Since 2019, governors Nyesom Wike and Ifeanyi Okowa have been engaging in a supremacy battle within the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
On Thursday, Okowa edged Wike out to clinch the Vice Presidential ticket of the PDP despite the earlier endorsement by the National Working Committee of the PDP.
The NWC had reportedly picked Wike as the perfect candidate to balance the ticket. However, Atiku Abubakar opted for the quiet Okowa against the boisterous Wike.
Although Governor Wike had publicly stated that he is not willing to settle for vice president, however, the process adopted in selecting a running mate to Atiku created some sort of competition, and once again, Okowa won.
This is not the first time he will be winning against Wike.
Okowa is the quiet operator, an opposite personality to the loud Wike. But both are strategically important to the PDP.
The two are governing oil-rich States and strong in terms of good voting strength.
Reps Minority Leader Tussle
In the post-2015, for the first time, the PDP found itself as an opposition party, Wike emerged as one of the pillars of the opposition party. Many believed that he also played a significant role in financing the party.
In 2017, he backed Uche Secondus as the National Chairman of the party against other candidates for the same position.
Again, in 2019, Governor Wike also backed Kingsly Chinda, an Ikwerre man from Rivers as the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives.
Secondus forwarded Chinda’s name, alongside others as principal officers for minority parties in the House to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.
The letter was jettisoned by Gbajabiamila, who read another letter from the Minority Caucus of the House. In the letter, Ndudi Elumelu was announced as the Minority leader of the House.
Elumelu from Delta State is an ally of Okowa. Also, Toby Okechukwu, who emerged as Deputy Minority Leader is the godson of Ike Ekweremadu.
Subsequently, the PDP NWC suspended Ndudi and 6 others for insubordination, while a committee headed by Iyorcha Ayu was set up to investigate the matter.
Reacting to the development, Governor Wike had accused the committee of being corrupt.
“The Committee set up by the PDP on the illegal emergence of Ndudi Elumelu is the most corrupt committee ever set up by the party. We thank our son, Austin Opara, for withdrawing from that committee, so that he is not entangled in the illegal activities of the tainted committee.
“We are warning PDP to be careful not to toy with Rivers State. Rivers State has all it takes to withstand the PDP and fight the party to a standstill. “The Rivers State governor is not one of those Governors that will kowtow to their illicit activities. The Rivers State governor is not one of those governors that anyone can cajole,” he noted.
A member of the House had informed DAILY POST that the lawmakers opted for Elumelu because they were tired of the overbearing nature of Wike.
Ifeanyi supports Atiku
Governor Wike had based his entire campaign for the PDP presidential ticket on fighting for power shift to the south. In doing so, he urged all PDP governors in the south to back him.
Sources within the PDP revealed that Okowa covertly worked with others to undermine Wike.
“Some of the leaders in the south did not see him (Wike) as a candidate that could win the presidential election, they had to make hard choices. As it stands, one of those that opposed Wike has now benefitted from it,” the source said.
After the primary, Wike attacked some of the governors from the south for putting their ambition ahead of the agenda of the region.
“Look at a region ganged up, then you, your own region, cannot gang up. You became tools to be used against the interest of your people, and you think you have won, you have lost.
“You will continue to be perpetual slaves. Rivers people you don’t need to bother yourselves. PDP needs us. If they say they don’t need us, they should wait,” he said.
This victory by Okowa is the latest in the long cold battle with Wike.
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