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OPINION

Re: Stripping Wike Slowly

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Rivers State Governor, Chief Ezebunwo Nyesom Wike

I read the article titled “Stripping Wike slowly” credited to my friend Dr Amanze Obi and published at page 44 in the Guardian newspaper of Sunday 18th November, 2018. My initial reaction was to ignore it because it a mere showcase of Dr Amanze’s narrow understanding of the role of Rivers State Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike in the dynamics of Nigerian politics. I can only sympathise with him by correcting and informing him on some of the issues he turned upside down and many that he did not know.

Dr Obi appears to have no hints about the political history of Governor Wike and that is why he limited his space to the struggle to be the governor of Rivers State. Dr Obi is right to a large extent when he described Governor Wike as a man of raw steel. Indeed, Gov Wike is more. Before becoming the governor of Rivers State, he was the first person to be Chairman of Obio/Akpor Local Government Council twice. As Chairman, he built the best Council Secretariat in the history of Nigeria and the edifice still stands the tallest today. Down the line, Governor Wike led the onslaught that saw the emergence of the Transport Minister Rt Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi as the governor of Rivers State through the supreme court judgment.

He was Amaechi’s Chief of Staf for four years and was the Director General that led the PDP campaign that returned Amaechi for the second term. I will leave the rest for now but Dr Obi needs to note that Gov Wike does not glorify failures but pursues his set targets with passion and seeks excellence in all he does.

Whether you like Gov Wike’s face or not, you cannot take away that he shines like a star. As Nigeria’s Minister of State for Education from 2011, records show that he made far reaching impact in the Ministry of Education especially in the establishment of the Almajiri schools in the Northern part of Nigeria. At some point then, people wondered if he was the main minister or just a junior Minister. That is Wike for you. So for Dr Obi to locate Wike within the elections of 2015 alone is simply not charitable.

Gov Wike’s personal style may not appeal to some saints. You don’t need to like his voice but his clarity of vision, tact and mastery of his turf easily overwhelms his opponents. You will ignore him at your peril. He is robust in planning, articulate and detailed in execution and deploys all the needed energy to achieve his goals with devastating finality.  Such characters are rare and it is for this reason that many politicians prefer to work on the same side with him.

On Dr Obi’s reference to Chief Ayo Fayose and the unfortunate remarks that Fayose is now “close to been a dove. He has beaten a quick retreat into his shell” is a sad commentary and a comedy of our time. Even if for the purpose of argument Dr Obi’s assumption is right about Chief Fayose, it will be a huge irony to expect that both persons would behave the same way even if they were twins. Dr Obi should therefore keep his poor judgment to himself.

The Nigerian political landscape is turbulent and full of controversies and Dr Obi needs to acknowledge this. On the settled developments in the PDP prior to the last convention in Port Harcourt, Dr Obi laboured in vain to represent some of them in a bid to dress Gov Wike in a borrowed robe. He talked about Gov Wike “scuttling the quest of the South West to have the position of the national chairman of the party zoned to it” Again, this is the tale of a non politician.

It is purposeless responding to Dr Obi on this issue because Gov Wike is not contesting a national election. Only voters in Rivers State will decide Gov Wike’s fate. However, I will reluctantly say a few words. Even the shallow minded in our midst know that politics all over the world is a matter of interest and a game of numbers. No single governor in the PDP can make a national chairman but a favoured candidate is the one who garners the highest number of votes in a free and fair convention. Like any other PDP governor or delegate, Gov Wike has the right to support any candidate of his choice for any elective position including the Chairman at the PDP National Convention. So how did Gov Wike scuttle the chances of the South West to produce the National Chairman of the Party especially when the position was not zoned to the South West? Did Gov Wike or the PDP stop any person from the South West from contesting the chairmanship position? The answer is NO.

There is nothing morally wrong for Governor Wike to ask that the PDP conventions hold in Port Harcourt. Is Port Harcourt not part of Nigeria? Has Gov Wike not shown sagacity and objectivity in hosting the national convention which has been adjudged the best by the contestants and observers? So what point is Dr Obi making about the choice of Port Harcourt?

Dr Obi, still in search of the alleged odds against Gov Wike, strayed into Rivers State and began creating in his imagination, circumstances that don’t exist in order to satisfy his ignoble mission against Gov Wike. Dr Obi alludes to the fact that Gov Wike is not “shepherding his flock diligently with the result that a good number of them are straying away” What manner of argument is this when evidence abound in Nigeria that cross carpeting by Nigerian politicians is the order of the day. Is there any state in Nigeria today where politicians did not defect from their original parties to a new one? So why is it limited to Rivers State alone and why is the case of Rivers State tied to the alleged poor “shepherding” by Gov Wike?

Dr Obi played to the gallery when he said that the rank of the Rivers State National Assembly members loyal to Gov Wike are depleting. That is absolutely not correct. He should have known that by contrived judicial pronouncements, seats hitherto won by the PDP in Rivers State were finally awarded to the APC in circumstances that mangled logic and defeated all known legal principles. Such aberration doesn’t matter to Dr Obi because it doesn’t serve his parochial interest. If Dr Obi is able to know that a PDP senator defected to the APC in Rivers State, why did he not know that an APC Representative Dr Barry Mpigi defected to the PDP?

The PDP family in Rivers State is intact and swelling in ranks. However,  Dr Obi needs to know that the issue is not whether or not Gov Wike will win his election in 2019.  Of course, Gov Wike sits on solid electoral comfort and does not need to lose sleep to defeat his opponents. The issue is the combined conspiracy of the INEC and security agencies to defeat the will of the people and announce prepared results that would not emanate from the polls. Responsible analysts, commentators and the international community are worried about the need to commit to free and fair polls and I urge Dr Obi to join this crusade and stop sermonizing on a subject he knows little about.

–Emma Okah, Commissioner for Information and Communications, Rivers State


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