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Nyesom Wike As A Bat

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Pius Mordi

This is not about the mythical American hero, Batman, created and made popular in Hollywood. He is packaged as an all-action defender of the society and rule of law. It is not about the latter day disciples of the hitherto ‘National Leader’ of the then opposition party who are labled BAT men from the first letters of the full name of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu. In Africa, bats are seen as unique creatures among wildlife specimens. While some people see them as birds, others know that they are of a higher class, and interestingly, belongs to the same class as humans — Mammals. They get pregnant and give birth to their young ones alive and also breastfeed same.

In politics, especially the Nigerian genre, the political actors routinely oscillate between being a bird that flies today and a mammal the next day. From rabidly vilifying one party as a cult run by evil men today, they will jump to the same party the next day extolling the same party as the path to true development.

The common denominator among politicians is that at a any point in time, where they pitch their tent is defined and undisguised.

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That is where Nyesom Wike, former governor of Rivers State and President Tinubu’s Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, is manifestly different. He got elected and reelected Governor on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). In his second and final term, he chose and groomed his successor, but walked a different path in the presidential election. He was a principal participant in the process of the emergence of Atiku Abubakar as the party’s presidential flag bearer as a contestant. But despite pledging to stand by the outcome, he reneged and decided to fight the party and its candidate. Somehow, he got his choice of successor elected and worked for the failure of PDP’s presidential candidate not just in Rivers, but in as many states as he wielded a measure of influence.

True to the unique attributes of bats, Wike got appointed a minister with the prime FCT portfolio and openly became an unrelenting advocate of President Tinubu. Strangely, within mere months in office, he fell out with his anointed successor, Simi Fubara, and prompted members of the State House of Assembly all of whom he single-handedly chose and got elected to begin impeachment proceedings against the governor.

While still fighting to retain control of PDP in his state, Wike seemed to have also taken over control of the All Progressives Congress (APC) machinery in Rivers State. In a weird twist of events, politicians opposed to his audacious manoeuvring cut across both major parties.

In doing this, he dared his party to expel him. In fact, people had been disciplined by the party for far less contentious actions. He has not joined APC and is unlikely to do so while his official party is unwilling to move against him. Even in Fubara’s many legal battles to clip the wings of pro-Wike legislators who are still in bullish mode to impeach him, the embattled governor has not enjoyed the express support of PDP at national level. It could be argued that the party hierarchy is cautious not go create a window for Wike and his lawmakers in Port Harcourt to claim that there is division in the party in the legal venture to declare the seats of the renegade 27 pro-Wike lawmakers vacant.

Unfortunately, the action of the group of 27 after what seemed a legal reprieve following the Appeal Court judgment has closed the window for the national leadership of PDP to assert itself. By immediately giving Fubara a seven-day ultimatum to accede to their combative stance, they are proving to have imbibed the attitude of the mother bat that suckled them.

In his eight years as governor of Rivers State, Wike acquired the reputation of one that performed relatively well, especially in the construction of roads and other infrastructural projects.

If his performance as governor is impressive, his politics is appalling. He is an unrepentant bully, a man that brooks no contrary opinions and one that fights for only his interests. Scruples is not a common virtue among Nigerian politicians. But there are limits to unbridled selfishness. Wike may be emboldened by the vulnerability of the judiciary to political pressure and the fact that he currently enjoys a warm relationship with Aso Rock.

The presidency and its numero uno are wily and ruthless. They have played aloof while Wike’s mindless effort to destabilise and unseat Fubara might ignite an inferno Aso Rock may not tolerate. At that point, the survival of the administration and stability of government will count more than whatever benefits Wike may have traded for his leverage in the APC government. He had better watch it.


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