The place of Wike in Obaseki’s victory
In the days when David brought down Goliath, the Philistine warrior, the whole country of Israel went wild with jubilation.
The scripture captures it thus: “As they were coming home, when David returned from killing the Philistine, the women came out of all the towns of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with songs of joy, and with musical instruments. And the women sang to one another as they made merry; Saul has killed his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.”
The killing of Goliath by David was unexpected. The Philistine warrior had taunted Israel and the God of Israel to no end. The Philistine warlord was so arrogant and pompous that the heart of even the strongest man in Israel failed him when they heard Goliath’s swelling words.
But the reproach ended with the miraculous defeat of the strongest and fiercest foe, Goliath the Gittite.
By the same token, there was an overwhelming joy and celebration last Sunday following the victory of Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State at the gubernatorial election that took place on Saturday, September 19, 2020.
All manner of songs have been sung. A lot of music has been made out of the election and its outcome. Obaseki has been eulogised. Nyesom Wike, governor of Rivers State, has been dressed in many flowering tunes. And the beat goes on.
Before the exercise, apprehension was high and optimism was slim that Obaseki was going to return as governor, not with the armada of opposition mounted chiefly by Adams Oshiomhole, a former governor of Edo State, and some other strong interests within and outside the state.
Chief among those that gave Obaseki the strong emotional backing to stand eyeball to eyeball with those who tried to intimidate him during the election is Wike.
Since after the Edo election, Wike’s rating has so much appreciated in the estimation of many Nigerians, so much that many people are openly saying that he is a good match for the APC; whatever that means.
Some people are born rugged. Some others became rugged by virtue of their environment. Governor Wike appears to belong to the later group.
He got toughened by the rugged political environment he found himself. On his political trajectory, Wike has fought very hard battles.
The Ikwerre-born politician and lawyer from Rumuepirikom in Obio-Akpor, Rivers State, has seen and fought many political battles. He has also won all.
From when he defeated Dakuku Peterside of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2015, all through the journeys from the Election Tribunal to other courts, and his re-election in 2019, after the Supreme Court ruled out APC from participating in all the elections in the state last year, Wike has stamped himself as a political machine to reckon with in Nigeria.
While many Nigerians expected a serious battle at the gubernatorial election in 2019, there was not even an arrow shot from the fiercest opponent, APC, as members of the broom party instead engaged themselves in internal wrangling that denied them appearance on the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) ballot.
Wike’s past records were the major reason for the high hopes in many places when he was named chairman of the PDP Campaign Council for Edo election. Each time he addressed the PDP faithful in Edo, His words were like a booster; he gave them the assurances that the election was going to be different this time around.
On Friday, September 18, 2020, when he addressed the PDP leaders and community in Edo, he urged them never to go home after casting their votes, but to maintain a safe distance. He warned against total trust of the agencies concerned with the election.
Wike has been in the game for many years and appears to have known the rigging tactics of politicians; so, he decided to match them force-for-force. It’s a case of cunning man dies, cunning man buries him.
The presence of Wike in Edo gave the assurance that it was not going to be business as usual. And it also appeared that those who may have planned to be funny during the exercise knew the Rivers State governor was around; they behaved themselves.
It has been said over and over again that the rigging that determines a winner in an election is usually done, not at the polling booths but from the voting centres to the collation centres, where some outlandish ballots are usually smuggled in.
Wike showed his red eyes and rose to the occasion, when it was said that a collation officer had disappeared with the result of a local government area.
He urged INEC to keep to its promise of conducting a transparent election.
While urging the people of the state to defend their votes up to the collation centre, Wike also called on security operatives to prevent breaches during collation of results.
“We have results from about 2,000 polling units from the various wards and from the intelligence we have gathered, I do believe that INEC will keep to that promise of being transparent,” he said.
“You have noticed the pattern from 16 of the 18 local governments. But it was shocking to us that the returning officer for Orhionmwon, after the wards and local government have been collated, came to the state and before we knew it, he disappeared,” Wike said angrily.
“Remember, I said yesterday (Saturday), INEC should not try to declare this election as inconclusive. We will not accept it because everyone knows who has won this election.”
The refrain in town is the Macedonian call, “Come over to Ondo and help us.” But the question is, can the Wike magic work in the sunshine state?