By Tordue Simon Targema
Secondly, there is the notion of power shift to the South which is shared even among Southern politicians that are not positively disposed to Wike. Indeed, all political stakeholders in the party are unanimous in their conviction that power should shift to the South, as President Muhammadu Buhari is completing a second term, an uninterrupted eight-years Northern presidency come 2023.
This conviction has earned what many in the South would have ordinarily termed ‘Wike’s unnecessary self-centred nagging and ranting’ some form of legitimacy, giving him strong strength to bargain on the negotiation table. Worthy of note is the fact that even though Atiku dreads this negotiation table like a house infested with leprosy, he has no option than to face it, and fillers from the discussions so far indicate that the standard bearer is not finding it funny yielding to the demands of his ego-centric demigod of a rival.
What are the Issues on the Negotiation Table By-the-Way? Fillers from the negotiation table indicate that Wike clearly wants to show Atiku that he is not a force to relegate in the opposition party that he strive hard to sustain from 2015 to date when most party big-wigs including Atiku deserted it for the APC and other political formations. From what is in the public domain so far, few things stand out from Wike’s litany demands.
First and foremost, Atiku must do just one term and return the presidency to the South by the next election season, i.e. 2027. Secondly, Ayu must resign as the National Chairman of the PDP and a new chairperson for the party should emerge from the South West to balance the power structure in the party. Thirdly, Wike will install key ministers in Atiku’s cabinet, etc.
Of course, these are not by any means, too difficult conditions to meet if the standard bearer is determined to unite his house and put forth a formidable campaign team to challenge the ruling APC and other emerging opposition parties. After all, politics is all about concessions.
Already, His Excellency Atiku Abubakar has made his intention to run for just a single term known to the general public, even as such promises hardly hold water in politics if previous experiences in the country’s political landscape are worthy to go by. This is the more reason why Wike requires a concrete commitment to that effect, not just a promissory note that would likely bounce in the bank of equity when the time to cash it is due.
The third condition too is not too difficult to meet, considering that Wike is considered a big name in the party in his zone and likely to pull substantial votes for Atiku in the South. Lest we forget that the ‘Obi-dient’ movement and Tinubu’s effect are critical factors that would collapse whatever structure Atiku has in the South but for the support of strong party pillars in the region like Wike.
Indeed, Atiku needs a formidable team in the South, and no amount of concessions in terms of political appointments will be too big to woo the right people on board, his campaign train. Perhaps, the biggest hurdle right at the moment is for Ayu to accept to resign. As at the last minute, the third-republican political juggernaut is still holding unto his mandate, solidly. In fact, with an air of confidence like one who is firmly in charge, he describes those calling for his resignation from the party’s top seat as ‘small children’ who should not be taken seriously.
Indeed, this boast followed a vote of confidence passed on him by members of the party’s National Working Committee in Abuja, recently which Wike simply dismissed as the same path that Ayu’s predecessor, Prince Uche Secondus followed in his inglorious exit from the party’s top seat. Indeed, all indications point to Ayu’s eventual resignation in no distant time. It is in line with this expectation which seems the only sure path for a likely truce that the Board of Trustees Chairman of the party, Senator Walid Jibrin resigned his position in Abuja recently as a move towards uniting the party.
At the moment, calls for Ayu’s exit have reached advanced stage as all is set for formal commencement of campaigns later in the month. In a South-West stakeholders meeting of the party at Ibadan, Governor Seyi Makinde, one of the key members of the Wike’s camp reiterated their position that Ayu must go.
Makinde described the need to reshuffle leadership positions in the party as the party’s demonstration of commitment towards restructuring which has been its mantra since 2019; although Atiku dismissed this premise and maintained that even if Ayu resigns, a northerner is constitutionally most likely to take over as the party’s henchman given the provision of the party’s constitution.
A power shift in the party, Atiku explained, is only possible in the event of a constitutional review of the party’s constitution which is not likely in the current circumstances. In the meantime, Ayu jets off to Europe on vacation.
Meanwhile, several questions bug the curious mind as follows: is this trip a tactical move to pave the way for peaceful transition in absentia? Is Ayu working on his transition notes to hand over to a new party chairman upon return from vacation in line with the demands of Wike’s camp?
Is His Excellency Atiku Abubakar willing to sacrifice Ayu and broker a truce with Wike, or he is ready to call off Wike’s bluff and dare the consequences? By-the-way, does he has adequate time right at the moment to fully contemplate his options before formal commencement of campaigns later in the month?
The composition of the campaign team with Wike’s camp relegated to the background is a pointer to this line of thought. But if previous experience is anything to go by, then His Excellency Atiku Abubakar is threading on a treacherous ground.
Recall the revolution in the PDP that led to the emergence of the new-PDP which eventually joined forces with the APC in 2014, thereby forming a formidable opposition party that sent the PDP to the debris in 2015 general elections. Apparently, this history is about to repeat itself with the Wike’s puzzle. Coincidently, Just like2015, the current travail of the party starts from Rivers State.
One is, thus, curious to pose: is history repeating itself in the PDP camp? Can the Wike factor cost Atiku the price that former President Goodluck Jonathan paid in 2015 for ignoring Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi? Wike’s puzzle is certainly a hard one for Atiku to crack, and until he is able to crack it successfully, it remains a clog in the wheel of what seems his final shot at Nigeria’s top job.
How best he cracks this puzzle and steers the party to victory remains to be seen, as other political movements are restlessly cashing into the crack in the party to consolidate their holds on the South-South zone which, hitherto, was PDP’s stronghold.
Tordue Simon Targema writes from the Department of Journalism and Media Studies, Taraba State University, Jalingo. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org