Every discerning Nigerian knows Governor Nyesom Wike as a brash and rabble-rouser of man, one with propensity to viciousness. The Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr Chris Ngige, once described him as a ‘gra gra’ man. In local parlance, this means a noisemaker without substance and depth. It can also be interpreted as a vulnerable person who has a complex and resorts to noise – making to attract attention. That, perhaps, explains why Wike is wont to attack the Presidency and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) at will. If this is his idea of opposition politics, he sure needs to be schooled all over. Since the Presidency saw through the hollowness of the man, it has completely ignored him to continue to play to the gallery and wallow in self-relevance. Political observers, who saw this as a desperate attempt to gain relevance in the national political space, have also come to see him as a political jester.
However, Imo people would not ignore him for coming to Owerri to insult Governor Hope Uzodimma all in the name of politics. Taking undue advantage of the hospitality of Imo people, Wike had the temerity to declare that Uzodimma has failed and should not be re-elected. A man, who is notorious for his intolerance, would not have allowed an opposing political party the opportunity to even hold the so – called mega rally, not to talk of using the same platform to hurl insults on the sitting Governor of the state. However, since we are in a democratic dispensation and Uzodimma is a believer in democracy with the concomitant free speech and freedom of association, he would continue to create an enabling environment for all political parties in the state and beyond to exercise their democratic rights within the provision of the law.
But in doing this, he will never allow people to peddle falsehood and incite the citizens against his Government. He would not also allow Governor to export the politics of bitterness and violence, which he has domiciled in Rivers State. For the records, he should be reminded that Igbos still bear him a grudge about his dubious role in the killing of Imo People at Oyigbo Local Government Area of Rivers Stare. He should know that no one believed his denials and in other climes he would be dragged to the International Criminal Court for this.
Therefore, without being emotional, we need to interrogate the wild and baseless claim by Wike that Uzodinma has failed and does not deserve re-election. We also need to understand the context of assessment and situate it along the line of Wike’s cantankerous posturing, which in the last seven years has left the good people of Rivers State in tears.
Just recently, the people from the riverine areas cried out that Wike has refused to build roads in their communities, preferring instead to build worthless flyovers along only one road in Port Harcourt. Compare that to the road revolution of Uzodinma, which is evenly and strategically spread across the 27 Local Government Areas of the state. In just two years in office, Uzodinma has undertaken more than 92 roads out of which 32 have been completed. This equates to an average rate of more than one road per month!
Again, we hear every day of floodwater killing citizens of Rivers State, pulling down their houses and sacking entire communities. Yet Wike who receives billions of naira from ecological fund, more than most other states in the country, has not been able to fix the problem in 7 years. But, Uzodinma immediately on assumption of office tackled the flooding in Owerri. The balloon – driven tunnel, which he built along Chukwuma Nwoha road, has been able to check the flood menace in that part of the capital city. He has also started a similar project along the Amakohia axis, thus ensuring that lives and property of the people are secured. In this aspect, who should be judged a failure between Uzodinma and Wike?
Unlike Uzodimma who has been running a transparent, accountable and inclusive Government, Wike’s “self aggrandizement has not allowed him tell Rivers people what he has been doing with their money. Just last week, a prominent son of the state, Mr. Dakuku Peterside, raised the alarm that the level of corruption in Rivers State under Wike was benumbing. He called on the Stakeholders to urgently intervene before the state collapses. His divisive style of governance has also alienated a lot of people. Asari Dokubu also took him to the cleaners last week lamenting how he has ruined the state, politically and economically. In other words, the man that is being blinded by a log in his eyes is offering to remove a spec in another person’s eyes. What an irony!
Few years ago, Wike spent tens of millions of naira in a jamboree celebrating the commissioning of a mother and child hospital. Three years down the road, the place is not functional. General hospitals in the state have been run down including the ones in Ikwerre land where he hails from. Juxtapose that with the sterling performance of Uzodinma in the health Sector where mobile clinics are offering free services and drugs to the rural people; where a total of 305 health centres are being rehabilitated and equipped; where the general hospitals are operating at optimal capacity; where the Imo State University Teaching Hospital, Orlu has been revived and equipped to handle any kind of medical challenge. The teaching hospital is also back to graduating medical doctors. So, between these two managers of the health sector, who is a failure?
But, what of agriculture where Wike has mindlessly mismanaged the cassava – processing plant and the Songhai farms built by his predecessors? Does he have any agricultural policy at all or is it just the fire brigade approach that is open to corrupt abuses with no manifest result? Contrast that with what Uzodinma has been doing in Imo State.
He met a moribund Adapalm Nigeria Limited, which had been comatose for 25 years. Reputed as the largest palm – processing plant in this part of the country, Adapalm is a gold mine that was abandoned by successive governments in the state. But, Hope Uzodinma has revived it to return to its premier position. Thousands of jobs have been created and the economy of the state boosted as a result. This is just one example of what Uzodinma is doing in the agricultural sector. In addition, his government is assisting farmers to embrace modern methods of farming with improved crop varieties.
The funny and worrying thing is that a state like Rivers, which receives multiple billions from Federation Allocation every month has not done anything to either alleviate the poverty of the people or provide jobs for the youth. Since Wike took over as governor seven years ago, he instituted a dangerous policy of starvation as a weapon to subdue the people. The youth only work as labourers to Julius Berger. Three years ago, shortly after his sham re-election, Wike caused the state civil service to advertise for 5,000 jobs.
That turned out to be the scam of the century. Not even a single person has been employed as the outcome of this! In Uzodinma’s Imo, the governor created a Ministry of Entrepreneurship to train and empower the youth in skills acquisition. Above 10,000 youths are today not only gainfully employed, but are employers of labour. The women folk are not left out as businesses have been established for some of them. So instead of spreading poverty like Wike, Uzodinma is engendering prosperity among Imo people in line with his prosperity agenda encapsulated in Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Recovery.
Little minded ingrates with a record for serially betraying their benefactors are no better than loose cannons, striking mindlessly at every target. This perhaps explains why Wike’s brashness has not allowed him to be circumspect both in speech and conduct. The man whose action has caused serious division in PDP leading to exodus of party faithful, including two serving governors, Wike is expected to be wiser. Like a bull let loose in a China shop, Wike wants to self destruct after damaging everything he touches or comes in contact with. Yesterday, it was Cross River State that declared him persona non grata, today he is courting trouble in Imo State with magisterial pronouncement. Unfortunately for Wike, he is neither God nor Imo people who will determine the fate of Uzodinma when the time comes. But, if what Wike has failed to achieve in governance in the last seven years is the credentials for the PDP in Imo state, Uzodinma should go to sleep for he has already merited his re-election after just two years in office.
And now that the Ngor-Okpala House of Assembly bye-election has come and gone, and the APC has won in what is a clear victory for Uzodimma, I sincerely hope that Wike and other naysayers should bury their faces in shame.
• Emelumba is the commissioner of information and strategy, Imo State.