Otunba Segun Runsewe, Director-General of National Council of Arts and Culture (NCAC) found a soul-mate in Nyesom Wike, governor of Rivers State. Both men, one working for the good of federal government and President Buhari cultural agenda and the other a very positive combative personality, sent forth to liberate and reposition Rivers people and their economy, a people’s governor, perfect host to visitors and lover of Nigeria’s unity and togetherness.
This piece is an encounter of my meeting with Governor Nyesom Wike at close quarters and at the strategic promptings of Segun Runsewe whose job is to build and aggregate forces of development for the Nigeria’s good through culture and arts.
At this encounter, I was mandated not to speak or ask questions but to moderate the interview outing with the governor who appears in conduct and public expression not to have time for the mundane or deceptive political submissions. I had sat beside Runsewe and communicated by signs and body language to which its meanings are known to us. It is telepathic and a process that helped me pass his ideas and intent to third parties for many years.
On this day, I had wanted to break the covenant but self-discipline and respect for a man who has reinvented the future of cultural advancement, the journalists journalist, restrained the near act of rebellion, so what next step do I take to unveil the deep side of this highly misunderstood governor, one whose work speaks for him and Rivers state his constituency, not minding the political divide.
As tourism and culture reporters, we had agreed to leave political questions out of this encounter and to look at the beauty of Port Harcourt, the enduring peaceful atmosphere, the cleanness of the city and all indices of development that had put to lies narrative of insecurity banded about. Our business is to sell and market Nigeria, to interpret and explain the holistic and domination of our cultural values and its unification value chain to which NAFEST hosted by Rivers state under the watch of governor Wike, brought to fore the strength of our togetherness as a nation.
When Wike walked in to meet us, a kind of unseen human connection and acceptation took place. Instead of an emperor, we saw a human being, humble, blunt, friendly, waiting not be served but to serve. His hands were warm and friendly; it says welcome to me even before we were introduced by our culture senior editor-in- chief, Otunba Segun Runsewe.
There were no tension in the room, no physical or spiritual intimidation, no invitation to fear of power but a total submission and respect to a gathering of young men and women whose call is to document truth behind leadership and service to our nation and those yet unborn. My selected spokesmen and anchors,
Andrew Okungbowa of Telegraph, Veteran Journalist Hamisu of NTA and Osa Amadi of Vanguard went to work. Questions flew, all on wike’s verifiable development projects, future of tourism and culture in Rivers state and the often over abused and political weapon, security of lives and property.
To each of these questions, he answered with condour and deep appreciation to Rivers people who elected him to serve them. Infrastructure to drive tourism in Rivers was evident, good roads, clean streets, and to prove he is futuristic, Wike built Obi Wali Cultural Centre, Rev. Lawson Cultural Centre and the Pleasure Park, physical components that drives tourism and to which testifies a robust foundation for the sector in Rivers state.
Remember, I was to assess Wike on this encounter spiritually, meaning I chose to analyze his submission and answers to questions on level beyond human understanding. Don’t ask me if I prayed. Take it or leave it, there is no man who is beyond God comprehension and perfect understanding of intent either good or bad. My heartfelt reading of Wike’s intent and leadership expectation for the people of Rivers is pedestalled on this premise and I was not disappointed.
In a taxi and at restaurants, the Wike positive outlook and crave for a better living standard for his people is an open secret. A young Yoruba boy taxi operator who took me to the airport was an opposition supporter but with a heart grateful to Wike for his peaceful survival away from home. There are many like this young man from Abia, Enugu, Kano, Sokoto, Borno, Bauchi and other parts of Nigeria that are evident testimonies against proponents of politics of insecurity in Rivers state.
I had led a 21-man media crew to this event and virtually all were amazed at the visible dividend of democracy for Rivers people, under Nyesom Wike. On security, the people’s governor was not happy with relentless attack against investment flow into the state but rejoiced that NAFEST among many other key events which took place in the state were truths of acceptance that Rivers beyond being the poster destination of veritable socio-economic development, also prides as a peaceful frontier.
Indeed, Wike may look hard on the outside but inside is a man born to lead, humane, hospitable, a leveler, a giver and grand master of people’s welfare. He had demonstrated his love for Nigerians and our unity by touching the cultural community with a kind donation, elevated truth to a religion and had become albatross to poverty and political rascality. That is the Wike that I saw and met.