By Paulinus Nsirim
On the Tuesday, March 2, 2021, Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State and Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State embraced warmly on the front porch of the Wike family residence in Rumueprikom, Obio/Akpor Local Government Area, Rivers State.
Both governors, beaming with smiles behind their well-fitted COVID-19 mandated face masks, were flanked by the calm Governor of Adamawa State, Rt. Hon. Ahmed Fintiri, and a benign and noticably satisfied Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike of Rivers State.
The acrimonious relationship between the Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom, and Governor of Bauchi State, Senator Bala Mohammed, provoked and exacerbated by the seemingly uncontrollable activities and excesses of suspected herdsmen in the country, had been resolved with great candour, sincerity, understanding and collective acceptance.
The verbal brickbats that had rapidly degenerated into acerbic and vitriolic exchanges raised regional tensions dangerously and brought the nation to the brink of a potentially encompassing countrywide combustion, had finally been addressed and amicably settled in the country home of Governor Wike, with the active participation of Governor Fintiri in the peace parley.
Briefing journalists after the successful reconciliation meeting, both Governors Ortom and Mohammed thanked their host, Governor Wike, for not only arranging the peace meeting, but also graciously offering his home as the place where such a contentious national matter had been resolved and also their colleague, Governor Fintiri, for agreeing to be part of such a monumental meeting with far-reaching implications for the continued sustenance of peace in the country.
“We don’t mean to divide the country or to divide our people. We are still friends and brothers and we will move forward because most of those issues are fully resolved. We have accepted that it was wrong for us to have that kind of outburst that went out, but as from today we have learnt. We are all fallible human beings and we are subject to mistakes and so when we make mistakes, it is a plus for us if we correct them.
“We look forward that the Federal Government should stoop down to conquer by accepting that, yes, they have failed, so that together the states and the local governments can come together to find a way of finding a lasting solution to this country.
“This time, we need not to talk about partisan politics. We must come together. We need not to talk about ethnicity or religion. We must come together as brothers and sisters who have no other country than Nigeria, to work together towards a common cause that will solve the problem that we have,” the governors said.
Governor Wike thanked the governors of Bauchi and Benue states for amicably resolving their dispute and also took a swipe at the All Progressives Congress, noting that they were rejoicing over the disagreement between the governors of Benue and Bauchi, but will now be disillusioned that the disagreement has been resolved.
“We give God the glory today that those differences have been sorted out. We are members of one political party. Like what the governor of Bauchi and governor of Benue said, we don’t want the inefficiency, we don’t want the lack of capacity of the Federal Government in handling the issue of insecurity in the country to rub on us.
“Everybody knows that the Federal Government has failed in providing security for this country. And of course you will not blame them. They (Ortom and Mohammed) are under pressure from their various gtates. It is not as if they have any personal issue.”
Governor Wike also urged the media to be a bit more circumspect in reporting issues that could further polarize the country, saying: “But you too, the press, have a role to play in stabilizing the country. It is not everything you must report. You don’t try to escalate things. When you do that your not helping the country.”
On his part, Adamawa State Governor, Ahmed Fintiri, said, as national leaders, it was incumbent on him and Governor Wike to intervene in the disagreement between their Benue and Bauchi counterparts.
Those who have followed Governor Wike’s political trajectory would concur that he is arguably the only governor and most notable political figure in the country who has singularly offered and willingly submitted himself to explore and entrench peace and reconciliation across all divides.
While some political mischief-makers and well known anti-peace advocates will quickly dredge up the warped argument that Governor Wike’s reconciliation initiatives are predominantly within the confines of his own political party, PDP, many discerning analysts are quite aware of the greater negative implications of certain situations on the nation, if Governor Wike had not intervened with bold and unwavering leadership.
Many Nigerians are still expressing gratitude to Governor Wike for averting what would have devolved into a potentially bloody situation, when he succefully intervened and completely achieved overwhelming peace and reconciliation in the run up to the 2020 Edo State governorship election by strategically urging party leaders to sacrifice the entire structure, essence and reputation of PDP on the altar of peace, as an alternative platform to an embattled Governor Godwin Obaseki.
This diffused the rage and blood bath that would have been unleashed on Edo State and by extension the South-South region and Nigeria, by the self-styled ‘lions and tigers’.
Even the revered Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II, took time out to applaud the contribution of Governor Wike for his bold leadership, courageous intervention and amicable resolution of a crisis, which would have transfomed his kingdom into a battlefield and disrupted the peace of the state considerably.
Governor Wike has also exhibited great concern and willingly made admirable reconciliation overtures in political crisis across the geopolitical zones of the country, in order to ensure that such conflicts do not explode in conflagrations that can cause serious damage to public life and harm to innocent citizens.
His well reported intervention in the South-West PDP crisis is already yielding dividends and his bold, strategic suggestions in the South-East, both in the wake of the defection of Governor Umahi of Ebonyi State and in the run-up to the November 2021 governorship election in Anambra State, have ensured that all the contending interests are going about their affairs legally and peacefully.
Back home, even though some political forces continue to fan the embers of bitterness and crisis in Rivers State, Governor Wike has been busy, not only in providing succour and compensation for families who lost loved ones as a result of the politics of war and wicked activities of certain political actors in the last elections, he has also started the process of seeking sustainable peace and reconciliation in the Eleme/Ogu axis, by releasing N400m for the resettlement of the exiled Ekporo people successfully in their abandoned Eleme homestead.
Governor Wike’s peaceful mien has also been admirably manifested with his regular visitations to sister governors, especially in the event of personal loss, to physically identify with them in their periods of mourning and express his sincere condolences to them.
Even the underhand attempts by some unscrupulous politicians to cause disaffection between him and his Bayelsa brother were strategically addressed by allowing due process and a Supreme Court judgment to resolve a potentially contentious matter and nip whatever mischievous intents of political opportunists in the bud.
As a true nationalist and a leader who believes in the unity and peaceful co-existence of all Nigerians irrespective of ethnic and religious differences, Governor Wike has continually presented Rivers State as a role model for harmonious co-existence by ensuring that sustainable peace is maintained among the diverse ethnic, cultural and religious interests that live and operate in the state.
That is why it did not come to many as a surprise, when former Cross Rivers State Governor, Donald Duke, while commissioning the recently delivered brand new milestone Okoro-Nu-Odo Flyover project, completed by the Rivers State government, paid glowing tribute to Governor Nyesom Wike, declaring that he has become a role model in Nigerian politics for his prudent use of resources for quality service delivery and boldness in speaking truth to power.
Duke said: “Today, we are celebrating many things that Governor Wike has done, the development of a community, the prosperity that will be brought in, leaving the community better than he met it and, of course, we are saying thank you that we have a leader who is very rare to find in our country. That is, people who say what they mean and mean what they say.
“You may not always agree with Governor Wike at the onset. Later on, you’ll understand the wisdom of his stance. But you are never in doubt where he stands on any issue and that’s leadership,” Donald Duke declared.
These same sentiments were echoed by former Kano State Governor, Alhaji Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, when he recently inaugurated the marvelous infrastructural masterpiece of Rumuogba flyover in Obio/Akpor on Tuesday, March 2, 2021, and then called on Governor Wike to prepare for national assignment after completing his second term in 2023.
The former Kano State governor told Wike, “Your Excellency, keep on moving, keep on doing the right thing. Being a governor is a very serious challenge. It is a serious assignment. It is a contract between you and your people for eight years. Now we are almost six years. We have just two years plus to be in Government House, here in Rivers State, before, by the grace of God, you move forward for the national assignment.”
•Nsirim is Commissioner for Information and
Communications, Rivers State