Since the concluded PDP presidential primaries, there have been different narratives canvassed in the media space for and against the aspirants. One of such who has attracted more attention than the eventual winner of the election is Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State.
Back home, the age-old rivalry between his camp and that of his former boss and predecessor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has triggered a new frontier of arguments.
While Wike and Amaechi come from Rivers State but belong to different political parties, PDP and APC, respectively, there has been an attempt to put them on the same scale on the premise that what affects one will almost likely affect the other.
The governor went into the PDP battle with a full war chest financially and without a known loyalty to any godfather or political leader. He owes no one any allegiance; rather, he was upbeat about his attempt to secure the grand prize of his party, PDP.
His style was a crass display of brute force against any dissenting voices, not excluding the media where he publicly told his host on a Television programme that he is the candidate for the PDP and not an aspirant. Wike urged Seun Akinbalode of Channels Television to congratulate him in advance since he was sure to win the ticket.
The delegates in some states were not left out as they were made to believe that only a Wike candidature could help the party defeat the ruling party. Governors and aspirants also felt the pang of Wike’s unnerved theatrics during his consultation around the country. Everyone, including non-PDP members, had a good dose of laughter or anger, listening and watching the Rivers Bulldog unleash at every doubting Thomas. There was no one to stop the governor or take the mic off from him. The PDP seemed to be in his pockets, having successfully dislodged his kinsman, Uche Secondus, as National Chairman of the party for an Iyorchia Ayu who is an avowed Atiku loyalist.
But, the result of the primaries showed otherwise that the party remains in the clutches of the North.
The gang up against Wike by the governors of the South can best be described as a payback for his indecorous manner while addressing them. They blame him for the exit of some PDP governors who joined the APC.
While Wike may have come very close to the ticket considering his intimidating ability to match a supposedly richer Atiku Abubakar money for money, his ambition to become the next president was punctured by those who never saw themselves less than him. The governors from the South are his contemporaries, and so do not amount to his loyalists.
Wike’s fate lay on his brothers.
On the other hand, Amaechi is also a frontrunner in his party, APC, for the presidential ticket. The story of this former Speaker and Governor needs no elucidation as every Nigerian knows that he played a key role in the presidential aspiration of General Muhammadu Buhari in 2014 primaries of the APC. Amaechi, like Wike, is also strong-willed, but his style of politics since becoming a Minister under Buhari has changed considerably.
The Rivers born politician understands political diplomacy where everyone who aspires to be in authority must be under authority.
The APC has a sitting President who, by their Constitution, is the leader of the party. All party leaders and members owe him allegiance. Amaechi knows that as much as Buhari is a Democrat, he has not also ceased being a military General.
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The President has told the sitting Governors of the party that he would nominate his choice of successor for the party. He also said consultation will continue amongst stakeholders and aspirants.
Amaechi is not expected to toe the same path as Wike with a party that has an overall leader with whom he enjoys a deep affinity. It would amount to political suicide for Amaechi to adopt the dollarized kind of campaign beyond what is considered normal.
There would be no need to threaten anyone who is perceived not to be in support of his ambition. While on his tour of the states, Amaechi did not dissipate energy and financial resources to visit leaders and members of the opposition PDP.
With a leader like Buhari, there is a place for endorsement and eventual consensus. If Amaechi gets the nod of the President, which is 80% likely, his fate would surely not be the same as Wike.
Obiaruko Christie Ndukwe is an Abuja based political analyst