Governor Wike Is Not Remotely As Influential As He Claims To Be.

Governor Nyesome Wike has been the most sort after political bride in recent months. The APC is attempting to woo him to their camp just as the PDP is doing all they can to keep him in the party. Not even the Labour party has been left out of this jostling for Wike’s attention, as even the party’s flag bearer has met with the Rivers state governor on at least two occasions. This is because supporters of Governor Wike believe he holds the key to the votes in not just rivers state but the entire South-South, and anyone candidate serious about winning the 2023 election must have him on their side.

Undoubtedly, Governor Wike has access to what politicians would describe as a ‘war chest,’ being the governor of an oil-rich state. However, the question is whether Wike’s relevance is about the financial resources within his possession or his electoral value. Or maybe both. Is it true that it would be impossible for the PDP to win Rivers state without Wike, or can Wike’s influence only and truly be exercised by reducing the margin of victory?

As I will prove shortly, the harsh reality is that most politicians who brag about delivering their states are often not remotely as influential as they claim to be. In the circumstances where the governor aligns with the interest of a majority of the people, the votes aren’t hard to find. But when a governor’s electoral choices, in this case, a presidential candidate, is at variance with the perceived interest of the people, the governor becomes only as influential as the preacher at motor parks who spends the entire day preaching to passengers who hardly ever listen.

Many governors who claim to control their state do this: as John Naisbitt said, they find a parade (a common interest of the people) and get in front of it. All along, and without even realizing it, it is the people who influence the posture and positioning of the politicians.

To bolster this argument, I will reference a few governors who thought they had control of their states, but the election results showed otherwise. For example, in 2015, Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP lost Benue state to Buhari even though the incumbent governor of the state, Gabriel Suswam, was a PDP member. Jonathan also lost Gombe, where Ibrahim Dankwanbo was a governor and PDP member.

The same was the case for the APC in Edo state, where the PDP garnered more votes in the presidential election than the APC, even with Adams Oshiomole being an APC governor. In Oyo state in 2019, the late governor Ajimobi could not deliver his state to the APC, losing the presidential votes to Atiku Abubakar of the PDP. Worth mentioning is that these examples are not necessarily an exception to the rule, as our political history is littered with several other examples. The fact remains that once a governor cannot align with the prevailing interest of the people in his state, it would be impossible for him to deliver that state to any presidential candidate.

Governor Wike is an astute and experienced politician who has acknowledged in several of his recent outburst that “you cannot take the people’s vote for granted.” But, at the end of the day, he knows pretty well that his political survival will be determined by finding a convergence between his ambitions and the interest of River’s people. The moment he cannot do that, he would realize very quickly that power leaves you quicker than you leave it.

 

Oluwadamilola is a writer and researcher with the Avalon Daily. He writes business, economic and socio-political explainers and is tasked with special reporting.

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