• Saturday, May 18, 2024
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BusinessDay

Wike still a puzzle to PDP as he picks APC job

Minister Wike says political relevance at the heart of Rivers crisis

The visit of Nyesom Wike to the national chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) Abdullahi Ganduje at his official residence in Abuja Tuesday and the announcement of his new portfolio as the minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have generated debates about Wike’s status in the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) going forward.

Since his exit from office on May 29, 2023, the former Rivers State governor has remained a central figure of political discourse in his state.

Wike has now been appointed as minister by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, having been cleared among 44 others by the Senate.

But many PDP members in Rivers and across the country are worried about his continued romance with the ruling party despite not officially announcing his decision to join the APC.

Many party members wondered why the PDP has remained silent on his continued hobnobbing with the ruling party.

The PDP members wondered why the former governor has continued to show disrespect to the party at every given occasion despite moves by the various organs to appease him.

It is generally no longer news that the former Rivers governor, disagreed with the leadership of the PDP and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar shortly after losing the party’s presidential primary.

Wike was not happy that Atiku reneged on earlier promise to pick him as his running-mate for the 2023 presidential poll, while also demanding the resignation of then party’s national chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, and for the position to be zoned to the Southern Nigeria.

Wike had said it was unfair and unjust to Southern Nigeria for the two positions to be occupied by northerners.

Read also: Beware of political players that stir up racial tensions, division – Isiguzo

He subsequently formed a G-5 alliance with four other PDP governors; Seyi Makinde, Samuel Ortom, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, Okezie IKpeazu and they worked against Atiku and the party in the February 23rd presidential poll.

Although Wike worked for the PDP in the gubernatorial election and successful installed his anointed candidate, Sim Fubara as his successor in Rivers State, he has sufficiently manifested anti-party behaviours that left many observers tongue-tied.

Despite moves by party leaders at reconciling the aggrieved group and individuals within the party after the general election, Wike has not shown any indication that he is willing to put the rift between him. If anything, he has moved on. It is the PDP that is still beholding his face.

His visit to Ganduje, APC chairman Wednesday sparked rumours of his impending defection to the ruling party.

Since his picture and Ganduje’s grace social media platforms after their meeting, many Nigerians have continued to react.

Some observers said that such move would be a big surprise, considering that the former Rivers governor had ones said on national television that he would never join the APC, and that the PDP was suffering from mere “malaria”, while the APC has “cancer.”

Wike had vowed that such a decision would never happen.

“How can I leave malaria which can be easily treated to cancer that has no cure?” he asked rhetorically.

Many members of the PDP are of the opinion that it would be disastrous for the future of the party if after publicly romancing the APC and even serving in Tinubu’s administration, Wike returned back to the PDP.

Some party faithful told BusinessDay that the PDP’s leadership under Umar Damagum must strike out Wike’s name from the register to serve as deterrent to others.

In May, a federal high court sitting in Abuja had said the PDP had the right to suspend or expel Wike. James Omotosho, presiding judge had delivered judgment in the suit instituted by Wike against the PDP.

This was against the earlier judgment in February in which the same judge had ordered all parties in the suit to maintain peace.

In the first suit by Wike, the same judge had said that suspending or expelling Wike from the party without affording him the right to defend himself was contrary to the provision of the PDP’s constitution and the 1999 constitution as amended.

Some party leaders say they are not bothered about Wike’s continued romance with the ruling party, because he was no more relevant, wondering why he went against his words never to work with the APC.

Political analysts said that the PDP’s inability to resolve the disagreement with Wike was a setback. They noted that the party made a mistake by allowing Ayu to remain in office against the agitations of the G5 governors, knowing the crucial role governors play towards electoral victory and party politics in Nigeria.

“I think we can say the inability of PDP to resolve this issue with Wike and his colleagues then affected the party’s chances in the presidential poll.

“Whether you like it or not the party would have done better if they had gone to that election a united house. And think of it; Ayu resigned after the Presidential poll. Why did he not do it when it was necessary?

“I don’t trust Ayu; I want to believe those who said he was working for Tinubu.

“Of what essence would it benefit the PDP to suspend Wike now? The deed as been done. Since he as not come out openly to say he is joining the APC, there is nothing they can do than to continue talking to him,” Wale Bakare, political analyst, said.

Babatunde Olarewaju, a PDP chieftain in Lagos State, said there were signs that Wike may join the APC considering his recent remarks, noting that the party was not afraid punishing him.

According to him, “We can all see what he has become: consistent Aso Rock visitor; begging for office and recognition. Is he any longer relevant? Or going about for relevance.

“Governor Siminalaya Fubara is still a PDP governor, who I want to assume has his own image to protect. Have you forgotten what Fubara said on the 19th of June, 2023? And he was referring to Wike – ‘Don’t be far away from me if you cross over.’ Get a meaning from that.

“I have my own meaning. Politics is about interest. If anyone wants to cross to APC he is free. For disciplined politicians, party principles decides where they stay and that should be permanent.

“Voters can drift, disciplined politician shouldn’t. Leave matter, when it comes to suspension the PDP NWC is watching and capable.”

Speaking recently, a member of the PDP’s National Executive Committee, Timothy Osadolor, called on the leadership of the party to sanction Wike over his association with the APC and the Tinubu-led presidency.

He said that the party would survive if Wike was expelled, and that no individual could be bigger than the party.

Osadolor, who is the Deputy National Youth Leader of the PDP, said the soft disposition of the PDP’ Damagum, towards Wike, largely accounts for the reason he was still laying claim to PDP membership. He said if he were to swap roles with Damagum, Wike would be gone the next minute.

Osadolor stated, “Time has not only come, it is overdue for Wike to be shown the way out of the party. Every manager has his own style but if I was the chairman, I don’t see any reason Wike should still be in this party.

“I don’t understand why he is still laying claim to the membership of the PDP after his open flirtation and connivance with the ruling party. His shameless association with the Presidency and the APC has come full cycle.

“It is not a matter of if or when, it is a matter of integrity. Wike cannot be dining and wining with the APC and still claim to be a member of the PDP. He should know this!”