As His Excellency, Barrister Ezebunwo Nyesom Wike will be sworn in for another term of four years as Governor of River State, the spectacle will be accentuated by a complement of great expectations. These expectations are built on a cocktail of factors ranging from his pre-gubernatorial days, to the legacies he will hopefully leave behind at the end of his eight year run in office come 2023. Just as the African proverb has it that a chick that will be a cock is noticed soon after hatching, so the promise of positives in Wike as governor of the state, was foreseen early by pundits and his sponsors for the exalted office. And by his performance during the just ended first term, the consensus vindicates him as having delivered on his mandate. His widespread endorsement for a second term as governor and the resultant sweep of the votes during the March 9th 2019 polls, only served as a confirmation of his household appeal, across the length and breadth of the Rivers State.
As facts bear out, his first term was prompted less by a burning personal ambition to rule the Rivers State and more as aresponse to a clarion to deliver the state from an impending disaster of tipping over a slippery precipice, courtesy of thehegemonic predilection of his predecessor in office – Mr Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi. It is not easy for many Rivers people to forget that in the last days of Amaechi in office as Governor of Rivers State, he virtually rode rough shod, over the critical institutions of the state like an incubus which denied its victims any iota of self-expression. Not a few Rivers people also still recall his boast on prime time television sometime in 2014 that of all Nigerian leaders he Amaechi was the only one that “was prepared to lead”. And apparently deluded by such self-adulation, he went on to run the Rivers State as a conquered territory, with his word as law.
Among the outrages that clouded due processes of governance in the state during those dark days of Amaechi’s era, were the placement of the Rivers State judiciary in suspended animation, inducement of chaos in the Rivers State House of Assembly and the denigration of several iconic institutions as well as personages in the state. In the rating of not a few Rivers leaders of thought, the height of Amaechi’s indiscretion was when he rerouted the political direction of the Rivers State as a minority entity in the country’s political landscape, out of its historical predilection of always maintaining accommodation with the centre-point of power. All through the run of contemporary politics in Nigeria, right from the halcyon days of partisan politics and political parties like National Council of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC), the Action Group (AG), the Northern Peoples Congress (NPC), and others, to just before Amaechi’s political mis-judgement, minority communities and states across the country, including the good people of Rivers State, have always survived the harsh ‘winner takes all’ calculus of Nigerian politics by aligning strategically with whoever wins power at the centre.
However, for reasons that border on crass indiscipline, rabid megalomania and self aggrandisement, Amaechi was to fall out with the leadership of the ruling party at the centre, and which was the veryPeoples Democratic Party (PDP), which even midwifed his own political ascendancy. Besides, the President at that time was even a South-South citizen – Dr Goodluck Jonathan. It is on record how Amaechi, like a bull in a China shop, deployed all the arsenal at his disposal to betray the PDP and align with the All Progressives Congress (APC), even if all that such would earn him was self-serving political relevance.
There was therefore a need to salvage the Rivers State from Amaechi’s grip and his imposed syndrome of arrested development, at the end of his constitutional eight-year gubernatorial tenure in 2015. It was the circumstances around this consideration that thrust Wike into reckoning as the best-fit factor, to push out his predecessor from office. As events were to prove, Wike was eventually elected the governor of the state that year, but faced all throughout his tenure, the dilemma of a fight-back by forces loyal to and personally led by Amaechi. Their coordinated insidious salvoes against Wike’s administration, and by implication the rest of the Rivers State, remain a story for another day.
Commendably, even with the sundry privations that attended Wike’s first tenure, his administration succeeded largely in pushing through some critical infrastructural and welfare projects which earned him the sobriquet of ‘Mr Projects’ from a most unlikely person – the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Professor Yemi Osinbanjo, of the ruling rival APC, who could not hide his admiration for the ‘Midas Touch’ of gold which laced all of Wike’s projects.
It is therefore for good measure that Wilke’s second term in office is starting on a mandate given through a popular and unchallenged mandate by the who voted for him enmasse at the March 9th 2019 polls. Needless to mention that the APC in the Rivers State ended up without fielding a single candidate for any elective office at both the national and state levels during the recent general polls, including for the governorship – still courtesy of Amaechi’s political shenanigans.
Wike on his own part has demonstrated magnanimity in victory, by extending a hand of fellowship to the severely decimated APC in the Rivers State, along with other political parties in the state, that may be so disposed to fall in line with his administration. The Rivers people are watching how positively or otherwise, the other competing interests in the state will respond to his call, for them to join forces with him and salvage the state from the ravages accumulated over a period of more than six years of political economic and social downturn, in the fortunes of the state.
As for Wike, the new challenge in the second term lies in galvanizing and moving the state towards its next level which he has already laid the foundation for in his first term. Going by his antecedents, he will be guided by the crying needs of the various ethnic nationalities in the state as well as its strategic position in the politics and economy of the country. Rivers State by its geography and endowments remains the unquestionable economic hub of the country – east of the Niger. This confers on Governor Nyesom Wike, the responsibility of lifting the fortunes of the Rivers State directly, and facilitating indirectly, same dispensation for those of the proximate territories, in order to promote the much needed regional integration of the Niger Delta zone, and in a wider context, the development of the country.
The foregoing is the mission which posterity is beckoning on him to execute in his second term, and in respect of which Rivers people – both at home and in diaspora, pray fervently for him to succeed.
Congratulations, You Excellency.

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