By Tayo Agboola
Barrister Nyesom Wike is the Executive Governor of Rivers state. As a man versed in the politics of the street and the drama of politics, he is public, physical and loud. If you want political theatre, even that of the absurd, the place to go is the Government House in Port Harcourt, Rivers state.
An Ikwerre man and native of Obio-Akpor local government in Rivers state, Wike shot to limelight when he was appointed a minister of state (Education) in the cabinet of President Goodluck Jonathan. He was a very meek junior minister who was careful and meek enough to avoid having troubles with his senior colleague, Hajia Ruqayyatu Rufai. It was towards the tail-end of the Jonathan presidency when Wike was upgraded to cabinet rank that he gained notoriety as a startup entrepreneur in coarse politics. Chief Rotimi Amaechi, then in gubernatorial incumbency, can relate with this.
Today, the novice has matured into a don. And, as happens in Mafia circles, Wike dons the bowler-hat and walks with a mafioso swagger, with a walking-stick to boot. If you notice that infrequent Hitler’s moustache, you are very observant.
And to complete the ensemble, Obio-Akpor tiger has recruited special assistants from among his governor-colleagues. These are: Governors Samuel Ortom (Benue); Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu state); Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia state) and Seyi Makinde of Oyo state.
Although there are other supports, it is allegedly putting other governors on his payroll that proves conclusively that “What money cannot do, more money can do.” (Due apologies to a senior APC juggernaut).
Because he didn’t get the PDP presidential ticket, everyone is to blame. He does not remember his leaking mouth, his uncouth manners, his uncultured actions and his insufferable arrogance.
Here is a man who promised, publicly on the convention grounds, to support whoever emerged as the PDP presidential candidate.
The question is: Has no presidential candidate emerged yet? Yes, he has. He is former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, an ambidextrous politician with an awesome national network. Has Wike even as much as congratulated him in the spirit of sportsmanship? No.
On the heels of Atiku’s emergence, Wike’s neighbour and fellow-South-South brother, Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa, was chosen as Atiku’s running-mate. Has Wike congratulated him? No. And does he plan to? Not by any fat chance. And yet, he calls out others just because talk is cheap!
Rather, he is going about doing the unthinkable, even daring the party. In the APC, a senator only spoke against the Muslim-Muslim ticket, and he was promptly expelled expelled for “anti-party activities.” That’s a party with discipline.
But Wike has done worse. Among these are cavorting with opposition elements, including holding repeated meetings with the presidential candidates of the rival APC and the Labour Party i.e. Sen. Bola Tinubu and Mr. Peter Obi. He also hosts live, weekly television interviews where he routinely runs down the party, demarkets its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, as well as assassinates the character of PDP’s national chairman, the iconic Iyorchia Ayu. But the party is apparently keeping quiet in the interest of peace.
In the same media engagements, he lampoons PDP national leaders like Sule Lamido, Babangida Aliyu, Raymond Dokpesi, Alh. Waziri Maina and Gov. Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto state, calling them such derogatory names like “attack-dogs,” “liars” and “corrupt people.” The man is just uncontrollable – both in his reckless actions and wild allegations. He is running amok.
Although Wike spares no one, even boasting how he will “crush Atiku pepperly,” his special target has been Ayu, whom he has vowed to bring down by all means – fair or foul. It’s upon Ayu that Wike has, most consistently, trained his poisoned tongue, visiting all manner of invectives upon him.
There is nothing that Wike has not accused Ayu of: Lying, partiality, ingratitude, collusion etc. But the most recent has been the charge that Ayu received N1bn from Atiku in Lagos! There can be nothing more preposterous.
Atiku is resident in Abuja with Dr. Ayu. If he wanted to bribe Ayu with N1bn, would he have to take it all the way to Lagos? And since Wike corrupts all with his money, why didn’t he pay higher? Does he not (as reported in the media) have some unprincipled members of the national exco on his payroll?
Or does he mean the incorruptible Ayu refused to be swayed by his filthy money? Everyone, who knows Ayu at close range, knows he is not a grabber. Perhaps, Wike is getting to know that very late in the day, and to his frustration!
Although Wike’s childish and tragicomic outbursts guarantee him media headlines and shallow analyses on some TV stations, Ayu has refused to join issues with him. That is proof that the chairman is made of sterner stuff. The closest the PDP came to replying him was when Ayu alluded to the alleged N1bn bribe while hosting the Forum of Ex-Officio Officials (PDP) in his office.
According to media reports, Ayu is reported to have defended himself thus: “I have been a leader of the National Assembly. I have been a minister many times. As a person, I have many faults, but stealing is not one of them. I am conscious of my place in history, and the NWC that I lead is guided by the twin-principles of transparency and accountability.”
He added: “You may be reading many things and expecting my reaction. If we don’t always talk, it is because we want to maintain and build cohesion in the party. We don’t want continuous altercations in the PDP family. Our eyes are on the big picture i.e. winning the 2023 general elections.”
This is the posture of a true leader: mature, deliberate, calm, calculated, purposeful and focused on the ultimate goal.
Under any other national chairman, Wike’s actions would not have been tolerated. But, for whatever reason, the party appears to be bending over backwards to placate him.
The man, who claims to love peace, is fighting everybody in sight. Why? The so-called champion of equity for Southern Nigeria is at war with all his neighbours. He is not on talking terms with his brother-governors in the South-South. He has fought Govs. Godwin Obaseki, Ifeanyi Okowa, Udom Emmanuel and Douye Diri.
And back home in Rivers, the situation is worse. The man of peace has turned Rivers into a theatre of war. He is fighting every PDP stakeholder in Rivers. The roll-call is long: Celestine Omehia, Sen. Lee Maeba, Sekibo, Austin Opara, Dr. Abiye Precious Sekibo, Prince Uche Secondus, Chinyere Igwe, Dr. Farah Dagogo etc.
Even senior citizens, who begun playing national politics when Wike was a small-time council chairman, have now become “small boys,” who need permission from the pocket-dictator before travelling to Abuja to join in meetings of the national political league.
He talks of “crushing” his enemies, and “enemies” here means all Rivers sons and daughters who refuse to join him in his ego-wars.
But if talk is cheap, loquaciousness is even cheaper. Anyone reckless enough can go on TV to make infantile allegations against others. And as Ayu has shown, silence is sometimes the biggest sign of maturity.
Finally, Wike has exposed himself as unfit for the exalted office of president or vice president. He doesn’t only suffer from myopia – he is also afflicted with incurable verbal diarrhoea.
And, with hindsight, Gov. Tambuwal is truly the hero of the convention as Ayu had declared.
With his thuggish politics evidenced in abrasive verbosity, PDP would have made a huge mistake in sending Wike in the direction of Aso Rock.
The Delegates were right. Ayu is the man that possibly saw tomorrow. And Atiku too is vindicated. The ship has left the dock, and set sail. Enough of the deliberate distractions. We are on a journey. We have a date with history. And we must look beyond these well-orchestrated distractions and deliberate temper tantrums.
Our destination is Aso Rock, Come 2023; not Obio-Akpor or London. Enough said. It’s time to work.
…Agboola is a computer scientist, and writes from 11A, Olorun Adaba St., Bamike, Akowonjo, Lagos.