All is not well with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the fight between Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State has torn the party apart. The crisis, POLITICS NIGERIA learnt cannot be disconnected from next year’s presidential election.
Before now, Wike has since the last Edo election been an ally of Obaseki. The former supported the latter to contest under the PDP in the 2020 Guber elections after he was forced out of the All Progressives Congress (APC) by his former godfather, Adams Oshiomhole.
This newspaper recalled that Wike hosted Obaseki at the Government House in Port Harcourt, to show his support. It was after this that Obaseki dumped the APC. Upon his victory in September 2020, a crisis erupted.
Obaseki started making moves to appoint his key political loyalists from the APC to key positions in the PDP but was rebuked by the bonafide members of the opposition party led by the South/South Vice Chairman, Dan Orbih. Not pleased with the development, Obaseki’s allies mounted pressure on the governor to seek another political platform to further their collective ambition. They even made moves at the early stage to have him return to APC.
Last week, Obaseki and his deputy, Philip Shaibu, were poised to have concluded their plans to decamp. Shaibu in an interview with “Channels TV Politics Today” said “if the impunity in the PDP continues and the “soldiers” of Obaseki decide to defect to another political party, he (Obaseki) will have no choice, but to join them, ahead of the 2023 general elections.”
In a swift reaction, Wike lambasted Obaseki and his deputy for threatening to quit the party.
“Threatening the party that there are alternatives to PDP. This is the same people that were kneeling down to beg for us to give them the umbrella, today you have the effrontery to threaten the PDP. Such a shame. These are the same people when they were denied tickets under APC, they were running helter-skelter begging everybody to give them an umbrella and we gave them an umbrella,” Wike said last week.
The counter attacks
Not pleased with the statement by Wike, Obaseki gave a response, saying Wike’s ambition to have delegates from the state ahead of the party’s 2023 presidential primaries is making him act irresponsibly.
“If Governor Wike was one who is wont to show respect and courtesy to his colleague-governors, he would have ordinarily reached out to me to express his concerns about the views made by my deputy governor, rather than embarking on this unwarranted public onslaught.”
“It clearly amounts to a delusion of grandeur for any one man to nurse the idea that he owns or has more stake in the PDP and everyone should pander to him.
“We are all equal stakeholders in the party and an aggregate of the ideas, opinions and contributions of all leaders and members should form the position of the party and not the view of one individual or a select few,” Obaseki had said.
As expected, Wike responded in a more brutal manner, calling Obaseki a ‘serial betrayer’.
“If you ask anybody or check the DNA of Obaseki, you will discover that he is a serial betrayer and an ungrateful person. I tender an unreserved apology to Oshiomhole for not believing him in the first instance about Obaseki’s betrayal,” Wike said while addressing a crowd at an event in Port Harcourt on Monday.
POLITICS NIGERIA gathered that the last may not have been heard of the open war between supporters of Wike and Obaseki in the region. The National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Iyorchia Ayu, said the crisis between the duo will affect the synergy meant to bring victory to the party in 2023.
Speaking at a joint meeting of the board of trustees and national executive committee of the party on Wednesday at the PDP headquarters in Abuja, he said the party needs to focus on the 2023 election and not a fight between two governors.
POLITICS NIGERIA gathered that both Wike and Obaseki were present at the meeting as Ayu stressed that their fight may affect the PDP.
“I am calling on every single member of the PDP family to put their differences aside. We are not out to fight against ourselves; our goal is unite the party, go out as we used to do, win elections as we used to do. If there are differences, we must settle our differences in-house.”
“No party member should attack another party member.If there are any issues, we have different organs of the party to resolve party differences,” the party chairman pleaded.
The article was originally published on Politics Nigeria.