Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State rarely forgives or forgets a perceived wrong done him.
Ask Rt. Hon Rotimi Amaechi who is still enmeshed in a battle for supremacy with the Rivers state henchman. Ask Dakuku Peterside who lost the 2015 governorship election to Wike in 2015 and couldn’t stop sobbing afterwards. Ask the APC in Rivers State. Ask former commissioners in Wike’s cabinet who still lick their wounds in agony long after they were dismissed from their duty posts.
Or ask Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, former Nigeria vice president and PDP presidential candidate in the 2019 elections.
Alhaji Atiku has not been in Wike’s good books for a while (Punch)
On September 26, 2018, without referring to Atiku by name, Wike blasted and threatened the then PDP presidential aspirant for allegedly making moves to take the party’s convention away from Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, for selfish reasons.
For Wike, Atiku’s attempt to change the venue of the convention midway in the game, amounted to some personal affront and insult.
“Let me warn the party, if you dare, Rivers State will teach the party a lesson. Those days have passed when they took Rivers State for granted. Nobody can use and dump Rivers State.
“No presidential aspirant can use and dump Rivers State. We never lobbied for it, we never asked for it, but it will boost the economy of the state. People will make money. Those who are against Rivers people from making money to improve their businesses, will not get our support.
“Nobody should dare Rivers State any longer. Enough is enough. PDP should know that we are not a punching bag. We are not a people you can use and push. We are not harlots. Whenever you want, you come. When you finish, you push us aside.
Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers is a straight-talking badass who gives as good as he receives [Twitter/@GovWike]
“We will retaliate at the appropriate time. When you go, tell your colleagues, the presidential aspirants. We were not interested, but having given it to us, you cannot insult us.
“You come here to deceive us about restructuring. Just that Rivers State is a venue, you fight it. Then, when you are there, what will happen? You think we are fools where you preach restructuring, then when you get the position, you abandon restructuring,” Wike fumed.
Of course everyone knew Wike was referring to Atiku, the ‘poster boy’ of ‘restructuring’ ahead of the 2019 elections.
On October 7, 2018, when it became clear that Atiku was about to be crowned PDP presidential candidate in Port Harcourt, Wike left the convention venue in a huff. He had seen enough. His candidate was Sokoto Governor Aminu Tambuwal. He couldn’t bear watching Atiku being crowned the chosen one on his watch and turf.
“I supported the Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, fully. I have no regrets for my support for Tambuwal”, Wike confessed afterwards.
Atiku won the PDP presidential primary in Port Harcourt (AFP)
“But the party has made a choice and as a loyal party man, I stand by the choice of the party. I will support His Excellency Atiku Abubakar to victory in 2019. That is what is called party loyalty”, he added. But very few believed him.
Wike and Atiku have maintained a frosty relationship for a while. They both try to keep it all under wraps, but every once in a while, the underbelly of the disgust they both feel for the other, sticks out like a sorry sore thumb.
Like on Wednesday, September 11, 2019, when Wike hurriedly congratulated President Buhari whose victory at the presidential ballot of February 23, 2019 was upheld by the election petition tribunal, at Atiku’s expense.
At a time when his political party, the PDP, was rejecting the verdict of the tribunal; at a time when PDP chieftains and faithful were expressing their disgust at the outcome of the presidential election petition, Wike was rushing to congratulate an opponent in Buhari. As if to say ‘the enemy of my enemy, is my friend’.
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike and All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate, Dakuku Peterside during the 2015 slugfest (Punch)
In a late night statement issued through his media aide, Simeon Nwakaudu, Wike urged Buhari to use his victory to work for all Nigerians, “irrespective of their political leanings.”
He was rubbing it in and he knew it.
At the time of writing, Wike remains the only PDP governor or chieftain who has publicly congratulated Buhari for his victory at the tribunal.
Politics can be interesting, intriguing and petty; and Wike does ‘petty’ better than most. It may have been a year since his candidate for the presidency, Tambuwal, was outsmarted and outwitted by the PDP and Atiku in Port Harcourt, but Wike rarely forgets or forgives.
It’s Wike’s world and we are merely living in it. The man plays by a different set of rules to the rest of mankind.