The Confessions of Gov Wike
By Eddy Odivwri
Early in the week, I stumbled on one of those Google stories; and there were two in a row, on Governor Nyesom Ezenwa Wike, of Rivers State. Both stories were gleaned from an interview the governor recently granted BBC, Pidgin service. While the one talked about PDP having malaria…, the other talked about “ I Made Amaechi Governor…”
No doubt, Gov Wike is one of the major political leaders in Nigeria. As a vocal and courageous governor, whatever he says makes news. And too many times, what he says ends up in the cesspool of controversies. Many hail him for being brutally frank while others rile him for either being garrulous or being reckless in his utterances. Matters are hardly helped with the output of his guttural voice.
In the interview under reference, Gov Wike was asked if he is ever contemplating defecting from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). He sarcastically dismissed the idea of ever defecting to the APC, choosing to use the allegory of diseases. According to him, PDP has Malaria (“which is easy to treat”) while the APC has (“stage 4”) Cancer! He argued that the ruling party has destroyed Nigeria and therefore not an option for him at all, insisting that he will remain in the PDP and engage in all the political battles he has to fight.
By his declaration, both the ruling party and the opposition party are both sick, the only difference being in the severity of the affliction that has befallen both parties. Many are wont to agree with Wike, as a reason why the nation has made little progress, 22 years after the nation has enjoyed back-to-back democratic rule. How can ailing political parties be expected to deliver a healthy society?
Those responses resonated well with the typical Wike and his brusque style.
The next two questions however were quite telling. Gov Wike somewhat spoke from both sides of his mouth. He was asked if he was corrupt. He quickly retorted that he was not corrupt but immediately added that “I am not a perfect person”, adding, “But whether I like money? Yes!; If no take money how I go pay my children school fees? If I no take money, how I go fit take care of my mama for hospital?”.
He argues that he takes money so he can meet his basic needs. So what does Gov Wike mean by taking money? He takes money from where? Is it correct to infer that he means that taking money is dipping his hands into the coffers of government or that he demands and accepts bribe? Pray, why would he need to “take money” before he can pay his children’s school fees? Why does he have to “take money” before he can pay his mother’s hospital Bills? Indeed, why does he have to “take money” before he can undertake his other unlisted responsibilities? Is there no boundary between his pocket and the state’s treasury?
Mr. Governor, does this “taking money” not the same as corruption? Is it not corruption by another means and name?
Does Governor Wike not earn his salary as a governor with which he should cater for his children and his mother et al? That way, he can leave the treasury alone?
He admits that he likes money, like most people. But what counts as crucial difference is the ways and means people go about sourcing the money to meet their needs. When it is illicitly sought and obtained, it is clear case of corruption. Therefore, Mr Governor cannot in one breath say he is not corrupt and yet in another breath admits that he “takes money”, obviously from the public till. This paradox is indicative of a double speak!
The reporter then asked another question: “What is your relationship with the former governor, Mr Rotimi Amaechi?”, given that they were both very close before. Gov Wike interjects that they were not close but just belonged to the same party. He claimed that he often wants to avoid discussing issues about his predecessor. But goes ahead to say God used him to make Amaechi governor at the time, as he was in the frontline of the struggle to validate his governorship ambition and pursuit.
Gov Wike, in stretch of what looked like arrogance disparaged being described as “the staff or employee” of Amaechi. He reiterates the role he played as Amaechi’s campaign manager and that Amaechi himself had once acknowledged that “after God, it was me (Wike)”, in the forces that influenced his (Amaechi) becoming governor. He pouts his lips several times in being described as an employee. But goes on to regale his political prowess in dealing with Amaechi. Again, he inadvertently reveals what had hitherto been suspected but unspoken of.
Hear him: “But employee wey show am shege here. 2015 to 2019, Buhari no get 25 per cent here” Your staff wey make you no fit win governorship, your staff wey make you no get one senator o, your employee o! He goes on to mock his former boss saying He (Wike) had boasted that he will ensure that he (Amaechi) will not get a senator, or House of Reps member or state House of Assembly member and indeed, the APC never did, asking rhetorically, “how your staff go dey defeat you like this?”
It is instructive that Gov Wike is speaking about this almost two years after the Courts barred the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State from contesting the 2019 elections allegedly for conducting its primaries in the way that was unapproved by the courts. Now we can decode that what happened to the APC in 2019 was clearly the voice of Jacob but the hand of Esau!
Gov Wike boasts of that feat like a political conquistador, but more importantly, he has brought us all to the point of Denoument on this matter. Our cladded suspicions have now been undressed and now we know how and why it happened.
But before we take a closer look at what Wike said about the election and his rounds of victory(?), why is he angry that he was described as the staff of his predecessor? Was he not? Was he not appointed the Chief of Staff by the then Governor Chibuike Amaechi? Is it untrue? If he was the appointee of Amaechi, does it not stand to reason that he was Amaechi’s staff at the time? Today, Wike is a sitting governor. Did he not appoint his own Chief of Staff? Can he not describe his Chief of Staff or commissioners as his staff and appointee(s)? Why was he disparaging Amaechi for calling him (Wike) his staff? Yes, that things have sure gone awry between them today, does not mean they were not once chummy, neither does it mean as evidenced by time and space that one did not boss the other before. It is an indisputable history!
So, back to the fate that befell the Rivers APC in 2019, it had been alleged strongly at the time that knocking the APC out of the ballot paper was a conspiracy between some politicians and some elements in the judiciary. In fact, many had fingered the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Mr Walter Onnoghen for being behind the judicial faux pas that slammed the APC in Rivers State.
Many had cited the fact that Onnoghen’s unhidden closeness to Gov Wike and the Rivers State government could not have been unconnected with the weird judicial magic that strangled the APC in Rivers State. Onnoghen was an unusually frequent visitor to the Brick House.
With the confessions of Gov Wike in the said interview, the dots can perfectly be connected now.