Opinion | Rivers State, Vice Presidency And A Hat-trick Of Near Misses

By Robinson Sibe
[Photo Credit: Alamy]

Rewind to 2006: Dr. Peter Odili was a strong favorite for the VP position. The then candidate Yar’adua and wife hosted Dr Odili and wife to a breakfast (real breakfast o, not Burna Boy’s type) that morning, where he was told he’ll be his running mate. Dr. Odili went to the convention a confident man, knowing his name was already penned down in Yar’adua’s acceptance speech. The plan was Yar’adua will announce his running mate immediately.

Then, he noticed certain movements and whispers to President Obasanjo right there at the convention venue. Next, the President whispered something to Yar’adua, and a line was struck out of the written speech. That’s how Dr. Odili’s name was canceled from the prepared speech that was delivered later. Dr Jonathan who had no ambition to be President was eventually picked days later. From enjoying breakfast with Yar’adua that morning, Dr. Odili was served an unwanted breakfast at dinner time.

Fast forward to 2014: Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi was one of the favorites to be announced as running mate to GMB. He played a strategic role damaging PDP from within and opening up the South-South, PDP’s fortress, to opposition attack.

For some, it was a done deal already. It was only natural that he was rewarded with the VP position. So they thought. He had made a huge sacrifice, moving to the APC, and deploying everything possible in support of GMB. As it turned out, a non-flamboyant Pentecostal Pastor, who had never contested any political election all his life, was announced as Vice President.

In “compensation”, GMB would later send him to the political war front, like David did to Uriah, Bathsheba’s soldier-boy husband. Fortunately, he survived from the war front as Campaign DG. However, it was not without deep scars of war. This cost him political control of his state; one he’s never regained control since then. Like Dr. Peter Odili, Nigeria happened to CRA. Breakfast was served.

Enter 2022: Governor Wike had lost the Presidential primary after putting up a spirited and dogged fight. A certain committee was set up to come up with a Vice Presidential nomination. Governor Wike emerged the standout choice with 13 out of 16 votes. The news had gotten to the Press and it was splashed all over. Breaking news: Wike picked as running mate to Alhaji Atiku.

Not so fast. Counter Breaking News: Alhaji Atiku Abubakar announces Governor Ifeanyi Okowa as running made. The breaking news broke the buoyant hope of Governor Wike’s men. That’s how Governor Wike was served breakfast twice before noon, despite his earlier complaints of flatulence and indigestion.

With this, all three serving Governors in Rivers State in the 4th Republic have been served national breakfast. All three are dogged and “hard punching” politicians. All three are rugged politicians with a large war chest and political balance sheet. It never happened.

This calls for a deep reflection and introspection, and not mockery; lest the lesson therefrom be lost on us. It’s time to change the formation and build the attack from the back. The three lone strikers we’ve had at different times were crowded out and neutralized by an illustrious national defense. You can’t win Guardiola’s Barca by outplaying them. No, a state cannot outplay the nation from open play. You have to be strategic, creative, inventive, and lethal. When that one chance comes, score and lock up.

For now, with three unreplied goals shipped in, it’s time to retrieve the ball from the net, and commence the long and tortuous walk of shame back to the centre circle. Nigeria 3:0 Rivers State.

At this point, it’s expected that the referee’s whistle will sound like a mosquito trumpet to the ear.

Dr. Robinson Tombari Sibe, a prolific political commentator, is also a digital forensics and cyber security expert.