Of Democracy And Leadership


History beckons today as Nigerians celebrate Democracy Day. Typical of Nigerians, not even the prevailing economic condition with its accompanying uproar would restrain them from giving full expression to merriment or festivity that usually trail public holidays in the country.
Today, being the 19th anniversary of Nigeria’s return to the welcoming arms of democratic governance, with effect from May 29, 1999, is not an exception. And of course, not wanting to be outdone politicians, political parties, local, state and federal authorities have days before now engaged in a beehive of activities in readiness to beat the drums of celebration. This is even as speeches chronicling some achievements and challenges have been fine-tuned by speech writers and rehearsed by their principals.
On their part, most newspapers and magazines are smiling to the banks. They had to increase their pagination to be able to accommodate the deluge of advertisement in the form of goodwill messages. It is the same story at the electronic media where orders for commercials for the purpose of goodwill messages, mostly from political acolytes, caused adjustments in their broadcast schedules. Such is the passion for celebrating a day like this, when virtually everything is put on hold to ensure that citizens satisfy their thirst for the occasion.
But besides restricting the armed forces to their professional duties of defending the nation’s territorial integrity, are there justifications for the pomp and pageantry associated with the annual Democracy Day celebration?
Indeed, there are justifications for even wining and dining on this day. There is a lot to be said about the symbolism of democratic rule and the psychic income it offers. Today, 19 years after the inauguration of a democratically elected government at all levels, we shall appraise the impact of democracy in our lives, the Buhari presidency and the increasing expectations in civic society about the need for leaders to make democracy dividends real in their lives.
In all fairness, the impact of democratic governance has been felt in some ways. Whatever may be the tensions and stresses of democratic rule, Nigerians, by their conduct and choices, would seem to have resolved that government of the people is the surest guarantee for individual and collective freedoms and happiness in the society. While it is doubtful whether this can be recorded as an achievement of the obviously clueless Buhari administration which has been going aimlessly on one detour after another, the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has gone beyond all that, raising the bar of democracy and leadership to the maximum satisfaction of the people.
In a democracy, the leadership, being a vehicle for the exercise of power, is expected not only to crystallize our purposes as a people, but also to rise to the firm, just and orderly exercise of power towards the accomplishment of those purposes. As difficult as this could be, Wike has been able to acquit himself creditably.
For any leader to record any accomplishment, he must possess a driving vision of where his people are, where they should be heading and why. In other words, the leader should be able to diagnose the problems of his people and adopt a suitable approach towards their solution.
In the blue print of his New Vision for a new Rivers State, Wike had vowed “to build a state that is truly united, secure and prosperous with boundless opportunities for everyone who lives in it to peacefully pursue their goals and realize their full potentials in dignity and happiness”.
He did not stop there. He also insisted on actualizing “the aspirations of the people of Rivers State for a balanced development and an enhanced quality of life for the present and future generations through responsive governance guided by the fear of God”.
To realize the New Vision, some priorities were listed. They are Open, Accountable and Inclusive Governance; Security of Life and Property; Efficient and Speedy Administration of Justice; Education, Healthcare Delivery and Agriculture Development.
It also includes Roads, Drainage and Transport Infrastructure, Housing Development, Provision of Water, Energy Security, and Jobs , Wealth Creation and Economic Empowerment.
The rest are Women Development, Youth Development, Sports, Recreation and Tourism, Environmental Protection, Urban and Rural Development, and Social Welfare Services.
Without fear of contradiction, Wike has done excellently well in these regards. More importantly, he has demonstrated an uncommon and unwavering commitment to all that he enunciated in the blue print.
Aware that his promises are his bond, the Governor had from the outset worked relentlessly towards actualizing his vision and mission for a better Rivers State in the strong belief that “together”, as he puts it, “we can create better opportunities and achieve more for our people”.
There is no gainsaying the fact that Wike has achieved so much in so short a time, even the opposition has found it difficult to fault him in the conceptionalisation and execution of projects and programmes. To have earned the sobriquet ‘Mr. Projects’ from Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo of the All Progressives Congress speaks volumes of his sagacity and outstanding performance.
It would certainly require the compilation of a compendium to record Wike’s achievements as it may take enormous intellectual rigour to completely unravel the political phenomenon in him. But one thing that is certain is the fact that his efforts have received and have continued to receive well-deserved recognition and accolades from within and outside Nigeria.
Never the less, The Tide, after painstakenly considering the magnitude and influences of Wike’s personality, decided to capture in words and pictures, even if for the sake of posterity, the moving sequences of his charmed existence.
At the risk of sounding immodest, we suggest he deserves no less.
As our democratic experience comes alive today, we put him on the crucible of history and invite everyone to take a mental stroll through the life of a rare leader who has complemented his existential excellence by traversing like a magnificent colossus, the throbbing firmament of his callings.