It came as a big surprise to political observers when Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike invited his former contemporary and now Senator representing Imo West, Rochas Okorocha. This is more surprising when it is an established fact that that both Okorocha and Wike had in the past had a running cold war in their relationships.
The war blew into the open when some militants who were alleged to be causing havoc in Rivers State crossed over to Imo state, only to have a safe haven
In February, some militants said to have been loyal to late Don Wanney from the oil-rich Ohaji-Egbema and Oguta local government Areas in Imo State had gathered at the Freedom Square, Owerri to denounce their involvement in militancy and kidnapping in the region.
The boys were said to have rejected state and federal government’s overtures in the past but finally accepted same, surrendering explosives, rocket launchers and high-calibre riffles like AK47.
The repentant militants were said to have come from three groups led by different leaders.
This action pitted Wike with Okorocha with the former accusing the latter of harbouring militants running away from justice in Rivers State. The rancour lasted through out Okorocha’s office.
So the invitation by Wike to Okorocha to commission projects in Rivers State might have raised eye brows because of the seeming love lost between them.
But this is not the first time Wike had invited leaders to commission projects in Rivers State.
In June 2018, Wike had invited the Sultan of Sokoto to commission the State Council of Traditional Rulers’ Secretariat Complex. Similarly he had at various times invited Works Minister, Raji Fashola, former Senate President Bukola Saraki, Oni of Ife, Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi and just recently, Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal was in Rivers State to commission some projects.
But in all these invitations, none had attracted much publicity as Okorocha’s recent tour of duty to Rivers State.
An inkling to what may be in the offing in the unfolding relationship was provided by the visitor when he said that the new political reality in Nigeria called for a new political alliance with people of like minds to rescue Nigeria from its present predicaments.
Okorocha, while urging like-minded people who desire the best for Nigeria to stop complaining and join forces, was reported to have said that the new good people of APC and good people of PDP must come together for the purpose of making Nigeria great.
He had said, “I could imagine where I would join forces with Wike. Governor Wike, this is my hand of friendship. Let us bring all like minds, all great people of Nigeria, rather than complaining, let us come together to make this country greater and greater as it should be.
“What brought me here today is not a party. What brought me here today is love and friendship. I am not PDP, I am APC. But the time has come when we must break the jinx of party division and begin to embrace brotherhood and friendship and be able to state what is good and what is bad. A bad man is a bad man, even if he is PDP or APC.”
While replying, Wike was quoted to have charged members of APC in the state to discard politics of bitterness in the interest of the state and its people.
One of the reasons why the new rapport is doubtful is because the two dramatis personae are strange bed fellows. Secondly, Okorocha had often been termed pro North and had not been seen to be hobnobbing much with Southern leaders. So any romance between Okorocha and Wike is sure to raise some concerns given the much touted Igbo presidential ticket in 2023.
No matter what political pundits might say any alliance between the two political gladiators is bound to elicit different interpretations in the political terrain. The questions being asked are; Is Wike dragging Okorocha to his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) or is Okorocha wooing Wike to All Progressives Congress (APC)? Is the new found alliance anything to do with the 2023 Igbo presidency given Wike strong hold on PDP and Okorocha, who single-handedly planted APC in Igboland? Is there any prospect of a formidable alliance between South East and South-South leaders for the actualisation o a presidency of Igbo extraction in 2023.
Chairman of the Rivers State Elders Council and Member of the Board of Trustees of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Omenazu Jackson, did not see any good coming out of the new found love. He said that the new relationship would have been meaningful if it would cement the cracks in the relationship between the Rivers Igbos, whom he described as the smaller brothers and the other Igbo group, who he described as the bigger brothers in Igbo-speaking areas in the South South.
Jackson is said that in the relationship between the Rivers Igbo and the other, the smaller brothers had been at the receiving end. He however contended that this may seemingly not be the reason for the new found romance.
He said, “Their political intrigues are of no value to the people. Their relationship is neither here nor there describing them as strange bed fellows. Will it translate to a better relationship between South-South and South East? If their meeting is for the sake of grabbing power, then too bad, but if it’s for the people, we welcome it.”
Jackson, who frowned at the outcome of the recent Ohanaeze Ndigbo election, said that if the way the election went was symptomatic of what to expect of Ndigbo in 2023, then the new relationship is dead on arrival.
Thenew rapprochement between Okorocha and Wike has agitated a lot of minds leading political observers to hazard different guesses. An Owerri based journalist who does not want his name in print has described it as show business typical of Wike just to pull a publicity stunt. According to him, “there is nothing unusual in the meeting”.
The direction the relationship is leading to and how long it endures is anybody’s guess.