Pendulum

Pendulum: The Instagram Live Session with Governor Nyesom Wike  

By Dele Momodu

Fellow Nigerians, something phenomenal happened last night. By popular demand on my social media platforms, I was asked by my amazing viewers to get the irrepressible Governor of Rivers State, Mr Nyesom Wike and interview him in my unique style. My viewers are my bosses. They dictate who they want, supply questions to ask and they waste no time in telling me their minds on topical issues. I sometimes believe they see me as being omnipresent and omnipotent and I’m often forced to explain that I’m no King Kong and can’t possibly accede to all their complicated requests.

So, it was last week, after my trending session with the IPOB leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, as my viewers once again took to the airwaves, made personal calls and sent DMs. My viewers challenged me to seek Governor Wike out and ask him to explain the killings in Oyingbo (they call it Obingbo) parts of Rivers State. Many of my instructors were angry that Wike was responsible for the “genocide.” I was endlessly bombarded, and they rested so much faith in my ability to interview any soul on planet earth. While this may be an exaggeration, I felt sufficiently fired up to make an attempt. It was to me a challenge that was too exciting to pass over. I also have a thing for the enfant terrible of Rivers State and Nigerian politics. A serial political enigma who never fails to astonish and astound with his remarks and actions. So, I sent a WhatsApp message to the brave and sometimes controversial Governor. To be honest I wasn’t sure about what his reaction to my request would be. I half expected that he would roundly snub me and feel that he was too busy to come on my show, particularly because not many know the power of social media yet. I was therefore pleasantly surprised when he accepted my request without any ado. We fixed the evening of November 6, 2020. Unfortunately, because of certain exigencies, we had to postpone by 24 hours, which gave me more time to research and explore his superlative and colourful personal and political life.

There were many questions requiring urgent answers. It started from the mundane to the sublime. The major questions were as follows. Does the Governor see him himself as belonging to the Igbo race? If so, why is he attacking his own people? Is it true that he called IPOB members terrorists and even offered a bounty, a bountiful amount of N50 million, on the head of a wanted IPOB member from Rivers State, and that in retaliation, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu had also counter-offered by placing a whopping N100 million reward for anyone able to bring him the head of Governor Wike. The story was getting bigger and bigger by the day as salient and pertinent questions rained in on  me, and I was excitedly looking forward to another wonderful interview.

My special thanks to all those who made the session possible. The Chief of Staff, Engineer Chukwuemeka Woke; Commissioner of Information, Mr Paulinus Ndirim, the Special Adviser on Social Media, Michael and Special Assistant, Mr Marshal Obuzor. We were able to set up a flawless communications system which led to getting an uninterrupted frank and fruitful conversation with the Governor, who is really any reporter’s delight in terms of the content he naturally provides seemingly effortlessly. You’re always guaranteed several headline news whenever he speaks or does something. In essence, he is always in the reckoning.

As usual, during the interview Wike spoke from the heart and did not pull his punches, which he laced with lethal blows whilst simultaneously interjecting with deep humour. One could see that he and Kanu are not the best of acquaintances, not to talk of being friends of any sort. He said he felt insulted by Kanu hoisting a flag on the soil of Rivers State. He stated matter-of-factly that he believed in the indivisibility of Nigeria and he would never indulge the activities of a “proscribed” entity. As far as Wike is concerned, Nigeria is an inviolable entity and anybody who decides to instigate others and inveigh the Nigerian nation is an enemy of the State and will not be tolerated by the Rivers State Governor and Government.

His voice was practically going up as he was visibly agitated and angry to be called an Igbo Man. He vehemently denied any such notion or association. “I’m not Igbo!”, he thundered. He said he wouldn’t deny affiliations between Igbo people and some parts of Rivers. He made allusions and references to those from Edo State who bear Yoruba names and yet are not Yoruba in any sense, and said it was unfair to force anyone to subscribe to Biafra when the idea has been vehemently opposed by Igbo Governors.

He insisted that he could never order the military to kill his own people and that he lacked the power to instruct the security forces who were never on good terms with him anyway. He kept theorising that he is a victim of vicious and vengeful propaganda because some people think he has Presidential or Vice-Presidential ambitions. He stylishly and systematically denied my suggestion that he nursed such ambitions, but was not absolutely convincing. He advised on a book every Nigerian must find and read: “Conscience & History: My Story” by Dr Peter Odili, the former Governor of Rivers State. He spoke so glowingly about a man he called his mentor. I could feel the deep bond between them.

He knocked some Nigerian journalists as the major reason Nigerian leaders sometimes misbehave because there is no one to hold them in check. He vowed never to negotiate with “terrorists” and those who may seek to blackmail him. He spoke of his admiration for the President of the United States, Donald Trump. Like many Trump supporters in Nigeria, he based his love on Christianity and the Trump and Republican opposition to gay rights.

