Wike: High Tension No More, Political Fortunes Have Dwindled
By Solomon Okocha
In the build-up to the 2015 gubernatorial election in Rivers State, clothed with a dramatic name that massaged his ego and intoxicated his young volatile followers, Governor Nyesom Wike piloted a political movement that inundated Rivers State with uncertainty. Wike displayed the posturing of a man who controlled the seven heavens. Hell was opened up and demons of violence were unleashed upon the State. The Supreme Court would later declare Rivers State a ‘theatre of war.’
Holding firmly unto the forces that then ruled Nigeria, the man whose toxic fans call ‘high tension’, maintained an unfettered access to federal might and resources and a political god was born. Rivers State was to be delivered into the hands of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, by any means possible. That was Wike’s supreme mandate. One, two, ready, go!
Like lightning and thunder, Wike bolted and rumbled through the Rivers political space and not a few persons could stand in his way. Not even fellow party bigwigs in the state could match the high current that Wike generated back then. Some of them who minutely attempted to resist him were loaded with hot slaps in Wadata House, Abuja, and their doubts were eventually cleared. Power karila!
With all the fire and brimstone that Wike wrought on the political landscape of Rivers State, it is worthy to note that members of the opposition party – All Progressives Congress, APC, under the leadership of the former Governor, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, still stood up to the historical, yet deadly occasion. Irrespective of the fact that Amaechi was stripped of his official security apparatus, he still fearlessly galvanised loyal followers to a fight which many observers termed as a suicidal battle (here, controversial Joseph Mbu and his ‘shoot at sight’ police officers clearly comes to mind).
In the end, Wike had his way. Gesila Khan, the embattled former Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Resident Electoral Commissioner for Rivers State, delivered a total of 1,029,102 votes to Wike, and merely dashed the APC a meagre 124,896 votes. And on the 29th day of May 2015, Wike was sworn in as the 6th Governor of Rivers State. Mission accomplished!
As the next political season draws near, political watchers in the state are of the view that the hands of time are fast turning against Wike. The heightened tension that now exists in Wike’s political camp is a clear indication that the centre can no longer hold. For instance, in the entire political history of Rivers State, apart from Wike, no other Governor had ever lost two Commissioners for Information to sudden resignation, in less than two years of service.
Opunabo Inko-Tariah was the first to throw in the towel. Opunabo denounced Wike’s government immediately after the Governor told him to ‘go and die’ with his father. The former Commissioner for Information in Rivers State received the shocking verbal assault of his life when he went to inform the Governor of an ailment which was troubling him at that time. Do you know heartlessness?
Next in line was the brilliant and erudite Dr. Austin Tam-George. After trying too hard to manage Governor Wike’s usually uncouth media presentations, Dr. Tam-George could no longer bear the heavy damage which the communication malaise inflicted upon his personal and professional life. Not too long after Wike hastily and without fact claimed on national television that ‘Ikoyi Billions’ belonged to Rivers State, Tam-George frantically waved goodbye and left with his family for Lagos.
Apart from Wike’s political appointees, he is also loosing grip on the majority of his rank and file. There is a loud rattling of disaffection going on in so many quarters where the Governor once held sway. From those who feel betrayed by Wike’s elitist based empowerment style, to those who are sincerely distraught over Wike’s mediocre attitude towards governance in the State, there is an increasing decibel of disquiet in Wike’s kitchen. The boys are not happy!
One perfect example of the rising discontent in Wike’s political setup is the recent outcry by George Kerley, a diehard of former President Goodluck Jonathan and Dame Patience Jonathan. Kerley, a young, vibrant and politically conscious Kalabari politician, lambasted Wike for poor governance and squarely blamed Goodluck Jonathan for imposing Wike on Rivers people. According to Kerley on his Facebook page, “I apologize to every Rivers man who followed me and my insinuation. Wike is incapable of leading Rivers State… Goodluck Jonathan and and his wife Patience Ibifaka decided to destroy River State and unleashed upon our people Nyesom Wike…”, he cried.
Leader of Niger Delta Volunteer Force (NDVF), Mujahid Asari-Dokubo, a strong supporter of Wike, also added his voice to the growing rhythm of disenchanted rhymes around Wike’s political circle. Hear him: “the man Wike has proven to be very, very unqualified to govern a heterogeneous state like Rivers”, Asari wailed.
Even the Civil Society is beginning to distance itself from Wike. Recently, the Director of Integrity Group, Livingstone Wechie, a lawyer and civil society activist, who worked closely with Wike during the Amaechi-must-not-become-a-minister saga, has openly recanted all that he said against Amaechi, both in writing and otherwise. During a live television programme, Livingstone declared that all the documents supplied to him by Wike to indict Amaechi, were all politically fabricated and forged. Nothing more to add!
It is very obvious that in 2019, Wike cannot commandeer federal forces and resources like he did in 2015. There will be no Gesila Khan and Joseph Mbu to do his bidding. Wike’s house is already divided, his ‘high tension’ epithet has been demystified, and his bad leadership style is now staring everyone in the face.
O how has the mighty fallen! High Tension is no more, for political fortunes have dwindled.