It was that historic night of 20th June 2016, I got his call. I was so frightened when that mid-way voice between gruffness and barking came through my phone. Of course, since that discussion, I have been closely watching the progress of the administration. As I look back on Governor Nyesom Wike’s administration, reminiscing on various events and issues that defined his take over of leadership on 29th May, 2015, from the APC-led administration in Rivers State and his stewardship for the past 3 years, I can’t but appreciate the mercies of God in affording him the strength, and wisdom to move us to a greater height.
In Rivers State, political abracadabra, political manipulations, figure falsifications and writing of fake results by the opposition to win Governor Wike as is their established hallmark will be difficult, come 2019. The people’s votes must count because his people-oriented projects and performances are daily campaigning for the Governor. It’s a fact and no manipulations can change the people’s mind not to give him a second mandate. If abracadabra will count in other states, here in Rivers, the opposition will suffer great loss because the projects which have touched on the people’s lives will be the better judge.
As we march towards 2019, while the hue and cry remains the jostle for political offices, what value are the future generations of political office holders bringing to the table? After about 19 years of democratic (some say civilian) rule, what are the lessons learned that can redefine the Nigeria polity be it on the local or on the national level? More importantly, how have our leaders impacted on our lives?
For me as a political observer, the performances of Wike aka Mr. Projects has made me rather refer to him as a political enigma, direction finder, dogged fighter, resourceful leader, achiever and trailblazer. On this note, certain issues have become so crystallized that they become building blocks for every leader be they those that have served or aspiring to serve to consider for posterity.
First is that leadership is of God. Our efforts notwithstanding, it’s God that decides who leads his people or otherwise. The event back then in the state after the 11th April 2015 elections were clear. After a fierce legal battle, the Supreme Court eventually gave him victory and this clearly confirmed my stand. The Bible says in the book of Daniel “the Most High rules in the affairs of men”. God’s verdict stood for Governor Wike.
Another point is that leadership is about service. The burden of responsibilities the inauguration of Wike thrust upon his shoulder was enormous and this was at a time the former administration made boasts in the media that his administration would not be able to pay salaries talk less of carrying out governance. Our roads were terribly bad with potholes, our children dropped out of school, some deeply engaged in cult activities, armed robbery and kidnapping etc. The economy was hamstrung security was in shambles with decaying infrastructure in the general hospitals in our local government areas. Many workers were not paid for months, salary arrears were owed retirees, staff of agencies, schools etc.
With these hydra-headed problems, leadership was demonstrated practically in the first 100 days in office. Potholes disappeared. He re-opened the state judiciary. He ordered immediate re-instatement of lecturers of the Rivers State University etc. Today, from security to education, health care, environmental protection and sports development, the Governor has matched his words with actions. No state in the nation can showcase the number of projects Gov. Wike has commissioned within this past three years.
Again, when it was alleged that APC hinged on “federal might” to up-turn a free and fair election that brought in Wike, he showed leadership by defending the people’s right and interest. The Governor rose to the occasion and took the gauntlet and led the people of the state to defend its destiny. Whenever, wherever and however the interest of this state is threatened, our traducers have been effectively put on notice that there is a sentinel on guard in Rivers State who is ever ready to give them a good fight for their money. He clearly stands for one man one vote.
Leadership is about legacy. A scrupulous look around our state reveals an array of legacies this great man has left behind within three years of his administration. No part of the state is left out in his plans for infrastructural revolution. The new state-of-the-art schools our children attend, tertiary institutions are also not left out. Also included are the renovations of general hospitals throughout the local government areas. The roads expanded, remodeled and beautified across the state, human capital development and many more to mention.
We can draw salient lessons from these achievements. The 2019 elections are by the corner and he is presenting himself for a second tenure. It is not out of place for Rivers people to take a second look at him and judge him on the merit of his leadership. His best may not have satisfied everyone, especially the opposition, but to state the obvious, he has done well. He may not have satisfied everyone but he never shies away from trying. He is not everything to everyone but he was what everyone, especially his party (PDP) members needed to liberate them and set a new foundation in the state.
Let Rivers people remember that the destiny of the State is in their hands. Let us, therefore, stand behind the governor and insist that the commonwealth of the State is not for sale and that it must be used to provide the dividends of democracy. It is not and cannot be for the highest bidder. The good roads we enjoy and other infrastructure in Rivers State are glaring for all.
Let us, therefore, collectively stand behind Governor Wike to appreciate all he has done for the state. I am unequivocal in saluting his courage to develop the state.
Osundu wrote from Port Harcourt.