Wike, it’s time to show more party loyalty

It is now ancient history that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, had chosen the incumbent Governor of Delta State, Ifeanyi Okowa, as his running mate for the place of Nyesom Ezebunwo Wike (NEW), the Governor of Rivers State.

Atiku had announced the choice of Okowa after several days of waiting by the country for the announcement. Wike had placed second to Atiku in the party’s presidential primary on May 28-29. 2022, at Moshood Abiola Stadium Abuja as Okowa did not compete for the position.

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Thus, according to the logic of many observers, Wike should have been favored for the choice of the running mate of Atiku instead of Okowa to allow the party to assert its strong points. Even antennae then swirling in the vine, a committee set up by the PDP leadership to fish out a running mate for Atiku had favored Wike by a wide margin of votes. Still, Atiku chose Okowa out of the blue, and the party had to settle for him, as the choice of a running mate to the presidential candidate is ultimately up to him.

The situation is expected to have caused a stir in many political circles across the country, particularly among Wike’s admirers and supporters – many of whom cite multiple motives for their support. First, the story of how the Governor of Rivers State played a vital role in restoring the PDP from its hara-kiri, during its crisis days between 2015 and 2017 when its leadership structure was compromised and former Borno State Governor Ali Modu Sheriff along with others, had attempted to hijack the structure. Wike and Uche Secondus were among those who held on to bring the party back from the brink. Since then, the man had played several other important roles to ensure the party did not suffer a loss. An example of this is the role he played in the political fortunes of Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki then with the APC, when the man ran for a second term and his predecessor Adams Oshiomhole s is opposed to him. Wike was credited with engineering Obaseki’s escape from the clutches of Oshiomole and Ahmed Tinubu to secure the second term even under a different party – the PDP.

Another motive for Wike’s support was the electrifying campaign he mounted for the PDP presidential ticket which many believe should have won him the prize, but for the surprising late swing in the election field by Aminu Tambuwal, a other candidate and Governor of Sokoto State. who not only withdrew from the race at the end of the day, but also asked his supporters to vote for Atiku. Even with this twist, Wike came out second in the polls exercise, once again marking his presence as an important party factor.

Meanwhile, just as there are always at least two sides to a story, Atiku’s choice also remains tenable given Okowa’s background, particularly the advantage of being a former senator, which Atiku cited as one of the criteria for his choice. The two-time Governor had also served as a Federal Republic Senator twice before becoming a two-time Governor of Delta State as a contemporary of Wike. There’s also the running vine story that one of the negatives that killed Wike’s chance to become Atiku’s running mate was the case of Farah Dagogo, a member of the House of Representatives who was charged by Wike of criminal activity, and has since been in custody facing trial or the other. It is recalled that Dagogo’s court appearances were preceded by several pleas to Wike to see how the case would be resolved amicably but ended in vain.

With the above now belonging to the ages, the issues now before the PDP are at least twofold. First, what to do with the Wike Factor in order to maintain the momentum it needs to maximize its chances in the upcoming presidential elections scheduled for March next year. It must be understood that to have come out on top in the primaries, Wike must be credited with mobilizing a considerable arsenal for the company – not only for the primaries but also for the trip to Aso Rock – just in case he wins the election presidential. It therefore remains advantageous for the PDP to woo him and benefit from all the arsenal at his disposal. They will need it.

In the other vein, it’s also important that Wike remain resolute in his avowed stance that he will support whoever wins the party ticket in this Atiku case, his former rival. He must therefore show and reinforce his loyalty as well as the commitment to the party he has sacrificed so much to redeem in the past. He must do this in order to build support from his many supporters – some of whom may falter in their commitment to the party over what they rightly or wrongly saw as a betrayal of him. He will also need the full buy-in of the party structure for his political future.