By FELIX OGUEJIOFOR ABUGU
Let’s face it: neither Rivers Governor, Nyesom Wike, nor his Ebonyi State counterpart, Dave Umahi, is PDP’s knight in shining armour. Both may, in their different ways, have fought and won to save the PDP from itself. But neither, in my view, has done much or, well, enough, to move the party forward since the battle against Modu sheriff was won with Uche Secondus’ election as Chairman on December 10, 2017. And, because he arguably played a much bigger role in the effort to save PDP from Sheriff’s stranglehold than many other party faithful, including Governor Umahi, Wike, in point of fact, has a greater obligation to ensure that the PDP finally and completely emerges from its shadows stronger and more formidable. Unfortunately, he has not exactly discharged that obligation to the applause of many in the party or elsewhere.
For me, the recent spat between Wike and Umahi over the latter’s defection to APC came as the clearest evidence of PDP’s weakness as currently constituted and run. While every man of integrity and good conscience must take umbrage at Umahi’s discourteous, not to say dishonourable, exit from the PDP on whose platform he’s been in the limelight for 13 years plus now –first as Deputy Governor for eight years and now as Governor of Ebonyi State for five years plus—Wike’s verbal assault that started the ‘firefight’ between the two didn’t also do the PDP any incredible good. If anything, Wike, wittingly or unwittingly, gave credence to Umahi’s accusation that the Rivers State Governor is a dictator running the PDP like his personal fiefdom.
Or, what was Wike’s point in joining battle with Umahi over the latter’s claim that he left the PDP because the party didn’t seem sold on the idea of making an Igbo its presidential flag-bearer come 2023? Was he, as Governor of Rivers State, speaking as PDP’s National Chairman or its National Publicity Secretary? Or merely as its ‘strongman’, as he would probably like to be seen? Or what? Doesn’t the PDP have official machinery for explaining its own actions or inactions or for defending its itself against vilifications by members aggrieved at perceived misdemeanours within the party? How effective, in fact, how functional is the PDP’s NWC? Is the publicity department of the PDP equipped well enough to tame Lai and Company? Those are questions that should agitate Wike’s mind. Or could he have fought to save the party just so he would constantly mount the national stage, as he does now, to harangue his political ‘enemies’ on their diminutiveness, while purporting to be speaking for PDP?
You see, Nyesom Wike’s problem is his impulsiveness, you know, his inability to act without forethought. The man talks before he thinks, enters, with so much infantile bravado and loquacity, practically every political fray he sees, even when it does not concern him, every so often threatening damnation upon his genuine, perceived or imaginary enemies. I guess the man thinks of himself as something of a political demi-god, an irreproachable gift to the PDP.
And, yet, I am not sure that Wike’s style has served the former national ruling party well. The Governor of Rivers may be Mr. Projects in his oil-rich State, but his national political exertions are decidedly reckless. Come to think of it, it took mostly the propaganda—and falsehoods—of Lai Mohammed’s publicity office of the APC to destroy the PDP in 2015. Today, even with APC in a complete mess (PDP in 2015 wasn’t this bad), no thanks to the poor performance of the federal government it controls, PDP is unable to convert the situation to its advantage. Why? Because Wike is in charge and his own marketing—or, if you will, de-marketing—style is to throw those off-putting tantrums he so recklessly throws at opponents.
Is it any surprise, then, that the nation may be fed up with APC but people are not exactly embracing PDP in droves? People still believe the worst about PDP not because of what the party did or did not do but largely because of what the APC said about the party back in the day. But rather than organize the PDP to act as the effective voice of opposition Nigerians need to defend themselves against the misrule—and misdeeds—of the APC-led federal government, Wike uses his time, resources and authority in the PDP to fight supremacy wars within and outside PDP.
As the politics of 2023 gathers momentum, here’s my unsolicited advice to the party that the late Dr. Alex Ekwueme, Second Republic Vice President, and other well-meaning VIPs founded as a national movement in 1998: Let’s see more of Uche Secondus and team and less of impulsive Nyesom Wike.
Of Goodluck Jonathan, Onyebuchi Chukwu and expeditious routing of yellow fever outbreak in Enugu
In 2014, Nigeria under the leadership of former President Goodluck Jonathan received the world’s standing ovation for the efficient and professional way the nation’s experts contained Ebola virus outbreak in the country.
The country’s team of experts and other state actors was led by then Health Minister, Professor Christian Onyebuchi Chukwu, who was the eponymous hero of the anti-Ebola war. Then Governor of Lagos State, which was the epicenter of the virus Governor, Mr. Raji Babatunde Fashola was also a hands-on contributor to the outstanding success of that war.
