Why I Like Governor Nyesom Wike

Before I delve into the reasons why I believe Nigeria needs more leaders like Nyesom Wike, let me quickly reveal the things I don’t like about him.


In the last eight years he’s been governor of Rivers, Wike has shown, in my opinion, that democracy and the rule of law are shackles a leader must break to realize his vision (or lack of it). His brook-no-opposition leadership style portrays him more as a dictator than a democrat. Add to this his abrasive impulsiveness and you’re looking at a man who could poison a sea to catch a fish! These are certainly not enduring leadership qualities, and they are largely the reasons the Peoples Democratic Party failed to elect him its presidential candidate at the primary in Abuja on May 28, 2022.

Many, including those who love him like this writer, see him as too impulsive, unpredictable, and intolerant of opposition. In a democracy, a leader with such qualities is a dangerous proposition.

But while Wike will not be my first choice for a leader, he will be first in my choice of friends, business partners, or political allies. In the countdown to the 2023 general elections, I followed Wike’s offensive against the leadership of the PDP and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar. That was when I started respecting the man.

I started to see him as a different specie of politician. You may not like what he said, or how he said them, but you knew he spoke from the heart. You may say some of his expectations were naive, but you had no doubt he felt betrayed by friends. Everything he said and every allegation he made was never contradicted.

Wike demonstrated he’s a principled man who will not deliberately betray a friend or mentor or people who repose trust in him. Beyond his political ambition, this is what his fight with Atiku Abubakar is all about. Not many people or politicians have that quality.


Wike, who led the troops to ensure Atiku emerged the presidential candidate of the PDP for the 2019 election, expected the former vice president to reciprocate by supporting him or anyone from the South to emerge as presidential candidate of the party for the 2023 election. But Atiku broke the party’s tradition of rotation by insisting he must run for the 2023 presidential election.

Wike went all out to attack and oppose Atiku afterward, insisting that “agreement is agreement,” adding for effect that there’s no integrity in a man who doesn’t respect agreements. He did everything to damage Atiku’s chances in the southern part of the country, including leading the G-5 governors to withdraw support for the PDP candidate. The abysmal performance of Atiku in the southern part of the country during the February 25 presidential election is largely due to the Wike effect.

Wike never forgets favours done to him and appear to value honesty among friends and partners. He believes, rightly or wrongly, that those he regarded as his friends in the PDP—people like Aminu Tambuwal, Bukola Saraki and Uche Secondus among others– were not honest with him. He found out when it was too late.

Tambuwal stabbed him in the spine during the PDP presidential primary when he stepped down for his kinsman Atiku instead of Wike-his supposed political ally. His last-minute withdrawal for Atiku ensured the former VP defeated Wike to pick the presidential ticket of the PDP. The brotherly relationship that hitherto existed between Tambuwal and Wike had since been replaced with animosity.

The alleged betrayal turned Wike into a wounded lion, ready to devour anything or anyone associated with the objects of his anger. Those at the receiving end of his fury will have no palatable story to tell. But Wike doesn’t care about casualties, he only cares about winning the war. And he won the war for those he has come to appreciate as his true friends.


I saw an impressive side of Wike during the commissioning of the projects of his administration which began last year. He invited some members of his party and those of the opposition parties, including the ruling All Progressive Congress. Like many other people, I had thought Wike invited leaders of the ruling APC just to spite those of his own party. But I was wrong. Wike had other reasons for doing what he did.

His action was to reciprocate the good gestures he had received from others who may not be in the same party as him and to remind his political adversaries that true friendship must be rewarded. When he invited House Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila to commission the Legislatures’ Quarters in November last year, he told the world how Gbajabiamila used his office to facilitate payment of money owed Rivers State which made it possible for him to construct the quarters. He also revealed how the speaker called him to nominate persons from Rivers for Federal Government appointments.

Thus, inviting the Speaker to commission the quarters whose construction he helped facilitate was a way to show appreciation and pass the message that the one who loves you is the one who makes sacrifices for you! Not the one just mouthing his love. The wisdom in this cannot be faulted. Wike also had something unique to say about all the guests he invited to commission projects in his state.

Wike portrayed himself as a true loyalist and dependable friend during a welcome reception for the President-elect Bola Tinubu in Port Harcourt on Wednesday, May 3 when he surprised Peter Odili, a former governor of the state, by publicly acknowledging his role in his own political ascendancy.

In a rare show of humility, Wike told the crowd of distinguished Nigerians, including Tinubu, that Odili was responsible for his rise to political prominence and successes. To acknowledge a benefactor in public and on a global television network is an admirable leadership quality in a clime where Godfatherism has been demonized. Odili, who also appeared humbled by Wike’s adoration, got the applause of the eminent personalities at the event.

At the same event, I watched Wike call some former and current governors from other parts of the country by their first names. That is an obvious sign of friendship. Wike wanted to be a leader of Nigeria and appeared to have deliberately cultivated friendships across the country. He has known Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo, Tiv etc friends with whom he is on first-name terms.


Some of these friends let him down, but he didn’t play ethnic politics. He knew the difference between tribe and a tribalist. He knows that betrayal is a universal phenomenon that is present in all races. That was why he opposed Atiku without opposing the North or the Fulani people. That was the statement when he invited former Sokoto Senator, Aliyu Wamakko, to commission projects in Rivers State instead of his former friend and Governor of Sokoto, Aminu Tambuwal!

When I think of Wike, I see him as the Nigerian version of Donald Trump. A man with rough edges, but who speaks from the heart.

– Tajudeen is an Abuja-based journalist.

Disclaimer: This article is entirely the opinion of the writer and does not represent the views of The Whistler.


Leave a comment