by Dare Lawal
In Port Harcourt on Saturday, the faction of the PDP loyal to the minister of state for education, Nyesom Wike, held a thanksgiving event at the Port Harcourt Club in the Old Government Residential Area, Port Harcourt amid tight security.
The event had in attendance people like Nyesom Wike, Felix Obuah (the state party chairman), Austin Opara (former deputy speaker of the federal house of representatives), Kingsley Chinda (a member of the federal house of representatives) and the five state of assembly members loyal to the minister.
Below are 7 takeaways from the event:
1. The militants are back: Every Rivers resident is aware of the hard line stance of Gov. Amaechi against militants and terrorists who at a point almost crippled the economy of the state. Amaechi was famously against negotiations with them, and was opposed to amnesty for militants when it was first muted. Militants who were visible fixtures during the administration of the former governor, Peter Odili, became relegated in Amaechi’s government.
However, with control of the PDP in the state now in the hands of Abuja politicians led by Wike, it seems the militants are back. Only yesterday, reports had it that the minister donated his salary for six months to the foundation of Tompolo, one of the main MEND leaders. On Saturday, at the PDP event, militants reportedly gave additional security to that by the police and SSS. Notorious warlord, Soboma Jack was leader of the militants’ delegation to the PDP event.
2. Anyone who says President Jonathan has no hand in the Rivers PDP brouhaha must be joking: The event was all about Jonathan and his 2015 ambition. Speech after speech made it clear that Amaechi’s mistake was having an ambition to be vice president.
“I am appealing to every true PDP member that we will continue to support the President and Commander-in-Chief, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. That is important,” said Nyesom Wike.
“We do not want vice-president in 2015. We want president. We are assuring President Jonathan that Rivers state will vote PDP in 2015. It is time for change. It is time for emancipation,” said Austin Opara, the former deputy speaker of the House of Representatives. Opara’s charge that it was time for change makes one wonder if he knew what he was talking about, considering that he is backing Jonathan, who is the incumbent. So what exactly are we changing into?
3. It’s like being a woman: There’s a quote about how being a leader is like being a woman – if you have to tell anyone that you are, then you are not. Can we just say that organising a thanksgiving is like that too – if you have to tell someone that it is a thanksgiving, then it is not.
Wike and co. organised the program in which they threw barbs and made snide comments about the other side and endorsed the candidacy of President Goodluck Jonathan on the one hand while arranging a choir and a pastor to man the stage as well. Yet they were insistent that despite all the political talk and the aso-ebi, the event was not a rally.
“This is not a rally. This is a thanksgiving service. We are dedicating the executive to God, because without God, it would not have been possible for them to be here today,” said the thankful Wike.
Alright then, if you say so.
4. Liar, liar, pants on fire: One wonders what Wike was aiming at when he said this:
“Let me apologise that if not for the tight schedules of Governor Amaechi, who is the leader of the party at the state level, he would have been here in person. As my leader, he (Amaechi) has instructed me to tell you that he is a member of the PDP and he will continue to be a member of the PDP. I will also take back the message that you the supporters have sent that he (Amaechi) should be remembered. That I will do.”
For goodness sake Wike, there is honour among liars!
5. Not yet critical mass: As much as the Wike/Obuah faction try to portray the impression that those for them are greater than those against them, the evidence on the day proved contrary.
“The people that make things happen are all here gathered. To God be the glory. The PDP is still the PDP you all know,” said the chairman, Felix Obuah, but that was more a statement of faith than reality. That PDP on parade at the Port Harcourt club was a shadow of itself.
The governor wasn’t there; of the 27 members in the state assembly, only 5 were present; almost all the council bosses support the governor and so were absent; apart from Kingsley Chinda of the federal house of representatives, no Rivers senator or member of the house graced the event. That doesn’t look like the PDP “you all know.”
The Wike/Obuah faction is mostly peopled by people from one ethnic group, representing the stronghold of Wike. So they might be the new kids on the block, but it is still a long way from uhuru.
6. This thing that Wike always says: Since the crisis in the party started, the minister hardly makes a speech without implying that a major challenge they had with Amaechi was that Rivers money was not being shared as in the past. Wike said it a few weeks ago during the inauguration of some committees in the party. On Saturday again, he said: “I will appeal to the executive, led by the chairman, Felix Obuah, as his name implies, go round, let all these things go round everybody.”
7. But he is right on this one: Wike had this to say about change: “What you must know in life is that change is difficult to accept. When there is change, you do not except people at the same time to embrace the change. Sometimes, they have no choice, but to embrace it. What is happening today is a natural reaction, because there is a power shift. Those who were occupying it before ordinarily will not be happy.”