D-Day for the G5 to strike. So far, they are yet to pull the proverbial trigger.

Anyone who grew up watching the old Westerns, those John Wayne films out of America’s Hollywood, years ago, would have noted one of the cardinal rules of good cowboys: shoot, don’t talk! That, according to the lesson, is how to be effective. The G5 obviously operates with a diametrically opposite maxim. They talk. And Talk. And talk. Now they cannot shoot. It has been drama and grandstanding all the way.

Annoyingly, the whole hoopla about Ayu would not have arisen in the first place, if Wike and company had carried out due diligence on Ayu before coronating him PDP chairman in 2021.

To pick Ayu as chairman in a political party where Atiku had interest in contesting the primary was akin to selecting one Joe Igbokwe to be a party chairman in a party where Bola Tinubu would contest for a prime office with others. To expect the outcome of any such selection process to produce a different outcome speaks of gross naivety.

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Beyond this, Wike’s latter-day return to the principle of zoning or federal character, which actually is what the G5 agitation is all about, is fraught with contradictions and moral handicaps. The dictum remains trite that he who comes to equity must come with clean hands. But all these are not even the issue here.

It is barely 25 days to the presidential election. From all indications, the G5 wagon is stuck in the mud. It just cannot move. The group has clearly failed to reach a consensus on which way to go. In any case, it is doubtful now if any endorsement from the group at this point in time is of any value to any of the presidential candidates. Beyond the drama, the sartorial elegance and the suspense that the group injected into the political season leading to the 2023 elections, the G5, as it does appear now, has been a waste of everybody’s time.

Just think about the impactful statement the group could have made if it took a decisive action much earlier. But the G5 missed it all. Or has it not? Stay back in PDP, having been worsted by the Atiku/Ayu team that took full control of the party. G5 will not have that. Be bold, close your eyes and take a suicidal jump into Tinubu’s APC. No, G5 could not muster united courage to take that risk. Ok, take your fate in your hands, join Peter Obi at the Labour Party with the promise of a new dawn that has gained hitherto unimaginable traction across the country. No, G5 is not sure if that platform can guarantee them safe landing. The group dithers, dallies and simply laps the public applause. Like a drama troupe.

All what the public seem to hear from the group and its leadership now is, “if the PDP leadership suspends me, they will see.” 

Somehow, either deliberately or by default, the PDP leadership has handled the matter smartly, they have not touched the quintet. So what now? Is the G5 not being suspended by PDP an end in itself? Is that a step to which destination?

Before the advent of G5 and the parting of ways of the group with the PDP leadership, Okezie Ikpeazu, the nondescript governor of Abia State, had  successfully handpicked his preferred PDP governorship candidate for Abia State. He himself set himself on the path to run for the Senate for Abia South constituency. As with the many other former governors who have turned Nigeria’s Senate into a retirement chamber, Ikpeazu aims to retire thence as well.

Life, however, comes with twists. On January 24, Professor Eliazar Uche Ikonne, the reportedly-decent academic who Ikpeazu choose as his preferred successor on the platform of the PDP, died in Abuja, after a protracted illness. Thus did Ikpeazu find himself exposed. A fresh PDP governorship primary has been fixed for February 4, 2023, following the directive by the Independent National Electoral Commission to PDP to bring forth a new candidate. PDP Abia State has, apparently, in consideration of Ikpeazu’s interest, decided to retain the governorship slot in the local government area of the departed candidate. That saves somebody some blushes and problems. But time will tell if whoever emerges will be as amenable to Ikpeazu as the preferred professor.

Meanwhile, the national leadership of the party under Ayu watches with interest. Whatever goes on at Abia PDP that involves G5’s Ikpeazu may end up at Abia, as there is diplomatic relations between G5 and the Ayu-led PDP at the national level. How far G5 can go in this tight corner will be seen in the future. This is where G5 has found itself.