If the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, loses in 2023, it will not be due to poverty; poverty is not greedy but just wants some food, possibly, for the day’s stomach. Any loss of 2023 will be blamed on avarice because it wants everything for one and none for the others.
The best time for the PDP to return to power should have been 2023. If it fails to take this best chance, it would not be that the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, did not assist the opposition with its (APC’s) numerous lapses since 2015.
“As long as greed is stronger than compassion, so long will there be suffering.” – Rusty Eric
It might even be safe to assume that APC, by its performance, cleared the way for the opposition. The party has done its best to distance itself from the contest and whoever misses that advantage has no one to blame. The party has beaten voters so black-and-blue that the latter should turn their back on it. The failure climaxed with the thoughtless choice of the present presidential flag bearer and his controversial same-faith ticket.
In all ramifications, the APC has left a sour taste in the mouth of the electorate. It has negatively multiplied every legacy from the PDP. When the incumbent federal government came to power, Nigerians were agonising mainly on four issues, namely insecurity, corruption, youth unemployment, and the national economy. As the party winds down to the eighth and final year “in power and in office,” (apologies to IBB) none of the four items has gotten better.
Rather, insecurity worsened and multiplied from the terrorism of Boko Haram to several splinter groups with differing monikers. From Boko Haram in operation when the APC assumed office, we now have bandits, herdsmen, unknown gunmen, and kidnappers. Before this government came, the terrorism menace, so to say, was quarantined in Nigeria’s North East. Today, in all our six geopolitical zones, including the federal capital, residents sleep with both eyes open. The only laudable project of note by this regime, which is the Abuja-Kaduna railway, is overrun by bandits and kidnappers.
Unemployment and inflation have gone beyond records, ditto corruption, let alone the obvious collapse of the economy that is evident in the recent caving in of the national currency in a historic free fall. The cordial coexistence needed among the ethnic peoples of Nigeria was fundamentally altered and distorted, by the crass nepotism evidenced by the APC ruling style, disunity underscored by lopsided appointments, incompetence and mediocre performance.
Against this backdrop, therefore, the PDP, as the leading opposition party, was being looked upon to have an easy and smooth ride back to the Aso Rock Villa. But it does appear that it has been captured by forces of doom.
This week, this columnist, as one of the few journalists who have associated with the PDP from within in the past decade, I am bringing from my pigeonhole, information that would undress those variables that may deny the party victory in 2023. A lot of these variables are already manifesting. Following recent events in the party, without going deep into them, some believe the recent feud between the flag bearer, Atiku Abubakar, and Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers is a new problem. The truth remains that the current challenges have history.
If for instance Governor Wike looks to be the reigning nuisance, the bore of PDP today, how did he emerge? Who created him? When you hear some leaders and elders of the party scream that Wike should be appeased despite his obvious indiscipline, it is not for the sake of patriotism but as a demonstration of loyalty to pecuniary interests.
When you hear the supposed conscience of the party, the Board of Trustees, BOT, talk from all sides of the mouth and are unable to resolve anything, it is because their bodies are PDP but their hearts are more of the project commissioning largesse than the party. Wike is a generous giver; but certainly not a kind one who would allow you to take his money and trade with it. Very few, if any, of the PDP elements can sincerely approach the party’s current challenges pragmatically reasons for this is connected to PH largesse.
I wonder if there is any exception in this struggle for Port Harcourt’s attention. Atiku, even if unwittingly, is culpable in creating the monster called Wike. Even his fellow governors literally made him the ‘Governor-General’, a position he appropriated immediately after Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa finished his tenure as the Chairman of the PDP Governors Forum.
After 2019 when Atiku disappeared to Dubai for a better life, there was a lacuna in the PDP that needed to be bridged. Leadership was needed at a higher level to assist the National Working Committee, NWC, project the party financially. The forum of governors and the flag bearer were supposed to do that but the Chairman and Sokoto Governor Aminu Tambuwal who took over from Dickson was already a stooge of Wike and did not waste time in ceding the Governor-General toga who did it so well dishing out funds here and there to the party and to even his colleagues. It was only when Governor Wike and Asiwaju Bola Ahmad Tinubu entered the political space for their ambition that Nigerians began to hear and witness that a governor can be induced with money. It never happened before!
