His Excellency, Chief Nyesom Ezenwo Wike (CON), is certainly the enfant terrible of Nigerian politics. He knows how to give and take political punches. He does not suffer fools gladly. He defends Rivers State with his soul, heart and might, as if his very life depends on it. To say he loves Rivers is an understatement. To say he is a proud Ikwerre son and scion is a statement of fact that he himself proclaims to the high heavens. No wonder, only penultimate Saturday, Wike was conferred with the prestigious title of Dike Oha of Ikwere land (the strength of the Community), by the Ikwerre Cultural Organisation worldwide. He is a qualified Solicitor and Advocate of the Supreme Court of Nigeria. But, Governor Wike is better known and remembered for his unending exploits in politics and the world of governance. Born on 13th of December, 1967, in Rumuepirikom, Obio Akpor Local Government Area, Rivers State, to the family of Reverend and Mrs. Nlemanya Wike, the political pugilist married the love of his life, Honourable Justice (Mrs.) Eberechi Suzzette Nyesom-Wike, a High Court Judge with the Rivers State Judiciary. They are blessed with three lovely children, Jordan, Joaquin, and Jazmyne. While Wike is the roaring lion, the beautiful debonair wife plays the quiet role of a Judge, a wife and a mother, shunning unnecessary political lime light.
Nyesom Ezenwo Wike’s early life
Wike attended Government Secondary School, Eneka Obiakpor, Rivers State, where he sat for his O’level exams before proceeding to the Rivers State University of Science and Technology (RSUT), Port Harcourt, where he obtained a Law degree. He completed his studies at the Nigerian Law School in 1997, with the Barrister at Laws practicing licence. Wike also holds a Masters degree in Political and Administrative Studies from the same Rivers State University.
Nyesom Ezenwo Wike’s political career
After a brief stint with private legal practice, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike (CON), ventured into politics. He was elected twice as the Executive Chairman of Obio-Akpor Local Government Area, Rivers State. He served his two terms in office from 1999-2002 and 2004-2007. While in office, Wike also served as Deputy President, Association of Local Governments of Nigeria, (ALGON), in 2004. He was later elected the President of ALGON, an umbrella of all the 775 Local Government Areas in Nigeria. He also represented Africa as a member of the Executive Committee of the Commonwealth Local Governments Forum.
Between October 26, 2007 and May 28, 2011, Chief Wike served as the Chief of Staff, Government House, Port Harcourt, Rivers state during Governor Amaechi’s tenure and was also appointed the Director-General of Amaechi’s re-election Campaign Organization. His grass roots support, native intelligence and organizational sagacity were not unnoticed. Thus, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike (CON) was appointed Minister of State for Education on 14th July, 2011, where he distinguished himself with the following programmes: the creation of access to Quality Education for nine (9) million Almajiri children in Northern Nigeria (through the construction of dedicated schools in affected states); construction of basic education vocational training schools for out-of-school children in Southern Nigeria; and Special Girl-Education Schools for less privileged girls in sixteen (16) states of the country.
His unquantifiable achievements
Ezenwo Wike had distinguished himself as the best performing Local Government Council Chairman in Rivers State. As Council Chairman, he had embarked on iconic projects that re-defined council administration and set the right example and template of best practices for his colleagues. As ALGON National President, Chief (Barr.) Nyesom Ezenwo Wike (CON) played a pioneering role in National Security and Primary Healthcare, leading all local government councils to commit themselves to high-level grassroots development across the country.
On the 14th of July, 2011, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike was appointed and sworn-in as the Honorable Minister of State for Education by President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. He dazzled a country with many known non-performing Ministers with palpable innovations.
Following a Federal Cabinet re-organisation, Wike emerged the nation’s Supervising Minister of Education on September 12, 2013. As the Minister of State for Education, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike had made remarkable impact in the basic education sub-sector, spearheading a nationwide reform of the nation’s education system. Wike also championed the free distribution of books across the nation. Over 60 Millions of textbooks and library resource materials were distributed in 2011. In his determination to ensure that teachers had the capacity to deliver on the Transformation Agenda of the Jonathan administration, he initiated the training of close to 500,000 basic education teachers and school administrators.
