By Taiwo George
It’s officially over for Nyesom Wike as far as the 2023 elections are concerned. First, he ran for the presidential ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which was won by former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar. Next, he aimed for the Vice-Presidential slot, having the support of those that matter in the party. Daily Trust had reported how some National Working Committee (NWC) members of the party endorsed Wike for the position. But in the end the man who beat him to the Presidential ticket settled for Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State.
Okowa, Wike and Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom were the three governors that were considered for the running mate slot of the PDP. In the buildup to the deadline set by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for submission of candidates’ names, the pendulum kept swinging between Okowa and Wike until Atiku made his choice known on the eve of INEC’s deadline.
Wike also eyed the number two position of PDP in the 2019 election before the tide turned against the man he wanted to team up with for the presidential ticket. It was Atiku, who also won the ticket that year, forcing Wike to returning to the drawing board, but unlike the last time when he re-contested Rivers governorship, he is no longer eligible to be governor, having served two terms , which will end next year.
Some two-term governors like him who lost the positions they were eyeing settled for the senate ticket, but what’s Wike’s next move. Has political retirement come too early for the 58-year-old lawyer turned politician?
Wike started his career as a Local Government Chairman. He served as Chairman of Obio Akpor Local Government Area from 1999 to 2007. At the time, Rotimi Amaechi, his estranged benefactor was Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly. When Amaechi became governor in 2007, Wike was appointed Chief of Staff. After Amaechi got re-elected, Wike got appointed Minister of State for Education. He was later appointed the Acting Minister of Education. However, he resigned to contest the PDP guber ticket in 2014. He chose former Secretary to the State Government, Ipalibo Banigo as his running mate. The Deputy Governor, who is now heading for the senate, having won the PDP ticket in Rivers West. Unlike Banigo, Wike’s next political move is uncertain.