Nyesom Wike: A plethora of achievements
One of the climaxes of my experience as a speaker and a panellist at the NBA conference in the Garden City was the presentation of the host governor, Mr Nyesom Wike. In the history of Rivers state and Nigeria, Nyesom Wike has booked a chapter for himself not because of infrastructural development but due to his tenacity in confronting institutional ills and advancing the rule of law, equity, and fairness as a foundation for the peace of the nation. I will explain myself soon.
Governor Nyesom Wike was at the opening plenary session and started his speech in a less tormenting manner to those who fear his guts in seeking revolution of the Nigeria federation into true federalism. His speech began with a good but expensive joke from his greetings of the big wigs and to making his points on ensuring justice and entrenching the rule of law through the independence of the Judiciary.
In the process, Wike rolled out a plethora of achievements of his administration in the Judiciary, the third arm of government. With the way he read what his team has done for the Judiciary, one will understand the need to treat the third estate of the realm as a business sector if democracy is to survive and have meaning to the ordinary person. To mention but a few, Wike’s administration had blazed the trail and took the lead in the Judiciary with the building of the Emmanuel Aguma Judges Quarters. The construction of the beautiful Federal High Court Complex and giving of vehicles to serving magistrates, among others.
While rolling out his giant strides in the Judiciary, the governor gumption was like the CEO of an international firm reading out the result of the organisation to the esteemed shareholders whose interests he had served diligently with an increase in share price, market value, return on investment and declared dividends. He did it with a sense of vision and direction to a particular enduring destination. Wike’s goal for investing in the Judiciary is to ensure the rule of law by guaranteeing the independence of the Judges and the Judiciary officers.
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I call this sagacious governor a chief vision officer not just for his state but as one whose vision can reshape this country. How do I mean? In his achievements, Wike built either a library or hostel for the Nigerian Law School. Nigerians will use the hostel to train lawyers from every state of the federation. The Law School extension in Rivers State will be another conviviality of Nigerians from east, west, north, south, and anywhere. It is not Rivers State’s Law School. The people of Rivers State built it for the whole of Nigeria, and their governor was bold in his pronouncement: we will not seek a refund from the federal government. That statement is a statement of hope for Nigeria if justice, equity, and equality can prevail. It is a clarion call that the Rivers people are interested in Nigeria to the extent that the true principles and values for building diversified countries are followed.
No doubt, Nyesom Wike is leaving Rivers State better than he met it in eight years. His legacy is beyond the infrastructural development in the state and in fair proportion to the various segments and stakeholders of the state. Legacy is not what is left for people but what is left in people. Not being the first lawyer to be a governor, Wike has started a cause that will outlive him. I wonder why no one has taken the lead to fight for justice in distributing the value-added tax until the Governor of Justice started the revolution. Though we are still on the case, starting it shows injustice in whatever shape or form cannot last. It is perceived injustice that ends nations like Yugoslavia and the giant Soviet Union. Those who want Nigeria must be ready to practice justice to leave Nigeria for future generations. No country survives real or perceived injustice.
The collection of VAT is as contentious as it must benefit all Nigerians wherever they are. The problem is not in the collection but the sharing. FIRS has developed the capacity to collect taxes in the last two decades. It will take time for such a capacity to be replicated in states and avert duplications or double taxation. Efforts should, therefore, be on an equitable way of rewarding results, not population, except productive people. China is nothing without being effective with its people. The states that produce giant VAT have suffered externalities in manufacturing and should, therefore, get more based on derivation. The population should come least not first. After all, men can restrain their level of childbearing exercise. It is cheering ignorance to not control the population or give birth to children who will become liabilities and bandits for others. Why are we rewarding procreation without capacity?
The legacy of Governor Wike is, therefore, beyond infrastructural development in Rivers State. He had stirred something that is needed for building the foundation of a united country. He had set in motion a clarion call for states to be productive and not receptive to labour and revenue generation. He had stirred the polity in favour of state capitalism and rewarded the goose that lays the golden eggs more than those that wait for the eggs to be distributed. I hope this will translate into a visible and enduring lesson for the future governors and administrators of local authorities in Nigeria.
Nyesom Ezenwo Wike came, saw, and conquered significantly in his primary constituency: law and Judicial process. He is doing his best to lay the foundation for an institutionalised democracy and Nigerian Bar Association. His charge to the NBA not to remain or be seen as a toothless bulldog but a lion in the corridor of law is mighty. That has started generating the vibration with the association’s response to Justice Odili’s house invasion. For Nigeria to embrace her diversity, the rule of law must prevail, and apostles like Wike must be applauded and encouraged.