Since the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar picked Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State as his running mate, the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike drew the battle line against the PDP National Chairman, Iyorcha Ayu, demanding for his resignation. In this interview with the Nigerian Pilot Group Politics Editor, MIKE ODIAKOSE, a frontline leader of the ruling APC and Security Expert from the South West, Jackson Lekan Ojo, said the Rivers State Governor should be careful with those that are prodding him against the PDP as they will most likely desrt him when the chips are down. Excerpts:
Last week the National Executive Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party, passed a vote of confidence on Vote of confidence on the National Chairman, Iyorcha Ayu, but Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State said that cannot save him. What is your take on this development?
There’s no way only Gov Wike could stand against the party. If the party says they’ve passed a vote of confidence on the chairman, there’s no way a single entity can stand against party decision. But I believe that all these he’s doing is because he is still aggrieved by the time they are able to tell him
Wike has been speaking proverbially; he has been asking that what will the people of Rivers get, what will the people of South-South get. But the people of South-South has gotten the position of Vice Presidential Candidate, the people of the South have gotten the national secretary of the party, they have gotten the deputy national chairman South. And no other position has been gotten in the other side of the north than the presidential candidate and the national chairman and the chairman of Board of Trustees has stepped down. So to me, let us call a spade a spade, Gov Wike alone cannot stand against the party.
Let us go back to history, when the post of the national chairman was zoned to Yoruba land, Gov Wike insulted the Yoruba people that time in the party and they brought it back to Uche Secondus believing that if Uche Secondus lost out then the position of national chairman will go to the north and he will get the presidential ticket. He singlehandedly rejected Uche Secondus and fought against him.
And don’t forget the 2018 primary, when the party said they zoned it to Abuja that’s the national convention, he stood his ground that he will show the party something if they didn’t bring it to Port Harcourt. So he has been doing it over time. So to me, I think this time around, there’s no way Wike can singlehandedly dictate to the entire party. But I believe they are still talking, by the time they let him know what he stands to gain then I believe he will back out and if eventually Atiku emerged, immediately Atiku wins the presidential election, then instantly the position of the national chairman will automatically come to the South. But at this critical period, if you say it should come to the South now, are we going to say because if Ayu resigns now, the constitution of the party states that the deputy national chairman North Should take over. So if Ayu resigns, it means the deputy national chairman will resign, the national secretary will resign because it must go to the north. So, if all these people now resign few months to election are they killing the party, do they mean well for the party. But I believe Gov Wike cannot go anywhere because he’s a pillar in PDP. I don’t think he will have to go to any other place to have to be a peg. Pillar is always powerful, stronger and permanent in a building. But if he goes somewhere else, they’ll use him as a peg. The peg is used to dig up foundations after which it is removed and thrown away. So I think Gov Wike with all his political sagacity and calculation has to fight this way in order to bargain for a reasonable thing if eventually they win. If eventually they are able to resolve you will see that all these issues of Ayu must go will naturally fizzle out.
Some PDP leaders like Sule Lamido have been appealing to Governor Wike to embrace peace and dialogue but he appears not ready for that, He is at war with the APC and PDP. How do you see his political future?
If he continues this way, Gov Wike is going to eventually be a loser. Because you are not in good terms with PDP, you’re not in good terms with APC and possibly he’s not going to be in good terms with labour party. So, maybe he wants to retire dishonourably from politics. Because if he wants to retire honourably in politics, he can still be friendly with everybody, then after his tenure he’ll tell you them he doesn’t want to play politics again. But the way he’s going now, it’s like some people are advising him to dig his political grave post 2023 elections.
To me, I’ve sat down and calculated this things, I cannot understand the scenario that is playing out. One thing I want to advice Gov Wike now is that he should beware of those beating the drum of violence for him to dance because it might get to a point whereby he will look back and he will not find those people again. All these governors following him up and down, all of them have senatorial and gubernatorial ambitions; they have bags and baggage to carry for 2023. Gov Wike is a straightforward person but possibly it is these people around him that are telling him not to agree, and before you know what happens, these people will desert him. So, he should be cautious the way he’s fighting this battle. I don’t want him to trust any of these people following him up and down. Somebody like Ayo Fayose that could not win his father’s compound in the last gubernatorial election in Ekiti State, he’s saying he’s backing Gov Wike, with what? Since Donald Duke left the government house of Cross River State, has he won a local government? And he’s saying he’s backing Gov Wike, with what? Gov Wike is better than all these people. These are not the people that should be seen around him. I foresee a situation whereby if Gov Wike calm down to resolve this issue, his political clout will continue to soar and he has the possibility of becoming the president of the federal republic of Nigeria one day and very soon. But if as at now, these people mislead him, I don’t know how he will end it.
