Home Nigeria “Beautiful Bride” Wike’s London Junket By Okey Ndibe

“Beautiful Bride” Wike’s London Junket By Okey Ndibe

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Finally, Atiku meets Wike in London, says Rivers gov working for PDP –  NewstrendsNigerians should be disturbed that last week’s top political news about their country took place, not on Nigerian soil, but in London. That news had to do with a series of meetings featuring some of Nigeria’s notable political figures.

Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State appeared to be the orchestrator of those meetings. His protestations to the contrary notwithstanding, I rather suspect that he also intended to place himself – and his personal political interests – at the center of those events.

In London, Wike met with – among others – former President Olusegun Obasanjo, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, former Governor Peter Obi of Anambra, former Governor Ahmed Bola Tinubu of Lagos, and Governors Samuel Ortom, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Kayode Fayemi, Okezie Ikpeazu, and Seyi Makinde of Benue, Lagos, Ekiti, Abia and Oyo respectively.

The line-up was instructive, in ways I intend to pinpoint presently. For now, let’s listen to how Wike and one other participant framed the purpose of the junket.

“Whatever we are talking about is for the interest of Nigeria and Nigerians,” declared the governor of Rivers State. He continued: “It is not parochial and tied to one person or group of persons. We believe that with what is going on it will be for the interest of Nigerians at the end of the day. Consultation is still ongoing.”

Speaking in an enraged critic’s lacerating tone, Wike added: “We are in a country where someone with a primary school certificate can be appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs. That tells you how bad this country has become. But with our consultation, all these will be things of the past. No amount of intimidation or blackmail will deter us. We are determined to make things right.”

Nor was the governor done. He delivered an unsparing critique of his political cohort, accusing them of elevating ethnic and religious sentiments above competence. “The only identity they have in this country is religion and ethnicity, nothing more. It’s either I’m a Christian or I’m a Muslim. I’m a Fulani or I’m an Igbo. Nigeria cannot move forward except they think it will be them. That is where we are,” he lambasted.

Governor Ortom echoed Wike’s tone. The London consultations, he asserted, were “beyond partisan politics.” Instead, he said, “We’re looking at how we can come together and find a way of ensuring that Nigeria survives.” Then his rhetoric took on a graver accent: “Nigeria is on drip; Nigeria is on oxygen.”

As analyses go, Wike’s and Ortom’s are on target. Nigeria is as imperiled as they stated. If anything, the country is in even direr state than their portrayal suggested.

Yet, did these men – remark, there wasn’t a single woman reported present at the London talks – realize that they, individually and collectively, authored and own the disaster that’s Nigeria? Did it occur to them that the tragedy that’s Nigeria is a sum of their greed and mediocrity, their absence of vision and imagination as leaders?

It would be easy, for example, to turn Wike’s words against him. Talking about elevating religious sentiments in the country, surely he has not forgotten the fuss with which he declared Rivers a Christian state? Then there’s the subject of ethnic jingoism. Was he not the governor who justified the military’s massacre and brutalization of suspected Biafran agitators in his state on account of the suspects being Igbo?

How about Obasanjo? As the inaugural president in Nigeria’s fourth attempt at democratic governance, he set an imperial, anti-democratic tone. He belittled the judiciary, ignoring verdicts that went against his government. He emasculated the legislature, treating it as a subservient and sometimes inconvenient sub-set of the executive branch. He empowered some reprehensible characters – among them ostensible political godfathers – to break laws and get away with it. He encouraged the idea that elections were “do-or-die” affairs. That posture implied a willingness to subvert the will of the electorate if some favored candidate faced defeat. He squandered close to $20 billion of Nigeria’s revenue on a fraudulent pledge to provide Nigerians with “regular, uninterrupted power supply.” In short, he placed himself outside and above the constitution. The culmination was his scheme to flush the document down the toilet in order to reign as president for life.

Despite his manifold crimes against Nigerians, Obasanjo, in a supreme act of hubris, crowned himself father of modern Nigeria. His appearance at the London talks was in character. Since 1999, he’s owned the patent on how to wreck Nigeria from within Aso Rock. But he’s also been anxious, if not desperate, to project himself as Nigeria’s Prophet Jeremiah, as the country’s social conscience.

It smacks of a colonized mentality that Obasanjo, Wike and company chose London as the venue of their meetings. Why not Port Harcourt? Why not Obasanjo’s Ota Farm? Why not any of the cities and towns in Nigeria? And why would Nigerians be inspired by a gathering in London of some of the men who’ve worked the hardest to ruin their country?

In the end, the whole jamboree strikes me as less about Nigeria than about the participants’ personal interests. Obasanjo patented the code that each of his successors has used to undermine Nigeria. Haunted, perhaps, by that dubious legacy, he has missed no opportunity to position himself as a solicitor for Nigeria’s development – a fervent advocate of positive change.

Three months ago, Wike was at the PDP convention fishing for support to become the party’s presidential candidate. He doled out dollars to party delegates as if the currency were going out of style. In the end, Atiku out-dueled him in the game of buy-a-delegate. Wike, who had pooh-poohed the idea of eyeing the ticket’s Vice Presidential slot, suddenly felt slighted when Atiku chose Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State as his running mate.

Atiku has poor odds of winning the presidency without Wike’s energy and cash. The governor finds himself in a position that Nnamdi Azikiwe memorably described as being “the beautiful bride.” And Wike is making the best of his circumstances. He presents himself to be wooed and courted by Tinubu and Obi. In flirting with these two presidential campaigns, he’s making his main suitor, Atiku, sweat it out. He’s playing a fascinating game. He’s skilled at it, and it can make for riveting drama. But he’s far from persuasive when he tries to sell his gimmicks as a patriot’s noble effort to save a country he and his ilk have brought to the brink of doom.

To follow Prof. Okey Ndibe on his powerful weekly exposés and other interesting political and entertainment news from Nigeria, click HERE to subscribe to the Life and Times newsletter…

 

Okechukwu Ndibe, better known as Okey Ndibe, (born 1960) an acclaimed Nigerian novelist, political columnist and essayist  was born in Yola, Nigeria. He is the author of Arrows of Rain and Foreign Gods, Inc.

Ndibe has worked as a professor at several colleges, including Connecticut CollegeBard College at Simon’s Rock, Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, and Brown University.

We are honored that he brings his sharp intellectual depth and years of political activism to write for Life and Times.

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