July 17, 2021

Wike’s Godfatherism Project Is Falling Apart

By Dr. Ugoji Egbujo

Wike is fond of himself. Well, narcissism is common amongst great politicians. He likes to masquerade as a freedom fighter. Yet, he adores the image of a benevolent strongman with an iron fist. When he sings…melembe… melembe…, he prides himself on being a cunning fox. An avowed champion of the rule of law with a nearly inexplicable mastery of the use of courts    

A few days ago, he was on television lamenting the PDP chairman’s poor leadership qualities. Acting the role of a seasoned statesman, Wike wept in front of cameras and wondered why his chairman was bereft of leadership qualities. A newcomer to Nigerian politics would have mistaken Wike for an overaged Endsars activist.

But that was Gov Wike, who likes to call himself Mr project, ‘workaholically’ denouncing his protege. Perhaps Wike no longer remembers Secondus was his project. Secondus had been erected overnight, a pillar in the grand edifice of godfatherism Wike had conceived in 2015.

After Ali Sherrif and his shenanigans, Wike swore he would no longer take risks. He would close his eyes and ears to nepotism and grumbles of free riders and build the foundation of his national godfatherism project on the sure home soil. So he went home and dusted up Secondus.

In choosing Secondus, Wike couldn’t have pretended to be looking for leadership qualities. So he said he was looking for loyalty because he had burnt his fingers looking for leadership qualities. Chief Secondus, who had seemed to have limited ambitions, had looked like a symbol of faithfulness. The choice of Secondus over Dokpesi threw up dust and some cursed godfatherism for prioritizing houseboy qualities over leadership qualities. 

In times past, Nyesom Wike used to be mad about people throwing River’s state money at national politics. But not anymore. Perhaps, he isn’t using Rivers money. He could say he was a billionaire lawyer before he entered politics as a local government chairman. Some other politicians have made such claims and got away with them.

It is true Wike appears on television more than all other governors put together. But he could say others are cowards. So it could mean he isn’t playing national politics with Rivers money. He could say he is doing nation-building. That’s another project right there. He loves projects. 

But let’s go back to Project Secondus. 

Many think Wike chose Secondus because the man seemed to possess the requisite to be eternally loyal to a master. But whatever it was, we watched in broad daylight as Wike commandeered the PDP machinery and handed the keys to his kinsman. Then, fuming with the righteous anger of a piper’s payer once denied dictation of the tunes, Wike called the shot. Onlookers said Wike had put a national party in his handbag. That was before the Port Harcourt presidential primaries accident happened in 2018, and Wike left the stadium baffled, disoriented, feeling jilted. But he has since recovered from that quake and seemed to.

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But listening to Wike mouthing leadership qualities and bad-mouthing Secondus, one feels compelled to intervene. First, to remind Wike how Secondus happened. Second, to lay bare the state of his godfatherism project. Because he now blames Secondus for the slow death of the PDP.  Shedding tears and mourning Secondus’ abject lack of leadership qualities is politically smart, but it’s only a tidy piece of hypocrisy.

If Wike had leadership qualities himself, he wouldn’t have chosen Secondus in whom he had only sought blind loyalty. The truth is, Secondus wasn’t that docile after all. He was undoubtedly more self-aware than Wike had estimated. So Wike’s Godfatherism project is in jeopardy. 

Here is the picture. Wike had perhaps looked for handbag qualities and found them in intelligent Secondus. A Dubai based political contractor came around and upgraded the handbag into a portmanteau and changed its lock code. The particulars of the PDP which Wike left in his erstwhile handbag are now in a portmanteau whose code he doesn’t know because it has since been unscrambled and reconfigured in Dubai. Wike looks stranded

You  gerrit  it now?

And Secondus is not to blame. How could anyone have resisted such a Dubai re-configuration? Wike should reserve his leadership lessons for himself. He should have accused Secondus of disloyalty or flirtatiousness. But even on that score, Secondus is not to blame. Turaki has a Midas touch, who can resist him? But at least that would have enabled Wike to go on Tv to preach against treachery rather than leadership quality. 

A few governors have left the PDP because of Wike. More might leave. So rather than run helter-skelter with his tongue talking about leadership qualities, Gov Wike should find a political workshop where he can go and learn the bolts and nuts of godfatherism. I say this because Wike isn’t given to self-effacement and won’t retire quietly. And I don’t wish him the mistreatment Fayose has received from the political neophyte in Ibadan. 

Somebody must have Wike to build bridges if he had any ambitions of plying outside the local league in Rivers. So he started building flyovers. Littering a town with no transport system/ plan with flyovers might help fetch a few votes, but building a lasting political structure/legacy would require the identification and empowerment of brilliant young persons.

If Wike looks around him today, he will find a Fashola or an Osibanjo. Aregbesola was the commissioner of works in Lagos. If Rivers has a commissioner for works today, nobody knows. A Godfather is not a saint. But he must have a vision. And one or two principles.

I like Wike. I wouldn’t like to see him without his ego after 2023. 

Vanguard News Nigeria