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As the countdown to 2023 continues, alliances are shifting and permutations are shaping up. Different individuals which consist of political juggernauts, statesmen, and other political enthusiasts have all decided their intentions to throw in their hats for a chance at the 2023 presidential race.
The month of June saw some spectacular political intra-party stratifications which saw the APC and PDP brokering a deal that would serve as a catalyst for the 2023 elections. When Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State who was a well-known critic of the President Muhammadu Buhari wrote a heartfelt letter to Buhari, expressing the sincere appreciation of the Rivers State Government and people for approving the sum of ₦78.9 billion to the state, as a refund of monies expended by the Rivers State Government on Federal Projects in the state, a lot of political observers were taken aback. This was because Governor Wike who is well-known for his brashness and staunch leadership is one who uses praise words very sparingly especially when it comes to matters relating to the opposition party.
He had written:
‘I wish to on behalf of the Government and people of Rivers State appreciate and most sincerely thank you for graciously approving the refund of the sum of 78.9 billion naira to Rivers state Government, as cost of the execution of Federal Government Road projects in Rivers State’
‘Let me also through you thank the Vice-President, His Excellency Professor Yemi Osinbajo GCON as well as other members of the Federal Executive Council for the support they provided for our request.’
‘Mr President has by this remarkable and heart-warming gesture shown not only your love for the Government and people of Rivers State, but also demonstrated expressly that you are indeed a President of every state of the Federation and Nigerians.’
‘I assure you that Rivers State Government is willing and ever ready to cooperate and partner with the Federal Government to advance the development aspirations of Rivers State in particular, and our nation in general.’
‘I wish to, therefore, appeal to Mr President to kindly obliged us a State visit, when invited to see what we have accomplished for the state and our people with the money.’
‘Once again, thank you Mr President, and please, be assured of our profound esteem, as always.’
Several comments, interpretations, narratives, and theories have greeted the very controversial appreciation letter and most of these responses have either been mischievous, absurd, totally misleading, and some even trying to conjure and configure fabulist narratives, celebrating the mystique and magical influence of the power of money on the human psyche. But one thing which many people were unaware of is that there was more to the ₦78.9 billion fund.
Any careful political observer who has watched Governor Nyesom Wike’s actions of late would agree that he has indeed changed his political tactics with the opposition and it seems that his alliances and actions are now geared towards pleasing the Federal Government and dancing to the tunes of the President and the Northern Cabal while maintaining a good front with his People’s Democratic Party (PDP). The sole reason for these actions is the fact that the June 4th meeting between Governor Nyesom Wike and President Muhammadu Buhari saw Wike accepting a slot to run as Vice-President with the chosen Presidential candidate in the coming 2023 Presidential elections.
He was also guaranteed that the Vice-Presidential slot would be un-contested as the Fulani Cabal would try to quell any form of contest from either the Northern region or other regions in the country.
One might ask why Governor Nyesom Wike was chosen for this position.
Taking a trip down history lane, it can be recalled that the Northern Oligarchy’s embrace of Jonathan is predicated on his track record. He held sway from 2010 to 2015, when he lost a re-election bid. The former president accepted defeat when he could have used the machinery of government to rig the election and remain in power. Jonathan is generally seen as a gentleman, who has conducted himself in an admirable way. In the run-up to the 2015 election, which he eventually lost, he had declared that his ambition was not worth the blood of any Nigerian. That became the defining character of a man who resisted all pressure not accept the results of that election and called his opponent, Muhammadu Buhari to congratulate him for his victory. That singular act elevated Jonathan to the stratosphere of democrats and statesmen and endeared him to the International Community. Goodluck Jonathan himself has made it known that he has not particular intentions to vie for Presidency or Vice-Presidency which is why the next best candidate stands to be Governor Nyesom Wike who is about to complete his second tenure as Governor.
Meanwhile, advocates of South-South Presidency argue that the zone still has four more years to complete its second term, adding that former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who is from the South-west, did eight years as President. They note that Buhari, the incumbent President, would also complete his eight years, whereas Jonathan, who is from the South-south, did not do a second term in office. To that extent, they believe the South-south must complete its two terms before power could shift to the South-east.
Wike’s ambition is predicated on the South-South being allowed to serve out its remaining four years. Thus, the question is what will he bring to the table? Does he have enough national appeal to make him a viable candidate for the Vice-Presidential slot?
Governor Nyesom Wike has had some national influence having served as Minister of Education under Jonathan’s presidency. As Governor of Rivers State he has maintained a firm grip on Rivers politics as a controlling and highly influential member of the PDP. He has hardly expanded his base beyond Rivers State. It is to his credit that PDP survived the first few years after it lost power. He has also demonstrated his good relationship with Buhari on many occasions.
On August 19, 2017, Governor Wike was among the dignitaries that welcomed President Buhari after 103 days in London where he received medical treatment for an undisclosed illness. While naysayers were busy misinterpreting the gesture, Governor Wike explained that no sane person would not be happy that his sick President was back home. Recall also that Governor Wike was the first PDP Governor to congratulate President Buhari after his second term election victory was upheld by the Supreme Court in September last year. Indeed, the warm, cordial, respectful relationship between President Buhari and Governor Wike, captured in several widely circulated photographs, of the President’s visit to Rivers State to commission the international wing of the Port Harcourt International Airport speak volumes. Also, in February 2017, when Governor Wike was not even up to two years in Office, he had already been christened ‘Mr. Projects’ by none other than the Vice President himself, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, who not only affirmed that Rivers State was an important state to Nigeria and the Federal Government, but has since endeared himself to Rivers State and Governor Wike.
No doubt that Governor Nyesom Wike is a capable statesman who has cut his teeth in Nigerian politics, but the fact that he has buried his conscience to succumb to being a ‘Yes-man’, ‘Arse-licking’ politician because of his deal with the oligarchy is something that should be condemned entirely. Wike’s actions these past few months including his position as regards the SARS protests in Rivers State on Wednesday where he banned all protests in the state shows that his loyalty lies elsewhere.
Nigerians are awakening to the situation and political responsibilities around them. Judging by the events that have taken place in Nigeria these past few weeks, 2023 would not be a normal election. The present Government administration has put the people through untold suffering and misery and there are already plans underway to make sure this same phenomenon does not repeat itself in 2023. Governor Nyesom Wike joining the band-wagon of the ‘neer-do-well’ Government would only prove to be a fatal bullet in his political career and the earlier he restrategises the better it would be for him.
AFRICA DAILY NEWS, NEW YORK