As the nation’s Supervising Minister of Education, Wike took proactive measures to resolve key challenges in the basic and tertiary education levels. Under his watch, the Federal Government established four new Federal Polytechnics, with one sited at Bonny, Rivers State. Wike facilitated the N1.3trillion Intervention fund for public universities in Nigeria, the very first of its kind, aimed at reviving university education in Nigeria. He also facilitated the revival of infrastructure in 51 States and Federal Polytechnics and ensured the construction of micro-teaching laboratories in Colleges of Education in Nigeria. Wike was that rarity among revolutionaries and moral dissidents, a capable and workaholic statesman, comfortable with compromise (on principles, for the good of all), but impatient with the doctrinaire and inanities.
He voluntarily resigned his appointment as Minister of Education to contest for the Governorship of Rivers State.
On 8 December, 2014, he won the Rivers State People’s Democratic Party gubernatorial election primaries and subsequently, went ahead to win the gubernatorial elections in April 2015.
Aside the esteemed Dike Oha of the Ikwerre nation, Chief Wike also holds several traditional chieftaincy titles, including the “Oro-ata 1” of Andoni Kingdom (by His Royal Majesty, King Job Williams Ojuruket Nnabiget XIV, Okan-Ama Ngo of Ngo land); the “Eze Omekweli kimbom of Elelenwo” (by the Elelenwo Community of Obio/Akpor Local Government Area).
Nyesom Ezenwo Wike and his laurels
Chief Wike is a proud recipient of the Nigeria National award of the Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON), one of the highest national honours in Nigeria. On February 23, 2018, The Sun Newspapers named him the “Governor of the Year, 2017”. He was also accorded the award of Silverbird’s man of the year, 2017.
On the 8th of May, 2018, Wike won the International Sports Press Association-Africa (AIPS) Africa Power of Powers (POS) Award.
A man of peace and conciliation
Chief Wike, a democratic emblem of unity and forbearance, has used his second tenure as a vessel and an improbable fusion of forgiven prodigal party members, including many of his former oppressors, tormentors and traducers. The Christian in him prevails, probably relying on Romans 12: 19-21.
Nyesom Wike has appealed for an end to divisive politics in Rivers state. The oil-rich state, located in Nigeria’s South-south region, has for long been plagued by crude violence. This has led to several deaths because of the power struggle between the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) led by Mr Wike and the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) led by Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi.
Wike recently won a hard-fought re-election as the governor of Rivers, while The APC lost almost all its election-related appeals at the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court. Wike, in an attempt to encourage peace and harmony and in trying to give everyone a sense of belonging, stated as follws:
“I appeal to the APC and the Minister of Transport to join hands with us to move our dear state forward.
“We cannot as leaders continue to remain divided and expect government to deliver on its responsibilities to our people. Let us from henceforth seek the common ground instead of allowing our differences to be exploited to retard our march to progress,”
The governor indicated his readiness to withdraw pending criminal cases filed against his arch-rivals and political actors in the state, “to give room for reconciliation”.
“I hereby direct the Honourable Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice to review all pending criminal proceedings filed against any person by the State and directly related to political activities prior to the 2019 general elections and make appropriate recommendations to me for necessary action to promote reconciliation among us,”
Chief Ezenwo Nyesom Wike, CON, is a mere 52. But, he has packed into these 5 decades the grit and successes worth 5 live times. That he is loved by his people is a truism. That he knows, understands and exhibits the art and science of governance has become legendary. Soldier on, the people’s governor, the enfant terrible of Nigerian politics. Happy birthday and many happy returns now and forever more, amen. Accept Genesis 5:3 and Phillipians 4:7.
Thought for the week
“The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.” (Oprah Winfrey).