Governor Wike: Political Bulldozer Of South-South
It would be denying the obvious to omit the impact of Governor Wike in the political history of Nigeria between 2015 and 2023.
Let’s even narrow it down to 2011 when he was a junior minister of Education under President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. His influence then had pervaded the whole country, especially in the north where he built well equipped schools for the commoners of that region, popularly known as Almajiris.
His intention for constructing the classrooms we heard, was to remove the brainwashed youths who were being used by political elite of Northern Nigeria to perpetrate political violence from the streets and re-orientate them with education. Sadly, the same political elite sabotaged that noble gesture. After chasing the almajiris away, the classrooms were abandoned. As at today the Almajiris’ schools have been overtaken by grasses with rodents and reptiles as their new occupants.
Despite the sabotage, whenever Jonathan administration is mentioned, Wike is remembered as the minister who sought to uplift the status of the almagiris of the North through those school structures.
Determined to progress in politics, when Wike left as minister, he managed through political wizardry and become Governor of Rivers in 2015. He was again re-elected governor in 2019.
As a governor he has put some structures on ground that Rivers people can point at, but his popularity is rooted more on his outspokenness and ability to challenge the misdemeanors of the APC government led by Buhari.
While other governors, particularly those from the south would think twice before criticising President Buhari and the APC, Wike would stand boldly and tell the president and his party where they were wrong.
This boldness in speaking out on national issues without fear has endeared him to the people of Nigeria who now see that a scion of the Fulani Oligarchy can be challenged without heaven falling.
It is this ability to challenge politicians and institutions previously held as “untouchables” that has brought Governor Wike thus far in politics. Like a good actor, the governor has fallen back on his popularity arising from his outspokenness to build political bridges across the country. There is no part of Nigeria Wike does not have political friends and supporters who are ready to align with his political cause.
And so, when the whistle for the presidential race was blown against 2023, Wike immediately indicated interest and went ahead to become one of the top aspirants contesting under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Let it be noted that Governor Wike is one of the top financiers of the PDP and he has been using that fact to make a case for himself as he goes about for political campaigns across the country. He had given it as a reason why he should be given the ticket to flag the PDP flag during the 2023 presidential election.
Having made this demand, he had gone about for robust campaigns, building bridges and making political friends all over the country. As part of this political bridge building, Wike had previously invited powerful political figures across the country for the commissioning of the projects he had executed in the state.
And so, when the PDP convention came up on Saturday, May 28 at the Moshodi Abiola Stadium in Abuja, Wike who felt sure that he had made enough consultation, plunged into the arena confident of victory, but he did not realize that Aminu Tambuwal his bossom political friend who has benefitted tremendously from his generosity would betray him so openly by switching his support and those of his delegates to Atiku, thus nailing the coffin on Wike’s presidential ambition.
At the convention, Wike had fought a tough battle with Atiku, maintaining close margin of votes with his opponent until Tambuwal made his infamous announcement of withdrawing for Atiku and switching his delegates’ votes to him.
This kind of betrayal was synonymous with William Shakespeare’s well documented betrayal of Julius Ceaser by Brutus, which prompted Ceaser to let out in agony, “Even you Brutus” before he finally dies from Brutus’ dagger stabs.
In the book, Julius Ceaser, Shakespeare had written that Brutus was Ceaser’s angel, and the two nobles had a friendship that was built on the rock. It was thus a grievous sin for Brutus to have raised the final dagger that killed ceaser, prompting the ‘Etu Brutu’ laments from Ceaser.
In the same vein, Governor Wike and Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State had built a political friendship many Nigerians were aware of. Wike believing in true friendship, had helped Tambuwal on several occasions. Wike had supported the Sokoto State Governor when he battled with Atiku over the Ticket of the PDP in 2019. The Rivers State Chief Executive officer had also offered N500million to Tambuwal to help him rebuild the Sokoto market that was gutted by fire. The donation had attracted a lot of criticisms to the Governor by Rivers people who felt he should have used the money to tackle internal problems.
What did Wike receive in return for this show of true friendship? Betrayal by Aminu Tambuwal which paved way for his loss of the PDP presidential ticket at the convention. This betrayal would also go into the history books as a test-case of a betrayal of a true friend by a Nigerian.
Governor Wike had also spoken of the betrayal by the South-South governors that were contributory factor to his loss of the ticket.
But callers in a popular radio station, have responded that the governor did not take the governors into confidence before he took the plunge. According to them, the governor should have spoken to them in a brotherly manner and convinced them of the need to align with his presidential ambition instead of breathing down on their necks. This they affirmed, was the reason they did not support him.
In whatever way people may look at it however, Wike has fought a good fight, and has gone down in history as a general who was not defeated very easily in the field of battle. He gave a very good account of himself at the convention, scoring 237 votes as against Atiku’s 371.
Atiku knew that Wike is a great general which was why immediately after the convention he paid him a visit.
Speculations were now rife that he might pick Wike as his vice, having seen that he had the capacity to help him win the 2023 presidential election.