As a public affairs commentator, it is intriguing and most times irksome to monitor events in the Nigerian political scene where the aberration is the norm. Nigeria is a country where the citizens live under illusion and false notion of everything. When one considers the apparent conflict in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the belligerent approach of one of the parties to the conflict one will begin to wonder why a real party member would want to sabotage the interest of the party. It is inconceivable to concerned observers and stakeholders that the party that has the brightest chance of winning the forthcoming election given the prevailing circumstances created by the failures of the current APC regime and the status of its presidential candidate is embroiled in avoidable internal crisis.
First, the issue was about how Governor Aminu Tambuwal withdrew from the presidential race and asked his supporters to vote Atiku and second was why Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, the Delta state governor was picked instead of Governor Nyesom Wike who came second during the party’s primaries, as the party’s presidential running mate by the party’s presidential flag bearer, His Excellency Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. And now the issue is that the party’s chairman senator Iyorchia Ayu must resign for equity since according to them the party’s presidential candidate and the chairman cannot come from the same zone more so as it is alleged that Dr. Ayu has pledged after his election to resign his position if the party’s presidential candidate is elected from his zone.
When examined objectively one will see many questions propping up for answer. For instance, why should a party that wants to grab power be embroiled in self-inflicted internal crisis few months to the presidential election? Why would a real party member decide to boycott the party’s campaign team? Was it Atiku that elected Ayu or the party? Was it in Atiku’s powers to remove Ayu? Is there no other alternative to the resignation of the party chairman? What is the party’s position on the matter? Is it an aberration for the party chairman and the presidential candidate to come from the same region, has it not happened before? And if Ayu must resign, who would take over from him, would it be Wike’s nominee or would there be another party congress for that? What are the consequences of the chairman’s hasty resignation on the party given that the election is around the corner? Did Ayu promise to resign if a Northerner emerges as the party’s presidential candidate? And if he did, was it a written or a verbal pledge? Why did the demand for Ayu’s resignation become an issue after Wike was not picked as Atiku’s running mate?
From available records, this is not the first time that the party’s chairman and the president or presidential candidates are coming from the same political zone. In 2005 Col. Ahmadu Ali (Retd) was elected the PDP party chairman and he was there till Umaru Yar’Adua became the party’s presidential candidate and they are both from the North. He served out his tenure in 2008 when Vincent Ogbulafor took over. Vincent Ogbulafor and Okwesileze Nwodo were both chairman of the party when Goodluck Jonathan held sway after Yar’Adua’s death until Dr. Haliru Mohammed took over and heaven did not fall. How come this time round some people talking about equity without which they will not support the party’s presidential campaign project? This is undoubtedly the ambition of one man who erroneously thinks the party cannot stand without him.
Much as I acknowledged that it is honorable to keep one’s words but I think that it is certainly not Atiku’s fault that Ayu refused to resign his appointment as the chairman moreover the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) has passed a vote of confidence on him. The party will not implode and the goal of winning election in 2023 will not be scuttled simply because Ayu reneged on his word to resign after the primaries. You don’t throw away the child with the birth water and you cut your nose to spite your face. I believe there should be right procedure to compel Ayu to resign rather sabotage. Wike and his team are playing into the hands of the APC group who has nothing tangible to campaign with. And surprisingly, some of those who are qualified to be called the party’s elders that are expected to mediate and caution Wike about his belligerent attitude are joining in the fray without considering the possible unsavory effects of their action on the party and on the future of the nation.
As a public policy analyst, I understand the concept of group dynamics as well as crisis/conflict management, the conflict triggers, and the antics of conflict agents who are usually moles, infiltrators and disgruntled elements within a team/group/system and who are usually recalcitrant and implacable. Settlement is not their aim: they escalate issues and stubbornly and unreasonably stick to their demands. They do not think about win-win but win-lose. They want things their own way. They want attention; they want to be heard. Team work, team success, the team interest is immaterial. They are egocentric and megalomaniac. Those who have monitored the PDP crisis since the end of the party’s presidential primaries will know that this is the image Governor Nyesom Wike by his role and intransigence in the said PDP crisis has made of himself.
Nyesom Wike is the current governor of River State but the manner he carries himself and the boyish braggadocio he exhibits might make one assume that he probably thinks that the position he occupies now is for a life time. Wike’s false notion of power makes him feel that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to which he belongs will be extinct if he leaves the party. No doubt, Wike’s false sense of entitlement makes him think that since he never quit PDP as some party faithful did in the past, therefore the party is his personal corporation. The party should be run at his whims and caprices and every stakeholder including the founding fathers of the party should kowtow to him. It is a fact that everything Wike has been or achieved in the last twenty three years is through the party. From a toddling charge-and-bail lawyer in 1999 to local government chairman, to state commissioner, to a federal minister and a now a governor was through the PDP. And now he thinks that he is the Lord of the manor whose bidding must be done. He foisted Uche Secondus on the party as the party chairman and when he thought he was done with him, he forced him out and backed Ayu, a Northerner because he was hoping to grab the party’s presidential ticket. And now that he has failed in his bid to grab the party’s presidential ticket or the VP slot he feels it is time to destroy the party. Wike has decided to be another ungrateful monster like Chief Olusegun Obasanjo who after using the PDP platform to advance his political career tried to destroy the party by forcefully hijacking the party’s structure, expelling some of the founding fathers, persecuted his perceived political enemies and their supporters using the state machinery. The truth must be told that Wike’s attitude and utterances before the party’s primaries wherein he had accused Atiku of taking the party for granted premonstrates what is happening in the party at present. Wike is a bad loser; pure and simple, a myopic swashbuckler dancing to macabre drum bits of some obscure drummers that would ultimately consume him. Indeed, he is a self-absorbed actor whose vision is obfuscated by ephemeral position and whose memory is blurred by poor sense of history.
No doubt people like Wike are suffering from psychologists call dystopia; acute learning disorder. The current fugacious position he occupies as a governor tends to obstruct his views and gives him bloated sense of importance. In about eight months time his tenure as governor will expire and he will face reality and he will know how politically vulnerable and frail he really is. Those who allow temporary positions to becloud their vision are usually victims of their inordinate ambition. It is pretty obvious that Wike is selfishly fixated about fighting for personal interest and not that of the party or the nation. How can he be hobnobbing with those that chase away Jonathan and foisted an apartheid regime on us all? To him the interest of the party and that of the nation is secondary. Anybody especially from the opposition PDP that is at dalliance with the members of the APC regime that has brought the nation to its knees is obviously a political renegade.
There is no gainsaying that Wike has become a big distraction to PDP and a clog in the wheel of its progress. The PDP leadership should let the nation know that there is no crisis within its fold. If Wike refuses to be mollified by the peace overtures by the party hierarchy, then he should go. Of course, PDP can do it without him. The party won the Osun gubernatorial election without his input. I have said it for the umpteenth time that Wike needs PDP more than PDP needs him. And I have also said it unequivocally that from the way Wike is going, he is a fast track to political oblivion. While it is good to jaw-jaw and accommodate voices of dissent, no leader in his right sense would want to be distracted by Wike’s idiosyncratic, rash and brash, recalcitrant and confrontational attitude.
By his conduct at this critical period of electioneering, he has shown that he cannot be trusted therefore the party leadership should do the needful: pronounce the right sanction on him or ignore him completely. When he comes to his senses he will make a detour. And if Ayu must resign, it must not be at the promptings of Wike; there must be due diligence.
Irogboli, an economist, a novelist and public policy analyst, writes via [email protected]