24 hours before now, the stage appears to be set for Rivers state governor, Nyesome Wike, to be named the running mate of the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar. The various reports were convincing enough to make anyone believe the choice of Wike was a done deal. The National Working Committee of the party reportedly backed Wike’s emergence. We heard the position will have to go through a democratic process and mainstream media reported how the energetic Wike polled almost all the votes. Maybe these reports were right and it all boils down to Atiku Abubakar making the decision.
Every keen political observer will be surprised if Atiku had back Wike ahead of Okowa. The gentle-looking Delta state governor became a strong ally of Atiku before the party’s presidential primary election. Wike, being from the same region as Okowa, should have pocketed the votes of the delegates but politics, as they say, is a long game. It is far from a 100metres race; it is a marathon. Okowa won the marathon against Wike, having thrown his weight behind Atiku’s presidential ambition.
The race to choose a vice-presidential candidate should not come with much fanfare as it has in recent times. Politicians play politics; that is their forte and 98% of the time, they are always well-prepared. Before the primaries, Atiku and Wike were among the favourites to clinch the PDP’s ticket and they must have had a ‘loyalist’ in mind to choose as their running mate. Atiku’s choice was Okowa and there is little chance party politics would change that.
Asides from this, Wike’s braggadocio might have affected his chances. The Rivers state governor is a ‘loud’ politician. He says it without filtering it and that is why those that are his fans are always with him and those against him are always against him. He was left hanging by some southern governors during the presidential primary election and today again, he has been outplayed.
Wike’s outburst in Port-Harcourt after the primary election seems not to have done him any good. He lambasted the southern governors for ‘betraying’ him. In his words, “We have done our part and we never betrayed anybody, because it is not in our blood to betray. But it’s a shame to those people. Some of the governors from the south are the people they used to sabotage our interests. However, we have shown them that we are not like them. We have the capacity to do whatever is good for us.” This is a typical Wike outburst and it seems to have come back to haunt him.
The stage is all set for the Peoples Democratic Party to move ahead and plan to wrestle power from the ruling All Progressives Congress. Wike has promised to stand by whoever emerges during the primary election and it is hoped that he would keep to his words despite the second ‘breakfast’ he was served by the party. Okowa has been given the chance to prove his political weight in the south-south. Whether it is the right choice cannot be ascertained at the moment. However, if the PDP fails to poll considerable votes in the region during the 2023 election, Wike would have been better!