Is Wike an asset or a liability to Tinubu? By Rex Akindele

Politics, they say is a game of interest. No permanent friend, no permanent enemy but permanent interest. But in every sphere of life, there’s morality and a man is best respected by his principles and the values he stand for.

There’s this school of thought that says “if you don’t stand for anything, you fall for everything”. This is the crossroad where the former governor of Rivers State and incumbent Minister of the FCT, Ezenwo Nyesom Wike stands.

Loud, brutish and loquacious with a touch of arrogance, the APC as a political Party was always the butt of his not so funny jokes while he held sway as governor of Rivers State.

Wike rose from the ashes of the crisis that engulfed Rivers State in 2007 after the gubernatorial primaries of the PDP in the State which the then president, Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo described as having a K-leg. The winner of that primaries, Rotimi Amaechi with a natural K-leg was not the preferred candidate of the powers that be and he was unceremoniously substituted with Sir Celestine Omeiha to fly the flag of the Party.

What ensued after was a pre-election legal battle that went all the way to the Supreme Court. After the general elections which Omeiha won and was inaugurated as governor, the heat became unbearable for Amaechi and he escaped to Ghana on a self-imposed exile. It was Barr. Wike, a former Council Chairman of Obior/Akpor Local Government and close ally of Amaechi that stayed behind to coordinate the legal team and supporters of Amaechi until the case was decided by the Apex Court.

In appreciation of the job Wike did while he was away, Gov. Amaechi appointed him as his Chief of Staff during his first term in office. The Chief of Staff in the current system we practice wields a lot of powers and Amaechi, seeing how powerful and ambitious Wike was becoming, decided to cut him to size by not re-appointing him when he won his second term in 2011. Amaechi in one of his interviews, confessed that Wike was getting depressed and when an opportunity came to nominate a Minister from the State, a mutual friend of theirs pleaded with him to consider Wike in order to save him from a mental crisis. That was when Wike was nominated, and appointed by President Goodluck Jonathan as Minister of State for Education in his government.

When Governor Amaechi and President Jonathan fell apart, Wike took advantage of the crisis to build a parallel structure for Jonathan in Rivers and when Amaechi joined forces with 4 other PDP governors to create a faction within the PDP known as the New PDP, which later joined the APC, Wike, a cabinet Minister, took charge of PDP in Rivers State as the leader being the highest political office holder from the State. With the entire Party structure in his kitty and as the right hand man of President Jonathan who was contesting for a second term in office, the Governorship ticket of the PDP was an easy pick for Wike and despite the opposition from the then incumbent and his estranged friend, Rotimi Amaechi, Wike rode on the South-South sentiment and the popularity of President Jonathan in the region to clinch the governorship seat. This was Wike’s journey to limelight.

I have taken time to explain this to let you see that Wike is a crisispreneur and among active politicians in the country today, he has benefited from crisis the most. That’s why he rejoices whenever he sense a crisis anywhere as crisis to him is like the green grass to the green snake. His involvement with the APC during the last general election was as a result of the crisis that engulfed the PDP after their presidential primaries of 2022 in which he was an aspirant.

His role in President Tinubu winning Rivers in 2023 can never be overemphasized but while he presented himself as someone fighting for the interest of Southern Nigeria, he lost what could have been a tremendous goodwill from such act by accepting a ministerial appointment from the president and the Party he had bad-mouthed for 8 years. It means it was all about his personal interest all along, which on its own is not bad if only he can swallow his pride and show some respect for others.

Mr Wike’s brazing use of his vantage position as a cabinet Minister in an opposition government to interfere with the governance of his home State of Rivers without reservation is becoming a moral burden for the Tinubu administration. Crisis of mistrust and disloyalty is common between successive governors and their predecessors in Nigeria since the inception of this democratic dispensation and on all occasions, the sitting governor always have the sympathy of the people.
At present, like Rivers, there’s a cold war in other States between governors and their benefactors, particularly in Benue State where Senator George Akume, a former governor of the State and incumbent Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), and his anointed governor, a Catholic Priest turned politician, Fr. Hyacinth Alia are fighting for supremacy. Senator Akume has maintained a dignified silence and conducted himself in a manner befitting of a high profile government appointee while allowing his men to battle it out with the governor.

