By Okey Ikechukwu
“Is Wike an instrument in the hands of Providence, or The Absolute?” That was the question asked on this page some eleven months ago. Some of the man’s national engagements are often revelatory, and even disconcerting. Sometimes in ways not intended by him. His position on Value Added Tax (VAT) a few years ago threw up quite a stir. The Northern governors rose in opposition to Wike and, for the first time, openly showed that they knew what they were doing all along; and in spite of the law. His demolition of the presidential aspirations of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), did not go without substantial dirty linen of that befuddled party coming into the public domain. Then, his run with his Local Government Chairman on illegal refineries.
Wike’s management of the last elections in Rivers State, as well as his recent, really scandalous, exchanges with the man he put in charge of the state brought forth great revelations about the inner working of his nature. Revelations galore! Which is not entirely surprising, really. The aforementioned article made this point: “Everyone seems to be in the line of fire – perhaps including Wike himself”
Now, the man is in the news again. Has been since his arrival in Abuja. Again, also, he is creating ripples and throwing up very interesting revelations. It is because of him that the assumptions, expectations and demands of some people about what should be the religious orientation and ethnic extraction of anyone who should be FCT Minister is now confirmed public information.
Absurd as it may sound, the open display of rage and indignation, and the claim that it was “an insult” to some people for Tinubu to appoint a Christian from the South South as FCT Minister, shows how far we are from being a nation of equal partners. Such presumption!
Should Tinubu fire the FCT Minister, Nyesom Wike, to please anyone? It can be done, of course, just that it would be a most unwise thing to do. Like him or not, Wike brings some panache and gusto to all his political engagements; even when he is wrong. In the few months he has spent in his current office, Wike has inflicted some very troubling revelations on us all. He is blunt, acts according to his own personal certainties, keeps much of his position on issues in the public domain and is unrelenting in calling out in his insistent on issues that are dear to him.
Again I ask: Is Wike an instrument in the hands of the Absolute?
As explained here eleven months ago, “The Absolute, as Providence, …gets to have the last laugh. And that is where what Hegel called the Cunning of Reason, or the hidden designs of The Absolute in human affairs comes in. Humans may sometimes design elaborate schemes of their own, with clear goals in view. But they may not know that their overall trajectory, and that of their beautiful schemes, has created a situation wherein the final outcome of their efforts will only serve the hidden designs of The Absolute.
Yes, humans sometimes get “conned” by a higher Design and Will; even as they are convinced that they are working and walking towards accomplishing the favourite designs of their hearts.
Hegel cited the case of a dreaded and dreadful tyrant, to illustrate the Cunning of The Absolute:
“The man was as much feared in the realm as he was passionately hated. Everyone wanted him dead, but everyone acted as if they wanted him to live and rule forever. No one was eager to assist in any of his schemes for self-perpetuation and expansion, but no one stepped back whenever he called for hands to drive his nefarious activities. They were stuck with him, because any desire to overthrow him will have to contend with the fact that only the tyrant can call people to a meeting.
Since there can be no meetings in the realm, except those called by the tyrant, the prospect of consultation for leadership replacement was out of the question. Then the terrible fellow came to their aid, by dreaming up the idea of expanding his territories and taking over other surrounding realms. He planned for war and headed out with a mighty army, convinced that he would return soon enough to even greater glory and unchecked power and reign.
But as his absence relaxed the strictures on the people, they began to express personal views. In the end, their discussions and semi-meetings turned into full-blown meetings. Then the full-blown meetings begat loud grumblings, until there came the idea of how to ensure that the dreaded and dreadful tyrant did not return to further tyrannize over the people. He, was overthrown”.
That is the Cunning of The Absolute, alright. It is a situation wherein Providential Intervention deploys our myopic, egotistic and jaundiced goals and desires to create a situation that would be our undoing. It happens everyday, everywhere and at all times. Usually without warning!
