N.E.W as an acronym, stands for Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, a new paradigm whose presidential declaration in Benue State on Sunday, 27th March, 2022 has started generating political discourse and narratives across the land. His symbolic declaration was long expected. Political pundits have averred that with his superlative performance in Rivers State, the position of president beckons on him. Rather than choose his home state to make his declaration, he decided to use Makurdi, the state capital of a state that has had its own share of APC’s misgovernance, to make his declaration. That means he understands the need to share in the aspirations and challenges of traumatised people of Nigeria, who have suffered under APC’s underperformance.
Wike’s declaration was not a surprise to bookmakers, but his.choice of location was both tactical and apposite. Easily unsung, his achievements in Rivers State in the last seven years leave indelible marks in the sands of time. From one project to another, Governor Wike has deepened governance in Rivers State and upped the bar of leadership at a time of national anomie and rudderless leadership. Wike may not wear the toga of a philosopher King, but he sure knows how to cultivate human relations to get his task executed.
He lives in a world of his own. His practical politics sometimes becoming his albatross, especially in a political system that is heavily dysfunctional where truth and honesty are conveniently sacrificed on the altar of greed, avarice and egocentricism. As often said, the honest man in politics is a lonely man, but not to Wike. He would rather speak the truth and be damned, than keep silent in the face of oppression and tyranny. His style is peculiar to him alone, in a world of politics that is loaded with propaganda. When Governor Wike speaks, you easily understand his journey. When he presents his narratives, you will not only see the genuity of a man who means well, but also the essential attributes of a practical politician who prefers to travel the path of honesty than be sold to the sycophantic lyrics of appointees. He does not pretend. That scores him high. He doesn’t genuflect on issues. That places him on a higher pedestal. He pours out his mind not minding whose ox is gored. That separates him from the boys. He is a workaholic to the point that his political opponents acquiesce to that fact. His unquenchable energy is the reason why he was nicknamed Mr.Project. He has deployed his energy to do the unthinkable in Rivers State. You may not like the face of Nyesom Wike, but you cannot fault his performance thus far.
At present, Rivers state has become a construction site with legacy projects adorning all the local governments of the state. His road infrastructure has left his opponents awed, wondering where Wike is getting his capital from. A new gigantic Law School tells the story of a man who dares to conquer. Aside from being a state of the art architectural derring-do, the new Law School is a signature project that would be the envy of many when finally completed in a couple of months. Added to this is the Cancer Centre, that will stand out as a reference point within the West African sub-region. While this is going on, another son of the soil in the ruling APC, Rotimi Amaechi has left the state helplessly unpatronised. Federal projects are no where to be seen. Federal projects exist more on the pages of newspapers than on ground. Wike’s road network across the state underscores the doggedness of a man who is ready to take the uncharted path. He uses Julius Berger construction company to execute his projects to get value for money through quality delivery of.projects that would stand the test of time. He’s confident in commending Julius Berger Construction Company for doing such legacy projects, the bigger challenge was his call to his colleague Governors, especially David Umahi to name their contractors.
For the past seven years of being at the helm in Rivers State, the office of the First Lady has been on holiday. Reason? He doesn’t want to overburden the office and his wife with affairs of the state. Knowing the sensitive nature of his wife’s job as a Judge in the state, Governor Wike has done more for women than most Governors in line with his gender balancing act. For the first time, Rivers State has female Deputy Governor. The Local Governments in the state have five councillors each, Vice Chairmen in all the Local Governments while plans are afoot to increase the number of women entering into elective offices. Wike often likes to be unsung, but his performance in governance has elicited recognition by different media organisations. Coming out to the fray of presidential contest, his achievements would be easy reference points in defining the scope of a man who has stubbornly refused to slow down. He says the job must be done. There is no excuse for failure like the APC leadership and the government at the centre are wont to do. He takes responsibility for whatever leadership positives or negatives in the system and often not shy to ask for a roadmap if he appears lost in the wilderness of ideas. For a man who understands the political dynamics in the country, his entry into the presidential rat race will surely alter permutations and calculations in the months ahead both within the PDP and the country at large.
Governor Wike surely understands the tempers of politics and its crazy aphrodisiac. He knows the levers of power also and how to wield it. His greater concern is on how to make life more pleasant for the ordinary folks out there. He laments each time he sees the debilitating impact of poor governmental policy and the squalor that attends those segment of the population. He queries almost probing his conscience to interrogate why Nigeria has come to a sorry state when there are brains that can turn things around. His style of politics is anchored on constructive engagement and collective bargaining, thus deepening politics of inclusion and participation. He is not a president yet, so don’t expect him to be presidential in his candour, gait and disposition. He says that the battle for presidency is not handled with Kid gloves and empty rhetorics, but on tact, diplomacy and grit. No power is served ala carte, you need to fight and struggle for power before every other thing is added unto it. So, Wike might not be your everyday mouthy politician making mouth-watering promises that are hardly fulfilled. He delivers on point and promise. He understands the nexus between promise and performance. He cultivates it to avoid contradiction.
Wike’s entry into the presidential contest has altered the narratives. As a Governor who has invested heavily in the party to pep up its fortunes, especially when some presidential aspirants defected to the APC at formation, Wike should be commended. Aside from enjoying the enviable recognition of being a strong voice in the opposition PDP, Governor Wike’s blunt but fair approach is what has distinguished his persona amongst the maddening crowd. In 2019, he insisted that power should rotate to the North, to create a power equilibrium of fairness and equity. In 2023, he expects his Northern brothers and friends to reciprocate the gesture in line with keeping the continuum of power rotation between North and South. He finds it curious that those who ought to stand out from the crowd to make statement of honour in keeping faith with the zoning arrangement are the same persons and individuals who have hurriedly obtained nomination forms trying as it were to harm a seamless arrangement that has endured the test of time. It is not in doubt that PDP is an organic party, that has over the years ensured that its constitution reigns supreme. It is the reason why returnee defectors-presidential aspirants were given a generous opportunity to run in 2019. This time round, it is only natural that the favour is returned to the South in keeping faith with that constitutional provisions which is eloquently captured in Article 7 of the party’s constitution. That is how to be Honourable, and it is the reason why Governor Wike feels his Northern brothers should follow that arrangement.
. Afegbua, a former Commissioner for Information in Edo State, is a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).