By Fortune Archibong
“I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women” – 2 Samuel 1:26.
The above biblical excerpt was the lamentation of King David over the loss, death and sad end of his friend Jonathan, the son of King Saul who haunted him. David loved Jonathan to the very end despite the arrows, javelin and aborted attempts of his father (Jonathan’s) to snuff out his life. This is an allegory of the relationship between Governors Ezenwo Nyesom Wike of RiversState and Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto State.
Governors Wike and Tambuwal’s relationship was a delight to most Nigerians who coveted their avowed cause to rid out “Methuselah” politicians, especially serial presidential candidates from the Peoples Democratic Party fold. Sokoto and Port Harcourt became the sacred homes of the duo of Wike and Tambuwal and trust a benevolent oil-rich governor of Wike’s ilk, secret and open gestures of love were the order of the day to oil the wheels of their political romance. A case in point was the donation of N500 million to Sokoto State government to ameliorate the losses arising from fire disaster in a popular Sokoto market. Most southerners had thought Governors Tambuwal and Wike were the new faces of the Nigerian polity,especially the much expected power shift to the South upon the completion of President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure. Like the biblical David-Jonathan pact where Jonathan relinquished his hereditary right of kingship to deputize David when he mounts the throne of Israel, everyone had thought Governor AminuTambuwal of Sokoto would help his friend and governor of Rivers State to do the political needful at the just-concluded presidential primary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Abuja, but the reverse/shocker was the case!
At the unexpected withdrawal of Governor Tambuwal from the Peoples Democratic Party presidential primary to support the former Vice President and Wazirin Adamawa, the hopes of Governor Nyesom Wike and other southern presidential aspirants crashed like a pack of cards. This singular act could be seen as betrayal, disappointment and grand conspiracy against the resolution of southern governors to clinch the presidency in 2023. The results of the PDP presidential primary indicated that: Alhaji Abubakar Atiku scored a total of 371, Wike – 237, Saraki– 70 votes and others. A simple calculation would reveal that if Governor Tambuwal had remained in the contest, he would have garnered at least one third, two thirds and if not half of the votes won by former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and that would have made Governor Wike or another southern candidate to win the primary. At most, if Governor Tambuwal withdrew from the race and declared support for his friend, Governor NyesomWike, the dream of a southern PDP presidential flag bearer would have been realised. Tambuwal could not reciprocate the support he enjoyed from Wike in the 2019 presidential primary, the face-off of Wike with his townsman and former national chairman, Uche Secondus, to advance Tambuwal’s political cause but shattered all these at the pleasure of northern elders for Atiku’s emergence.
Whereas Governor Nyesom Wike is yet to openly congratulate Alhaji Atiku Abubakar on his victory at the PDP presidential primary, I guess he is still pondering on the title of this article, “…Even thou, O Tambuwal”, and may also relish on another lamentation of King David in Psalm 55:12-14 – “For it was not an enemy that reproached me, then I would have borne it, neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; then I would have hid myself from him. But it was thou, a man, mine equal, my guide and my acquaintance. We took secret counsel together and walked unto the house of God (house of politics) in company”. Wike and Tambuwal are equals by virtue of being second term governors, Tambuwal is a guide as chairman, PDP Governors Forum and acquaintance as the duo had related beyond formal levels and had walked into the house of politics together, especially the house or school of thought which had favoured a serving governor to clinch the party ticket in view of their heavy contributions to sustain the party in an era of opposition and in a regime which demonized everything that has to do with PDP. Also, the notion which had forbidden the rule of septuagenarians as president of Nigeria for fresh or “middle blood” politicians was thwarted when Tambuwal launched the salvo which gave the party’s presidential ticket to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar. This was a truncation of what could be described as the deal of the new generation for the dethronement of the old song and sad refrain of political history.
The takeaways from the just-concluded PDP presidentialprimary show that Nigeria is heavily in the grip of ethnicity, religious bigotry, political-demographic domination, gross marginalisation and socio-political insensitivity. For a Buhari-cum-northern eight-year rule, the emergence of a northern presidential candidate appears as an anathemic anomaly and should the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) who may not play with power fields the likes of the Senate president, Senator Ahmed Lawan, or a hidden northern dark horse, only God could predict the destiny of Nigeria. The implication of fielding AlhajiAtiku Abubakar and a southern presidential candidate in the All Progressives Congress is very slim and the entire 2023 presidential equation may likely throw up a Muslim-Muslim ticket. Also, should an APC candidate such as Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu win the APC presidential primary; the Muslim-Muslim ticket which succeeded during the Abiola/Kingibe season of 1993 may not work in the Nigeria of today deeply wounded by religious and other insensibilities; and fielding a northern candidate against a southern presidential candidate in APC is simply invitation to cheap victory. Our brothers in the North may easily forget the party and vote one of their own to elongate and even perpetuate a northern presidency in a secular and multi-ethnic national setup like Nigeria.
Unless there is a replay of the 2011 political wonder where the dramatis personae of President Goodluck Jonathan emerged as the presidential flag bearer of the APC which is still a very hard nut to crack, a deal which may hit the political rocks, and should Jonathan slug it out again with his former rival, Atiku Abubakar, and the APC governors who courted him as the messiah to be reckoned with be sincere with their support to him, AtikuAbubakar may kiss his last political dust. This could amount to an atonement for another northern presidency in 2027 when the four lawful years of power left for former President Jonathan expires. Then, Atiku Abubakar may be too old to contest, leaving the likes of Tambuwal as one of the brides for the presidency and only God knows if that was the carrot dangled at him to dump his political man Friday, Nyesom Wike, to prove the truism, even thou, O Brutus!
Archibong is of the Nigerian Guild of Editors.