[OPINION] Abuja: Chef Wike’s pot of soup – Kassim Afegbua
[OPINION] Abuja: Chef Wike’s pot of soup – Kassim Afegbua
Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, the former governor of Rivers state and current honourable minister of the Federal Capital Territory, is an interesting man of many parts. As a Governor, he was fully in charge of his office and its appurtenances: power, personal linkages, official friendships across the divide, etcetera. He nurtured very many relationships across Nigeria, and showed good reason to be relied upon; even if and when it caused him to remain the last man standing. Having studied the rubrics of Nigeria’s boisterous politics, he surely knows how to navigate its landscape, to avoid landmines. Wike comes across as a man of many parts, whose politics to some, is difficult to understand; but indeed I find him to be an open book, and his word is his bond. He has a growing circle of friends and has managed to navigate the intricate web of Nigerian politics to the admiration of many of us. He takes his responsibilities very seriously and knows how and when to unwind, to rejuvenate himself. He is forthright with a remarkable guttural voice pitch. His political artistry is fetching him unprecedented political recognition; even beyond the shores of Rivers state. The support he gave our president in the last election across the country, to ensure PBAT’s victory is a story for another day. Once anyone has Nyesom Wike on their side, they are assured of a thorough political struggle that will be devoid of betrayal.
Nyesom Wike is an interviewer’s delight. He has uncommon courage; he says it just as it is. He has the gall to convey his thoughts without minding whose ox is gored. Today, still a PDP member, he is also a minister of an APC-led Federal Government. How he is able to weave the politics of both the ruling and opposition parties together, defines his political artistry and mastery of Nigeria’s political locus. Wike combines politics and friendships very well; his latest addition to this mix is great culinary skills. He now plays politics with great friendships and tailored culinary skills. He must have heard from someone that the sure way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. It doesn’t matter what side of the divide a person belongs; Wike will easily connect to your nuances. His bond is loyalty to a cause, and his article of faith, honesty to agreed terms of engagement. When underrated, Nyesom Wike, shows his flip; never try to outsmart him. They’ve called him several names and poohpoohed some of his threats, but he comes out with the last laugh. In retrospect, if Atiku Abubakar were to take stock of his political trajectory in respect of the recent past, Nyesom Wike will feature dominantly as one of his nemesis. Atiku’s deliberate arrogance became Wike’s stimulant. I am sure Atiku Abubakar will be agonising in silence over how he threw away the golden trophy on the platter of ignoring Nyesom Wike’s political wits.
Leading a pack of five Governors of his party, the PDP, Wike ensured severe punishment for political betrayal. He was smoking hot during the last election, cultivated members of his party, reached out to members of other political parties and left his last card in his pocket until the D-day. Atiku Abubakar was being edged on by dubious political players who were interested in his fat pocket. He combined that with dizzying arrogance, saw himself as President-in-waiting and ignored all entreaties that would have reined in a Nyesom Wike to his side. He boastfully said he can defeat the APC without the former Rivers state Governor. Enjoying the covert support of the then president, Muhammadu Buhari, Atiku Abubakar was too sure of his victory. The G-5 PDP Governors could go to hell for all he cares. Rather than sacrifice Iyorchia Ayu who had earlier promised to step down should there be a candidate from the North, he stood firmly with Ayu to dishonour an earlier promise. Wike’s adrenaline was further punctured; especially as he abhors betrayal of any sort. He would then go for Atiku Abubakar’s jugular, and dealt a lethal political blow on him that has left the Waziri Adamawa with what can be described as a brain injury that till date distorts Waziri’s judgment; going by his recent actions. For taking an appointment as Minister of the FCT, Wike has broken another jinx, becoming the first Southerner to occupy that office in over forty years in the history of the FCT. In Atiku’s next political life, whenever he hears the whispers of Nyesom, he must surely buckle under before the sound of Wike goes off.
Nyesom Wike is a veritable antidote to political stubbornness; an erupting volcano with the capacity to blaze a trail. Ask his friend and former Minister, Rotimi Amaechi, for details. Amaechi thought he was smart until he met Wike. He thought he was stubborn and audacious, until Wike became the punchline of a bad joke. Wike’s politics swallowed up Amaechi and his gang in Rivers State, and the rest has become Amaechi’s quietude. You either like Wike’s politics passionately or hate his style intensely, he’s simply not the road of the middleman. Hate him or love him, Wike brooks no nonsense. His artistry has recently expanded to the culinary business of cooking delicacies to whet the appetite of his guests and visitors. Political friends and associates are now drifting to Wike’s palatial kitchen, swallowing saliva each time they perceive the vapour and steam of his delicacies. From the President’s Chief of staff, Femi Gbajabiamila to former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, Wike has played the role of a good chef to them all. I doubt though that he plans to compete with Hilda Bachi for the Guiness Record, but those who have tasted Wike’s pot of soup have pleasant tales to tell of his culinary skills. He exudes the characteristics of a thorough bred Nigerian, steeped in good home training; always offering a helping hand to his lovely wife to keep guests entertained. He’s an uncommon Nigerian man in the way he has tailored his hobbies thus far. For a very busy and consummate politician, managing the ever rambunctious city of Abuja, to create time for such culinary hobby is surely a milestone.
Wike is already writing his name with indelible ink by his performance in the FCT as its minister. To capture the performance of a functional minister is not difficult. Within the FCT metropolis, it is easy to tell whether a minister is working or not. I have seen potholes that have now been fixed, I mean notorious potholes that have survived more than four solid years. I have seen streets properly lit up and also demarcated for easy parking along major streets. I have seen shanties being rooted out, in particular, the Mabushi shanty that had defied all logic. Only a bold mind of Wike’s sort can uproot such a settlement from the epicentre of the city. I have seen improved lighting along the Airport Road starting from the City Gate. I have seen improved revenue into the coffers of the Ministry. I have seen the appointments of credible professionals into the mandate secretariat to handle different aspects of the Ministry’s responsibility. I am seeing yet again a workaholic who has picked up the gauntlet of leadership to deliver service to the people of FCT. I see a new discipline being thrust upon the city by a minister who is unflaggingly working round the clock to state that, “he was here.” Nyesom Wike is not new to the world of work. As a Governor, he turned the fortunes of Rivers state to an enviable height such that even his political opponents had to testify to his grit, gravitas and performance. It is not in doubt that he would want to replicate such enviable performance in FCT and leave a mark that would speak for him in time to come. I must warn those people who might want to frustrate him; they might end up in his “pot of soup.”