By Richard Elesho
Nyeson Wike is a man full of energy. When he talks, he roars. He is among few Governors that can truly be described as hardworking. What, with his flamboyant attachment to projects, which dot his state like locusts.
He is perhaps, the most televised public servant in Nigeria today. If he is not on set for commissioning projects, he will be there for the groundbreaking. Some of his colleagues feature annually- only during their birthday parties!
It is not as if the Rivers Governor does not party. He is a lover of music. Play a highlife tune within his auditory ossicle, and you will see him frolic like a cockatoo, newly set free from a cage. Men were once boys, you know.
There is another reason Wike enjoys unequalled media attention. With the loss of power of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP at the centre, Wike has become its financial backbone and gradually positioned himself as the Governor-General of the party. The wealthy lawyer that he is, Wike appears to employ his garrulously and cracking guttural voice to intimidate others.
This self-imposed role of General Overseer frequently makes the Rivers Governor collide with real and perceived enemies of his party. Like a village headmaster, Wike is always at the gate, dishing out orders and beating people back to the line.
It does not matter if the enemy is within or outside the party. It counts for nothing if he is high or low. The foe may be a fellow Governor. He may be a former benefactor, boss, or friend. He may also be a stranger. Perhaps, a foremost factor that qualifies anyone for an offender is harbouring a different political view, especially within the PDP.
Those who have come under the terrifying influence of his sarcasm have woeful tales to tell. They include his predecessor in Government House Port Harcourt and Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amechi, Senator Magnus Abe, former Borno State Governor who once served as party chair, Ali Modu Sheriff, ex Imo State Governor Owelle Rochas Okorocha and past party chair Prince Uche Secondus, to mention but a few.
As the 2023 general elections draw close, Wike seems to have become more irritable and quarrelsome. Among his recent victims are former Vice President Atiku Abubakar for privatising PDP Presidential ticket and Dave Umahi, embattled Ebonyi State Governor for saying he knows the people behind his political travails.
The latest gladiators in the ring against Wike are Godwin Obaseki, his colleague in Edo State and Philip Shuaibu, his Deputy. Shuaibu marched on the viper’s tail when he complained about happenings in his State chapter of the PDP. He accused stakeholders of marginalisation and hinted at the likelihood of dumping the party if the issues are not addressed.
As the issue went front and back Obaseki pitched tent with his Deputy and vowed to resist any oppression, insisting that PDP is not a personal estate of an individual. “It amounts to a 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,” Mr Obaseki said. adding that “In Edo, we don’t accept political bullies and overlords.”
He went too far. Wike who was not happy that Obaseki did not call his second in command to order, rubbed it in on the duo, reminding them of how they came under the umbrella. He likened them to tenants and tagged Obaseki, a traitor. “If you go and check the DNA of Godwin Obaseki what you will see in that DNA is betrayal, serial betrayal, and ungratefulness,” Wike said in a viral clip.
As to the accusation of being a bully, he has this to say: “You came to beg a bully for you to have the (PDP) ticket. A bully was your campaign DG and a bully bullied you into Government House. What a shame! You came back with your wife to thank the bully that after God the bully made it possible for you to be there.”
The PDP national leadership called for the immediate halt of the face-off. Dr Iyorchia Ayu, National Chairman called on the gladiators to shield their swords. “I call on every member of this party to forget their differences. If there are differences, we must settle them in-house. No party member should attack another party member. If there are any issues, we have different organs of the party to resolve different issues.
In addition, Ayu was reported to have mandated Governor Sam Ortom of Benue State to reconcile his fighting colleagues.
Analysts agree that only genuine reconciliation will promote the interest of the party, in the face of the fast-approaching off-season Governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun States on one hand, and the 2023 general elections on the other.