By Oraye St. Franklyn
When I announced my resignation from the government, movement and friendship of Rotimi Amaechi, then Governor of Rivers State, I made bold to say in a widely circulated piece, that he had by far polarized Rivers State than any leader before him, living or dead. The crux of my resignation was that he had woefully failed in uniting Rivers people and as such, I could not continue to be a part of such a political system defined by a hate-based and occultic ideology.
I moved on and bade him farewell, not without expressing my gratitude for the good times we shared. That was in 2013, I believe. It was about the same time the State was in search of a new leadership. Many presented themselves for the plum job of Governor of Rivers State but what the State needed was a unifier, a bridge-builder and a peace maker. Many placed their bet on those they felt met the criteria. In the end, Chief Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, a former minister at the time, emerged as Governor in a keenly contested election that was characterized by a landslide decision. The people of the State by a very wide margin had legitimately elected Nyesom Wike Governor of Rivers State.
The task before him was enormous. Although he had galvanized the majority to residents of the State to make a defining decision in his emergence as Governor, the bitter bouts of angst and hate that had been injected into the political system would take much more than political rhetoric to douse and eventually obliterate. It would take focused, detribalized and unifying leadership to make happen.
Upon his inauguration as Governor, he set sail immediately, to inaugurate projects having direct impact on the lives of Rivers people. In no time, he had distinguished himself as a development-focused leader and not necessarily a partisan politician. From across the State, flags of projects were pegged without bias for partisanship. Political leaders from everywhere in Nigeria regardless of their difference with him on partisan grounds identified with him, and travelled into Rivers State to commission projects.
Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, the Vice President of the All Progressives Congress-led Federal Government of Nigeria is one of such people and from whom the appellation, “Mr. Project”, used in describing Governor Wike gained national resonance and prominence.
Within Rivers State, the hitherto heated, divisive and partisan pre-election rhetoric was not something Governor Wike promoted. From being defined as a rancorous politician in the lead-up to the 2015 General Elections, he had revealed himself in Government as a leader passionate about the development of Rivers State. The dissonance of partisanship came from the opposition alone, as was the aggression and assault on Rivers State.
Most recently, the entire Rivers Caucus at the Federal House of Representatives comprising members of the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party passed a vote of confidence on Governor Wike, while acknowledging how well he has done in unifying, protecting and projecting the best interest of the State. Beyond their rhetoric, the presence of elected representatives of the Opposition Party in Government House lent credence to Governor Wike’s leadership credential. He has succeeded in unifying political interests and having the debate focused on the development of Rivers State. This is also where he crossed the line and must bear the burden of a heavy cross for not succeeding at failing, as was anticipated.
The incident at Waja Junction, involving the convoys of the Governor of Rivers State and the Minister of Transportation was not an accident. It was also not a traffic incident as the Police are portraying it. I was a witness. It was a crime committed by the Minister of Transportation himself who had no legitimate reason to personally knock down the Governor’s outrider except that he has become feverishly peeved by Governor Wike’s outstanding success; something that daily exposes his own frailties and missed opportunities, and could no longer restrain himself from expressing deep-seated hate for the Governor of Rivers State.
Come to think of it, if anyone knew whose convoy was the other, it was Amaechi who knew that. The Governor’s Outrider had no way of knowing that it was Amaechi’s convoy that he legitimately stopped to make way for the Governor of Rivers State to pass. Even if he knew, it won’t have made any difference. But Amaechi, driving himself, leading his band of traducers and knowing that it was the Governor’s convoy that was passing through charged at the Outrider out of bile and knocked him down. The excuse that two of his security vehicles had already crossed is very lame. If we are to assume that Amaechi was being truthful, does it mean the Governor would have waited for Amaechi’s train of vehicles to pass through before he moves? Where does that happen?
They say success has many friends. Let us also agree that it has enemies too and the burden of a cross to bear. Thankfully, Governor Wike is equal to the task and Rivers people are as prepared as ever to keep their State on the path of progress and development.
Governor Wike is uniting Rivers people, Rivers State is making progress. These are what endear Rivers people to him, more than anything else.