Frustrations of a Dancing Wannabe President (1), by Hassan Gimba
There must be something that does not sit well between Adamu Maina Waziri, a former minister of the federal republic, a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and one of Atiku Abubakar’s right-hand men, and Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, governor of Rivers State and runner-up in the presidential primary election of the PDP.
Wike lost the primary election to Atiku by 237 votes to 371. Without a doubt, that loss, which he never expected, hit him hard. A few weeks later, he lost the chance to be Atiku’s running mate. That completely unhinged him and, frustrated, he has been in pain since. Even though his loss “dey pain him”, it may not necessarily mean that “e dey sweet” Waziri.
Yet Wike went ballistic last Friday over Waziri whom he identified as “one of the problem people” (sic) in the party. Speaking in a live programme with AIT, Channels, TVC and NTA, he wailed that “since 1999, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has not won Yobe State but one of the problem people is from Yobe. So, what will he give the party?” (Sic)
He said that Waziri has not brought anything to the table, only to demand his immediate removal. “You have not won your state and you are questioning me that have full support from my state.
“He is going about saying ‘we will deal with him, we will sanction him’. Meanwhile, we are zero in his state…what will he bring to the table? All they have been doing is name-calling, which they will do without me. But you can’t do without me in my state.”
Wike, who may know the tradition of Rivers politics, surely knows not that of Yobe or surrounding geographical areas and the history behind their leftist, now called progressive, politics.
Generally, Yobe, or a greater part of it, has always been part of the Borno Empire, which was a fiercely independent entity that did not bow even to Sheikh Usman Danfodio’s jihad. Not because they were opposed to the faith that was being planted, but because Borno was already an Islamic kingdom that Danfodio dreamt of establishing.
In the build-up to independence and through the First Republic, Borno was not run over by the Northern People’s Congress (NPC) that rode over the then-behemoth north and established its reign over Nigeria. There was respect for the Sardauna and “his party” but the people of Borno had theirs because the Borno Youth Movement was a credible platform.
Fast forward to the Second Republic when the National Party of Nigeria (NPN), a scion of the NPC, was the master of the North, earning it the presidency of the country, Borno, consisting of present-day Borno and Yobe states, went for the indigenous Great Nigeria Peoples Party (GNPP), a party founded by the apostle of Politics without Bitterness, the late Waziri Ibrahim, an indigene of Yobe State. Though NPN got Borno in 1983 when it had “moonslide” victories all over Nigeria, that “colonisation” did not last.
Since the inception of the current republic, old Borno, made up of both Borno and Yobe states, had never tipped over from its leftist ideology. However, while Borno has in most cases been almost a hundred per cent leftist, i.e., voting wholly for All Peoples’ Party (APP), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and now All Progressives Congress (APC), the PDP in Yobe, especially in Yobe South, has been giving all leftist ruling parties in the state a run for their money, and all because of one man, Adamu Maina Waziri, the man Wike said “is not bringing anything to the table”.
In 1999, for instance, the PDP had 10 elected local government chairmen out of 17 in Yobe, more than half of the state’s 178 councillors and 11 out of 24 house of assembly members with a couple of members of the House of Representatives.
Even though in the media chat Wike said the PDP had never won Waziri’s ward, the PDP in Waziri’s constituency has produced two senators, 2007 – 2011 and 2015 – 2019, members of the House of Representatives as well as those of the state assembly.
The only time since 1999 that the PDP had a poor run was in 2019 when it lost the election with an unimaginable margin, losing in all the state’s polling booths. However, that was mainly a result of the candidate, the current governor, who the APC presented for the gubernatorial election.
A man who has friends all over the state and across all the political parties, and is known for his love for the people and desire to develop the state’s human and natural resources, Honourable Mai Mala Buni swept the state like a tsunami.
Therefore, Yobe in the North is diametrically opposite to Rivers in the South, which has always voted rightist from the First Republic. In the Second Republic, Rivers was an NPN stronghold, and it has been a PDP one since 1999.
In 2011, the late Usman Albishir, regarded as the godfather of the ruling party in Yobe, crossed over to the opposition PDP and, through political subterfuge, wrestled the gubernatorial ticket from Waziri. The trouncing he got was never experienced in the state until 2019.
In the same vein, were Wike to contest on the platform of any other party other than PDP in Rivers, his dancing will not save him from being mercilessly whupped at the poll by any candidate presented by PDP. He should ask Rotimi Amaechi or Godswill Akpabio from the sister state, Akwa Ibom.
However, Waziri’s political relevance and value do not begin and end with just winning seats for his party. He was part and parcel of G34 – those who founded the PDP on whose platform Wike dreamt of being president of Nigeria. He was among those who drafted the party’s constitution as well. Courageous, intelligent, fiercely loyal, blunt, straightforward and with a forgiving spirit, Waziri is the sort of person who suffers no fools. He is, therefore, an asset in all ramifications of the term.
But to be fair to Governor Wike, he did his best to court Waziri and have him on his side.
In July last year…
Hassan Gimba is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Neptune Prime.