Nyesom Wike, governor of Rivers State and a brash exponent of anti-party activism who, in concert with a compromised electoral commission, manipulated the results of the 2023 presidential election in Rivers State in favour of the All Progressives Congress (APC), is about to be rewarded by the party. Just last week, the entire apparatchik of the APC, led by Bola Tinubu, was in Port Harcourt to thank Wike for delivering the state to the party in the presidential election. Governor Mohammed Badaru Abubakar of Jigawa State, who spoke on behalf of the delegation, thanked Wike profusely for delivering on his promise to the APC and dealing a devastating blow to his own party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
But how did Wike acquire the claws with which he is leaving political bruises in his trail? We can easily situate this in the activities of the PDP since it lost power by default in 2015. The PDP, once the behemoth that bestrode Nigeria’s political horizon like a colossus, appears to have gone with the wind. Many say it is practically dead and buried and is about to be consigned to the ash heaps of modern history. As the midday requiem is being sung for the PDP, Wike, one of its undertakers, is dancing on its grave.
After losing power in 2015, the PDP felt, rightly, that it was in a position to reclaim power from the APC. The PDP was justified in its calculation in the 2023 elections. The APC, the party that rode roughshod over the PDP, has failed in every index of governance. Its eight-year rule under Muhammadu Buhari can rightly be described as the years of the locust. The party came and destroyed every fabric that held the country together. Its performance rating remains the lowest in the history of governance in Nigeria.
APC’s monumental failure was supposed to provide the PDP with a ready material for its return bid. Sadly, however, the party miscalculated on many fronts. Its greatest undoing was the ill advised and ill thought-out decision to set aside the zoning arrangement that the party was known for. It was in pursuit of this faux pas that it ignored the imperative of power shift to the South and insisted on retaining power in the North after eight years of northern presidency. All the arguments put forward to dissuade the party from going ahead with an arrangement that would see the North hold on to power for 16 unbroken years were rebuffed by the powerbrokers within the party. That insistence gave birth to the Atiku Abubakar candidacy for the 2023 presidential election. That arrangement, as we have all seen, failed disastrously. Today, the PDP is the worse for it.
Wike played more than a passing role in the bizarre drama that sunk PDP. Made ambitious by the power of money, Wike has since combined ambition with brashness. He has no finesse in him. He just barks his way through. He demonstrated all this when he stepped forward to vie for the presidential ticket of the PDP. He used to boast openly then that his victory at the PDP presidential primary election was a forgone conclusion. He talked down on those who were not ready to dispense with enormous cash in the manner he was doing. He bullied many of his opponents into submission.
When, contrary to his expectation, he was muzzled out of the presidential race by the combined forces of northern hawks within the party, Wike suddenly abandoned his earlier insistence on power shift to the South. He went underground to perfect plans on how to become the vice presidential candidate of the party. Again, the plot failed. Infuriated by his serial failings, Wike broke loose. He returned to his familiar but jaded mantra:power shift to the South. But many could not but wonder at his inconsistency. The question they did not forget to ask was: if Atiku had chosen Wike as his running mate, would he (Wike) have continued to advocate for power shift to the South? This was how it became obvious to everyone that Wike was just a bundle of contradictions. He was driven by nothing but self-interest.
Wike had, at this stage, chosen to play the spoilsport. He became the dog in the manger. It is either he got what he wanted or he pulled down the house. This was the ding-dong affair that played out during the campaigns. Wike remained in PDP but he pitched his tent, secretly, with the APC. The elections have since taken place, and Wike, using the well-oiled machinery of rigging and electoral roguery put in place by Mahmood Yakubu’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), manipulated the presidential election results in Rivers State in favour of APC.
Governor Badaru Abubakar may have told the true story of how Wike abandoned his party to work for the APC. But he did not go far enough. What he left unsaid was that very little would have changed even if Wike worked for his party, the PDP. The party was on the losing end and would still have lost. The significant point he sidetracked was that Wike’s sabotage was fully directed at Peter Obi’s Labour Party. Obi’s party won overwhelmingly in Rivers State, but Wike, working in cahoots with a compromised INEC, wrote results as he deemed fit and the electoral commission upheld it. This was how and where Wike’s sabotage worked. If the APC gives Wike a trophy as they are planning to do, it is not because he sabotaged PDP. It is for the simple reason that he manipulated election results won by the Labour Party in favour of APC. In other words, Wike did not stop Atiku in Rivers State. He stopped Obi instead.
However, in all of this, it beats the imagination that the PDP is unable to take action against Wike. The party appears incapacitated before him. That is why one of its members will work openly against it as Wike has done, yet the party cannot discipline him? Wike has undermined PDP immeasurably, yet the party is gazing morosely at him. Does this disposition portray PDP as a living party? Where is the leadership of the party? They should locate themselves in no time, otherwise it will be safer to assume that the party is dead and Wike, its final undertaker, is dancing nakedly on its grave.