The Wike Leadership

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Tony Amadi

Let me start this piece with a prayer. That the Almighty God may settle the differences between Rotimi Amaechi and Ezenwo Nyesom Wike for the good of Rivers State and Nigeria. Amen. Whenever the two engage in their now unending rows and annoying brickbats in the media, I get worried, because the biggest loser is the state which should be benefiting immensely from the combination of Amaechi’s federal position in the Transportation Ministry as well as in the ruling party, APC, and Wike’s bulldozer approach to infrastructure development which a no lesser personality as the Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, has referred to Wike as Mr Projects.

I know the high level of federal projects brought into Rivers State when the present governor was Minister of State for Education in the government of President Goodluck Jonathan. Among so many projects he helped to bring about includes the establishment of Federal Polytechnic of Oil and Gas, Bonny. It was Wike who established the Faculty of Law, University of Port Harcourt, construction of Faculty of Biological Science Building at the same university and organised a special intervention for Federal College of Education, Technical, Omoku and started the construction of Special Vocational School for Boys at Ogu/Bolo LGA and to touch his own home base, the construction of Junior Model College in Ikwerre LGA.

I am looking forward to former governor Rotimi Amaechi, himself a stormy petrel like Wike to use his own position as Transportation minister to ensure that the state is not forgotten as his ministry dishes out largesse to various parts of Nigeria. The rail line from Lagos to Calabar should actually start from Port Harcourt rather than from Lagos. As minister, he can do that because when he leaves office in 2019, that project will not continue or so it seems. Amaechi should learn from former President Jonathan who is now regretting that he left office without much federal presence in his home state, Bayelsa.

The two Rivers political juggernauts should remember also the story of the old Anambra State once governed by Chief Jim Nwobodo under the Nigerian Peoples Party while former Vice President Alex Ekwueme of the National Party of Nigeria was in office under President Shehu Shagari in Lagos. At that time, anything going to Anambra State was blocked by Alex, while Jim will not accept anything that will give Ekwume good publicity in the state that include the whole of the present Ebonyi, Enugu and present Anambra States. It was a horror story for their people.

This kind of political mistake can never happen in the North, even the West. What were the plane load of Rivers state traditional rulers who accompanied Nyesom Wike to the Sallah homage to the Sultan of Sokoto doing by not summoning their two sons in high places to reconsider the feud and return to a united Rivers State for the sake of progress? I know that former Governor Peter Odili must have tried to bring back his two political sons together without any luck. If he has not, he should move in and do the right thing and ensure that their state is back to some real progress because this kind of opportunity in Rivers State come once in a life time.

This article is however not about settling their differences, but to recognize the tremendous development going on in Rivers that has caught the attention of our Acting President and a number of dispassionate Nigerians. I gather that the Wike bandwagon is rolling around and touching lives with a variety of projects in the state capital, Port Harcour,t and around the local government areas of the state, particularly in the depressed communities in Rivers State. I do not need to travel to Rivers to see the advanced state of development and the progressive actions of the Action Governor. Wike’s bulldozing style of leadership is obviously producing the kind of results that has taken Tanzania by storm under its 56 year old new President John Pombe Magufuli.

According to the Financial Times of London, ‘’to virtually everyone’s surprise, John Pombe Magufuli, a less-than-glamourous cabinet member who had done two stints as public works minister, became president of Tanzania. To get there he beat better-connected rivals from the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi ‘’Party of Revolution’’, which in one form or another has ruled the east African nation since independence. Now almost everyone, especially the poor, are putting their faith in a new leader so reputed for getting things done he is known as ‘’the Bulldozer’’. The Financial Times adds that Magufuli ‘’is creating a buzz of expectation that at last Tanzania has found a leader capable of awakening the ‘’sleeping giant’’ of east Africa, one with huge, largely unexploited, gas and mineral resources’’, adding that ‘’when he says something, he follows through. He is not a liar’’, as leaders here in Nigeria has lied severally to the people to the extent that even promises they made to the people in their manifesto is either denied or said not to be implementable.

I am seeing Wike as Nigeria’s version of Tanzania’s Magufuli because he is focused on delivering good governance in the state and is not deterred by the army of critics that clog his path. Wike is a smooth operator who makes promises and keeps it and very well bonded with his people. I have only met him a couple of times during the heat of the last campaign when he paid a courtesy visit to my boss, the former Chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Adamu Muazu. He had at the time not become the party’s candidate for the Rivers State gubernatorial seat and his modus operandi showed the confidence bubbling under his every move. When I broached the idea of Wike as the next governor to the party chairman, he didn’t seem to have any qualms about supporting his candidacy especially as the body language of the Aso Rock Villa occupants remained positive over Wike’s candidacy at that point in time.

As soon as he was confirmed the governor after all the courts and tribunal processes, he hit the ground running and has never stopped or reduced the speed with which he was administering the state. All this was under the tension that gripped the state when his government was virtually under police siege as his opponents used to their full advantage of the federal power behind them. The fearless governor was ready to stand his ground despite the federal might that was ranged against time.

During the last Senate and House of Representatives election recently in the state, the All Progressives Congress sent a bus load of their governors led by Kano State Governor Ganduje to scare Wike with a battalion of soldiers and policemen to rig Wike’s PDP out of the National Assembly Elections and he showed them that he was a tougher and rougher cookie and a local boy who is much more on the ground. Since that confrontation, the ruling party got the lesson of their lives and realized they were off limits in the politics of Rivers State.

The Wike phenomenon is the name of the game in Rivers State at the moment and he has seized it to his fullest advantage. His political enemies are many and their objective is to halt his momentum but the guy is too tough, seasoned and ahead of them all. He reminds me of Donald Trump and his endless fight against the Washington establishment which he is winning.

––Amadi is a veteran journalist and media and marketing consultant in Abuja.