It is no longer news that following the grievances which flow from the alleged unfair treatment and disrespect of Barr. Nysom Wike, the Executive Governor of Rivers state, by the presidential candidate Alhaji Atiku Abubakar in the process of nominating running mate, a wave of ‘secessionist’ sentiments is sweeping across the People Democratic Party (PDP) with some of the party men publicly expressing their reluctance to back their party’s presidential candidate for the general election.
For example, the face-off aside from worsening recently when two associates of Mr. Wike, Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, and a former Ekiti State governor, Ayodele Fayose, publicly expressed their reluctance to back their party’s presidential candidate for the general election, the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Iyorchia Ayu, according to media reports has also found himself at the center of the face-off between the presidential candidate of the party, Atiku Abubakar, and Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, which is tearing the main opposition party apart, ahead of the 2023 general elections.
While this piece believes that if by omission or commission a member or group within the party is aggrieved, the party structure must take steps to ensure that justice is done as this piece may not agree with the current campaign of any group to dismember the party, the truth must be told to the effect that to rescue the country, PDP members must learn to allow sanity prevail over emotion.
The above opinion is predicated on the following reasons
First and very important, a random sampling of opinion on the forthcoming 2023 general election indicates that the Peoples Democratic Party as a party have a rock-solid support base in its current quest to regain power at the center and these supporters are even prepared to give their fortune to actualize it. Analysts also believe that in no distant future, the party, if remains united, will regain its pride of place in the nation’s political geography.
Again, another reason why the warring parties must shun bitterness, sue for peace, and allow sanity to prevail is that the whole gamut of current protest is not based on the worry that the Vice Presidential candidate chosen by the Presidential flag bearer/party hierarchy may lack the capacity to perform in such position if elected or become a burden to the party or the nation, but principally laced on mundane and personal interest considerations.
There is even a veiled agreement among the worrying factions that Senator (Dr) Ifeanyi Okowa is a performer and acclaimed transformer. And as we know, his records speak for it. It is on good ground that he developed and sustainably implemented the holistic educational and infrastructural revolution currently ongoing in Delta state.
Going by the above fact, it becomes important that his choice as the nation’s Vice President is germane to the survival of Nigeria which is right now in its most fragile state since the end of the civil war. This piece believes Governor Okowa’s emergence should be viewed from the prism of the greater good for a greater number as against personal or pecuniary considerations.
On the argument that out of the seventeen state governors in the party, about fourteen voted in favor of Governor Wike as the Vice Presidential Candidate, yet, the Party hierarchy in their ‘wiser wisdom’ went ahead to pick Governor Okowa of Delta state.
Indeed, many may, at first glance qualify the above argument as objective concern and against the spirit of both participatory and deliberative democracy.
However, this position in the opinion of this piece cannot in absolute terms hold water.
Fundamentally, aside from having a place in the nation’s political history, the truth is that when critically examined, one may discover that Atiku and the Party hierarchy acted in the best interest of the party.
To highlight these points, it is said that the first responsibility of a leader is to find the right people as the key to the success of every administration depends to a large extent on the quality of the people in charge. For when they are competent and loyal he can always be considered wise because he has been able to recognize their competence and keep them loyal. But when they are otherwise, the ruler is always open to adverse criticism because his first mistake has been in the choice of his ministers.
Overtly, Governor Wike is, without doubt, efficient and effective when it comes to the public leadership sphere. Also remarkable is that he is a mobilizer with a deep pocket. But beyond these attributes, there may be other covert attributes that not only placed Governor Okowa ahead of him but made him (Okowa) the darling of both Atiku and the Party’s hierarchy.
There is a need to recognize this fact.
Historically also, a report has it that on January 23, 1979, the NPN called for a press conference at the party headquarters at Jibowu Street, Yaba, Lagos and it was there that Alhaji Shagari, the Party’s presidential candidate, first presented Dr. Alex Ifeanyi Ekwueme as his running mate. Though a handsome gentleman and looked urbane and polished, neither was he a member of the party nor his name heard of in National politics. It was the introduction and later the Presidential election that shot Chief Ekwueme into the National limelight and made him a treasured National asset. Since that day, he never came down from being valued.
Why Alhaji Shagari picked Dr. Ekwueme is still a mystery and only he can explain. His name was never speculated. Dr. Alex Ifeanyichukwu was 46 at the time. He was unknown in the political arena. Except for his business profile as an Architect and Town Planner and that he once worked for Esso West Africa, Lagos overseeing the construction and maintenance department of the company, little was known about him in politics. The report concluded.
There is indeed a valid lesson to draw from the above-documented account.
Like I usually remark, “The destiny of the ship is not in the harbor but in sailing the high sea’’ and so shall our collective responsibility be, not to destroy this great nation but join hands to nurture and sustain it.
What the PDP currently needs is not rancor but to get united, straddle the middle ground by doing all within its reach to pacify Governor Wike and his group, win the election and grow the nation’s democracy in ways that will guarantee social justice, promote social mobility, strengthen the economy, tackle insecurity, create, job, develop the nation’s power sector and massive infrastructural development.
Suppose the party is able to manage this situation and other social menaces effectively and navigate out of the dangers of disintegration. In that case, it will once again, announce the arrival of a brand new great nation where peace and love shall reign supreme. But, then, no nation enjoys durable peace without justice and stability without fairness and equity!
Utomi is the Programme Coordinator (Media and Public Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), Lagos, Nigeria.
He could be reached via; email@example.com