News & Features
2017: Wike works in the eyes of admirers
Governor Nyesom Wike’s supporters do not hide their admiration. Be it on the streets, in the markets, in the churches, etc, they openly shout his name and pour adulation. They are also ready to defend their love and choice anytime anywhere. They easily point to many feats for their heightened love; many roads that won their idol the appellation, Mr. Project; ability to win back the state from the rival political party; his standing out to defend their kinsman, Goodluck Jonathan, then under siege; his battles to win back the image of Port Harcourt as a destination of choice; his captain’s role in the then crumbling ruling party to the point of making Port Harcourt the new capital of the opposition and installing the first-ever national party chairman from Rivers State.
Most important dignitaries and visitors to the state including the vice president (Yemi Osinbajo), the former president, Jonathan, former governors Peter Odili and Akpabio; former senate president, David Mark, have made different remarks heaping surprise and encomiums on Mr. Project. Lawyers, accountants, editors, and many other professional groups have been among those who have made Port Harcourt their new city of choice.
One person who plays in the midfield of the Wike image camp is his special adviser on electronic media, Simeon Nwakaudu. They deposit their feelings and remarks with him and these permeate into the national image bank. When the Guild of Editors visited again this year, Nwakaudu captured their mood thus; “Veteran Publisher, Comfort Obi, whispered to me on Elelenwo-Akpajo Road: ‘They have so many good names for him’. She was talking about Nigeria’s Best Performing Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, who was with Nigerian Editors on a project tour. This was on Saturday, September 23, 2017. She asked the question after a taxi driver peeped out of his vehicle and called Governor Wike: ‘High Tension’. On the same tour, several women called him ‘Mr. Project’, others shouted ‘Ekwueme’ (promise keeper), while another set called him ‘Man wey sabi’. Several danced in front of him, composing songs in different languages.”
He continued the narrative: For the second time in two years, Nigerian Editors saw firsthand that Gov Wike is a man of the people, a politician who has changed the narrative of Rivers State through projects that meet the needs of the people. He has proved that a politician can be honest with his people, changing their fortune through beneficial projects.
In case you are not aware, Governor Wike is the only governor in the South-South who is never accompanied by soldiers. Governor Wike is at home with his people. From Creek Road to Elelenwo, from Bori to Andoni, from Nkpogu to Abonnema, the editors saw the love and acceptance that Governor Wike enjoys. They saw his support base. They witnessed the massive investments in infrastructure, education, health, land reclamation and special projects. The Rivers story unfolded before their eyes, unadulterated.
The governor and the Nigerian Editors led by their President, Funke Egbemode, inspected the Bonny-Nembe-Bille Jetty, Creek Road, Produce House, National Industrial Court and Nkpogu Land Reclamation Project. They also inspected Woji-Akpajo Bridge, the dualisation of the Sakpenwa-Bori Road, dualisation of Elelenwo-Akpajo Road, Garrison-Trans-Amadi-Elelenwo Road, Nyemoni Grammar School, Abonnema, Abonnema Ring Road and the Ogoni-Andoni-Opobo Unity Road.
Also on Saturday, the State Information Commissioner, Emma Okah, led a different team of Editors of project tour in Rivers West Senatorial District and parts of Rivers East Senatorial District. The team visited Rumuokoro Market and Park, Mother and Child Hospital, Port Harcourt, General Hospital Abua and General Hospital, Buguma. The third team led by the State Commissioner of Education, Taminosisi Gogo-Jaja, visited the Sakpenwa-Bori Road, the Ogoni-Andoni-Opobo Unity Road, Zonal Hospital, Bori, General Hospital, Bodo City and the Kpopie-Bodo Road.
Only a governor who is working will be courageous enough to invite Nigerian Editors for a second year running. This is a state where transparency and accountability are revered. Governor Wike seizes every opportunity to give an account of his steadwardship. Governor Wike believes that the Nigerian Media from across the country should have direct information on the development efforts in Rivers State vis-a-vis the peaceful nature of the state.
In Rivers State, development has gone beyond the level of mere rhetoric. The State under Governor Wike has transited from the realm of pledges to the domain of actualisation of promises.
It is true that every state has one form of security challenge or the other, but the reality is that Rivers State is one of the most peaceful states in the country. It has a vibrant economy, the treasure base of the nation. The country’s oil facilities are well secured, while micro, small and medium enterprises are thriving. This is one state with 24-hours functional transportation infrastructure—land, air and waterways.
The media aide wrote that If you notice a bad road in Rivers State, that it belongs to the Federal Government, the alleged sponsor and purveyor of the false propaganda to de-market the state. If you see a dormant seaport or an uncompleted airport, it is a deliberate design by the Federal Government to frustrate the rapid economic progress of Rivers State. Unfortunately, the schemes of the Federal Government are promoted by indigenes of Rivers State, serving in the APC administration. These were the exact words former governor, Chibuike Amaechi, used to describe the attitude of the Jonathan-led FG.
