2011: THE PRINCIPLE OF “ANYA-NELI”, CHIEF BARR. EZEBUNWO NYESOM WIKE AND THE POLITICAL FUTURE OF RIVERS STATE – AN OVERVIEW OF AN INSIDER
By Eze Chukwuemeka Eze
Politics according to Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia is a process by whereby groups of people make collective decisions. The term is generally applied to the art or science of running governmental or state affairs. It also refers to behaviour within civil governments. However, politics have been observed in other group interactions, including corporate, academic, and religious institutions. It consists of "social relations involving authority or power" and refers to the regulation of public affairs within a political unit and to the methods and tactics used to formulate and apply policy
Wikipedia went further to define Political engineering as a concept in political science that deals with the designing of political institutions in a society and often involves the use of paper decrees, in the form of laws, referendums, ordinances, or otherwise, to try to achieve some desired effect within a society. The criteria and constraints used in such design vary depending on the optimization methods used. Usually democratic political systems have not been deemed suitable as subjects of political engineering methods. Political engineering, using suboptimal methods or criteria, can sometimes yield disastrous results as in the case of attempting to engineer a previously democratic country's political landscape by such methods as, for example, a coup d'état. The Greek military junta of 1967-1974 used political engineering utilizing a coup d'état to dissolve the democratic system of Greece with catastrophic results. Political engineering can also be employed to design alternative voting procedures in a democratic system. In the social arena the counterpart of political engineering is social engineering
To Dr. Jeffrey R. Lax, Department of Politics, New York University political engineering is like engineering in the natural sciences, which translates theory (e.g., from physics) into practical design (e.g., a bridge), engineering in the social sciences translates rational-choice analysis into the design of better political-economic social institutions." and "Informed answers to these questions require that we set forth criteria—the specifications of the engineer—for evaluating institutions. In this course, we will invoke such criteria as efficiency, equitability, freedom from certain paradoxes, etc. Particular emphasis will be placed on making institutions as invulnerable as possible to manipulation, which will be subjected to theoretical analysis and illustrated through a series of case studies” Political Engineering to Benjamin Reilly Ph.D. is when political parties in theory represent the political expression of underlying societal cleavages and parties and party systems have not usually been thought to be amenable to overt political engineering. While some authoritarian states have attempted to control the development of their party system (eg the mandated 'two-party' or 'three party' systems that existed under military rule in Nigeria and Indonesia respectively, or 1, For what is still the best discussion of ethnic parties and party systems, see Horowitz 1985; 2, See, for example, Sartori 1994, Diamond 1999, Reynolds 2002. 3 the 'no-party' system that currently exists in Uganda), most democracies allow parties to develop freely. Because of this, parties are generally understood to remain beyond the reach of formal political engineering in most circumstances.
As much as it is not my intention to bore you with all the postulations about Politics and political engineering the major thrust of this attempt is the current political reengineering taking place in Rivers State referred to as the principle of 'Anya-neli' with its chief proponent and advocate being Chief Barr Hon. Ezebunwo Nyesom Wike, the Chief of Staff to the Governor of Rivers State of Nigeria and the Director General of the Amaechi 2011 Re-election Campaign Organisation. Considering the speed with which this principle is taking root in the politics of Rivers State it has become expedient to critically examine this new political concept by this enigma -who in the course of the ongoing campaign has proven himself as the new political force and encyclopaedia of Rivers State politics- and its effect and socio-political impact on the present and future fortunes of the political terrain in Rivers State.
Now that the major purpose of this study has been defined, let me for the avoidance of doubt particularly for non-Nigerians that may be reading this thesis from foreign countries shed some light on the entity Rivers State. Rivers State is one of the 36 states of Nigeria with Port Harcourt as its capital. It is bounded on the South by the Atlantic Ocean, to the North by Imo, Abia and Anambra States, to the East by Akwa Ibom State and to the West by Bayelsa and Delta states. Rivers state is home to a variety of ethnic groups, including Abua, Andoni, Ekpeye, Engenni, Etche, lbani, lkwerre, Kalabari, Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni, Okrika and Ogoni. The inland part of Rivers state consists of tropical rainforest; towards the coast the typical Niger Delta environment features many mangrove swamps. Rivers state, named after the many rivers that border its territory, was part of the Oil Rivers Protectorate from 1885 till 1893, when it became part of the Niger Coast Protectorate. In 1900 the region was merged with the chartered territories of the Royal Niger Company to form the colony of Southern Nigeria. The state was formed in 1967 with the split of the Eastern Region of Nigeria. Until 1996 the state also contained the area which is now the Bayelsa State.