The governors who should support the party left it for one person to do and some of them were even collecting from the same source. Possibly, they thought they were clever while the sole financier was foolish. Even when Atiku returned from Dubai ahead of 2023, he had no choice but to go and align with the man on the throne, dishing out the food. Governor Wike’s first wish, which he put to Atiku as a condition for any political romance, was to remove the smooth-running party leadership led by his brother, Prince Uche Secondus. In Wike’s subconscious, Secondus’s continued stay was a significant threat to two things, his presidential ambition and his unhindered determination of who succeeds him at the Government House, Port Harcourt. Even though they knew it was an unnecessary and dangerous scheme, they could not decline because most elders had been compromised and were still looking forward to more. As the kangaroo ouster of Secondus happened, leaders and elders were already on propitiatory terms with him to talk or bare their minds.
Therefore, what is happening between PDP and Governor Wike today is like a cheat who goes to collect from a known generous mad man when his head was cool but expressed surprise at his behaviour when the madness began. This is akin to dining with the devil without a long spoon and when he comes for your hand you start screaming. This is the devil, you know.
Amid the Wike hullabaloo, the party leaders and elders lost much of their reasoning. The party became polarised between those struggling to stop Wike at all costs and those who wanted him. Atiku who was once an ally of Wike in the “Secondus must go” project suddenly became the rallying point for those working against him.
In the process of trying to stop Wike at all costs, the party jettisoned its constitutionally stipulated zoning of offices and technically shot themselves in the foot by sidelining its traditional support base and helping to unconsciously create the much desired third force, easing out a leading aspirant, Peter Obi.
In edging out Obi from the PDP, both Wike and Atiku groups were unanimously involved in the nefarious acts because none of them wanted to compromise presidential interests which Obi was threatening with his growing popularity. Today, in a twist of fate, the two camps are in regret for zoning the Presidency to the North, one reason that helped to create an Obi and the sidelining of a very critical South East, that had been the main support base of the party for 23 years.
Added to that is that the current travails of PDP seen from the “God of justice” factor do not rule out the fact that nemesis could be a bitch because of the unholy treatment of Secondus and, later, Obi.
For Wike, the sacking of Secondus has become a wasted investment as the reason for the mission failed to materialise. Even his loyalists in Rivers State with whom he planned the ouster are today his arch enemies. The Iyorchia Ayu leadership he installed as Secondus’s replacement to enable him to realise his ambition failed and even changed camps. So, politically speaking, Wike is on the ground and fears no fall, he lost everything. Anybody fighting such a person has everything to lose because he has nothing more to lose. The wise thing to do to such a person is to treat him like a bull in a China shop.
So, if the truth must be told, PDP manured its current travails, and hardly anybody among leaders and elders of the party is innocent of its current liabilities. The solution is difficult to find because most leaders soiled their hands in the process. When they were commissioning projects and receiving lectures from Wike in the process, they didn’t know today would come to pay back. Wike’s indoctrination at commission sites may have failed but not without repercussions, which is here already.
The price the party is paying now with the crisis which may show in its electoral (mis)fortunes is what you get when you eat your cake and desire to have it back. When you sow a whirl you shouldn’t shout at a whirlwind when it comes. It’s incongruous to have a sweet tooth and abhor diabetes. Like in banking you withdraw what you deposited.
If on the eve of a major election, the governors’ forum is comatose, the National Executive Committee, NEC, of the party cannot meet to take decisions, BOT is inert and NWC is an impediment, the illustrations above are responsible. If money and greed were the motivations of Judas Iscariot to sell his master Jesus, what do you expect in a political party that worships and honours the man with the money? Greed took the larger part of PDP members and the latter no longer cared for their souls or victory in an election.
The solution is in cleaning the house with true confessions and apologising to the injured still in the system like Secondus. Seeking equity and victory with soiled hands can be gargantuan. God, help us to maintain an open heart.
Ike Abonyi is the deputy editor-in-chief of New Telegraph, where he first published this article in his BackPage Column.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.