THISDAY

WIKE AND HIS LEADERSHIP STYLE

Wike is working, but he can do more, writes

- Chimezie Elemuo Elemuo is a Port Harcourt-based legal practition­er

Rivers State is agog these days. The governor is either flagging off one project or commission­ing another. There is no doubt that Port Harcourt is a one big constructi­on site. Governor Wike is now commission­ing projects day and night and he is beating his chest over this. Indeed, Governor Wike is a good student of Machiavell­ian tactics of sustaining one’s hold on power. The governor uses either the flagging off or commission­ing of these projects to take a swipe at his political foes. First and foremost, governance is service to the people. The people deserve no less than good governance and basic things of life. If there is any political leader who provides these to the people, he should not see it as doing a favour to his people, rather he should see it as giving the people what they deserve as of right. When you build good roads, solid bridges, hospitals, factories and educationa­l institutio­ns, these are what the people deserve as their right.You don’t need to make a fanfare of them. After all, you did not provide them with your personal money.

Rivers people (as the gimmick goes) deserve more! This is Wike’s second tenure in office and some have rightly observed that he is still working tirelessly as if he is a first term governor. That is the problem with Nigeria and Nigerians. Nigerians are very naïve and not conscious of their rights as citizens and how to demand same from their political leaders. So are we saying that it is only when a governor is seeking re-election for second tenure in office that he should work hard for the people? Generally, that is how it is in this clime. But it should not be so. Governance is about the people. For me, Wike should work harder! The only problem I have is that his words these days are not majestic. At the commission­ing of the internal roads at the old GRA, he took a serious swipe at Dakuku Peterside, former DG of NIMASA. He said so many unprintabl­e things about Peterside on television. Wike came out smoking, spitting fire on those he would better described as detractors. But I see that Wike does not brook criticisms. But then criticisms are a necessary check on leaders and governance.

Indeed, the governor is a good student of the Machiavell­ian tactics. Machiavell­i taught his students that to keep your hold on power you must use very important tools to achieve this. These tools include gifts, blackmail, unusual benevolenc­e and brute force. Governor Wike uses these tools appropriat­ely at every given time. We have seen Wike invite some leaders of the APC to commission projects in Rivers State. At these occasions, he would challenge other governors of the APC to show their own projects in their states. All these just to blackmail the APC in Rivers State. When the federal government indicated its intention to refund about N78 billion to the Rivers State government, Wike welcomed that and even alluded that he would use the fund very well and will invite President Muhammadu Buhari to commission projects built with the fund. Only recently, Wike told Rivers people that he only got N52 billion out of the entire sum. Why did it take him so long before revealing this? Governance is about openness. Government should be open to the people. When you use threats and gifts to cow the people, that is not a mark of an inclusive government. I heard Wike said that he is the one to decide where his projects shall be located. He said this in response to criticisms of putting up the law school at Rumueme, a town within the city of Port Harcourt.

I was one of the people who thought the government would try to decongest Port Harcourt by building the law school in a town outside Port Harcourt. But the governor says that the people of Rumueme community have been his staunch supporters all this while. That they voted for him massively, so why would he not appreciate them by putting up the law school in their community? So it is a case of quid pro quo. I thought that before any project decided upon would be executed, experts opinion would be sought to decide the nature of the project and the best place to site such projects. From what the governor said, I am muffled that this is not so. He said he was the one that was elected and would decide where these projects would be sited.

The implicatio­ns of this is that the projects surely have not passed through profession­al assessment measures which may affect their quality and defeat the avowed urban renewal policy of the government. He decides what happens, after all, he is the governor. This is not to say that Wike has not taken some laudable decisions. My take is that the governor should make his government more open to the people. His response to criticisms should be objective, responsibl­e, and devoid of banality. Above all, he should work harder. Rivers people want more from him. It is not yet time to lower is guard until May 29, 2023! Above all these projects, human capital developmen­t is key.

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