Wike’s many battles, how far can he go?
By Chris Ezeonoh
Zeno, a renowned philosopher once said that, “Ambition often puts men into doing one of the meanest offices, so that climbing is performed in the same posture as creeping”.
Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State is no doubt a political strategist; no one can take that credit away from him. He is very steadfast and puts all his energy into any task he sets out to do. He is also a stickler for quality.
When he was chairman of Obio/Akpor Local Government Council in Rivers State, he pioneered the building of state- of- the- art secretariat in local government councils in the state.
When Dr. Peter Odili, then as governor of Rivers State, went to commission the state- of –the- art secretariat at Obio/Akpor, he had while commending the feat Wike achieved in the building said had it not been that the state government had put up a befitting Government House in Brick House, he would have taken over the secretariat Wike built as new Government House to underscore the finesse associated with edifice.
When Rotimi Amaechi later had issues with Odili following the K-leg saga and the emergence of Celestine Omehia as governorship candidate and later governor, Wike who then was among Amaechi’s strong loyalists
stood uncompromisingly behind Amaechi throughout the latter’s travails.
As Chief of Staff to Amaechi, Wike was like a buffer for the governor, ensuring that the business of the Government House flowed seamlessly. As Director General of Amaechi’s campaign for second term as governor,
Wike ensured that the campaign was fluid, colourful and with clear message.
When he became the Minister of State for Education, he transferred the same zeal and energy he had deployed in previous assignments and positions he had held to his task in the ministry.
And when it became clear that he could no longer be in the same political boat with Amaechi, Wike turned from the buffer he used to be to become Amaechi’s nemesis such that the mention of Wike now makes Amaechi’s heart beat to miss a pulse.
In the realm of national politics, Wike has established himself into an enigma, and an oracle of sorts who must be consulted before major decisions are taken.
Is it not intriguing that a political juggernaut like Alhaji Atiku Abubakar whom Chief Olusegun Obasanjo literally knelt down to beg for support when both of them were in the saddle of power is in a quandary now on how to handle Wike and seeing his seeming life ambition of becoming president almost being thwarted by Wike?
It is against this background that some analysts are asking the question: Is Wike a political ‘monster’? Where does he derive his power of influence such that even fellow governors kowtow to him? Why does the PDP think that the party and its presidential candidate cannot make headway in the 2023 general election without Wike if the governor thinks and says so? This is what it seems because everyday Wike comes out with behavioral residues that suggest that the ongoing negotiation between his camp and that of Atiku is a mere waste of time.
Amidst the energy sapping negotiations, Wike has continued to play anti party, ‘dinning and wining’ with the opposition while dishing out snide remarks against PDP, Atiku and other PDP chieftains.
And while the ‘fire’ he set in PDP at the national level is raging, the governor has taken the drumbeat of ‘war’ down to Port Harcourt, positioning the snout of his ‘missiles’ at his (former) allies who would rather stick with Atiku in the build up to the 2023 general election.
People like the former governor of the state, Sir Celestine Omehia, former Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Sir, Hon. Austine Opara, Senator Lee Maeba among many others who have over the years
provided astounding support for the governor have now strangely become political outcasts who must be hunted and hounded for choosing a political path they thought good for themselves by standing with Atiku.
“Governor Wike’s stance of ‘my enemy must be your enemy’ in the state is childish and unreasonable. That is what he is telling us by attacking some PDP stalwarts in the state who would rather stand with Atiku Abubakar in the ongoing efforts to bring sanity in the party”, a PDP source said at the weekend in Port Harcourt.
The source said that those who declined from antagonizing Atiku in solidarity with Wike are charting a political path for themselves and looking beyond May 2023 when Wike would have lost the paraphernalia of office that is now “intoxicating” him.
In a recent state wide broadcast, Governor Wike had threatened that the state government would seal hotels and other facilities being used as gathering points for suspected political thugs and cultists in the state, apparently targeting perceived Atiku loyalists.
Last Friday, the Rivers State government made good the threat by clamping down on facilities belonging to some loyalists of Atiku Abubakar in Port Harcourt
Security operatives attached to Government House, Port Harcourt, sealed off a lounge, hotel and a petrol station, belonging to three chieftains of the PDP in the state, including a serving member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Chinyere Igwe.
About 40 staff and customers who were at the facilities during the time of the operation were arrested by the security operatives.
Igwe and two others, a former member of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon. Jones Ogbonda and former PDP chairman in Port Harcourt City local government area, Hon. Ikechi Chinda, are all associates of former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Chief Austin Opara, who is also promoting Atiku presidency in 2023.
Reacting to the development, the APC in a statement issued in Port Harcourt on Friday by its acting Publicity Secretary, Darlington Nwauju, said the opposition party was alarmed at the vendetta and style of harming businesses in the state as an act of regulation.
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The statement reads in part: “May we draw the attention of the State Government and its agents to the provisions of Chapter 4 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which allows for freedom to live and move
freely in Rivers State.
“Not even the President is empowered under our constitution to seal up people’s legitimate businesses for whatever reasons”
While the action of the security agents took place in the morning, later in the day at the flag off of the 12th fly over at the Mgbuoba, Ozuoba -Ada George Road in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area, in Port Harcourt,
Wike placed a subtle imprimatur on the action of the security agents, saying “ let me tell anyone who cares to listen, whether you’re in PDP, APC, you’re in SDP, you’re in Accord or any other party, if I catch you trying to breach the security in this state, you’ll go in for it.
“I will not allow anybody to destabilize this State. We have suffered insecurity and God has helped us together with security agencies to maintain peace. For me, whether it is true or not, I must make sure that I take action.”
“So, if you know they’re using your hotel, or they’re using your drinking joint as where they’ll be holding meetings, think twice now.
“There is no amount of propaganda, if you like go to social media that they’re clamping down on you, that’s your business. I will not allow anybody to destabilize this state, because we have suffered insecurity and we have spent money”
Again the following day, Saturday while flagging off construction of internal roads in Omagwa, Ikwerre Local Government Area, Governor Wike announced that he had directed the security agencies to arrest the owner
of the filling station earlier sealed off on Friday for allegedly engaging in illegal oil bunkering.
“If I hear of any filling station involved in oil bunkering, I will close that filling station. Therefore, I have directed the security agencies to identify who has that filling station in Diobu, arrest that person and we are going to prosecute the person. It doesn’t matter how highly placed that person is.
“Some of you should be used to teach a lesson. We cannot allow oil bunkering. We will reduce it to the barest minimum. So, I have ordered the security agencies to identify who owns that filling station that was sealed up two days ago and arrest the owner. Let him tell us why he is involved in oil bunkering”, the governor thundered.
But analysts say Wike has perfected a crude way of oppressing dissenting voices in the state by always tagging them either as cultists or hanging one allegation or the other against them to muzzle them up; the same
way he got former governorship aspirant, Farah Dagogo into the net and ensured that he languished in detention unjustly.
“If Wike in his quest for self preservation succeeds in hurting the ego or genuine business interest of Rivers people or his former associates, where would he find consort when he exits power and becomes a common man because he would one day be stripped off all the paraphernalia associated with the office of governor?”, asked a
community leader who would not want to be mentioned.
For now, Wike is riding the crest wave and priding himself as holding the soul of PDP, but politics can at times be like the game of musical chairs. How far Wike and his allies will go in this drudgery is left to the imagination.
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