Nwakauda wrote that Rivers State is now a success story of development. That it is in opposition does not mean that the positive trends in the state should be ignored. Throwing up the successes in Rivers State will encourage the majority of APC non-performing governors to rise up to the challenges of development, he further wrote.
Thankfully, the editors witnessed a full circle of certain projects. When they visited in 2016, projects like Port Harcourt Pleasure Park, Woji-Akpajo Bridge, Federal High Court, Sakpenwa-Bori Road, Birabi Memorial Grammar School, Government House Chapel of Everlasting Grace, Reconstructed Brick House, Igbo-Etche Road, Rumuokoro Market and Park and Bonny-Nembe-Bille Jetty were under construction. Most of them have been completed, while a few are nearing completion.
President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, Funke Egbemode pointed out two projects; the Woji-Akpajo Bridge and the Port Harcourt Pleasure Park, expressing happiness that the projects progressed satisfactorily. On the street celebration of Governor Wike, Funke Egbemode said: “Governor Wike is not a state capital Governor; he has spread projects across the state and the people- not those in asoebi or branded T-shirt- came out en masse to receive him everywhere we visited with him, in appreciation of what he has done for them.”
Nwakaudu wrote how he was inspired, not as an aide, but like many other Wike admirers, by the things the governor said at the 57th Independence speech at the Sharks Stadium in Port Harcourt on October 1. He said he became more convinced that Nigeria needs more men like Wike; men who have courage, yet possess the humanity to find solutions to the problems crippling the nation’s progress.
He wrote: “It dawned on me that we need more men with the strength of character to say the truth to power, when lesser men are bathing in the stream of sycophancy. It is said that if one is afraid to tell a powerful man the truth, he uses a basket to cover his face before speaking. The case of Wike is different. He tells the truth right away, not caring whose ox is gored.
He brought to the fore, what some top men said about the Rivers governor. This is what the Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu said about Governor Wike: “I count Governor Wike as a special blessing, not only to our people, but to human kind. I thank God for the kind of courage that he has blessed Wike with. Today, he has come here. I pray that the blessing of Rivers State will follow Abia”.
The relevance of Nyesom Wike’s political, social and economic interventions can be seen from the viewpoint of the unpleasant silence of key figures in the media and civil society over the total dislocation of the foundations of the country.
Nwakaudu said: “Just run a basic background check and you will discover that nobody is talking. Those who were notorious vuvuzelas in the recent past are now experts in blaming the victims. They see nothing, they say nothing. A popular Tiv proverb says that it is not good to talk while you are eating. You know the consequence of talking and eating. Because our media and civil society no longer talk, the APC Federal Government has been emboldened to take rash actions that destroy the foundations of the nation’s democracy, judiciary, politics, social cohesion, economic growth and development.
“It is for this reason that security agencies have become law breakers, using state apparatus of power to unleash horror, while criminals enjoy ‘security holidays.’”
Governor Wike used his Independence Day address to draw attention to the challenge that the Special Anti-robbery Squad posed to the security of the state.
He said: “Apart from its visible involvement in election rigging, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS)of the Nigerian Police has ironically and manifestly become the most serious threat to the security of lives and property in Rivers State. So many people who have been victims of criminal extortion, robbery, kidnapping and torture continue to recount their ordeals from this criminal gang masquerading as security operatives in the State.”
He said the politicisation of security under the present dispensation has been one of the major causes of insecurity in different parts of the country. “There is also the deliberate failure to act on the proven case of the printing of fake INEC result sheets by Rivers APC officials. A leader of the party from Opobo-Nkoro Local Government Area, Atonyesia Peterside was arrested printing result sheets with approved INEC serial numbers. He confessed to the crime on camera, indicting a Former Commissioner under the Rotimi Amaechi administration as being his principal sponsor.
“The Police High Command dribbled the entire country over the matter. They refused to investigate the weighty matter. Instead, the Police and INEC connived to use fake result sheets tendered by the Police at the Election Tribunal to deny Rivers people their required mandate in Rivers East Senatorial District, which was won by the PDP.
Governor Wike said: “We all crave for strong national institutions to support our democracy, protect our freedoms and advance our development. Unfortunately, instead of advancing our democracy and protecting our liberties, some of our most important national institutions, especially the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Nigerian Police have become the undertakers of their destruction by acts of deliberate compromise, partisanship and even sabotage in the discharge of their constitutional responsibilities.”
An observer told BDSUNDAY, “This is the level of admiration and conviction that drives the support base of Governor Wike such that wherever he goes, his crowd masses along. This is what makes the Wike factor.”
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