By Tekina Princewill
Before his appointment as the Minister of State for Education in the Goodluck Jonathan administration, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, was already a huge political influence in the politics of his home state, Rivers. He played his role with remarkable and outstanding effectiveness in both the administrations of Peter Odili and Rotimi Amaechi. The story of how Amaechi became the governor of Rivers State and the legal battle that preceded it, need not be recounted here. But what needs to be pointed out is the uncommon courage displayed by Wike in fighting the powers that be at that time who were willing to cede that office to another political party if only to ensure that Amaechi did not go near it. It was a figurative bullfight that put his very life on the line. Yet, he forged on like the proverbial Trojan until he achieved victory at the Supreme Court in what will remain a landmark judgment in the nation’s legal history.
It was fair and rewarding that he was appointed to serve in that administration as the Chief of Staff, a very strategic office often reserved only for the hands-on, can-do, goal-setting and go-getting political operators. It is a measure of his confidence in his own abilities and the trust that his constituents will not betray him that he had to resign his ministerial appointment to vie for the governorship of Rivers State.
Today, he is seen as a stabilising factor not just in the politics of Rivers State, the Niger Delta region but also at the national level particularly with the crisis being generated by some misguided militants. In this instance, he has continued to lead efforts to restore normalcy in that region that holds the ace in the game of national economic development. It is a task that is to him, in equal measure, challenging, daunting and exciting but which he perceives as not insurmountable.
Even in the politics of his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Wike has remained a reference point as that once ruling party grapples with the dynamics of opposition politics as well as the challenges of its own internal contradictions. To his contemporaries in the PDP, Wike’s leadership qualities are inestimable and that is the scare the opposition feels each time it contemplates embarking on the plot to deal the death blow. That, in itself, has provided for the PDP a source of strength and hope that, in the struggle for political power in Nigeria, it is not over yet for it.
Wike is the kind of smith that will have 20 irons in the fire at the same time. Even with the inconveniences brought about by the activities of militants in his state, the job of resuscitating, reviving and rehabilitating a fallen colossus, he still has his hands on the plough and his attention focused as far as the governance of the state is concerned.
In his fair-minded disposition, the governor has not only assured the people in all the 23 Local Government Areas of the state that they will feel the impact of his administration in terms of project execution, he has also set in motion the required necessary modalities geared towards fulfilling this pledge through demonstrable good governance.
In the one year of his administration, Governor Wike has continued to emphasise the importance of stability in the governance process, in policy formulation, interpretation and execution.
To achieve this goal, he said that his administration would only award contract for projects that will be completed within the life-span of his first tenure. It is on record that 46 roads across the state have been reconstructed under the Operation Zero Potholes even as 15 other roads abandoned by the immediate past administration have been completed and 27 new ones initiated by his administration completed and commissioned.
Wike’s governance style is integrated in nature and this ensures that all sectors are carried along so as to achieve rounded development that is visible. It is in pursuit of this policy that he announced that the State Government is building an Information Communication Technology (ICT) compliant security infrastructure to help fight crime and empower the security agencies to be more proactive. This strategy has been most effective in the effort to combat cultism across the state especially in the higher institutions. That promise has, in the main, been actualised. To avoid a relapse to the past, he warned against the politicisation of crime and made sad reference to the claim by opposition politicians in the state that suspected cultists, who murder innocent people were their members.
In the education sector, Wike said that the administration had started the phased rehabilitation of schools in three senatorial districts, completed the Faculty of Law, paid for science consumables and restored NECO in the state. He also promised that his administration would continue to subsidise education, but added that the people should be prepared to pay maintenance fees to assist the state government run the educational institutions. He said his administration will continue to subsidise education, but added that the people should be prepared to pay maintenance fees to assist the state government run the educational institutions.
The governor said that the needs assessment of all the General Hospitals in the state have been completed and a phased rehabilitation of the hospitals progressing in earnest.
Going forward, the governor said that employment opportunities would be created via agriculture and industrialisation and promised to create jobs for physically challenged persons who are educated.
• Pricewill wrote in from Port Harcourt