Betrayal, in politics, is a risk every player takes while forging alliances. In the interest-diven game, selfishness is fair and expected; hence, what befell the Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, at the People Democratic Party primaries can be a tagged 'fair play'. But from the governor's perspective, the more humane perspective, values have been bridged and lines have been crossed. The PDP has tendered public apologies to pacify this key member, but he has remained silent on his next move.
Why is Wike so important to PDP? [Pulse Editor's Opinion]
The betrayal from Tambuwal, other southern governors, and the PDP itself, has left Wike sour enough to either become a one man pack, or find a new group of friends.
How PDP Betrayed Wike
Governor Wike has, no doubt, worked for the PDP. He was instrumental in ushering Samuel Ortom, Aminu Tambuwal, and Godwin Obaseki into the PDP; where some became governors under the party. He particularly did a lot of campaigning and offered massive support to Tambuwal, which (arguably) contributed to his emergence as Sokoto state governor in 2019. His people call him 'action man' for a reason.
General societal values would advocate that those who enjoyed his support return the favour. But expecting ideal behaviour from politicians is basically clowning. Tambuwal who also aspired to be president, at the kill point, laid down his delegates for Atiku Abubakar. Finally, Atiku polled 371 votes from the 767 accredited candidates to edge his closest opponent, Wike, who polled 237 votes; perhaps, Tambuwal's delegates could have gotten Wike a win.
Wike has demonstrated uncommon courage and strong character as a consistent man. Neither Atiku nor Tambuwal can boast of the fidelity Wike has for the PDP.
Wike has been consistent and has defended the party with everything he has. In his relationship with people, he has kept faith with the principle of trust. He fights for his friends and supports their aspirations.
The cherry on top, in the betrayal of Wike, was placed as Atiku picked Ifeanyi Okowa as his running mate, even though Wike got the second highest votes at the primaries, and would have still been a good fit for Atiku. If you were Wike, you'd be hurt too.
Wike's Value to the PDP
In quick conversations with a few politically-knowledgeable affiliates on Wike's value to the PDP, few points were common; the resources of his state, he is a warlord, he has trust from the people; he knows his politics.
The Power of Rivers State: The state is famous for its vast reserves of crude oil and natural gas. just because It was perhaps the richest and most important section of the African zone of the British Empire.
Rivers State has two major oil refineries, two major seaports, airports, and various industrial estates spread across the land. More than 60% of the country's output of crude oil is produced in the state. Other natural resources found within its boundaries are silica sand, glass sand, and clay.
By merely being in charge of the affairs of Rivers state, Wike holds a great deal of influence in the general Nigerian economy.
Surely, benefits arise for any party that holds the Rivers state's government under their umbrella.
A Relatable Personality: Whitemoney, Laycon, and Mercy are a few people Nigerians have fallen in love with because of how real and relatable they portray themselves. The Nigerian audience wants to see themselves in you, or just an authentic you. The politician has stayed a vocal rascal since he came to the limelight.
His clear-cut, rough, but effective ways, have earned him even more influence in the southern region; and the respect of people from other regions.
He has also exhibited the courage and boldness to speak truth to power, challenge national policies and decisions which tend to exploit the people, thus standing out as the most articulate and fearless voice of the opposition.
Wike has outrightly opposed the sitting administration and has even successfully legally channelled the state's tax to the state's purse for development purposes (which are very evident in his administration). The boldness with which this is done has also earned him the trust of the people; hence, they listen to what he says. During the EndSARS protest, while many governors stayed silent or played pretence, Wike took to the streets to sternly warn the youths to be peaceful, but carry on their demonstration. As expected, he trended on Twitter and gained even more young admirers.
This willful love, and admiration, such that Peter Obi enjoys, is not very common between governments and people; hence, having Wike in PDP's camp is a strength for pulling in youth and southerners.
The Action Man: Wike talks and works. Wike, who inherited a state where virtually every sector had collapsed, simply rolled up his sleeves and knuckled down to the business of delivering the dividends of democracy and getting Rivers state to start functioning again.
He was nicknamed 'Mr Projects' as he sprung into fixing roads and bridges, re-organising institutions and establishments, opening up clamped down spaces like the judiciary and courageously mending a broken, dysfunctional, dystopian, and deliberately abandoned state; he practically made Rivers great again.
Analysts have concluded that Wike is on the list of the top five governors in Nigeria and likely the first three in the history of Rivers State Governors. No other Rivers Governor has paid as much attention to grassroots development like Nyesom Wike has. No other has managed to balance the nearly boundless resources of the state with the truly boundless demands of the people, culminating in a crescendo of satisfactory sighs.
Wike’s projects in these last two years encompass all aspects of the Rivers economy: development of basic and social infrastructures, education, tourism, transport, you name it. What’s more, Wike has delivered the Rivers people from the bondage of unfinished projects, and the projects that have gone from abandoned to finished are there for all to see.
The reputation is a booster for the PDP. As much as party politics are filled with individualistic interests, every party wants to be associated with a governor that is known for working. It enhances the general credibility of the party.
In all honesty, it still is not all sweet and rosy in Rivers State. But what Wike has done enough to surpass those that came before him, and in half tenure, repair the image of a lazy or idle State Governor with his good works.
A Team Player: Wike has become (arguably) the only Governor in Nigeria who has displayed sincere brotherliness, strategic brinkmanship, and accommodation across political divides.
His robust intervention as Chairman of the PDP Governorship campaign council, and the pivotal role he played in settling the political logjam that nearly disrupted the peace in Edo State earned him exceptional praise.
With representatives and candidates of other parties paying Wike closed-door visits, The PDP should be scared of losing this southern asset. The betrayal from Tambuwal, other southern governors, and the PDP has left Wike sour enough to either become a one-man pack or find a new group of friends.
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