Atiku should mend fences with Wike

The post convention crisis brewing in the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, will slim the party’s chance to dislodge the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, in the forthcoming general elections, unless concerted efforts are put in place by stakeholders to address it.

Many Nigerians are wondering what fueled the crisis after a successful convention. Since the emergence of Atiku Abubakar as its presidential candidate, the PDP governors, who thought one of them would fly the party’s ticket, have been unhappy with the outcome.

Though, the governors and other contenders have agreed to work for the victory of anyone who emerged, the choice of Atiku’s running mate raised the dust or is believed to be the genesis of the crisis. The PDP, desperate to return to power, discarded zoning and threw its contest open among the six geo-political zones.

APC, having zoned its ticket to the South, left the PDP with only one strategic option – fielding a northern candidate who will challenge its stronghold. With President Muhammadu Buhari rounding off his tenure next year and Atiku’s good performance in the 2019 general elections, he remains the formidable candidate to give APC a run for its money.

However, the question on the lips of many Nigerians is, how did Atiku’s running mate, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta state, emerge? On becoming the PDP flag bearer, Atiku constituted a committee with the mandate to search for a credible running mate.

As reported by some national dailies, the selection committee organised a poll where Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers state scored 16 votes against Okowa’s two votes. Surprisingly, Atiku picked Okowa instead of Wike who was the runners up in the party’s primaries. Why did Atiku opt for Okowa instead of Wike?

Some political analysts opine that Governor Okowa had helped Atiku to win the primary election. It was reported that Delta delegates cast their votes for Atiku rather than Wike. Besides, in 2019, Wike was believed to have worked against the emergence of Atiku and openly supported Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto state.

Other qualities Atiku must have considered before settling for Okowa are his exceptional traits. It is believed that he is quiet and a very obedient leader who will be a good vice president. But Wike is being accused of being rude and garrulous. The fear of Atiku is that Wike neither believes in him nor his candidature. If he picks him and the party eventually wins, Wike will not respect and be loyal to him.

For his colleagues and other sympathetic party stakeholders, Wike does not deserve this treatment. Reasons: he is a strong leader who used his resources to sustain and give oxygen to the PDP when it was gasping for breath. Nobody can deny the fact that Wike has paid his dues for the survival of the PDP during its turbulent times.

When many members abandoned it and honeymooned with APC in 2015, Wike and his estranged godson, Uche Secondus, did everything possible to sustain the party. There is no gainsaying the fact that Wike will be angry for not being picked as running mate.

A further indication that all is not well with the opposition party is the inauguration of the PDP gubernatorial candidate for Osun state, where only two out of 12 governors attended. The recent hosting of opposition leaders by Wike sent a signal that something is fishy in the party.

And with the news making the rounds that he accompanied Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the presidential candidate of APC, to France, Wike is likely to quit the PDP sooner than later. While Atiku has assured supporters that the party will resolve the current impasse, it needs to do it quickly.

The current revolt by PDP governors as we head to 2023 elections portends danger to the party. PDP should call an emergency meeting where Atiku, Wike and other aggrieved governors will resolve their differences amicably.

Ibrahim Mustapha,
Pambegua, Kaduna state

Related content you may like