The word 'Anya-neli' is a political word coined from the Ikwerre language and has an array of uses in context ranging from carefulness, alacrity, watchful, cautious, alert, vigilant, wary and observant. The essence of this new principle and concept in the politics of Rivers State urges one to be on guard to protect each and every vote that will be cast in favour of PDP candidates in the state at the April polls. As Director General of Amaechi 2011 Re-election Campaign bid during the course of this campaign, it has become second nature for Chief Wike to end what I have come to refer to as his “Charge Speech”, where he mandates specific PDP stalwarts to deliver their various words on election day; with cries of 'anya-neli!, anya-neli!!, anya-neli!!'. It is the gusto with which he has applied himself to this act at all campaigns that stirred my interest to research and understand the idea behind such passionate cries and if it in any way had any far reaching implications on the political stage of a state like Rivers State.
To say that the Amaechi campaign train so far has been operating like a well oiled military onslaught with Wike as Chief Strategist at the helms of affairs, would be underestimating the obvious, this is because apart from the new doctrine of anya-neli he is so passionate about, any keen observer of the campaign is amazed at Wike's prowess at mentioning the names of every stalwart charged with delivering the wards in their various states. And if one recalls that a total of 319 wards in contention, then it would not be amiss to give kudos to the man who is able to seemingly without effort reel out names off hand at each campaign. He is also quick to add that political relevance in the next dispensation will be based on ability to deliver wards at the polls. This charge in my opinion is a major form of political engineering which gives a sense of responsibility to party stalwarts and negates the principle of “business as usual” by keeping everyone on their toes.
The fact therefore remains, that never in the annals of politicking in the State or any part of Nigeria has one individual exhibited the skill and ingenuity developed by this new enigma of the Politics of the State in delivering charges and mobilizing the people to action. In one of such campaigns at a particular Local Government rally, the traditional rulers in attendance stood up in salute of this new revelation in the arts of campaigning in the State as he reeled out names and charges to people. So much so, that Mr. Julius “De Genius” Agu, a renowned Rivers Born Comedian and Entertainer who compeered at most of the rallies, was forced to call him the embodiment and encyclopaedia of the Rivers State Politics based on his ability to reel out names of politicians in the State without any paper in hand.
At Okirika the home Local Government Area of Dr. Sekibo the ACN Gubernatorial candidate in the 2011 April polls and one of the pretenders challenging Amaechi for the seat of the Governor of Rivers State. The tireless Director General of the Amaechi Campaign team Barrister Nyesom Wike in his speech that reverberated around the whole of the town and by all intents would have sent Dr Abiye Sekibo scuttling out of town if he was anywhere near the vicinity. Chief Wike charged the Okrika people to ensure that Amaechi be re-elected come April. Showing the stuff of which he is made of he reeled out names of different individuals who he mandated to personally work tirelessly to deliver their wards during the elections. He especially fired on all cylinders when he charged Honourable Soe Dikibo, one time Commissioner in the State to ensure he delivered Ward Four to PDP come April. He was emphatic in his call for victory at this particular ward because it incidentally is the Ward of Dr. Abiye Sekibo, the ACN gubernatorial candidate. In his words “uproot the so called base of doom and watch the other areas will be delivered”.
