By Ignatius Chukwu
Chief Tony Okocha of Rivers State has justified the appointment of ex-governor Nyesom Wike as minister. He has also debunked allegations that the ex-governor shouted at President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for not including his name in the list, saying the truth is now out.
The waiting for and against the possibility of ex-governor, Nyesom Wike, making the ministerial list, is over.
Now, Chief Wike’s name has appeared on the list to end speculations and vicious tackles, with Wike’s major support pillar, Tony Okocha of the All Progressives Congress (APC) hailing the success, saying the ex-governor is ripe for politics and governance at the centre.
Rivers State politics has been viciously polarized since 2012 to the point that one man’s meat must be another’s poison. The war of attrition has continued for years with the Rt Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi camp and the Chief Nyesom Wike camp always at daggers-drawn, one’s success representing the downfall of the other.
Analysts had wondered where the president, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, would bend in his choice of minister from Rivers State: Wike from the rival Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that wheeled the victory to him; Magnus Abe of the SDP that had been a member of Asiwaju Support Group for long but left at the critical moment; or the mainstream APC in Rivers State that have toiled for years in bloodied shape that still paraded neutral leaders such as Mr Jackrich Tein and Dr Dakuku Peterside. Many had pointed out that denying the mainstream APC would amount to shutting the party off, but denying Wike would amount betrayal an ally that went through hell for him.
The list is out and the cards seem to be on the table for all to see.
Ibim Semenitari, now in Wike’s and Sir Sim Fubara’s camp, has hailed the feat on social media. Chief Eze Chkuwemeka Eze, a die-hard Amaechi backer, has described the appointment as a ploy to close out Wike 2017 ambition.
What however looks like a detailed response has come from Chief Okocha, a Wike ally that is being castigated by many in the state. Okocha anchored Wike’s leg in the APC to work for Wike during the fierce battle for 2023.
Reacting, Chief Okocha told newsmen that the governor has a rich political and administrative profile to move to the centre. He pointed to Wike’s background as past two-time LGA chairman, Chief of Staff to a governor, a Minister, and two-time Governor. “In fact, he won award as the best local council chairman in Rivers State for which he got N100m from the state government then to help develop his area more.
“On this score, we can say that the fact speaks for itself. One thing is that he discharged himself creditably to the eyes of even naysayers in these positions.”
Okocha said Wike’s performance in Rivers State as governor endeared him to even the centre (FG) which was controlled by what he called an antagonistic party and the FG still found him worthy to be awarded best governor in infrastructure.
He said Wike is a unique politician and go-getter who he said succeeds where many don’t expect him to. “Give him a stone, he strikes water out of it. He is ripe for the centre again. Wherever the president wants him to deliver, let him be sure that Wike will deliver.
“You can see the speed of development in Rivers State. As a state in the comity of states, Rivers is qualified for basic infrastructure from the centre, in addition to what the state and local councils are doing already.”
He said any Rivers son in the federal government would know that there are lofty projects that the state is carrying out because there is no help from the centre; the Kalabari Highway would have been done by the FG, the PH Ring Road, the Opobo Road, etc.
“The last regime removed the rail lines with the claim to build a new line (single gauge for that matter) but nothing came. This has stopped the rail line to Aba and caused breach of trading line between Port Harcourt and Aba.
The FG can even bring another airport to Port Harcourt.
“We know the kind of person ex-Gov Wike is, he won’t sit there (in the federal executive council) and watch Rivers lose. Rivers State is in the bag of states that delivered President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and we shall be making demands because we helped to cook the soup. Give us infrastructural facilities.”
Another point, he noted, is the speed at which false information is becoming brazen. “Last week they said Wike insulted President Tinubu or shouted at him for his name not being in the list of upcoming ministers. As far as right-thinking persons in Nigeria are concerned, it was a media stunt to stop Wike by those who wanted to reap where they did not sow. There was no truth in it.
The first thing to discredit it, according to him, is the fact that the source is not a credible one. He said such sources do not deserve attention, and that the man is known to be an ally of a chieftain in the PDP that may not wish Wike well.
“The second thing to consider is that the source does not work with the State House, or the Directorate of the State Security (DSS), so how would he have heard when Wike raised voice against.
“Besides, it is not an Ikwerre disposition to insult an elder in his face. Such media outlets should be sanctioned for fake news. These are the same outfits that published that then President Mohammadu Buhari was dead and cloned. How come it was these kinds of papers that got this story and not credible newspapers that have correspondents everywhere. It was only fringe publications and foreign-based sources that carried it. It failed woefully by what has happened.”
Now, that Wike has made the list, the world would sit and watch what happens next in Rivers APC and in the PDP. Okocha had called on Wike to decamp to the APC and take over as leader of the party in the state.