The recent outbreak of yellow fever in two communities in Enugu State and the efficient containment strategy deployed by Enugu State health authorities, leading to the prompt containment of the epidemic, bore the imprint of the 2014 anti-Ebola triumphant outing of the Jonathan Administration.
As was the case then, the Ugwuanyi Administration in Enugu, at the recent reported outbreak of yellow fever epidemic in Ette-Uno and Umuopu communities in Igbo-Eze North Local Government Area of Enugu State, pulled out all the stops to provide political and material support to the State and Igbo-Eze North Local Government health authorities led by the State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Ikechukwu Emmanuel Obi, to enable them deal with the emergency situation. Needless to say that with such strong, uncompromising Lion Building’s stop-yellow-fever support, the experts in Enugu and in Igbo-Eze North promptly swung into action and brought the disease under control in a matter of days.
Although the disease claimed 50 lives, the prompt containment actions taken by the State’s Rapid Response Teams (RRT) ensured, through vaccination, environmental sanitation and fumigation of the affected communities against daytime mosquito bites, that it did not spread beyond the two affected communities.
According to experts, yellow fever is caused by a virus spread through the bite of infected Aedes aegypti mosquitos, which bite during the day. Some of those infected develop serious symptoms, including high fever, loss of appetite, nausea, muscle pains, headache and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes=yellow fever), while some die from the complications of internal bleeding and organ failure.
The point must, however, be made that the Buhari Administration cannot be said to have woefully failed in its effort to contain the raging Coronavirus pandemic. Certainly not. The duo of NCDC’s Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu and Health Minister Dr. Osagie Ehanire are talented and efficient professionals who have done a good job explaining the ramifications of Covid-19 to Nigerians. But, the difference between Jonathan and Ugwuanyi’s on one hand, and Buhari’s Administration’s handling infectious disease outbreaks in the country on the other, is that whereas Jonathan and Ugwuanyi completely trusted their experts to do the right things in terms of their disease control efforts, Buhari, rather anomalously and probably because of the huge sums involved, which, characteristically, he didn’t trust any other person outside his region to handle, made his Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), a lawyer, leader of the Task Force on Covid-19!
While one may not insinuate that SGF’s headship of the Covid-19 Task Force has anything to do with the corruption, the opaqueness, that has dogged the Covid-19 expenditure, it is necessary also to state that there is a lot wrong with the over-politicisation of matters of state that the Buhari Administration would appear to have brought to bear on governance in the past five years. Tell me, why should Boss Mustapha be the one to explain the presentations of Covid-19 to Nigerians? Why, for instance, should Mustapha, a lawyer, boss Ehenire, health minister and medical scientist, in a matter over which Ehenire has complete professional control? Square peg in round hole, you would say!
Third World is also a mental thing!
If America were Nigeria, there would never have been a Biden win. And if for any suicidal reason any set of electoral officials felt obliged to do the right thing and let the winner win, a thousand and one SANs would have signed up (for the big money, of course) to engage in all manner of legal gymnastics to get the election de-legitimized. No? Well, may be. But I am constantly reminded that those who “successfully” argued before Justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria that a court affidavit is equal to a certificate aren’t exactly the so-called baby lawyers.
But that is not my point here. My point is that American President Donald Trump’s embarrassing attempts to upend the recently conducted democratic election in the United States are the stuff that a third World mentality can conjure up. Meaning that even in a super First World like the United States, there are millions logging about Third World mindsets. The only difference is that, unlike here, the democratic institutions in the United States are strong enough and primed to withstand any disingenuous attempts by people like Trump to undermine a 240-year old system that has served America—and the world—very well.
And what are those institutions? They are the judiciary (see how the courts are throwing away Trumps suits for lack of evidence…hello, did anyone say compared to the Shenanigans that brought Hope to power in Imo?), the legislature (dare any APC members ‘shame’ Buhari the ways Republican lawmakers are beginning to do Trump?), the security agencies and other governance institutions.
Yes, we also have over-ambitious people in developed countries of the world. There is no doubt that a Donald Trump would have loved to do not only a second but also a third term in office and, if allowed, would do anything to achieve that ambition. But, America is neither Ivory Coast nor Guinea.
Strong leaders die, often leaving their countries in disarray; strong institutions don’t. Which is why all men and women of goodwill burning with patriotic fervor in Nigeria must work together to see to it that we end our nauseating penchant for deification of leaders, whose only credentials are their ethnicity anyways, and work towards building strong institutions that will act as checks on the destructive ambitions of men.