I don’t think Governor Nyesom Wike reads, but if he does, he probably hasn’t read Sun Tzu’s Art of War. If he had, chances are he wouldn’t go to war with his party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, in the manner he has.
There’s no need to belabor the reader with the details of happenings in the PDP before Wike declared war. These happenings can be summarized thus: after the PDP was kicked out of power, many of its members gravitated towards the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC); being a governor of an oil-rich state, Wike stepped in and became a major financier of the party, using state funds, of course; as a first-term governor in 2019, Wike backed his ‘friend’, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal in the PDP presidential primaries held in his Rivers State, and when Tambuwal lost the contest to Atiku, Wike supported Atiku ‘wholeheartedly’ with resources from the coffers of his state; when Atiku lost in the general election, Wike started positioning himself for the 2023 presidential contest by dashing out hundreds of millions of Naira to mostly north western states; when he declared his aspiration, Wike toured mostly the northern states spraying millions of dollars on his party men who assured him he would clinch the ticket at the primaries; sure of winning the primary election, Wike’s ‘friend’ became his undoing on the primary convention ground when he stepped down for Atiku who won the primaries; and the last straw was, Atiku declined to pick Wike as running mate.
Wike has every right to be angry, but he should have realized that politics is ‘bitch’, particularly in these parts of the world where the major motivation for most politicians is to place themselves advantageously. Wike should have realized that contesting an election is synonymous with buying a lottery ticket – the result could go any other way. For a politician who prides of growing his political career through the ranks, it is surprising that these realizations are strange to Wike. For a politician who should be done with local politics at the end of his tenure as governor and move on to national politics, Wike cannot afford to alienate himself from other sections of the country.
Wike’s decision to go to war with the party that made him, while still angry, belies Sun Tzu’s teachings: “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.”
Due to anger over his loss and what he probably saw as betrayal and humiliation, Wike lost the serenity to conceive the idea of when to fight and when not to fight, his own strengths and those of his opponents, and the repercussions of failure on him. At this stage, he doesn’t need to be aided on. Being the bossy type, Wike is surrounded by underlings who will naturally only key in into his anger-based decision. No one will want to draw his ire by cautioning him and his methods.
If Wike had conquered his anger, he would have realized that by taking on Atiku, he is taking on the party that gave Atiku the presidential ticket, and he would then have realized that having been made by the same party, he cannot be bigger than the party. It is the same party that ‘his’ candidates from the post of councilor to governor and senator in his Rivers State will use to get to power in 2023 and probably in the future.
Would Wike want to strengthen the chances of APC and invariably the powers of Rotimi Amaechi in the state? If PDP loses the presidency to the APC, what are Wike’s best chances in getting a formidable ticket to run for the presidency in 2027? Would he be trusted by the PDP, or in fact any other traditional party, given his past anti-party record? These are questions Wike’s anger didn’t allow him to ask himself.
By Wike’s attitude, since he lost the primary to Atiku, even those neutral on the happenings in the PDP must have begun to realize that Atiku is justified in picking Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa as running mate instead of him. He has portrayed himself as quarrelsome, garrulous, unreliable, and undesirable. He has forgotten that today will turn to tomorrow, and the future will refer to history. The people who cheer him on today, will use his antics against him tomorrow.
In negotiation, there is what is known as BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement). Wike’s BATNA is neither to quit PDP, nor to undermine it. He should also realize that he is moving gradually out of the Zone of Possible Agreement (ZOPA) with his party as his new ‘friends’ cheer him on. He must cash in on the concessions made to him by Atiku and the PDP before it is too late, else he will only have himself to blame.
Whether or not Wike stays in the PDP and remains behind to undermine it to lose the presidential election to the APC, he will cease to be governor in May 2023. It is then he will realize that he is disrobed of his invincible robe of governor, and he is of less importance in the political clime. He will also realize that he cannot get a fairer deal from the APC.
If PDP wins the 2023 presidential election, a southerner stands a better chance of becoming its presidential candidate after Atiku, whereas, if the APC wins, only a northerner stands to clinch its next presidential ticket. This is how Peter Obi of the Labor Party (LP) blew his chances of becoming president. Wike is towing the same line, in a worse manner, though.
If I were Wike, I would grab whatever Atiku and the PDP offer me for truce, forget about the past, and plan for the presidency in 2027 by building on the successes achieved before the primaries.