By Nkpotu Ekalugbu
In the past few days, Nigerians from all walks of life have watched with amazement and keen interest, the verbal war between two governors who belong to the same political party but do not seem to share the same political ideology. We are not talking about the Governor of Ondo State, Arakunri Oluwarotimi Akeredolu who referred to some of his colleagues as Yahoo Yahoo Governors for insisting on due process on the removal of the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC). We are also not talking about Governor Nasir El- Rufai of Kaduna State who went on to celebrate a palace coup in their party on national television only to later discover that the coup had failed by the following day.
We are rather talking about the rhetorical battle between Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State and Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State over the leadership squabble in the Edo State Chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Indeed, this was the incident that gained the most traction on the social media as well as in the conventional media. Perhaps, one thing that made the altercation the focal point of discourse for many political analysts was the one- page advertorial which Obaseki hurriedly caused to be published in defence of his Deputy, Mr Philip Shuaibu, who had earlier incurred Wike’s wrath on the crisis in the party in Edo State.
In that one page advertorial, Obaseki deliberately chose to hurl invectives on Wike just to deride and diminish him in the eyes of well meaning Nigerians.
A lot of Nigerians, who read the insulting piece from Obaseki saw it as an unwarranted but premeditated attack given the wrong narratives woven around the personality of Wike and his roles in the PDP over the years. The article was indeed in very bad taste as Obaseki threw every caution to the wind in a desperate move to dress his colleague and benefactor in very dark robes. Obaseki descended to the lowly level of tagging Wike as a bully in the main opposition party.
Who is a bully?
The Cambridge English Dictionary defines a bully as someone who hurts or frightens someone else, often over a period of time, and often forcing them to do something that they do not want to do:
Similarly, the Merriam Webster Dictionary, defines a bully as a blustering, browbeating person, especially : one who is habitually cruel, insulting, or threatening to others who are weaker, smaller, or in some way vulnerable.
Do these definitions fit into the roles Wike has been playing in the Peoples Democratic Party all these years? Certainly not. You can accuse the man of being a zealot for his party but you cannot accuse him of coercing people to do what they don’t want to do.
How could a politician of Obaseki’s status be so callous with the usage of words to describe a colleague? It smacks of a betrayal of trust. Nothing more, nothing less.
Like Wike said in response to Obaseki:
“You came to beg a bully for you to have the (PDP) ticket. A bully was your campaign DG and a bully bullied you into Government House. What a shame!
“You came back with your wife to thank the bully that after God the bully made it possible for you to be there.”
The tragedy here is that Obaseki has finally exposed himself as a serial betrayer, who had treachery in his DNA.
He was, most probably out on a mischievous errand for some other persons who have been uncomfortable with Wike’s uncommon passion for anything that could promote the interest of the Peoples Democratic Party.
For a long time, Wike has remained an enigma, a rallying point and an arrow head in the party to the envy of some of his peers. When he insists on not allowing anyone to mess around with the PDP, those who are not as committed as him to the cause of the party would naturally take offence. In their hearts, they wished they could be as powerful and as popular as Wike but they always forget that certain people are naturally cut out to play certain roles.
In that offensive article, Obaseki attempted to whip up sentiments by dragging the former National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus into the fray and accusing Wike of bullying him out of office. But he forgot the sequence of the events that led to the exit of Secondus, a very close ally of Wike, who was accused of turning himself into a mole for the APC. Obaseki also dragged Chief Raymond Dokpesi into the debate but failed to state that the media mogul unilaterally zoned the presidential ticket of the PDP to the North and handed it over to the former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who sees the ticket as a birthright.
When such abnormalities begin to happen, someone needs to speak out without fear or favour and Wike has the natural boldness to call a spade by its name and damn the consequences.
But when he spoke out against these developments, he did so to save the PDP from drifting from its course. Is that a crime?
Obaseki, in his unfortunate attack on Wike also tried to blame him for the defection of Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State and Ben Ayade of Cross Rivers State. In his own estimation, these two fellows were victims of Wike’s intimidation, but that is far from the truth. These two fellows had personal reasons for pitching tent with the APC at thus time and it might not be unconnected with their records in office and the fear that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) might come on their trail.
Wike is not a bully as his detractors and traducers would want Nigerians to believe. He’s rather a staunch party loyalist and an uncompromising one for that matter. His only crime is his love for his party and his open determination to protect the party from disloyal members.
Even those who accuse Wike of arrogance and bullish attitude cannot deny the fact that he stands shoulder higher than most of his peers when it comes to sacrificing energy, time and resources towards the rebuilding of the main opposition party.
However, it is apparent that those who don’t mean well for the PDP, when confronted would be quick to label Wike as a bully. Likewise, those who don’t mind if the PDP crumbles and ceases to exist as a party, could also turn round and tag someone who challenges them as a bully.
- Nkpotu Ekalugbu , wrote from Port Harcourt, Rivers State.