Nyesom Wike, The Ugly Face Of Nigeria’s ‘Democracy’


The Federal Capital Territory Minister, Nyesom Wike, is a cantankerous old fossil – irascible, quarrelsome and testy, no doubt. Whether as a local government chairman, chief of staff, minister or governor, he is bad-tempered, cranky and grouchy; a man not only at war with himself but perpetually with others. Such behaviour is totally unbecoming of a leader.

Leadership demands a healthy dose of humility. But as governor of Rivers State for eight years, Nyesom Wike was at war with everyone, abusing all who dared cross his path. With him, every criticism, no matter how constructive is a definite no-no. His entire worldview is governed by the “us against them” mentality and in pursuit of this cock-eyed philosophy of life, he takes no prisoners, which explains his war of attrition with his successor and anointed political godson, Siminalayi Fubara.

Even as that war rages in his home state with debilitating consequences, Wike, characteristically has opened another battlefront, this time in the FCT against Senator Ireti Kingibe.

Ideally, both the minister and the senator ought to work together for the good of the FCT and the people therein. Not being a state, Abuja has no legislature but the territory is subject to the laws made for it by the National Assembly and administered by the President in accordance with Section 299 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.

But such synergistic relationships based on co-creating outcomes will always be an anathema to Wike, through whom the president administers Abuja in his capacity as the FCT Minister because nobody can be his coequal. And Kingibe, elected by an overwhelming majority of the Abuja electorate on the platform of the Labour Party (LP), desires a minister she could partner with for the good of the FCT and not a boss with an exaggerated opinion of himself.

That is the genesis of the fight. Ireti Kingibe voiced out her frustration in a television interview on Sunday, complaining that Nyesom Wike has sidelined her in running the FCT, even as she proclaimed that they were not friends. The pain was palpable. Yet, she was decent and didn’t descend into the rancid arena of name-calling.

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While acknowledging that Wike has done some commendable jobs in the FCT, she, however, lamented that it has not trickled down to the masses. For instance, she complained that in the 2024 FCT supplementary budget of nearly N100 billion, only N19 billion has to do with the people and her constituents are grumbling. As their elected representative in the National Assembly, it behoves her to pay attention to their complaints.

Anyone who knows Wike’s antecedents will attest to the veracity of Kingibe’s claims. The minister is a brick and mortar business aficionado with zero penchant for human capacity building, which explains why despite the immense resources available to the state under his watch, Rivers reported the third highest rate of unemployment with 43.7 per cent, coming only behind Imo State with 48.7 per cent, and Akwa-Ibom State with 45.2 per cent.  

Expectedly, Wike, a man with such a thin skin, who is not known for taking prisoners, went for the kill.

Speaking at the flag-off of the construction of Mabushi Bus Terminal in Abuja on Monday, he vowed that Kingibe won’t return to the Senate in 2027.

“I overheard somebody on Arise TV this morning. Unfortunately I hear the person is a member of the National Assembly and it is unfortunate I say so. With all due respect, what you don’t know, you don’t know, what you know you know, and the good thing for you is to tell people you don’t when you don’t know, then people will educate you,” he said so condescendingly.

Then, being someone not given to decorousness, he hubristically postured: “The Honourable Minister of State and my humble self have not been in office for more than 11 months and the person is angry that they are praising us. If you don’t want or you are angry about that, go and hug a transformer.”  

But what he said next, which is typical, should give every well-meaning Nigerian and lover of democracy cause to worry.

“I challenge that legislator,” he thundered, “If you are very popular, 2027 come and run under Abuja, we will fail you. Do you think that what happened last time, will happen again? It will not happen again. Luckily for me, I am the FCT Minister now. So that is my territory and I’m not afraid.”

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Of course, what happened last time was that in the 2023 elections, the Abuja electorate, egalitarian, urbane and enlightened, and thoroughly embarrassed by the scandalous records posted by the Muhammadu Buhari-led All Progressives Congress (APC) government rebuked the ruling party by rejecting its candidates, including Tinubu. Ireti Kingibe is a primary beneficiary of that loud rebuke.

In the last one year since that rejection at the polls, things have become direr in Nigeria. Tinubu promised to continue from where Buhari stopped. And what a fantastic job he has done, not only consolidating on the tragic failures of the Buhari administration but redefining, literally, the meaning of cluelessness in governance.

So, the only way what happened in 2023 will not happen again in 2027 is if Wike and his band of election riggers have perfected the devious scheme of writing election results as they did in Rivers State last year.  

Wike did not tell Nigerians who his co-plotters are. But we can hazard a guess. Tragically, this is a government that is barely one year in office in a country where all the indices of human development have gone south and rather than working strategically to pull Nigeria out of the pit of despair, all that bothers them is how to wangle their way back to power in 2027.

And don’t forget, Wike has no vote in Abuja having not transferred his voter registration from Rivers State to the FCT. And it is not likely he will do so because he will also be going back home to ensure that he “fails” his nemesis – Fubara. But even if he transfers his voting location from Obio-Akpor to the FCT, he has only one vote. So, how will that stop Kingibe’s re-election if the people decide otherwise?

Ezenwo Nyesom Wike owes Senator Ireti Kingibe an unreserved apology for his needless outburst. But he will not because truth be told, he represents all that is off beam with our democratic peregrination since 1999. He is the ugliest face of Nigeria’s democracy. He and his ilk have become so entitled that they now take Nigerians for granted.

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As General Colin Powell, the 65th U.S. Secretary of State, once noted, “We have come to live in a society based on insults, on lies and on things that just aren’t true. It creates an environment where deranged people feel empowered.” That is the society that Wike and his unhinged accomplices have foisted on all of us willy-nilly.

But the good thing is that Nigerians now know what they are planning to do in 2027. Definitely, they are not preparing for elections. They want to, once again, snatch it, grab it, and run with it, while asking their hapless victims to go to court. I doubt if anyone will hearken to their advice this time around.

But Nyesom Wike may also be right, in a sense, that what happened the last time will not happen again. The good thing is that he has tipped Nigerians off on what he and his partners in electoral malfeasance plan to do in 2027, which is an encore of the 2023 Rivers election debacle. But he has given Nigerians a three-year notice and as an Igbo proverb says a wise cripple does not die in a predicted war.

Of course, he is banking on the historic docility of Nigerians and their inexplicable, almost surreal pliability and ability to absorb every nonsense thrown at them by those who have captured the Nigerian state. But who says Kenya cannot happen here? Right now social and political tensions have reached breaking point.

Nyesom Wike and his ilk will find out sooner than later that Nigerians, having been pushed to the wall by con artists masquerading as leaders, may well have decided, going forward, to resist the shenanigans that hallmarked the 2023 polls. After all, the only thing they will lose if they do so will be their chains. The 2027 elections which the Emperor of Abuja is boasting about may well be the tipping point.

Ikechukwu Amaechi, Editor-In-Chief of TheNiche, is a member of the Nigerian Guild of Editors.

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