How Wike, G5 successfully placed Atiku on the horns of a dilemma – By Kayode Ogunbunmi

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Historians would have a fun time explaining whether PDP found itself in this unenviable position due to the brilliance of the G5 or the carelessness of Atiku and his team – though many might be seduced by the allure of the latter position. The reason for this is simple – very rarely will competent political leaders allow themselves to be presented with a problem for which there is no viable response.”

*Photo L-R: Atiku, Wike *

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As the race to the 2023 general elections hots up, it is becoming clear that perhaps the most consequential politician ahead of the voting exercise is going to be one who is not on the ballot for any position. Stand up for recognition, Ezenwo Nyesom Wike.

Since he came second, behind former Vice President Atiku Abubakar in PDP’s presidential primaries held last May, Wike has successfully built a formidable force that has rendered the PDP mostly immobile.

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Wike’s trap was laid the moment the more experienced Atiku emerged as the standard bearer of PDP and his effort was helped by the more obdurate supporters of Atiku who have continued to push him to achieve what is now akin to climbing a hill of feathers.

During the Russian civil war, the journalist Walter Lippmann observed the dilemma of propaganda. He said though it had the positive effect of mobilising the public for conflict, this comes with the negative outcome of obstructing a workable peace agreement. 

Even as the Atiku camp has oscillated between the stick and carrot approach to seek a raprochment, the Wike camp appears to have succeeded in selling the narrative that it is not the status of Atiku as PDP presidential candidate itself that he found unacceptable, but the process that brought Atiku the crown. 

In this, the Rivers governor enjoys the unshakeable support of four fellow PDP governors. These are Oyo state governor, Seyi Makinde who is probably Wike’s closest ally; Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom; Governors Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State.

The governors loudly proclaim their continued membership of the PDP, even as they refuse to acknowledge – or work with – the leadership of the party to campaign for its presidential candidate. This team, now known as the PDP G5, has now become the proverbial bone stuck in the gullet or, as another modern idiom says, be stuck “on the horns of a dilemma.”

According to the ancient Greeks, lemma represents a logical premise, a matter taken for granted. On the opposite side of this is a dilemma, or “dual premise”, where one would be presented with an either/or proposition.

The proposition of the dilemma was furthered by the Romans, who postulated about a “double premise” as argumentum cornutum, or the “horned argument,” because by answering one argument, an individual would be impaled by the logic of the second. Thus are the ancient roots of the modern idiom, “on the horns of a dilemma.”

The argumentum cornutum is therefore the ultimate objective of maneuver politics or warfare. For example: to position your forces in such a manner as to present the enemy with no good option – should they react to one pressing threat, they would find themselves overwhelmed by the other.

Whether by design or luck, Wike and the PDP G5 have successfully sprung this trap on Atiku and the PDP presidential campaign team and are faced with two unsavoury choices: ignore the G5 and continue with the campaign or continue to hope that the ‘rebel’ group could be lured back into the big tent to enable the party present a united front to Nigerians.

Either of the choices presented a lemma, or a single problem, which needed to be addressed. Together, both have succeeded in placing the Atiku campaign “on the horns of a dilemma,” forcing a response which would result in impalement regardless of the option chosen.  

Historians would have a fun time explaining whether PDP found itself in this unenviable position due to the brilliance of the G5 or the carelessness of Atiku and his team – though many might be seduced by the allure of the latter position. The reason for this is simple – very rarely will competent political leaders allow themselves to be presented with a problem for which there is no viable response.

Atiku, having underestimated the reach and capability of Wike , now finds himself squarely “on the horns of a dilemma” – if it slams the door on the G5 to ramp up his campaign without them, he will, in effect, be going into the battle with at least a quarter of his generals uninvolved (or actively sabotaging his campaign), something no one in his bloc wants. However, it might be fatal to his presidential ambition if he continues to suspend his campaign in the hope that the G5 would join in, as he would lose and cede the momentum to the other parties who are already in full campaign mode.

How Atiku and the PDP opts to proceed has yet to be manifest, but the veteran politician might be minded to take a lesson from Chairman Mao’s red book: Despise the enemy strategically, but take him seriously tactically.

·         *Ogunbunmi is a Lagos-based journalist

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