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By Abiodun Komolafe
Jokes apart, I am a fan of Nyesom Wike, the current Governor of Rivers State. He is a visionary and a revolutionary. He is also bold and sincere! Like Rauf Aregbesola, the amiable former Governor of Osun State, Wike has capacity and a bias for action. He is also a listener’s delight!
The governor is a role model for how to be a good leader, especially when matters involving politics in a terrain like ours come to the fore. A man with a big tent and a sterner stuff, Wike speaks truth to power without fearing any foe or minding whose ox is gored. He is one leader who will neither suffer fools gladly nor cower at the sight of imminent danger!
Over the years, Wike has demonstrated that politics is not a game for the lily-livered or the tight-fisted. Rather, it is a survivalist game – an interest-driven one at that – for the brave and the kind-hearted. Only recently, the governor again demonstrated this essential attribute when he appointed no fewer than 200,000 Special Assistants on Political Unit Affairs (herein referred to as vote soldiers) and charged them to “help the state retain its prime position in the comity of states.”
Yes, Wike doesn’t follow trends. He sets them! When the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) was almost down and out, following the loss of power by the then ruling party in 2015, the governor was about the only one who was running upandan to ensure that the party stayed afloat.
He stood for the collective existence of the party and was reportedly spending his money to keep it intact while those who have now allegedly assumed the elevated psychological position of ‘awa la wa n’be’ in the party were searching for survival elsewhere.
Now, PDP is troubled again! This time, it’s due to Wike’s grouse. Of course, the governor wants the party to be truly national. He wants each stratum of the party to have a say! It is a statement of fact that most of the political parties in Nigeria have not evolved as national parties; and that has been the country’s undoing. That’s what the governor is attempting to address.
To some people, Wike is trying to foist an overbearing influence on the party. But it is not so! A section of Nigerians are also shouting that the governor should know where to apply the brakes.
For example, while some are asking if he would still be saying the same thing, had he been chosen as Atiku Abubakar’s preferred deputy, others are asking why he is silent on the issues of the Vice Presidential Candidate and the Chairman of the Board of Trustees – also topmost positions – which have found succour in the South; and why ‘Mr Projects’, as Governor Wike is fondly called, should be throwing stones from within?
While one may not be unaware of the frustrations on the part of those who share views that are opposed to Wike’s, events around us may also force Nigerians to objectively understand the governor’s position. Of a fact, what is happening is that the old order which has all along made the people to think that everything had to be the North – and in the North – is facing timely challenges. Impliedly, if the hierarchy and the authority of the party continue to flow from the North, PDP will never become a national party. To that extent, that may end up defining the ‘umbrella party’, if the governor is not taken seriously. But, if the leadership allows Wike’s position to have its way, then, PDP will become truly national in shape and size, and may even end up becoming the truly first national party to have evolved in the course of Nigeria’s history.
Obviously, Wike is speaking to the school of thought which holds the notion that, once we have a national party, half of the problems of development are already solved. What it means is that everybody will buy into the vision of the party.
And, once this happens, the challenge of dichotomy between the North and the South will bite the dust, and the divergence among competing interests will coalesce. There and then, the party will move with a vision that will not only become a national vision but also a task that must be done. What’s more? If PDP is national in outlook, development will start running after the party, not the party running after development. So, it is better for the PDP to listen to Wike.
It is worth bearing in mind that Wike’s vision aligns with that of every true, patriotic Nigerian who wants a new development for the administrative strategy of party politics in Nigeria. He is directing our attention to the parochialism which has all along bedevilled political practice in our clime.
Essentially, the shrewd administrator is trying to hijack the party from the Hausa-Fulani hegemony, together with its experiences, conflicts and social crises with a view to ensuring fairness in its affairs. In a word, Wike is striving to rupture the boat of the rankadede syndrome, which, of course, remains a national trauma.
Should the governor have his way, PDP will never lose national representation. Instead, it will rubbish any suspicion of marginalization and infuse confidence. To put it succinctly, the first beneficiary of the governor’s campaign will be the PDP – as it will nurture a geographical spread and national representation that’ll make it very difficult to beat. But then, the ideal will be for other political parties to embrace his new political strategy so that they, too, will strive to be national.
Once they morph into a party of national consciousness, we will have answers to more than half of our major and subterranean problems, which have so far been the bane of development. Come to think of it: if the ‘Atikulated’ man in Kano State thinks like the BATified politician in Oyo State; and the ‘Kwankwasiyya’ apologist in Bayelsa State thinks like the ‘Obidient’ sympathiser in Bauchi State, national innovation will assume the position of the determinant of the direction of party followership and party politics will be determined by the philosophy of political manifestos, neither the glitz nor the glamour of the ‘awada kerikeri’, waki-and-die’ practice that’s currently paralysing our faith. And there’s no way a Hausa man would start running to Lagos to join a political party. He would rather stay in the North! That’s how Nigeria’s founding fathers started!
As it appears, the North still wants to own PDP. It doesn’t want its grip to slip to the South. At least, if it loses control of the government, what will be left for the North will be an empty package – a mere carcass with neither power nor government! So, what will it be representing? All things considered, the best way out of the logjam is to negotiate.
It resides in placating the man who has done so much and so well for his beloved bent. To say that Wike is no longer relevant in the affairs of the PDP or that there’s no basis for his cry for fairness can only amount to being clever by half. When Peter received the blind man, it was an opportunity for him to rise up; and he utilized it very well. Had Abraham not entertained his guest, maybe he would never have had a child!