By Ugochukwu Oputa
It was sometime in July 2013, when the then former Governor of Rivers State, Chibuike Amaechi unofficially left the People’s Democratic Party.
In same vein, on the 16th of July 2013, 25 lawmakers at the Rivers State House of Assembly made known their decision to quit the PDP for the APC as announced by the then House Leader, Barr. Chidi Lloyd.
These series of defections kept the state PDP in disarray.
On the 31st of August 2013 at the Special Delegate convention of the PDP, 7 Governors led by the former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar staged a walkout; an action which heralded the infamous nPDP group that eventually became part of the APC.
On the 29th of March 2015, the PDP lost the presidential election, and in 2 months later, APC came to power.
For almost 2 years, PDP struggled to find its form. Infact, just after 2 months of the loss at the General Election, Adamu Mu’azu who was the National Chairman of the Party resigned from the party.
Everything was in disarray until Wike came.
It is no hidden fact that but for Wike, PDP would have been dead in Rivers State. As the then Minister of State for Education, and an effective grassroot politician, Governor Wike was able to galvanize massive support at the Grassroot for the party much that the party won overwhelmingly well at the polls in 2015.
At the National Level, after the resignation of Mu’azu, his then deputy from Rivers State Prince Uche Secondus stepped in to man the Leadership of the party; a move wish irked some party leaders that were of the opinion that Mu’azu was from the North and that a replacement for him should have come from the north. One of the aggrieved persons was Ahmed Gulak who took the party leadership to court and got a favorable judgment at an Abuja High court, and then “invaded” the party headquarters in Abuja to take control of its leadership.
It was on the back of the whole debacle that various caucuses of the party resolved on former Borno State Governor Ali Modu Sheriff to serve as the acting National Chairman.
However, at a Convention held on May 21, 2016, Ali Modu Sheriff was removed and a National Caretaker Committee was set up with Ahmed Makarfi as its chairman.
Series of Court processes ensued, with Ali Sheriff declaring himself as the chairman. And to add more legitimacy to his claims, he won an appeal court judgment that recognized him as the authentic chairman of party.
However on July 12, 2017 the Supreme Court Sacked Ali Sheriff who was earlier declared by the appellate court as the Chairman of the Party, and Reinstated Ahmed Makarfi as the Caretaker Committee Chairman, and Authentic leader of the Party
On December 9th 2017, 5 months after the Supreme Court Judgement, Prince Uche Secondus was elected as the National Chairman at the PDP National Convention.
In all these that happened, Governor Wike was instrumental to most of the processes. From the resolution of the Secondus-Gulak saga to that of Makarfi-Sheriff, the many legal processes that led to the victory at the Supreme Court et al.
Even after the Victory at Supreme Court, it was same Wike that was traveling around the country, seeking better resolutions, alliances, unity and synergy amongst PDP Governors and party leaders alike.
Gov. Wike literally fought for the soul of PDP and what we presently enjoy today as a party.
Most of the Party leaders and founding members left the party on its gloomy days, while some of them we see today, only came in when they saw that there was stability now in the party.
Till this very day, Gov. Wike has remained instrumental to PDP’s relevance as a valid Opposition in the country. He has gone out of his way numerous times to raise his voice against unpopular decisions of the Federal Government, even on issues that affects other state governments. This action of his earned him the “DEFENDER OF DEMOCRACY” title.
Knowing all these, how do one talk about PDP without WIKE?
Ugochukwu Tony Oputa, a policy and public affairs analyst, writes from Port Harcourt.