Nearly two years ago, Nyesom Wike directed all 23 Local Government Chairmen in his state to hire bulldozers and destroy the illegal refineries in their respective local government areas. Four days before the directive, he said to the LG bosses, as mentioned in yet another article titled, “Governors, Just Look at Wike”: “Now, every council Chairman must go and identify illegal refineries … and you’re given 48 hours to go and identify all illegal refineries sites, and those who are in charge of them. … Our people are dying and we owe our people the responsibility to protect them, to save them from death”. Even with the foregoing, he was not yet done; but more of that later.
A few weeks before this directive, Wike went about ccommissioning several completed, and well-executed, projects on his state. He just went about commissioning roads, flyovers and sundry structures in Rivers State. Concerning where the huge sums of money came from, the then governor announced that it was from massive tranches of cash he received in arrears from the Federal Government. Not quite done, he went ahead to tell Nigerians that all other oil-producing states in Nigeria received their shares of the same arrears.
Then, he challenged the governors concerned. He asked them to explain what they did with their own share of the windfall. “Then, his colleague oil-producing governors started speaking in tongues”.
It was obviously the wind of the Absolute that blew Wike to hit the airwaves after losing a delegate’s election for the presidential ticket of the PDP. He raked up a lot of issues; and the PDP was in tatters. He exposed Alhaji Atiku Abubakar’s inability to resolve intra-organizational disputes. He made Atiku’s insistence on the provisions of their party constitution on Chairmanship of the party appear unreasonable – and even ridiculous in the face of a major election. He helped the party to substantially de-market itself and lose credibility is several quarters.
It was sked here, then: “Is Wike now the hand of Providence that is helping many Nigerians to see so clearly how an aspiring president could be so roundly bereft of good counsel, or how a political party could give incredible proof that it has no real Council of Elders”. The party cheerfully invested nearly all its energies in self-diminution.
The aforementioned Wike’s handling of local government officials, for instance, was exactly what every reasonable and hands-on state governor should have been doing routinely. “That is if such governors are serious about genuine representation of the people by their elected leaders, as well as socially accountable leadership, effective service delivery and sustainable security”.
That Wike called on the 23 Local Government Chairmen in Rivers State out was his way of “putting responsibility for some aspects of environmental awareness and security squarely at the door step of those who are supposed to be closest to the people: and who should therefore know what is going on at any point in time”.
Will all our LG bosses, where they exist in real terms, not be forced to take their jobs seriously, if their governors are breathing down their necks? Will these chairmen not, in turn, descend on their largely idle Ward and Council Chairmen? Will this then not eventually bury the thriving expectation that we should all continue pretending that it is the business of the Federal Government in Abuja to address all local issues that a passing knowledge of one’s living environment should enable us to deal with?
As said then, regarding Wike’s Riot Act to LG Chairmen: “The beauty of Wike’s intervention … lies in the fact that he is calling out politicians who are in office as servants of the people to do their work. He is also, metaphorically speaking, asking his fellow governors and their LG Chairmen to do their jobs. They are being told that they have a duty to identify criminality and propose ways of dealing with same, in their largely closely-knit communities where everyone knows what everyone else is doing. He is saying that it is not right that people should carry official titles/cars and have their names on the government payroll, without actually being on the job”.
One important lesson from that episode is the fact that our governors cannot remain sole administrators and achieve sustainable good governance. Being a governor, or a local Government Chairmen, has job description and role expectations in other climes. It is time to say: “Enough of everyone pretending that we don’t know what’s going on and who is doing what”. But are we saying that at any level of government today – irrespective of the political party concerned?
Whether Nyesom Wike is an instrument in the hands of The Absolute, or he is playing a necessary role at this time in a national life that will eventually bury him politically, remains to be seen. But one thing is sure: The man is visible, voluble, has his own faults and is willing to stand up and be counted on issues he takes seriously. But he should exercise greater circumspection in many things he is doing right now.