In the case of Mr Wike, he talks at every given opportunity in a demeaning language directing his missiles not only to his State governor but also to any elder that dare to associate with the governor. Some of those words are not even good enough to be used on an opponent not to talk of members of the same political Party. His supporters continue to abandon him on daily basis as it seems the communities are now turning against those fighting the governor.

Rivers State is a very delicate State. One of the oil producing States in the country that has the privilege of serving as the operational base of most oil companies in the region. It used to be the hotbed of militant activities until the intervention of late President Umaru Yar’Adua who introduced an amnesty programme to appease aggrieved youths fighting many years of neglect and insensitivity to the plight of their people. Today, anything that threatens the peace of Rivers State is a threat to national security and it’s becoming obvious from the tone of Elders, traditional leaders and stakeholders of the region that the Minister of the FCT is seen more as a threat to peace in the State, a character unbecoming of someone who served as Chief Security Officer of the State for 8 years.

On the political side, Wike is lost between the devil and the deep blue sea. After the 2023 general election where the PDP failed woefully due to some decisions and miscalculations of her presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Wike was supposed to be the rallying point of aggrieved stakeholders and frustrated supporters of the Party. He was being looked upon, along side members of his G-5, to become the new face of the opposition in the country and give the Party new direction until he tumbled from his Olympia height. He had Governor Ortom, the former governor of Benue State who was a torn in the flesh of the Buhari led APC administration with him. But by choosing to serve as minister in an opposition government, he lost the trust of his fellow ‘comrades’ and the first to abandon him was the only remaining governor among them, Seyi Makinde of Oyo State. His appointment as Minister from Rivers, with Mr President not giving extra consideration to the State in order to accommodate someone from the original APC family, threw the APC into confusion. Today, while the national secretariat of the APC dissolved the State Working Committee and installed Wike’s loyalists in a caretaker capacity, Wike remained a PDP member in the day and APC at night thereby allowing both Parties to suffer in the State as he continue to play the double game. Lovers of multi-Party democracy will definitely question President Tinubu’s democratic credentials on the account of this. A virile democracy strives on the foundation of a strong and healthy opposition and the President will do his image in the international community a lot of good if he concentrate on strengthening his Party rather than being seen as destroying the opposition.

Regardless the number of State Assembly members standing with the minister, it’s a near impossibility to impeach the governor as the State will go up in flames. Seen as the first person to emerge as governor of the State from the riverine communities since the return of democracy in 1999, Gov Fubara has played the ethnic card very well to his advantage. He has also succeeded in harvesting all the other former governors who were also at the receiving end of Wike’s arrogance, vindictiveness and winner-takes-all approach to politics.

It has now come to the public that with all the noise from Rivers during his time as governor, Local Government workers were denied the statutory minimum wage of ₦30,000 and for 8 years, their promotion was stagnated.

The national leadership of NULGE had to send a powerful delegation to governor Fubara to commend him for righting the wrongs of the past by implementing minimum wage for local government employees in the State and effecting their backlog of promotions.

If these and more is been done to ingratiate himself to the people, Fubara has succeeded to a great extent as it continue to eat into any godwill left of Mr Wike as his former trusted allies throng the government house in Port Harcourt on daily basis to pay homage to the governor and pledge their allegiance.

If an election were to be conducted in Rivers State today, can Wike still be able to deliver for Mr President? The answer is a big NO and the situation will get worse with time.
It is therefore high time President Tinubu begin to see Wike as a political liability and social disaster by reaching out to other stakeholders and making new friends in Rivers State in order to safeguard his political future in the Niger Delta.

Akindele wrote this piece from Kubwa, FCT and can be reached at

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