Rivers state has been in the news recently due to its chief security officer, Nyesom Wike, who is currently the most sought-after bride of all presidential candidates today in Nigeria.
For starters, when it comes to the number of registered voters, Rivers State is fourth in Nigeria. Rivers State had 3.21 million registered voters in 2019, making it the state with the largest number of voters in the South-South region of the country. The state has added 473,924 registered voters to the CVR, bringing the total register to 3.68 million.
So, if elections are all about numbers, ignoring Wike is a bad idea. Since the aftermath of the PDP presidential convention, which saw Wike lose to Atiku and his subsequent LEG OVER of the vice presidential ticket, which was taken under his nose and given to Okowa, Wike appears to have anointed himself a ONE MAN ARMY.
Almost on a daily basis, he has invited not just top APC party chieftains, but also major Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu generals to come and commission some massive projects in Rivers State, which would normally be done by PDP presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar and other PDP governors.
He began by inviting his Ebonyi State brother, David Umahi, followed by former Sokoto State governor, Aliyu Wamako, Lagos State’s Sanwo Olu, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila. These are not only APC-tested generals; as I previously stated, they are Tinubu’s key men who were important in Tinubu obtaining the APC presidential candidacy.
During these visits, Wike has not failed to throw some punchlines at his party, the PDP, demonstrating that the Rivers State Governor is not about to end his hot romance with Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu anytime soon.
When Wamako visited, Wike was quoted as saying its time for the commissioning of projects then after that he would begin playing politics, he then challenged them to a game of who plays politics better. Take notice that his invitation to Wamako, a close Tinubu associate and political competitor to Tambuwal in Sokoto, was an intentional slap in the face to Tambuwal, who deserted him during the PDP’s presidential convention.
Listen to what Wike stated during the visit of the governor of Lagos State.
“If you say Rivers State does not matter, Rivers State will tell you that you don’t also matter at the appropriate time. If you don’t like us, we will not like you. If you like us, we will like you.”
Days before this visit, some sections of the media reported that Atiku was quoted as saying that Rivers State votes do not count.
Now, during yesterday’s commissioning of the Legislative Quarters in Port Harcourt by the House of Representatives Speaker , Rt Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, a comical combo ensued between the duo that finally nails the coffin on Wike’s pick of Tinubu over Atiku, his party’s presumed presidential candidate, the PDP.
In Wike’s own words he said, “Mr. Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, I didn’t invite you here as APC member (if that were the case I would have written to the chairman of APC), But I invited you here because you helped me get monetary refund from the federal government.
I plotted against your aspiration to be the speaker. But you helped me get the money. That is why I invited you to come and see what I’ve done with the money.
Take note of Femi Gbajabiamila’s response to Wike.,” It’s not hidden that you plotted against me. It is the irony of life and indeed very interesting, the twist of fate that those whom you sat together to plot against me (to stop me from being speaker) are the same people that sat and plotted against you in the (PDP) presidential primary.“
Do you sense the irony in life? The same Tambuwal who is being labeled a betrayer was a beneficiary of Femi Gbajabamilla in 2011 who gave him all his support to become the speaker, only for Tambuwal to play a prominent role in preventing Femi from becoming the speaker of the House of Representatives in 2015 and even working against him in 2019.
The truth is that public perception matters a lot in this coming election, and the way things are going, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu appears to be ahead of the race, with the South West entirely behind him; if any region is stated to be fully behind a candidate, it appears to be the South West. The South East remains divided, with IPOB playing a significant in inducing voters apathy.
If Rivers State votes for Tinubu, the South-South will be strongly divided, as Okowa, who is from Delta State, will undoubtedly go to any length to deliver his state. Delta State is second only to Rivers State in terms of registered voters in the South-South.
No rational political party wants to lose a significant portion of Rivers State’s 3,689,197 million voters. As things stand, Nyesom Wike will continue to hold the ace as the most beautiful bride for a while, but if other states are confident in their ability to provide the dividends of democracy to their inhabitants, they should start commissioning projects and inviting their favorite political heroes, no man should HAVE THE MONOPLOY OF SHAKARA. If you have projects flaunt it.
One thing is certain: Rivers State is up for grabs by any of the major parties.
Let us cross our fingers and see how this all plays out.
Osigwe Omo-Ikirodah is the chairman and Principal of Bush Radio Academy.