By Emma Okah
Every leader has his style. It is his style that sets him or her apart from others and this often determines how successful he could be in executing his vision. It is not enough to man the machinery of image-management but it is even more crucial to understand the personality of your principal, especially one as dynamic and forceful as His Excellency, Chief/Barrister Nyesom Ezebunwo Wike, who is the Executive Governor of Rivers State since 2015.
I have always told people who come close that clearly, you must recognize a man’s attributes if you want to know him well. You must look into his mindset, his past, and his activities to identify his style. Those who miss this strategy usually run counter to the ways of the Principal and thus end up in trouble.
Gov Wike was twice the Executive Chairman of Obio/Akpor Local Government Area, Port Harcourt. He thus knows what power means in the palm of any serious-minded executive. He used power effectively and built the best council secretariat in Nigeria. He also emerged as National President of ALGON (the Association of Local Government Councils of Nigeria). He equally represented the ALGON at the Commonwealth Parliament on local governments, meaning he represented the 774 local council bosses and their grassroots people in the Commonwealth. This is no mean feat.
That is the kind of mindset a man like him will always have.
Coming into office as Executive Governor in 2015, that is, after serving under a governor for four years, Wike knew that the only way to make meaningful impact in Rivers State was to go the extra mile. This is what many others before him possibly may not have done admirably.
I always ask people to look at his budgets; always biased in favour of capital projects. Even in that, he made three key areas as focal points: Education, Health, and Works. That is to say he does not want to be ‘Jack of all Trade and Master of None’. This is how great minds work; pick your battle, choose your style, strike. Even if many enemies confront a warrior, it pays better to choose some and strike that to attempt to face everybody at the same time.
If you look at these sectors, you would see that huge action is in progress. This does not mean that other sectors were shut down. He has focused on the three areas hoping they would multiply and impact other areas. The appreciation by people is loud and far.
I feel very sad that a lot of people seem to forget where we met government institutions when we came in May 2015. It’s like a pregnant woman who gives birth and in about two years she is ready to go back to the maternity ward as if to have forgotten the pains of the last labour. We are not such people; we know what we met, we know what we have done, we know what next we want to do and where it would take Rivers State to.
Thus, Gov Wike is reversing the ugly trend in infrastructure decay, touching places many did not believe he would touch. Who would believe that Gov Wike would touch projects started by his predecessor (Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi) when his predecessor had a different mindset? He (Amaechi) never touched anything that Gov Celestine Omehia started. That is why the Mall on Aba Road remains abandoned; that is why Forces Avenue Road in Old GRA has not been touched because Gov Omehia had awarded the contract and had even deployed concrete chippings there for action to start. Amaechi came to power and turned his back against that road.
Many may argue that some Omehia projects such as Eleme Fly Over, Mile One Market Phase A, Agip Fly Over, etc, were completed by Amaechi but Omehia paid for them ahead. It therefore became impossible to reverse.
So, leadership requires you to do things distinctively well and in your own way to get particular results. The common saying is; you cannot be doing the same thing and expect a different result, but here we do the same thing and expect different result. No, here, we do different things to expect different results. Check the quality of contractors from day one. It tells you from day one that, yes, in as much as we would try to help the local hands but we will not compromise quality and world standards. That is why you now see construction giants such as Julius Berger, CCEC of China, Rauffaul, etc doing projects. Then, go and check the quality of jobs out there; they are top-class.
Look at the schools in Rivers State! If the photos were not shown, who would believe that in this 21st century, those kinds of schools still exist in Rivers State? Yes, new ones were built but priorities were not well set. You do not allow old schools and hospitals serving multitudes to rot away while you start many others that would not be ready soon to take over. At the end, neither the new nor the old is useful. That was a disaster in planning.
Yes, there are still quite a lot of them that have not been touched by Gov Wike, but it is a gradual process for us. The Wike government will get to them because we cannot do all at the same time.
Look at General Hospitals. Go to Elele-Alimi and see trees growing in wards and all of that. So, there are certain things that you don’t need to strain to see to reach a conclusion that this man, Wike, means well for Rivers people.
Wike carries burdens for Nigeria; conferences, sports, etc, including laundering the national image. Look at the African Wrestling Championship; the Super Eagles were playing matches in Port Harcourt at our cost. Wrestling championship was staged here in Port Harcourt, not because the state is APC but it is Nigeria that takes the credit.
Look at the Security Agencies here in Rivers State. They cannot say Gov Wike is not supporting them. Even when we had infractions with a section of the police, the governor never ceased funding the Police. He is not petty. That is how he sees leadership. When it is policking, he politicks, when it is governance, he governs effectively. If you do not know this, you run into trouble. That is why he stands tall today.
Nigerians are not unappreciative. When you do well, they acknowledge it. Look at awards all over the place, nationally and internationally. I can beat my chest and tell you that not one, not one was solicited for; no, not one. Of course, you know the governor well; you dare not open your mouth and suggest an award. He will tell you that you want make money out of him. We are even tuning back awards from people. People say this governor is commissioning projects; he is flagging off new ones, etc. People are talking. When they open the pages of newspapers, they see the same things they see on television and in the various other media houses. They know that this man is cut out to make a difference in this state. The awards are from the heart.
That is where we are. I am sure a lot of people will not be in a hurry to forget how certain roads were in this state. For instance, what are you going to tell the Etche people? I won’t forget the day we went to commission a road in Etche called Douglas Road, which was opened during the colonial rule. Since that time, not a drop of tar has been put on that road. It remained a laterite road since the time of the colonial masters to this day, yet we have had administrations that got N30Bn per month, yet would not touch such roads. So, when Gov Wike goes to touch such roads, how do you expect the people to feel about him? That is why anywhere he goes to, the people turn out in thunderous way in applause wanting to appreciate, commend, and thank him. He cannot freely go to the markets now because they would mob him. Women abandon their wares and swoop on him. This is because they cannot believe the kind of thing they are seeing.
Go to Mile One Market and see. Who would believe what is going on there now? That market was burnt in 2013, and there was a government here. If you want to boost the economy of the poor, you boost their major source of income; market is one such. It is one of the biggest infrastructures. If you construct a market, you can count on the number of people you have removed from hardship and mouths you can feed. So, if you can’t take care of a market, you can as well go home and tell the people that you cannot govern Rivers State.
After the Rumuokoro Market that is world class, look at what he is doing in Mile one, Creek Road, Bille Jetty Waterside. These are infrastructures that should have been taken care of before now when Rivers State had money. If those things in Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor had been taken care of when Rivers State had money, there is no way Gov Wike would have come back to tar a road that had been tarred. He would have faced other areas.
Now, we are shooting out to the suburbs. Look at what is happening in Sakpaenwa-Bori Road, look at Bodo General Hospital, look at BMGS, look at KS Buguma; we are building school in Ahoada, we are everywhere. So, people are seeing all these and we urge the media to continue to take note of this change and inform Nigerians properly. This is in spite of constant distractions from the centre. There is no time the Gov is sleeping with his two eyes closed because our people have a saying that the man surrounded by enemies has to watch his life always. With these distractions all over the place, with the centre not helping, with our brothers that ought to help us look after the ordinary Rivers man to look better rather turning with the centre to paralise our efforts, the man is still outstandingly well. Rivers people are very proud of his remarkable achievements so far.
A style is nothing if it does not produce desirable results, or if it does not find solutions to difficult problems such as Gov Wike met in office where there was hostility, no handover, no clear policy direction, no funds to start in the face of unpaid bills especially salaries and pensions. It is style that made the people to believe him and trust him to find solutions. Today, his style is winning more supporters everyday. It is a style of success.