The presidential primaries elections were done and dusted in May, and Atiku Abubakar is the Presidential candidate for the People's Democratic Party (PDP). The party reported that they had the most transparent election ever. For those who it favoured, it is fairness. The campaign will start in a few days.
However, Governor Wike is still reeling from losing the PDP presidential primaries and has succeeded in polarising voters with the insinuations of injustice and fairness for the country's southern region due to the zoning of the party and elective offices.
Of course, Wike is not the only person concerned about the zoning situation. Hon. Cosmos Ndukwe had sued PDP to zone the presidential ticket to the South East. The Supreme Court ruling was made last week, and the presiding judge said the nomination of candidates for election is an internal affair of political parties.
The principle of zoning is based on religion and tribal zones in the country. It is surprising to see Wike not raising issues with a Muslim-Muslim ticket despite it being unfair to the zoning principles. Wike confirmed to have met with the All Progressive Party's candidate. Bola Tinubu in Paris, where he was offered to be a Senator. Why is Wike striking deals with other opposition parties when he knows his chances for the presidency will be pushed back for 16 years if zoning will be assured? Conventional wisdom says if you are in a hole, stop digging.
Wike is formidable, both within the party and in opposition. He claimed to have installed the current party Chairman, Iyorcha Ayu. During his time, he has seen several party Chairmen and caretakers come and go. These include Adamu Muazu, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, Ali Modu Sherrif and Uche Secondus.
During his two-hour media chat, he asked that since the Presidential candidate and the party's Chairman are from the northern part of the country, the latter should be pressured to resign to allow a balance of power in the party. Wike's argument can be valid if we use logic instead of the rule law governing the country and the party. Of course, there is more to law than just logic. Various actions depend on logic in specific ways in our daily lives, which means it is not only logic that contributes to fairness, equity and justice.
In situations like this, where unilateral demands are made based on emotions, the party constitution can guide and prevent arbitrary rulings. Section 7 of the PDP constitution specifies the objective of the party to adhere to zoning and rotation. Rightly so. Sections 45 (2) and 47(6) specify that if the Chairman resigns, they will hand over to the Deputy Chairman the from zone, pending an election to fill the vacancy. The Deputy Chairmen are Taofik Arapaja from the South West and Umar Iliya Damagum from the North.
If Ayu were to resign, the constitution stipulates that Umar Iliya Damagun would take over. However, it seems like Wike is uncomfortable with both of them for obvious reasons. Thus, he suggested a constitutional change.
Those who have followed PDP will know that this is not new. Ahmadu Ali was the PDP Chairman under the late Umaru Yaradua. Ali handed over to Vincent Ogbulafor in 2008 to ensure the balance of power between the party and public elective offices. His two Deputy Chairmen were Dr Okwesilieze Nwodo from the South and Bello Halliru Mohammed from the North. Ogbulafor remained the party Chairman from when President Goodluck Jonathan (GEJ) was acting President on 9 February 2010. He remained the Party Chairman even when GEJ was sworn in as President on 5 May 2010. The northerners did not feel it was fair, but the rule book had to be followed.
When Ogbulafor resigned in May 2010, many thought the zoning arrangement would be altered as elections approached. But it did not. The caretaker that took over was Nwodo because they followed the rule book – the constitution – not emotions or logic. Dr Nwodo was the Chairman of PDP during the convention in Jos that saw GEJ emerge as the PDP flagbearer for the 2011 elections.
Bello Halliru Mohammed, a Northerner, only took the reign when Nwodo was compelled to resign on ethical grounds, but never because of zoning. One will say the world has a way of correcting causes, but many will not observe the lack of fairness unless you are on the side of those who feel aggrieved. Therefore, Wike should not be responsible for designing a succession model because a rule book defines how the party should be governed.
If we follow the PDP constitution, as the Apex Court suggests, Wike should not have contested since the last PDP President was from the South-South. His decision to contest contributed to the exit of Peter Obi to become the Presidential candidate of the Labour Party, which has divided the PDP further.
In the media chat, Wike proved that he wields power in the party and even dared of consequences if the party hierarchy were to kick him out of the party. Given his power in the party, it is surprising how he accepted the party's decision to keep the presidential ticket open to all instead of zoning it to the South, specifically the South-East. Did he plan this to create chaos in the PDP, or was it just a bad strategy? The question will have to answer itself.
The media chat by Wike was a loud cry and attack on his party leaders and the presidential candidate. They say when you strike at the leaders, you better kill them. Otherwise, Wike will need the best lawyers and the loudest media to survive life in Nigeria without constitutional immunity.
Dr Nasir Aminu - Cardiff Metropolitan University