Nyesom Wike, governor of Rivers State, just released his independence anniversary bombast. The verdict from the governor, who clearly loves the sound of his voice, was dire: the country is nothing at 61.
It was Wike as his populist best — or worst — depending on where you stand: Nigeria has achieved “nothing” at 61, the National Assembly is a rubber stamp, the Judiciary are contemptible house negroes sucking up to the executive, ethnicity and faith trump merit and the National Assembly (again!) must be flayed for rejecting electronic transmission of elections instead of unanimously rallying for it — frothing jeremiads, all!
In truth, all that the governor mentioned are usual grist for popular griping over “bad” leadership, the unsatisfactory state of Nigeria, et al, with all of the glorious and patriotic over-generalization.
But if such comes from the loquacious governor, does he stand condemned too as part of the Nigerian “leadership” — or are state emperors (sorry governors) like Wike exempt from such charges?
Or was the tirade another Wike exceptionalism, which burnishes his notorious narcissism, in which Wike is always right and everyone else wrong, at all times?
Ajibola Basiru, the Senate spokesperson, has quietly dismissed Wike’s “rubber stamp” charge, saying the governor has neither the facts nor the temper to push such. Hardball completely agrees — he doesn’t.
But maybe Senator Basiru was a tad too gracious. He should have asked Wike a simple question: if the National Assembly was “rubber stamp” by working in harmony with the federal executive, is the Rivers legislature too “rubber stamp” by working in harmony with the Rivers executive — and for that, read Wike, not Wike the governor-in-council, since he appears the Rivers emperor-in-all?
And ah, the judiciary and not doing the “right thing”! Flashback, 2015: Wike’s “election” was a virtual Rivers killing field, of both humans and election gadgetry. The newly introduced electronic card reader was sabotaged, to guarantee the normal “marine votes” from Rivers; the resident electoral commissioner was accused of sleaze to fiddle the vote, and the lower tribunals ruled the election was a travesty.
Yet, the apex court endorsed Wike’s election. In that case, when did the judiciary do the right or wrong thing? But even the most salient point is the cant here. Wike that boasted such judicially beatified “election” in 2015 has suddenly become a furious and puritanical archangel crusading for electronic transmission come 2023! What cant!
But still on the Judiciary: the federal high court that found for Rivers on VAT did right, right? — even after refusing a stay of judgment execution pending appeal? What if the Court of Appeal, which slapped a status quo ante verdict?
Well, Hardball is “not saying nothing” — to steal that American street slang. But those familiar with the Wike world of one-track black-or-white pretty well can essay the answer! It’s part-justification for Senator Basiru’s riposte that the governor seems to lack the temper for moderation in public discourse.
Now, that is the Wike albatross. By always posturing he knows it all and is always right, he lets fly a lot of toxins in the public space — toxins strictly undeserving of any public official, talk less of an elected governor.
Politics and governance are not exclusively about combat, emotions and cant. Life itself is never black or white, but overwhelmingly grey.
If only the combative, emotive and ever preening Wike would learn from this trite reality, he would do his public image a lot of good.