He was very proud to talk about his achievements in power. He said he was not boasting but stating the facts. He challenged me and an Ovation team to spend two weeks in Rivers and return to report what we saw. Hate him or love him, Governor Wike is a super confident Leader. He said he’s experienced the vicissitudes of life, undergone several trials and suffered too many tribulations but God has brought him this far.

I asked if the disagreements between him and his old friend and immediate predecessor, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, was irreconcilable. He said he is very happy to reunite with the man who once made him his Chief of Staff. He said it would be ungodly for him to continue to bear grudges after God has vindicated him twice as a two term Governor which was the main reason he and his friend quarrelled.

I pray many of our Leaders will take advantage of technology to reach out to a mass audience. It is always good to talk. The lack of dialogue between the leaders and the citizenry has led to a lot of misunderstanding and misconceptions. This was my main takeaway from this scintillating interview with a firebrand, the unrepentant and indefatigable Governor Wike.

HOPE AMERICA CAN NOW RETRIEVE ITS LOST GLORY 

It was as if Donald Trump was sent or programmed to bring America down. During his 2016 Presidential campaign, he had promised to make America great again, but he has done the exact opposite throughout his almost four years in office. He waltzed or sometimes lurched from one crisis to another, like a virtuoso dancer or a drunken salesman respectively. Probably more of the latter. He hired and fired as if America had suddenly transfigured into one of his Trump Towers or golf courses employees or an involuntary victim of the sadistic delight displayed on his reality show, “The Apprentice”. Everyone, except Trump’s uninformed, ignorant, crude, rude and wantonly cruel and sometimes violent fanatics, wondered how America voluntarily brought this inhumane pestilence on themselves. The world watched in utter incredulity and endless anxiety how Donald Trump pounced on institutions, destroyed careers, promoted hate, lied shamelessly and unabashedly, attacked age long relationships, and so on. Both Americans and foreigners alike knew and felt the lashes and flagellation that Trump deigned to make them endure. As America was a great nation, they felt that they had no choice in this matter. However, as Trump weakened and eroded American power and influence, both at home and abroad, people and countries became inured to his antics. They were able to confront him and to look the monster in the face and stare him down. For me that was the beginning of the end.

It is a great relief that he is about to go with the winds. To borrow one of the titles of James Hadley Chase’s novels, Come Easy, Go Easy. Only his fellow white supremacists did not see this coming. All dictators perish into the dustbin of history, ultimately.

I wrote these words last Monday ahead of the American Presidential election. That was how confident I was that Americans would have to rescue their country from the rambunctiously reckless characters and felonious gangsters led by Trump who had gathered a motley crew of irresponsible people who hung on to his every false words and fake tweets.

Trump epitomised what is the worst in the American system and its concept of concentrating near absolute power in the hands of one man. He misused and abused this power and almost began to feel like he was a demigod. This was a man who decided that whatever he dreamt or fantasised about could be implemented as American policy and nobody dared to stop him. He succeeded in imposing his oftentimes fevered and demented wishes and will on cowed American citizens because of another weakness, not just in the American system, but in human beings and especially politicians generally. This is the cancer of selfishness, self-interest and avarice. Politicians, senior Republicans, who should know better, realised they were creating a tyrant but nevertheless turned a blind eye and began to speak the Trumpian language because they realised there was a fanatical base that they could tap into to preserve their political status and relevance. It did not occur to them that, by so doing, they were not just reducing the allure and much vaunted power of their illustrious country, but also personally demeaning and denigrating themselves. To some extent they got their wish as the cataclysmic collapse predicted by pundits for Senators and Representatives alike did not materialise. Instead the Republicans made inroads into the House and appear set to maintain a wafer-thin majority in the Senate. However, what will it profit a man if he gains the world but loses his own soul? This Biblical injunction appears to be lost on these Republicans who espouse the Christian faith and its tenets and beliefs as the canon and anchor of their Party’s creed.

All hope is not lost for America though. The vast majority of its citizens have stood tall, firm and resolute and determinedly sent this big bully packing.

Despite the knowledge that it is a homecoming to Trump Towers for him, Trump is still fighting dirty as before. In the throes of political death, he continues with his maniacal tweets of falsehood and spewing hoaxes. He is still pitting Americans against themselves and practically inciting violence. He seems determined not to go down alone because down he will clearly go. However, sanity seems to be returning to the country and his political allies and colleagues are beginning to distance themselves from him and tone down their language.

This reality show is about to come to an end, and not too soon I say. Sadly, Trump is not about to concede yet and his nunc dimitis cannot be sung for now. The handwriting is clearly on the wall and before too long Americans, indeed the entire world, will soon heave a huge sigh of relief. The Emperor will be immolated, and he will have done so to himself. An abject lesson for us all.

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