Even though he was not a card-carrying member of the ruling All Progressives Congress Party, APC, in Rivers State, Barrister Nyesom Ezebunwo Wike, the immediate past governor of Rivers State took many by surprise when he got the state’s ministerial slot believed to be an exclusive reserve for registered members of APC in the oil-rich state. With his visit to the APC national chairman on Tuesday, Daily Trust reports that Wike’s defection to the APC may come sooner than later.

After fully settling down at the Aso Villa, President Bola Tinubu gave a nod to the APC across the 36 states of the federation to nominate one person for ministerial positions.

The composition of the Federal Executive Council cuts across the 36 states of the federation as a reflection of the federal character principle and equal representation of all the states in the executive council.

The president’s nomination is constitutionally guided to consist of at least 37 persons, one per state and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. Another legal requirement is for the president to ensure that the nominations are made not later than 60 days from the day of his inauguration.

About 45 ministerial nominees including the former governor of Rivers State have been screened and confirmed so far by the Senate.

Wike, a prominent member of PDP who has now clicked the FCT ministerial slot, had used APC as a launching pad to seek his pound of flesh from his party after his inability to clinch the presidential and vice presidential tickets pitched him against the leadership of the party.

But the crisis over who calls the shots in the leadership of the APC in Rivers State had given him an ample opportunity to strategise and win the hearts of top shots of the party.

The leadership of APC in Rivers State was engrossed in a crisis that made the former Transportation Minister, Chibuike Amaechi, to lose grip of the party’s structure.

The development led to a mass exodus of notable members of the party to the PDP. Wike cashed in on the crisis and deployed human and material resources to woo many APC members to his side.

Influential members of the party such as Prince Tonye Princewill, Senator Magnus Abe, Dr Dawari George, Hon. Ogbonna Nwuke, Chris Finebone, among others, left the party to join the PDP and other political parties. The crisis continued to dwarf the fortunes of the party until the APC presidential primaries gave President Tinubu the presidential ticket.

Amaechi who came a distant third in the presidential primaries was said not to have supported Tinubu despite the hand of fellowship extended to him by the latter.

Prior to the February 25 2023 presidential election, the structure of APC in the state became weak just as Tinubu’s chances of winning the State became very slim.

Prominent leaders of APC had turned the Ada George Port Harcourt residence of Wike a beehive where they go to woo the former governor to join the party.

The climax of the lobby manifested at the APC presidential rally in Port Harcourt when Wike declared that he would support Tinubu.

The former governor deployed financial and logistic support to ensure that Tinubu won the presidential election in Rivers.

After the inauguration of Tinubu as president, the issue of ministerial nomination came to the front burner.

The question of who takes the state’s ministerial slot became a contention between Wike and other prominent members of APC. The likes of Senator Magnus Abe who defected from APC to SDP to contest the governorship election, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, former DG of NIMASA, Tiens Jackrich a businessman and Pastor Tonye Cole, the APC governorship candidate were said to be eyeing the ministerial position.

The contention for the state’s ministerial slot became messier just as prominent political gladiators in the state started using their contacts, influence, and connections to ensure that they clinched the slot meant for Rivers State by President Tinubu.

The likes of Abe were also said to have played one role or the other in ensuring the victory of Tinubu in Rivers State. Abe was said to have initiated the Bola Ahmed Tinubu Vanguard, BAT, and nominated his allies into various positions in the group.

While Wike is said to have taken advantage of the APC leadership crisis in the state and the role he played towards the victory of Tinubu in the presidential election to get the ministerial slot, Senator Abe is said to have relied on the role he played in the early formation of BAT in the state as well as his closeness to the president’s family to lobby for the slot.

Abe attempted to exploit his connection with Tinubu’s wife, Oluremi to have his way. Abe and Oluremi were in the 8th Senate and had worked together, especially when she chaired the committee on environment.

Oluremi was said to have rooted for Abe for the ministerial position but powerful forces in APC and the presidency favoured Wike for the position.

Prior to his nomination and clearance by the Senate, Wike had made the presidential villa his second home where he had lobbied extensively using the role he played in the state during the presidential election as bait to get the ministerial position.

