By Aliu Shuaib
With Nigeria’s zero sum approach to politicking where contest is fiercely adversarial and the winner rides triumphant, it is difficult to find political opponents being charitable towards each other.
Since 2015 when the PDP was swept from power at the centre, relations between the key actors of both parties have been far from cordial.
Despite this no love lost relationship, the unthinkable happened on February 13, 2017. On that day in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who was on a working visit to the state, commended the administration of Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, the Governor of Rivers State.
Setting aside political grandstanding, Osinbajo who had been impressed after visiting many project sites dotting the state, said of Wike:
“I think he deserves the title of ‘Mr. Projects’; he is indeed ‘Mr. Projects’.
Osinbajo’s acclamation of Wike as a performing governor was an apt testament to the Rivers Governor’s commitment to developing infrastructure in the state. Like a man possessed, Governor Wike has since he became the chief executive of the state relentlessly pursued the holistic development of Rivers State not only in terms of developing infrastructure and social institutions in the state but also in terms of human capital development.
In the four years he has been in the saddle, the entire landscape of Rivers State cutting across all the local government areas of the state, have become pockmarked with projects some of them completed and many nearing completion.
Such has been his commitment to the total transformation of Rivers State that two years after Osinbajo extolled his virtue, another ranking member of the APC, Governor Fayemi of Ekiti State, hailed him as an astute administrator.
On a visit in September 2019 to Rivers State to commission a project, Fayemi said Wike’s love for the people of Rivers State was not in doubt.
“We are proud of him; we are proud of the work he is doing in Rivers State. He is going to continue to inaugurate projects till 27th September. That is almost 10 days from now. Even if it is one project per day, it will be almost 10 days. Now, I understand why they refer to him as Mr Project,” Fayemi said of Wike.
On Wike’s love for his people as Fayemi noted, there is no doubt. This love is reflected in the care and concern he has shown to the people of Rivers state and matters that affect their wellbeing.
Celestine Omehia, a prominent son of Rivers, who once ruled the state as governor, attested to Wike’s love for his people. Speaking recently at a function, Omehia noted:
“You have shown the capacity to handle the affairs of Rivers State. You have shown determination in promoting the interest of Rivers people. You have shown that you love Rivers State more than any other consideration.
“You are truly a man of the people. Whatever you say you will do, is what you do. In 2015, they said you won’t have money to pay salaries, talk less of doing projects. Today, you are not only paying salaries, you are executing world class projects. You are a dedicated son of Rivers State.”
The remarkable thing about Wike’s love for his people is that it is one that is passionately reciprocated by the people. In the last governorship election where he sought his people’s mandate for a second term, he was resoundingly returned to office. Expressing gratitude to his people for once again reposing confidence in him, he assured them that he would not allow the pace of development in the state to slacken. At a recent flag-off of a major project in the state, Wike stated:
“I am happy that this is happening during our time. With the support everyone has given us, I have promised that I will never disappoint Rivers people. We will continue working. We will continue working as if this is our first term in office.”
In Wike’s relationship with his people, the dictum that a prophet is without honour among members of his own family and clan does not apply. In Ikwerre, his ancestral home, he is loved and cherished by his Ikwerre people as much as he is by the Ijaw, the Ogoni, and the Andoni to name a few of the many ethnic groups in the state.
Proof of this is the honour and recognition he has just received from Ikwerre sons and daughters under the aegis of the Ogbakor Ikwerre Cultural Association Worldwide. It is truly honour well deserved and will add to the plethora of honours and awards Governor Wike has chalked up since being first elected governor of the state in 2015.
The awards, which have come in torrents include, the Sun newspaper’s Man of the Year Award, which he has won back to back and is the only governor to have done so, the Silverbird Man of the Year award in 2017, the Business Day newspaper Best Governor of 2018 award, The Badminton Confederation of Africa, Distinguished Service to Sports in Africa award, the AIPS Power of Sports in Africa award, and the Global Human Settlement Outstanding Award, conferred on him by the United Nations(UN).
The latest honour from his people is sure to spur Wike to sustain efforts at living an unimpeachable legacy in the minds of the present and future generations of the people of Rivers State and even beyond.
*Shuaib, a political analyst, wrote in from Kaduna