Penultimate week, Wike decided to add another stride to his political pettiness when he declared a public holiday for the visitation of the president-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu. He also ordered the closure of shops and grocery stores in the state till the departure of his newfound lover. The incumbent governor of Rivers will do anything to please the incoming administration as we’ve seen in recent times. Wike will do anything to stay in the corridors of power after May 29.
After his abysmal loss at the PDP primary, Nyesom Wike has done everything possible not only to sabotage his own party but also to lobby for power so as to stay relevant in the political landscape of the nation. According to Senator Dino Melaye, Wike called him nineteen times lobbying as Atiku’s running mate in the last election. This is different from the narrative he kept pushing during the campaign that all he was fighting for was a Southern president.
He has also shown that he has no limit in his pursuit to win the power game, even if that means dining with people he once regarded as enemies. Wike strikes me as a politician whose life’s philosophy is, “I am a man of principle. But if you don’t like this, I have other principles.“ Given his absolute love for grandstanding and media appearance, his constant verbiage and loudmouth remarks have made him more foes than friends. The Rivers State governor is also aware of this fact. Here’s why he’s doing everything he can to form an unholy alliance with the powers that be.
Tinubu can see through Wike’s thinly veiled facade of love and devotion. The president-elect knows Wike isn’t a man to shake hands with without first looking out for hidden spikes and nails. Despite giving Tinubu the needed 25% votes in the South-south and ultimately helping him win his state through shrewd means and methods, Wike doesn’t seem to be a favourite of the president-elect in his cabinet. While some rumoured that he might end up a minister in this incoming administration, Tinubu’s body language seems to say otherwise. One then wonders, if Tinubu refuses Wike a ministerial seat in his cabinet, what will be Wike’s next move to hold on to power?
This is the problem with dirty politics, as played by the Rivers State governor. Some have said that he’s most likely to use as a puppet the newly elected governor in Rivers for his political interest. In other words, even though he’s no longer a governor, he might still govern the state by proxy and style himself as the new Rivers State godfather. But I don’t think that will be a possibility. After May 29, the political pendulum will swing in a different direction. And what will happen is that those who now are pulling the lever of power will find themselves outside the helms of affairs. They’ll no longer be able to call the shot. Wike’s relevance in Rivers, like that of his predecessor Rotimi Amaechi, will rescind into oblivion after the swearing-in. As Sule Lamido pointed out during the presidential election, Wike will find himself retired into the company of ex-governors, with little or no power to wield.
Having been unable to secure a retirement plan in the Senate as most of his contemporaries did, he is left to muddle in the dirty water and swallow his own words in forming an alliance with APC. Let’s keep in mind that Wike had been one of the strongest critics of the Buhari administration as well as the ruling party in general. But in an attempt to hold on to the last rope of political relevance, his choice will be to go back to his own vomit and eat back his own words. Needless to say, this isn’t new in Nigeria’s politics. Political prostitution is nothing new in the Nigerian context. Most politicians, not driven by a sense of ideology or partisan loyalty, look for the coolest spot to perpetuate their political ambition. As the saying goes, there are no permanent friends or foes in politics, only permanent interests. Wike’s interest right now is power, and he’s ready to do anything to retain it.
This power-grabbing tendency is a potential threat to our democracy. When politicians jump ship at convenience and change political parties like some sort of costume, it really leaves the populace disengaged and disgruntled in their political class, creating a mutual sense of distrust and speculations in the political process. It also threatens the possibility of a one-party State. If all the bigwig politicians realise that all they need to do to retain political relevance is to peddle to the favour of the ruling party, the opposition will then grow weaker and weaker even to the point of extinction. Power grabbers like Wike need to realise the need for robust and efficient opposition in a democratic process in order to deepen dissenting views in our polity.
But then again, the likes of Wike are men of conflicting principles. For them, politics is about holding on to power and nothing more. His lust for power was the reason he bullied Peter Obi from the PDP even before the primary election. Blinded by this same power-grabbing tendency, he did everything within his power to sabotage his own party from emerging the winner of the presidential election. His interest has also pushed him to start pandering to the opposition for a ministerial appointment. Wike can’t imagine himself without a political position. He’s a man who will do anything to hold on to power. The question then will be, will the APC dynasty take in Wike as one of them? After all, as things stand, he has no leverage for negotiation in Tinubu’s cabinet. And power is about negotiations and leverage. If Tinubu decides to refuse Wike a seat in his cabinet, what will he do next to hold on to power?
.Ademola is a journalist from Lagos