Governor Ezenwo Nyesom Wike of Rivers State

2023: Competing Ambitions Tearing PDP Apart In Rivers

 

(By Inye George Princewill) – Baring unforeseen circumstances, the Peoples Democractic Party, PDP, in Rivers State may head for major crises if the competing ambitions of who succeeds Governor Nyesom Wike is not well managed by the elders. Hints from the oil rich state shows that cracks are already emerging on the wall of succession in the state.

Governor Nyesom Wike appears to have the party in his grip in the state but how long he will remain in control is a matter for conjecture. However, at several fora, Wike had warned political appointees not to attend meetings or discuss 2023 succession to avoid overheating the system or distracting his government. He also threatened to sack any violator. Furthermore, non political office holders in the PDP were also admonished to stay away from political scheming that could distract the government.

Although Governor  Wike has reportedly made it clear that, at the appropriate time  leaders of the party in the state will decide who bears the flag of the party in 2023, his   directive to  those working with him  to stay clear of politics  appears to be a tall order to some resulting in the subtle circumventing of the order.  The truth however is that no one can keep politicians away from meeting and plotting for the next election.

Beyond the internal politics of the PDP, the 2023 race to the Rivers State Brick House will be a straight battle between two Ikwerre sons – Governor Nyesom Wike of the PDP and Transport Minister and leader of the APC in Rivers State, Chibuike Amaechi. No doubt, both sides will deploy winning strategies but early signs show that the intractable disagreements in the APC may throw spanner in the works of Amaechi and give Wike an edge again. Whichever way it goes, what stands in favour of Wike is his professed preference for a candidate that can win election in the state irrespective of where he comes from.

With Ameachi almost out of contention as the APC does not have even a Councillor in the state, the ball appears to be in the court of Wike, but how he will manage the contending interests is the real test. Fears are being expressed in some quarters that some  members of Wike’s kitchen cabinet are singing in different hushed tunes, giving credence to rumours of cracks on the wall. As at the last count, so many names are believed to be in the race to pick the PDP guber ticket. Some of the names are former Deputy Governor, Engineer Tele Ikuru; Secretary to the State Government, Dr. Tammy Danagogo; former State PDP Chairman, Brother Felix Obuah; former Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Austin Opara; former Transport Minister, Dr Abiye Sekibo; former member of House of Representatives, Hon Olaka Wogu; Rivers PDP Chairman, Ambassador Desmond Akawor and others.

While some of the interested aspirants are feigning neutrality and not making visible moves in compliance with Governor Wike’s advice, their friends and loyalists are in deep fasting and prayer sessions. However, some supporters are reportedly setting up structures and holding secret meetings in deference to Wike’s order. The supporters of Brother Obuah, for example are sharpening their arsenals before the real tackles begin. Not leaving anything to chance, they have gone ahead hosting subtle WhatsApp and online media campaigns. The feeling in some quarters is that Obuah knows about these early campaigns, although it is not clear if he has disowned them.

While many party faithful see nothing wrong in anybody expressing support to any aspirant, there are deep internal grumblings that Wike is turning a blind eye to a clear breach of his warning on early campaigns, a situation that may cause the others to adopt similar subtle style of campaigns. If this happens, the party may face crises and overheat the polity in the state.

With 2023 a shouting distance away, the decision on whether Wike will steer his party to support an upland person or riverine aspirant is a matter of time as many factors will be brought to bear when the time comes. With a turbulent 2023 election by the corner, observers believe that Wike, being a pragmatic politician, will be guided by the chances of victory of a PDP candidate irrespective of where he comes from – riverine or upland. In other words, in 2023, zoning may not be the only factor but a candidate that can win election irrespective of his local government area of origin. This is the same reasoning that Wike has advocated in deciding where the PDP zones her presidential candidacy in 2023.

 

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