Gov. Nyesom Wike – ‘Defender of Democracy’ in battle for the Villa
If the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is looking for a Presidential candidate capable of challenging opponents’ word for word, action for action, guts for guts and Naira for Naira, then Mr. Nyesom Wike would be one of their best bet. In the last few years, the Rivers State Governor has proven to be the ruthless political Wrestlemaniac and defender-in-chief of the interests of PDP. He shoots straight with any available weapon – words, money, law courts – at any body or object that threatens the party anywhere in the country.
When PDP was tottering on the verge of crisis under the National Chairmanship of Uche Secondus, Wike stepped in. Secondus was flushed out through the law courts and the party was stabilized. Wike has cut the image of a restless leader, always on the road, rallying fellow Governors to resolve crises and unite the party. He has been instrumental to the resolution of multiple leadership tussles at the national and state levels of the party since he became Governor in 2015, the same year the party descended into opposition. As one analyst put it, “Gov. Wike literally fought for the soul of PDP and what we enjoy today as a party. ..Wike has remained instrumental to PDP’s relevance as a valid Opposition in the country. He has gone out of his way numerous times to raise his voice against unpopular decisions of the Federal Government, even on issues that affect other state governments. This action of his earned him the ‘Defender of Democracy’ title.”
Now the PDP and democracy defender is seeking the flag of his party to run for Nigeria’s Presidency. “To remove APC from power, I’m the person who can tell them enough is enough. We must take this power and I’m ready to take it for PDP,” he told Benue State stakeholders in Makurdi recently when he officially declared his presidential ambition.
Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike was born on December 13, 1963, at Rumuepirikom, Obio-Akpor, Rivers State. He attended Government Secondary School Eneka in Obiakpor, Rivers State, where he sat for his O’level exams. From there, he proceeded to the Rivers State University of Science and Technology (RSUT), where he obtained a degree in Law. He attended Nigeria Law School and completed his studies in 1997. Governor Wike also holds a Masters degree in Political and Administrative Studies from the same university.
Wike is a wealthy man. He reportedly has an estimated net worth of a staggering $550 million and is believed to be the second richest Governor in Nigeria. He is married to a beautiful wife, Eberechi, and the marriage is blessed with three children: Jordan, Joaquin, and Jazmyne.
After graduation, Wike briefly went into private legal practice before venturing into politics. He was elected as the Executive Chairman of Obio/Akpor Local Government Area for two terms, from 1999 to 2007. He distinguished himself as one of the best performing chairpersons of the council. While serving as Local Government Chairman, Wike was elected Deputy President, Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) in 2004 and was later elected the President of ALGON. He was also an African representative in the Commonwealth Local Governments Forum.
At the end of his tenure as Local Government Chairman, he got appointed as the Chief of staff to Governor Chibuike Amaechi. He was also appointed General Manager of the campaign team during Governor Amaechi’s re-election campaign. On July 14, 2011, he was appointed Minister of State for Education, and later as Acting Minister of Education. However, he resigned voluntarily to vie for Governorship of Rivers State on the PDP ticket. On December 8, 2014, he won the Rivers State PDP Governorship primaries and subsequently won the general elections in April the following year. On April 3, 2019, he was re-elected as the Governor of Rivers State in the 2019 general elections.
Wike contributed significantly to the development of various government systems. During his tenure as the Minister of State for Education, he made a remarkable impact in the sub-sector of basic education. He spearheaded a nationwide reform of the nation’s education system. Some of the notable programmes he championed were: enabling access to quality education for about nine million Almajiri children in Northern Nigeria; He pushed the programme through by constructing dedicated schools in affected states; construction of basic education vocational training schools for out-of-school children in Southern Nigeria; construction of Special Girl-Education Schools for less privileged girls in 16 states of the country. He championed the free distribution of books across the nation, and between 2011 and end of his tenure as education minister, over 60 million textbooks and library resource materials were distributed. In acknowledgement of his dedicated efforts to improve the quality of life of his people in Nigeria, he was conferred with two awards. They include: The Nigeria National award of the Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) and The Sun Newspapers’ Governor of the Year Award 2017.
To date, Wike has served at the three tiers of Government at different times. At the Local Government level, he was the Executive Chairman. He was a minister at the Federal level and is now the Chief Executive of Rivers State, one of the four richest states in Nigeria. These are positions that have exposed many occupants to temptation and corruption. Yet, in the more than a decade in these offices, Wike has not been indicted for corruption. This is in spite of the fact that he frequently exposes himself to attacks by stepping on toes in the course of defending his people, state and party.
The awards of the Nigeria National award of the Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) and The Sun Newspapers’ Governor of the Year Award 2017 are also attest to Wike’s credibility and integrity.
Although Wike began his political career from the grassroots as Local Government Council Chairman, he has since assumed the status of a national figure since becoming a federal minister. The educational programmes of the Federal Government which he executed nationwide exposed him politically to all parts of the country, an exposure that would come in handy in pursuing his Presidential ambition. But, perhaps, his greatest asset is the network of party members and leaders across the country, especially PDP Governors, that he has had to work with in the course of building and sustaining the party since it lost power at the federal level in 2015.
From the foregoing, it is clear that Governor Wike is one of the front runners in Nigeria’s 2023 presidential race. He has, therefore, made the list of The Top10 Magazine’s top 10 most electable presidential hopefuls for 2023.