His victory was unstoppable. Most Rivers people like his administrative quintessence and illuminative leadership. It is quite unthinkable that the Rivers State Governor, Chief (Barrister) Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, could have lost his 2019 re-election bid, especially when it is underscored that the main opposition party in the state, the All Progressives Congress (APC)—recklessly egged on by the Transport Minister, Rotimi Amaechi—was (and is still) in a shambles.
There is no way Gov. Wike could not have won the governorship poll in the state that he has converted to a massive construction sub-nation with transformative social infrastructure dotting the entirety of the Rivers State landscape. None of his predecessors in their respective eight years combined did half of what he has done in just four years, at least architecturally! It is an understatement to say that the victory was well deserved. Similarly, the victory was in no way pyrrhic. Wike’ s triumph was destined and bound to happen. In the same breath, it was INEC that made it appear hard to win—in contradistinction it should have been, ordinarily, a seamless exercise because of his popularity among the electorate—and even oppositional elements!
Little wonder, therefore, he is called “Mr. Projects”. Indeed, I would have preferred he be renamed “Mr. Transformation”. What is going in the state is far more than execution of solid projects, but the transformative ethos that institutionalizes credible governance, forensic accountability and manifest transparency. All of these explain why most Rivers people are in love with their governor—a fact which was demonstrated through massive voting for him in the last election.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was merely wasting time and creating unnecessary tension by delaying the outcome of the governorship poll in the state. It was very clear from the outset that Gov. Wike, in reality, had no serious challenger. The APC pretender was a mere paper weight whose party could not even get its act together before, during and after the election.
If, for any ludicrous reason, the INEC had announced a contrary governorship result, the state would have been up in flames that may not be put off until Wike’s inalienable mandate was revalidated. That would have been the least to be expected, if it did not spread to other South East and South South states. It is called people’s resistance. I am sure the INEC must have contemplated the dire consequences of tampering with the result and retraced its steps.
Back to Gov. Wike’s profile of accomplishments: in most other states, development is limited to the state capital. In Rivers State, the spread is unimaginable. There is a deliberate, planned and systematic programme of uplifting virtually every part of the state. The projects are quite visible and solid—not earmarked or shabbily executed ahead of re-election, as most of his colleagues did!
Wike’s rancour-free and seamless candidacy culminating in foretold victory as the governor of the leading South South state of Nigeria was indicative of promise which is being fulfilled so exceptionally and exponentially that you are compelled to believe that there are still few credible politicians in the country. What has been happening in the past four years is a systematic urban renewal initiative that has given the state a novel look unprecedented since the revalidation of democracy in Nigeria.
By the time Gov Wike completes his ordained second term in 2023, Rivers State would have become a model state and a reference point not just in the zone but Nigeria. I make this informed declaration with decorum and a sense of responsibility as a public opinion engineer.
If anyone who had gone to Rivers State and spent some days or weeks before Gov. Wike took charge and returns now, the person is most likely to be stunned by the transformative re-engineering going on in the state superlatively. As I observed earlier, by the time this governor finishes his double tenure, questions would be asked as to where the man had been all these years! Gov. Wike, from his unparalleled multi-sectoral interventions, is paling all his predecessors pooled into insignificance because of the systemic rot that had engulfed the state shortly after Dr. Peter Odili had left.
Emphatically, Gov. Wike has redefined the essence of democratic governance by revolutionizing the profile of roads, public health ecology, educational uplift, rural electrification, youth empowerment through the instrumentalities of skill acquisition and provision of take-off grants, among other assists.
This man’s profound and profuse compassion is boundless. There should be no question of humanism in governance when a governor makes statutory payments to workers and pensioners. It only becomes an issue of existentialism when a governor meets a 13-month backlog of such wicked debts and clears them in one fell swoop. Almost all his peers are not as considerate as they even callously cultivate their own indebtedness! It speaks volumes of the kind of man who is our subject today for the first time. Simply put, Gov Wike cares about and for his people—that is what social contract between public office holders and those outside the corridors of power is all about essentially.
I have the conviction that Gov. Wike has the fear of God in him. This has proved catalytic in his administrative style. It is only where there is a disconnect between a governor—and indeed any other leader—and God that such a public functionary will not lose any sleep owing salaries and pensions, but employ public funds for frivolities like birthday celebrations, tenure anniversary, erection of all manner of imbecilic statues, trivial foreign trips stewed in reckless allowances and establishment of ludicrous ministries, in addition to other devilish juvenilities that border on clinically irredeemable dementia. It is my strong belief that Gov. Wike will not relent in addressing the challenges and needs of his people—and even other Nigerians.
The unique leadership credentials of Gov. Wike have unconsciously made him to be at peace with all men as the bible enjoins, except, of course, his predecessor. His peculiar administrative typology has also made the three arms of government to work harmoniously, just as the organized private sector, entrepreneurs, small and medium-scale traders, farmers, the clergy, students and all other segments of the society make laudatory declarations about “Mr. Projects”, renamed “Mr. Transformation” by this columnist!
Once there is an enthronement of good governance and best practices, every other thing will fall in tandem. It is when you are power drunk, corrupt and does not have the fear of God in you that you can snore when salaries and pensions are unpaid or care less about social infrastructural provision.
How many governors in Nigeria today can Labour, the judiciary, students, the OPS, ministries, departments and agencies, multifarious constituencies, the oppositional clan, et al, talk about in glowing terms unhesitatingly and unreservedly? How many governors are up-to-date with salary payment like Wike?
What else do I need to add except to take off my hat to Gov. Wike, an Adonis loved by one and all because of his exceptional attributes in a country where governance is synonymous with obscene acquisition of wealth and leadership deviancy?