Viewed from psychological perspective, the gusto of these Governors, especially Nyeson Wike, are no flashes in the pan. Nigerians should watch them closely as carriers of hope and new faces of democracy, who are gunners of delivery of democracy dividends
Pedigree is the word. Psychologists, no matter their theoretical orientations and leanings, do not expect any radical departure in behaviour in adult life. This is not to say that behaviour modification cannot work with adults but to underscore the difficulty encountered in change, which increases with age. This has lead most psychologists to conclude that past behaviour is the best predictor of future behaviour.
The actions of some of the new Governors within the first week in office clearly show where they are headed. Those of them who are pretty determined to make their administration sublime so that they could leave great footprints in the first 4 years in office, showed class and proficient preparations.
Others who are bound to be so-so Governors are still trying to find their bearings. Like a chicken in a new environment, such Governors are still scanning their various political landscapes and therefore bound to take some valuable time before really taking off and gaining traction. This sharp contrast brings to the fore the great need to give the people with the genuine desire to serve the chance to live out their inspired quests.
The he-goat that is goaded is not known to mate, as the one that sets out on its own to find such pleasure. Come to think of it, Nyeson Ezenwoo Wike (NEW) has been a veteran politician of many years and many political battles.
The astute politician, legal luminary and administrator had long nursed the ambition to govern Rivers State. Knowing that leadership is service, he joined forces with the erstwhile Governor of Rivers State Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi even when the former fell out of favour with the PDP hierarchy as he was denied the PDP governorship ticket even after winning the Party’s primaries in 2007.
When President Olusegun Obasanjo (as he then was) informed the PDP adherents that Amaechi’s ticket has ‘k-leg’, the man who stood behind Amaechi reassuringly and resolutely was Nyesom Wike. Soon after the election, which saw the emergence of Celestine Omehia, who incidentally was Amaechi’s first cousin, Amaechi was forced into exile after going to court to contest his substitution as prompted by Wike and Dr. Peter Odili, Amaechi’s benefactor and predecessor.
Nyeson Wike did not only encourage Amaechi to go to court but stood in for him throughout the historic trial since Amaechi, for personal security, could not stay back in Nigeria or in Rivers to process his case and had to relocate to Ghana on self-exile. Wike followed the case to the Supreme Court until Amaechi’s substitution was voided by the apex court.
The Supreme Court, in that landmark judgment, averred that Amaechi was never really substituted and was indeed the one with whom the PDP went to that election. Omehia was asked to vacate the Governorship of Rivers State for Chibuike Amaechi, courtesy of the efforts of those who stood for him, most notably Wike. Wike became Minister of State (Education) and later oversaw the entire ministry when Professor Rukyyat Rufai, then substantive Minister of Education, was removed.
As Minister of Education Wike recovered the Unity Schools and started the journey of reversing the falling standard of education. During this period, his relationship with Amaechi became frosty for his belief that Amaechi’s open antagonism of then President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan was ungainly.
Apart from the inherent and celebrated rascality through which the man he accused went about it, Wike also believed it jeopardized the chances of President Jonathan retaining his position for the second term, which Wike believed was necessary to consolidate and extend whatever the gains accruing to the South South Region from the Jonathan Presidency, since nobody could predict when the said Region could get the chance to lead Nigeria again.
As it turned out, Amaechi did not relent and the eventual loss of Dr. Jonathan was clearly traceable to the so-called new PDP, which Amaechi lead out of the PDP. Wike’s victory as the new Rivers State Governor was as a combination of many factors. One was his popularity in the State as the symbol of a worthy opposition to the former Governor’s divisive politics.
Another was protests of those, who believed the former Governor went too far and another was the belief by most Rivers people that they needed a strong man like Wike to recover the years of the locusts in Rivers State. Before the coming of Wike, the last one year or so in Rivers State had been really bad. Both the Judiciary and Legislature had been shut down completely as arms of Government. The State Chief Judge’s tenure had expired and the one approved as replacement by the NJC as allowed by law, was not acceptable to the then Governor.
The ensuing disagreement and subsequent stagnation led to strikes and the shutting down of all courts. Judiciary workers and lawyers and their dependents suffered incalculably in the last one year, to say nothing of the cases pending in those courts and the collateral damages done to the reliefs sought by the litigants. The Chief Judge of Bayelsa State had to be drafted to Rivers to swear-in the new Governor on May 29.
The State Legislative Assembly became a shadow of itself, since the shameful fight between the two factions, where the mace (the legislative symbol of authority) was used as a club and landed many of the members in hospital. Apart from the kangaroo passing of Appropriation Bills ignobly outside the Legislative Chambers, the Rivers State Assembly passed no other Bills, thus effectively; the Legislators did not work for which they were elected since the crisis. Wike understood where to start. He promptly within hours of taking over as Governor also swore-in Justice Okocha, as the acting judge of Rivers State, and another as the President of Customary Court of Appeal.
With the two top Judiciary Officers taking their seats, the State Judiciary is back on track, and set to redeem itself as charged by the new Governor. Nyeson Wike is focusing on education, infrastructure, health and general development. As a practical man whom development and astute management are his fortes, Rivers State is without a doubt, in for new lease of life. They deserve it after many months of needless tumults.
Another State that has taken off with a bang is Abia State, where the former lecturer and former chairman, Obingwa Local Government Area, has taken over as Governor, replacing T.A. Orji who has gone to the Senate. From time immemorial, Aba and Onitsha have been the two cornerstones that have made South East a commercial hub. Aba particularly has rotted and successive Governments of Abia State have done nothing to recover the place, until the coming of Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu. Ikpeazu, hours after swearing in, headed straight to Aba for a flag off of its road projects. Aba is called the refuse capital.
Yet, the refuse can become wealth, such as fertilizers through conversion. The new helmsman is also looking in that direction. If Ikpeazu succeeds in revamping Aba and giving it a facelift, then, Abia State and indeed South East/Nigeria shall reap bountifully from it. Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, former Abuja Minister and now the Kaduna State Governor, is yet another ‘new kid in the block’, going by his antecedents.
As said, viewed from psychological perspective, the gusto of these Governors, especially Nyeson Wike, are no flashes in the pan. Nigerians should watch them closely as carriers of hope and new faces of democracy, who are gunners of delivery of democracy dividends. Other Governors should emulate them. The blacksmith who does not know how to make metal gong should simply look at the tail of the kite.
• Law Mefor is an Abuja-based Forensic Psychologist, Media Strategist and Author; email: lawmefor@ gmail.com; Tel.: +234-803-787-2893