By Fortune Archibong
Ahead of the 2023 general elections in Nigeria, the meeting of political figures of Nigerian extraction especially from the leading political parties in London is suspicious, as well as a political amusement. It all started with the rumoured meeting of the governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, with the presidential flagbearer of the ruling party and former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu; the meeting of former President Olusegun Obasanjo with serving Governors Wike of Rivers State, Okezie Ikpaeazu of Abia State, SeyiMakinde of Oyo State, Samuel Ortom of Benue State; in addition to Mr. Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party and former Governor Donald Duke of Cross River State; who were all in London to chart political causes of the Nigerian State.
The choice of London, the land of the late Queen Elizabeth, for the meeting provided a reminiscence on many issues as far as the evolution of the Nigerian nation is concerned. London was the offshore capital of Nigeria owing to its relevance to the colonial setup which midwives the protectorates or colonies of the Nigerian people into a nation. London also hosted the conference where the likes of Pa Anthony Enahoro moved the motion for the independence of Nigeria. The most recent manifestation and use of London as the medical capital of most Nigerian leaders for to convalesce, absentia administration and the investments for survival after office have also made London to be sought after. Another London reality is its educational prowess which has attracted several Nigerian youngsters in search of quality tertiary education. The Yoruba tribe is said to have so occupied and established in London such that they hold several festivals and niche for themselves in faraway London.
That the presidential flagbearer of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, was also in London on political tourism turned the London political meeting into a fertile land to sow political rapprochements, alignments and consensus. From the grapevine, the arch-rival of Atiku at the PDP presidential primaries, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, is said to have had the frankest interface with Atiku in London on his grouse over the fallout of the presidential primaries. The meeting is said to have send jitters down the spine of the Board of Trustees, National Working Committee, especially the national chairman of the party, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, until the recent hard stance of Atiku in his favour. If Atiku had taken Wike for granted or as an irrelevant Port Harcourt Boy ranting for political relevance, the rumoured meeting of Wikewith the flagbearer of the APC to re-strategise for political survival sends a warning.
That Governor Nyesom Wike could muster the strength andinfluence to usher his political disciples to London in the personalities of the Governors of Abia, Oyo, Benue States issignals to his relevance to the victory formula to unseat the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). Recalling that almost the same scenario in 2014/2015 cost President GoodluckJonathan, GCFR, the presidential victory of the 2015 general elections when the likes of former Governors Kwakwanso of Kano, Sule Lamido of Jigawa, Babangida Aliyu of Niger State, Bukola Saraki of Kwara State, Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State,the Peoples Democratic Party and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is almost at the verge of similar political upheaval which disorganised the former ruling party into defeat in 2023. They must be wary of the elements within the party that could scuttle what appears as this brightest and best chance of clinching the Nigerian presidency he has laboured for in the last three decades. As Governor Wike is also said to enjoy the loyalty of other Nigerian governors beyond the Governors of Oyo, Abia, Benue, etc., he is said to have the political cum financial chest to pick political bills from other political parties in the country in his bid to install or dethrone political leaders in the country.
While not foreclosing the possibilities of sudden loss of political power and relevance against Wike in a politically sensitive country like Nigeria, the London meeting could also turn Governor Wike into a Pan-Nigerian politician. Rivers State has almost turned into the Mecca of Nigerian politics hosting politicians of diverse extraction and where critical national political decisions are taken. Strategically, Governor Wike has recently invited the governor of Lagos State to inaugurate one of his flyover projects in Port Harcourt, hosted the immediate-past chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum and governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi in company of other South-West Governors and by the time the likes of Governors Ganduje of Kano, El-Rufai of Kaduna, Zulum of Borno, Badaru of Jigawa, Bagudu of Kebbi visits Wike and Port Harcourt on political consultation, then he has conquered Nigeria!
The London political tourism of Nigerian politicians has placed them on very tight political rope of political choices which is expected to manifest soonest. While the rumour mill has released discouraging political vibes from the kitty of the political master strategist and former President OlusegunObasanjo against the candidacy of older politicians in the mould of the Atiku Abubakar and Bola Tinubu of this world, younger generation politicians such Mr. Peter Obi, presidential flagbearerof the Labour Party appears more acceptable to the Nigerian political milieu. As Nigeria and Nigerians have always berated the Zimbabwean and Camerounian presidency where old despots such as the late Presidents Robert Mugabe and Paul Biya respectively have perennially clinged to power, this must not happen in Nigeria. Infact, should the London political tourism and converge translate into discouraging the Grandpa presidential aspirants to quit the stage of the younger generation, then London would become the landmark political theatre of Nigeria. Nigeria must tow the path of France and other countries led by the best and smart brains, choose a leader who would not lead by proxy, hibernated, cocooned in the seat of power and only show up at public outings briefly to douse rumours of death in power!
From all indications, the Nigerian environment has refused to be candidly open enough to tell, bitter political truths to practicing and moneybag Nigerian politicians who may not be told the truth by the cacophony of political praise singers, sycophants and other urchins of power, hence the choice of the London milieu. It is assumed that in an environment of white skinned people such as London, the heart of some Nigerian cum African politicians could be cleansed of political black science, black heart and even black eyes which may not decipher nor appreciate the need to retire old politicians. Our political grand daddies should be wise to be kingmakers, mentors and models to the younger generation of politicians in search of political direction and not on eternal course on political perpetuity.
Archibong is of the Nigerian Guild of Editors
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