Nyesom Wike is a difficult person. He is proud though he once accused me of the same in 2010 at Amaechi’s second term declaration rally. He had personally mounted a check-point inside Elekahia Stadium at the gate leading to the VIP stand, blocking a crowd of people in search of a vantage sitting position. He stopped me when I reached the gate, demanding to see my identity card. ‘But you know me,’ I said. I had even interviewed him once when he was a council chairman and we had been running into each other since the Odili era. My observation seemed to tick him off for he proceeded to lecture me in that aggressive, gravelly voice of his. ‘I know you but that does not mean that you should not carry your identity. Don’t be proud.’ Eventually, he let me in. He was then the DG of the Amaechi second term campaign and had the power to throw me out of the stadium. He let me through after a while and much later, when I politely asked to take his picture for my magazine, he almost verbally bashed my face in. ‘I don’t want you to take my picture,’ he thundered at me. I have never understood Wike’s hostility to me except of course for the fact that I supported Odili when he parted ways with Amaechi over the governorship. Today Wike and Odili are sweethearts and I have done many years as an Amaechi supporter without a sweetheart deal. I could not support the impunity born out of Wike’s opportunism; he has determinedly refused to have anything to do with me since I published the picture of him under EFCC arrest though I can not take the credit of being the first publisher to avail the public with a view of that revealing pose.
Wike has a clear tendency to belligerence and bellicosity but there are many who say that there is a kind heart beating behind that tough exterior. His generosity to many people can be admitted as evidence. He has also proven himself to be a brilliant planner. One has to marvel at how he used the opportunities presented to him to become the current Rivers PDP giant. One may not agree with what he has done but he has moved with savvy and he has not lacked heart and might. He would be a generous governor to his allies and a terror to his foes. He would pack a lot of muscle on the street and he would not infuriated respect the freedom of the press and the rights of those who disagree with him. He would run a tough take-it or leave-it administration and he would expect the legislature to be nothing more than a well rewarded rubber stamp because he is a man who brooks no opposition and is ready to pay for what he wants.
There are very many who feel that at least Dakuku Peterside would never be as domineering, as dictatorial and as threatening as Wike. He would surely be more easy going and attend more church services. However lifting up hands skywards, does not necessarily make those hands holy. Whether Wike is pretending or otherwise, he has shown more generosity to people than Dakuku Peterside and that is not because only one of them is loaded. Wike has also proven to be a better listener though Dakuku would rather argue with one than use force against one. Dakuku is definitely a friendlier character but a more slippery proposition.
Nyesom is a shrewd chap. Dakuku is more youthful and more inclined to make promises that he may never fulfill. He does it to placate people but it can be counter-productive. Dakuku is less temperamental than Wike. He will gloss over an insult when he needs to but Wike will probably take an eye for an eye.
Dakuku Peterside is running a more exclusive campaign, reluctant to reach out to many who can be of help. He does not mind getting help. He probably believes that he’s got enough. He is overflowing with confidence and this is hard to understand sometimes. Governor Amaechi is absent on his campaign trail and there is nothing as impactful on the guber trail as the presence of the incumbent governor. A lot of people are also not seeing the funds except perhaps those in the campaign committees. Money will figure greatly in this contest. There are many who stay away from the Dakuku campaign bandwagon because it holds little promise of stomach infrastructure development.
Still, people feel more at home with Dakuku. They can heckle at him and they can laugh with him. There is nothing forbidden about his image. His gates are open to people all day though pecuniary things are not flowing. He is the guy next door. Wike, on the other hand is a more formidable proposition. I lack the courage, myself to stroll through his gates. He has been quarrelsome and war-like. He can petrify one with a snarl. Gerrout of my compound!
There is still a great number of undecided politicians and voters. Wike’s gate carries an ominous ‘do not disturb’ sign while Dakuku’s gate carries a frustrating ‘no stomach infrastructure’ sign. That’s the dilemma.