How much impact do you think Wike’s rift with PDP will affect on Atiku’s chances in 2023?
Let me be bold and pragmatic. In 1999 general elections, the whole six Yoruba States were for the AD and Bola Ige and Olu Falae. All the Yoruba State including the over bloated Lagos were against Olusegun Obasanjo but eventually, Obasanjo won that election. 2023, the whole was almost balanced but there are some sections of the northern Nigeria. Almost 12 of the Northern States were against Obasanjo but in support of Buhari but Obasanjo won that election. 2007, it was like balance, 2011, it was like balance, 2015 and 2019 the Southeast and South-South were against Buhari but it didn’t stopped him from winning. How much more. Let’s call a spade a spade even when you are looking at Rivers State today, Rivers State PDP vote will be divided even if Wike back out of PDP today. Rivers State PDP vote will be divided. Don’t forget there are some powerful figures that are not in good terms with Gov Wike today in Rivers State. Are you telling me those people don’t have their own supporters and followers? As at today, Gov Wike cannot boldly tell people who is with him or against him in Rivers State. So to me, if Gov Wike is backing out completely, I don’t see it affecting the fortune of PDP and Atiku come 2023 elections. Based on those analyses I put on ground. Let us not overrate any individual or any State.
Some members of the APC have been calling for the resignation of APC National Chairman, Abdullahi Adamu on allegations that he is not in support of Bola Tinubu’s presidential ambition and that he may work against Tinubu in 2023 like some PDP chieftains worked against former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015, What is your take on this?
The crisis in PDP today, is between Gov Wike and a few others but the crisis in APC is multi-dimensional. How? Those people that removed Oshiomhole that time believed that by removing Oshiomhole, they have cut off Tinubu’s presidential popularity in the party to size. Those people will never be forgiven by Bola Tinubu and his men, and we are already seeing it. Among those people that time, prominent among them was Rotimi Amaechi. Since after the primary, Tinubu went to visit him, but have you been hearing him to say something. Somebody that is crying out loud that I’m going to deal with you is better than somebody that is quiet. Majority of them in APC there number one candidate, including Adamu and Buhari himself, was Ahmed Lawan. That one failed because some Northern governors were not carried along that was why that one failed. Recently they called on all presidential aspirants to a meeting for them to support Tinubu, that meeting did not hold. It shows that most of them are aggrieved. So, Bola Tinubu and his men are not comfortable with the national chairman. And I want to tell you clearly, this ‘olule’ remarks by Tinubu, do you think Mr President has forgiven him? They have not forgiven him but they are just playing along. The problem in APC is like quiet cancerous cells that kill quietly. That is exactly what is happening in APC today. APC is having more problem today than PDP. Because if they are able the talk to Gov Wike today and he agrees, do you know how that man can shake Rivers State for PDP. The one that you can see and provide solutions to immediately is better than the one that is dying quietly. APC is dying quietly. Don’t forget the issue of Muslim-Muslim ticket, it is still on ground.
With what is now gaining currency as Obi-Dient Movement are you expecting any major upset in 2023 presidential election?
There are lot of OBIdient in Ekiti State during the gubernatorial election; it metamorphosed into less than 100 votes. With a giant former deputy speaker of the house of Representatives as the governorship candidate in Osun State, OBIdient was everywhere on ground, on land, on sea. It metamorphosed into less than 200 votes. So, if these two case studies is anything to go by, then the rest …if there’s no structure in the local government, in the State, of there’s no structure anywhere. If people come out every Saturday and they are doing semi-marathon and they are calling it campaign, that thing will fizzle out. With a situation whereby the name and picture of the person is not going to appear on the ballot, it is only the logo of the party that will appear on the ballot, and that person that will not appear on the ballot is more popular than the logo, what are you expecting to happen there. So to me, it’s a marathonic race, it will dawn on them come February, 2023. If this movement can still continue, possibly till 2031, then Obi can become the president. But it is not visible. If anybody is telling you that he sees Obi becoming the president of Nigeria in 2023, I think it’s the biggest hallucination.
The vice presidential candidate of PDP is from Delta and he’s an Igbo man. Where ever you find yourself, your tribe is your tribe. He’s a very sellable candidate. The vice presidential candidate of APC is a Kanuri man. Kanuri are concentrated in Borno State. A few of them can be found in Yobe and Adamawa State and he’s not on ground.