Gov. Wike: Cool heads are needed, not hot heads
Let me start this piece by stating that I have nothing personal against Nyesom Wike, indeed I knew him personally before he became governor. He certainly was much calmer in language and demeanor.
Having said that, it is known that the world is brimming with ambitious political leaders, but sadly very few matches up to the traits required or expected of good leaders. At this time in our national history, cool heads are needed, not hot heads; consensus builders are required, not bumbling wannabe dictators.
In fact, many aspiring for the office of president appear to be severely lacking in some of the most essential qualities of a good leader. Traits such as, bipartisanship, tolerance of criticism, integrity and accountability are requisite for sound leadership.
In a multiparty democracy, bipartisanship and tolerance of criticisms or opposing views are as important as integrity and accountability. In multiparty democracy many laudable policies have been abandoned because of lack of consensus between the political actors. That is why the most successful leaders are those who can reach agreement across the aisle and get things done. Former President of United States, Barack Obama had to reach compromise with Republicans to get some of his programmes passed.
The governor of Rivers State Nyesom Wike, who incidentally wants to be president is yet to learn how to relate with those who disagree with him in politics. Even though he deserves credit for his infrastructural development of Rivers State, he is yet to learn the fine art of statesmanship. He makes politics seem a constant war between him and his numerous opponents. A few examples suffice.
Recently the governor declared the lawmaker representing Bonny-Degema federal constituency in the House of Representatives, Farah Dagogo, wanted for allegedly hiring cultists to attack the Peoples Democratic Party’s secretariat in Port Harcourt. But Dagogo faulted Wike and the Rivers State Police Command for labelling him a cultist and declaring him wanted. It was learnt that some party members had protested at the state secretariat located along the Aba Expressway over alleged exclusion contrary to the rules of the party.
Wike, in a statement by his media aide, Kelvin Ebiri, directed the state police command to arrest Dagogo. The statement reads, “The governor has hereby directed the Rivers State Police Command to arrest Farah Dagogo, for hiring cultists who stormed the PDP secretariat in Port Harcourt, and disrupted the screening of aspirants.
“The police must as a matter of urgency arrest Farah Dagogo, wherever he is, and must be made to face prosecution.
“Already, some of the hoodlums hired by Farah Dagogo, have been arrested and will be made to face the full wrath of the law.”
But Dagogo’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Ibrahim Lawal, in a statement, urged the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, to ask the Commissioner of Police in Rivers State, Friday Eboka, to ignore Wike’s order. Lawal alleged that the move against Dagogo was meant to frustrate his governorship ambition on the platform of the PDP.
Meanwhile, even though state governors claimed that police commissioners do not take orders from them as chief security officers of their states, the police in Rivers State arrested Dagogo, as directed by Governor Nyesom Wike. He was arrested while appearing for the screening of the governorship aspirants of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Port Harcourt, according to his spokesperson, Ibrahim Lawal. That is not how democracy works.
When Wike is not fighting people in his state, he is fighting his fellow governors. He has accused Godwin Obaseki, his Edo State counterpart, of “serial betrayal”. Obaseki and Wike are both governors on the platform of the PDP. While speaking at an event in Port Harcourt recently, Wike tongue-lashed Philip Shaibu, Edo deputy governor, for daring to threaten the PDP. Shaibu had appeared on a Channels Television programme where he said he and Obaseki may leave the PDP if the party continues to treat them as outcasts.
Reacting, Wike described the deputy governor as an “ingrate” and called on the PDP to discipline him. In response, Obaseki defended his deputy and noted that Edo does not “accept political bullies and overlords.”
Speaking at an event in Rivers State, Wike said he regrets backing Obaseki in the 2020 governorship election. “If you go and check the DNA of Obaseki, what you will see in that DNA is betrayal, serial betrayal, and ungratefulness,” Wike said.
“Let me stand today to apologise to Adams Oshiomhole, who has been vindicated. Oshiomole had warned us that we will see the true colour of Obaseki, we will see his insincerity, we will see the ungratefulness of Governor Obaseki.
“Let me apologise to Adams Oshiomhole to say you have been vindicated. You are right, we are wrong. “I have never seen people who are so ungrateful in life. I will never betray any man. What is my DNA is sincerity, consistency and teamwork.”
Godwin Obaseki, in turn maintained that all PDP members are equal under the platform. Obaseki, in a statement he personally signed said that it was surprising that Wike could resort to personal attacks on Shaibu without reaching out to him (Obaseki) as colleague-governors before his public outburst.
In the statement titled, ‘Obaseki to Wike: PDP is not your personal property, Edo cannot be procured’, Obaseki described Wike’s attack as “most unfortunate and totally uncalled for”.
“No one is against his desire to run for president, however, his ambition should not be embarked on in such a way that it would cause disruption at different levels, such as the PDP Governors’ Forum as well as at different chapters of the party across the country. “It clearly amounts to delusion of grandeur, for any one man to nurse the idea that he owns or has more stake in the PDP and everyone should pander to him.
“We are all equal stakeholders in the party and an aggregate of the ideas, opinions, and contributions of all leaders and members should form the position of the party and not the view of one individual or a select few.”
Recently Wike literarily called governor of Cross River State Ben Ayade ‘419 Governor.’ Ayade had complained about Wike’s abuses during a visit to the state by Bauchi State governor, Senator Bala Mohammed! Governor Wike responded to Governor Ayade thus, “If you want to talk about us, come out and be bold and talk about Rivers State, I am not a 419 governor. When Federal Government refunded us money, I came and announced it…some of them, they were given the same money with me, did they announce it to their state?”
Wike is also at daggers drawn with Ebonyi State governor Dave Umahi. The Ebonyi governor had berated the Rivers Governor for claiming to be among those behind his sacking by the high court as a result of his defection from PDP to APC. Taking a swipe on Wike, the Ebonyi State
governor likened him (Wike) to biblical Judas Iscariot, noting that as a man who relies on the breath of God like any other mortal, he cannot determine his fate. Umahi said: “You heard him on Channels boasting that he is behind. A mere man that depends on the breath of God. I pity illiteracy. It’s a shame. You are boosting to remove another governor.” Not done yet, when he was in Ebonyi recently to seek the delegates votes ahead of the PDP’s presidential primary, Wike once again took a jibe on Umahi.
The governor said: “My colleague, David Umahi, hear me well wherever you may be. PDP had sleepless nights to win elections and you took the mandate of our people to another party. If you know you’re a man and very strong and can win an election, I challenge you to resign as governor and contest the election whether you will win again.”
When he is not insulting fellow governors, he is insulting traditional rulers in Rivers State. There is a widely circulated video where he publicly and utterly dressed down a traditional ruler merely because he did not like the outfit worn by the said ruler.
It is very obvious that Wike has issues with tolerance. That is not a character trait that is desirable in Nigeria today, where the country needs a leader that can build consensus across party lines!
Nigeria requires a unity builder, not a garrulous talker whose talk may be acceptable only in a beer parlor or palm wine bar.
We need a president who even if his party does not have the numbers to pass a vital legislation, he can build consensus across party lines to get the law passed. Nigeria does not need a cantankerous president in 2023!
MAY NIGERIA REBOUND!
First published in LEADERSHIP