A typical political season in Nigeria raises dust and eyebrows. It has all the performative excitement that comes with top-level drama. History is never complete without the mention of places, which later become important moments in journaling the stories of defeat or triumph. These places, perhaps more than the actual exercise or in the same strength as it, are important to Nigerian politicians.
In the last three months since the two most powerful parties in the country – the PDP and the APC concluded their Presidential primary elections, the tension of the game has risen. The friendship that comes with the political seasons are taking shape and intrigues have become the new order.
Stories of the emergence of politicians are not strange realities these days but what has seemed to catch the eye in almost as equal measure as the role of the social media is the venue of these high-powered meetings?
What is wrong with Nigerian rooms? There are probably cracks on Nigerian walls that make hushed tones grow in decibels. The Nigerian walls are not trusted and the ears on the ground are perhaps sharper than we may think. Or the international engagements? Never say never in a Nigerian election. Or why are meetings held abroad without stop?
Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Presidential candidate of the APC could be said to have faced the most heat so far, and rightfully so. The mood in the country regarding the performance of the current administration is not embracing. Situations are dire and the former Lagos governor is identified as a major player in the emergence and reemergence of President Muhammadu Buhari. It will be difficult for secret meetings to be held by Tinubu. He’s in the spotlight.
In July, the camp of the APC Presidential candidate denied meeting a top Nigerian politician in France but in August, they were seen together again. The question on everyone’s lips is, ”what’s up with France? Why France?”
It may take some time to find answers to these questions but in Nigerian politics, secrets aren’t kept for that long. The same top politician was also seen in London meeting another candidate alongside a host of governors who may be disenchanted by the choice their party presents. A meeting of conviction perhaps? Time is a gentleman, it will tell.
And who is this new bride courted by every available and hungry candidate in Nigeria’s most deceitful, heavy, and tense period?
Enter Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike.
Wike sits on riches – in every sense of the word and to the use of the current season.
Rivers State is one of the richest states in the country, blessed with oil and an abundance of resources.
Politically, they have the second highest number of registered voters in the South, only behind Lagos. They also have one of the biggest register of voters in the country. Whoever Wike supports has a massive population of voters and a war chest behind him.
Since losing the Presidential primaries of the PDP in May and also getting snubbed by Atiku Abubakar for the party’s Vice Presidential ticket, Wike has become a player many are wary of. His antecedents make him a politician a potential will want to have on his side. This explains why he has had meetings with Tinubu, Atiku and Peter Obi in the last few months. They understand how strong he is.
Rewind the years and this bride was Rotimi Amaechi. Strong, rich and ready, Amaechi’s support of Buhari in 2015 is still believed to be one of the reasons the incumbent emerged. The new bride is Wike and everyone wants a piece of him, but it won’t come without a significant price.
Wike has an army of PDP governors who are loyal to him. Some of these governors are undecided about where their interests lie and their support is deemed important to Atiku. They, however are also loyal to Wike.
The kerfuffle with the leadership of the PDP has further underlined Wike’s strength. He’s a star player that the opposition would love to prise away, at least for that election.
Where this new camaraderie with various politicians will end is a question of months. There are dramatic days ahead, and twists and turns are the other of a political season.
Why this new bride isn’t engaged in Nigeria remains a question that will stay around. What comes with a meeting in France and England? What are the things said behind those foreign doors?
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