The leadership crisis rocking APC in the state coupled with the fact that the former Transportation Minister, Amaechi who is the leader of APC in Rivers was said not to have supported Tinubu during the presidential election gave Wike the advantage to corner the APC ministerial slot for Rivers.

Daily Trust reports that the fight over who clinched the state’s ministerial position had pitched Wike, Abe’s supporters, and the APC into a war of words.

For instance, the South-South Coordinator of Bola Ahmed Tinubu Vanguard, Chief Tony Okocha who is a strong supporter of Wike had called on the president to route through Wike all the political appointments meant for Rivers for the benefit of those that truly worked for him during the presidential election.

Chief Okocha had expressed worry at the level that those he said did not work for Tinubu’s successes in the state were sending their CVs for appointments.

He argued that the law of natural justice demands that those that worked should reap the fruit of their labour.

According to him, without Wike, APC would have lost the presidential election in the state saying that the former governor singlehandedly funded all the 6,868 polling units agents across the state and provided the logistics support for APC during the polls.

But Wike’s nomination as a minister despite the initial obstacles he faced did not go down well with the APC leadership in the state.

Darlington Nwauju, state Publicity Secretary had warned that any individual or group of persons attempting to impersonate Rivers State APC executives by sponsoring those he described as miscreants disguising as “APC youth wing or as members of the state chapter of the APC for the purposes of calling for the appointment of Mr. Nyesom Wike as a minister, shall have law enforcement agencies to contend with.

“The attention of All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State has been drawn to calls by imposters and sponsored groupings acting as fronts for the immediate past Governor of Rivers State, Mr. Nyesom Wike, that APC in Rivers State is calling on him (Mr. Wike) to join the same party he had characteriSed as suffering from Cancer.

“We wish to unequivocally dismiss any such rumour or sponsored story planted in any medium that Rivers State APC had at any forum invited Mr Wike to join our party, none the least calling on Wike to take over leadership of a party he never campaigned for.

Chief Chukwuemeka Eze one of the media aides to the former minister of transportation on his part recalled that “The former Rivers governor had at several fora described the APC as a very dangerous political party suffering from stage four cancer, which he said is without cure and as a result he prefers to remain in the PDP, which according to him is suffering from ordinary malaria that is curable.”

On its part, the Rivers State Chairman of the PDP, Desmond Akawor said that the PDP family in Rivers State remains committed to the Nigerian vision, regardless of the pilot-in-charge of its affairs, hence, the party welcomes any appointment of its party faithful, including former Governor Wike by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

Wike may join APC soon

Daily Trust reports that amid growing rumours of defection, Wike, now a minister-designate, on Tuesday, visited the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, in Abuja.

Wike, leader of the G-5 Governors, who worked against the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, in the 2023 election, has repeatedly denied plotting to join the ruling party.

He was received by Ganduje at his residence in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.

Although a post by the ruling party on X (formerly known as Twitter), indicated that the former governor’s visit to the APC national chairman was to congratulate him on his election to the position, many saw it as a prelude to him eventually cross carpeting to the ruling party.

Daily Trust reports that speculations of him dumping the opposition party gained momentum after he was enlisted into President Bola Tinubu’s cabinet.

PDP leaders had expressed displeasure over this and mulled the move to sanction the former Rivers governor.

Daily Trust reports that shortly before the senate confirmed him as a minister, Wike told BBC Pidgin why he had been hobnobbing with APC chieftains.

The former governor, who had earlier used the illustration of malaria and cancer to dismiss speculations that he was on the way to the ruling party, gave clarification. Earlier, when asked if he was thinking of dumping the PDP in the heat of the face-off with Atiku, Wike had said, “I get malaria, na cancer I dey find?”

However, defending his recent moves, including making it to Tinubu’s cabinet, the former governor said while someone can die of malaria, a person with cancer can get healed if he has the opportunity of meeting a better doctor.

“If someone gets cancer, and he meets a better doctor, won’t he get better treatment? And, if a patient has ordinary malaria without proper care, won’t he die of malaria? Are you not aware that malaria kills people?

“And what is my concern if someone that has cancer is taken to a good hospital and meets a good doctor and gets healed? That’s just the truth about the two parties.”

How Wike Schemed His Way Into Tinubu’s Cabinet – Daily Trust


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