Nyesom Wike, governor as ‘fighter’
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike whose tenure ends soon, has been up to his eyeballs in political unrest since assuming office in 2015. What initially began as in-house spats at the state level later escalated into full-scale national feuds, following the eleventh-hour ‘robbery’ in the last year’s presidential primary in Abuja. The governor had gallantly fought his way up to a stage considered next to the Presidency, and to suddenly have his efforts frustrated at that stage implies that he is definitely going to have new perception of politics and the people around him.
Obviously, his tenure is fraught with conflict, which sustains people’s interest whenever every episode in Rivers State Government House is acted out. His position brings him in contact with double-dealers and people who have ideology different from his. As a skilled politician, he handles dissenting groups with finesse. His perspicacity, quest for justice and equity, vision to liberate Rivers and its people, and desire to transform Nigeria have brought him criticism. They say the governor is brash and talks too much. Some say he is insecure whilst others believe he is out of touch with reality. Painting a rather ugly picture of him, his arch-enemies have branded him “destroyer of democracy”.
The governor is a justice fighter passionately interested in liberating a people and planting equity and accountability where there is none. The primary that unsettled him in 2022 was an eye-opener, which made him vow never to support individuals who typify corruption, injustice and inequity. He made it clear that he did not have any personal issue with Atiku Abubakar, but with zoning and the process that produced the former vice-president. In a way, he is fighting “a system”.
His fight can be explained against the backdrop of his party hierarchies and the socio-economic status of Rivers, where the impact of the Federal Government has been minimally felt. Within the PDP for instance, power is concentrated in the hands of non-Rivers people and there is no plan to zone the national chairmanship to the South-South even when Uche Secondus had resigned for Iyorchia Ayu. The crisis rocking the party took a dramatic turn at that point.
The dominant belief of a justice fighter is that there are two classes: oppressor and oppressed. People must get what they deserve. A look at the PDP as a party reveals a lopsided arrangement, which largely leaves out Rivers names even though appointment of members is guided by the party’s constitution: Atiku Abubakar is a northerner; his vice is not from Rivers; the National Chairman is from the North-Central though recommended by Wike, leading to Secondus’ resignation; the Chairman, Governor Forum is Aminu Tambuwal, a northerner. But before Tambuwal in 2020 was Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State.
When the PDP was drowning in Ali Modu’s tempestuous seas in 2017, it took the political tenacity of Wike to ferry and winch his members to safety. And when many abandoned the party, Wike stayed and revived it. The party has its National Youth Leader as Mohammed Sulaiman, from Kaduna State; the National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, is from Ondo State; the acting Chairman of the Board of Trustees (BoT) is Adolphus Wabara from Abia State, who inherited the post from another northerner – Walid Jibrin. That said, it is glaring how much the Rivers people have been relegated to the background and their state sidelined.
Rivers has been a principal financier to Nigeria for years due to its vast resources of crude oil and natural gas. Considering this enormous influence, one wonders why its people cannot speak in one voice and liberate the state from politicians who squander abroad the revenue generated from Rivers crude oil. It is neither the cashless policy nor Atiku, Obi or Tinubu that will liberate Rivers and its people, it is the governor and the Rivers people. It has become easy for politicians to use Rivers people during presidential elections and dump them thereafter.
Many important positions in Nigeria are occupied by northerners. Wike is a visionary leader whose fight is for the benefit of Rivers people and Nigeria. Because he knows how to fight, he has had over ten flyovers to his credit, an achievement that makes him the best and most performing governor in West Africa. His is never a politics of self-interest but one of altruism, popular democracy. Many negative things said about him are lies primarily meant to destroy every sterling ideal he represents.
Wike has positively touched the lives of over 8,000 children in the North. He also appointed 200, 000 assistants in few weeks so that the Rivers people will have a fair shot at life. He restores sanity and brings social amenities to Rivers. Because he is feisty and “talks too much”, he was able to deliver university students from the destructive ASUU’s strike of 2012 and could have, in his stride, averted that of the fatal eight-month-old which sent tens of lecturers to their untimely graves nationwide in 2022, if he were the Minister of Education.
He fights oil thieves head-on. He studied political science and law at school, which is why leadership and politics come so easy to him. America, Norway and France will appreciate him for accountability and living up to expectations. President Buhari, too, cannot conceal his admiration for Wike for projecting the image of his country in a good light to the outside world. Even if the governor, because he is a human and not God, errs tomorrow, at least he has proved himself as a shining example of a committed and true leader. At the moment, the governor will rather lose than support injustice. But don’t be surprised if you see the G-5 governors and Atiku reconciled after the result of the election is announced to Atikus’ favour.
In conclusion, the presidential election that triggered the ‘fight’ has taken place. The electorate have chosen their leader even if the court (Judiciary) will later declare its “own winner”. This presidential poll shouldn’t be about who won, for no winner will fight for Rivers and its people tomorrow if the people don’t fight for themselves today; it is all about God moving Nigeria forward. Wike has done what is expected of a selfless, reliable and good leader. You shouldn’t bite the hand that feeds you nor should you abandon the man who houses you when his roof begins to leak. If Rivers people refuse to join Wike in this fight now, I am afraid the state goes nowhere for the next 100 years. But I am very hopeful that the crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party will be peacefully resolved after the elections.
Sola wrote from Port Harcourt.