What is perhaps baffling to most people that have watched this man on stage is how and when he does his research resulting in such commendable delivery at the rallies. Being a member of the campaign team, it was easy for me to make up my mind to do a fly on the wall study of this man to understand what drives him. Fortunately the 7th March, 2011 presented me with an opportunity to monitor him. Like every other day since the campaign started on the 1st of March, he rose up by 4am in the morning and went straight for morning devotion with his family. By 5am, he took his bath and by 6am people had already gathered in his house for meetings or other businesses. By 8am, he was at the Campaign office to attend to files before the arrival of most of the staff and Directors of the Campaign. 8.30am saw him hold meetings with the Chairmen and Secretaries of the Campaign Committees and by 9.30am he was off to the campaign ground to inspect the venue while awaiting the arrival of the Governor and his entourage. This particular day we visited two Local Government Areas – Ahoada East and Ahoda West and came back to Port Harcourt by 6pm. He drove straight to his house after a debriefing at the campaign headquarters. On arrival at his residence, we were met by hundreds of people already seated and waiting for him for several meetings. He retired to freshen up and then took his dinner while on his feet and almost immediately stepped into his garden to hold meeting after meeting till 4am the next day. After having witnessed firsthand what 24hours in a day of this man was like, I realized that what he exhibited at the rallies was indeed a rare command of political sagacity and oratory that only a few are blessed with, since it was obvious he had no time to do any kind of research talk less of have a goodnight's rest. During the course of our day together I had the privilege of having him shed light on his 'anya-neli' principle. Chief Hon. Bar Ezebuwo Nyesom Wike, in his discussion with me, came across as a crusader who was not just passionate about his state, but also one who was passionate about the governance style of his Boss and Governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi. According to him, “Chief Eze, you may not see what I see. The State is in danger if Gov Amaechi fails to come back for a second tenure. Not only will we be crippled politically, but most of the initiatives we have set up to take this State to a new height will be deconstructed”. Furthermore, he stated that the anti-people sentiments exhibited by the likes of Dr. Abiye Sekibo, who whilst presenting his manifesto to the people of the State, stated that one of the objectives of his government if elected will be to restore the land acquired so far for the Greater Port Harcourt City to their owners whereby aborting the development of a new City in the State; aborting the monorail project etc. such ideas according to wike should never see the light of day. Wike was also quick to remind me that it i was that alerted him to the lyrics of the song that was the highlight of Celestine Omehia's flag off APGA campaign that by 'the time we rose from our slumber he would be elected Governor'. According to him, such jabs were the motivation he needed to continue to work tirelessly to ensure that their dastardly plans do not see the light of day.
He said he had resigned himself to sleepless nights until the day Amaechi's victory is cast in marble, stating that anyone who calls himself a friend or ally of Amaechi and chooses this time to slumber should as a matter of expediency reconsider the authenticity of their friendship. With this kind of resolve it is therefore easy to understand what drives Wike, though some would say he has personal reasons behind his decision to invest his time and all his energy in this, I can't help but doff my hat to this fellow who has gone beyond the call of duty to ensure that Rivers State not be drawn back into the darkness.
Perhaps no one better to shed more light on the concept of “anya-neli” than Governor Amaechi who while addressing the people of Gokana said: “You must be vigilant 'anya-neli'. One of our opponents said he was the brain behind PDP successes, and if we were being criticised by the whole world for all those successes, it means that the previous elections wasn't properly organised; it means, maybe it was rigged, if it was rigged then, best be careful 'anya-neli' of these same people. They are in another party now. You have a new PDP that will obey the rule of law; there must be voting on that day, votes must count, so go out and vote on that day.” The driving force and fear that drives the anya-neli concept may be therefore hinged on the fact that it was Dr. Abiye Sekibo, the ACN gubernatorial candidate in Rivers State that was the Returning Officer of PDP in the 2007 gubernatorial elections that returned Sir Celestine Omehia as the Governor of Rivers state in a poll severally criticised by the International Community and people in other political parties, it has become imperative that with this new concept, the PDP and the entire people of Rivers state are being urged to become vigilant 'anya-neli' in the forthcoming elections to avoid manipulation of their votes by these charlatans.
But who is Chief Nyesom Wike?. A lawyer by profession, a political tactician and strategist of the first order, bold and fearless and ready to die for any cause he believes in. an attempt was made on his life January, 2008 when his vehicle was riddled with bullets resulting in near fatal injury of his driver Emeka Mba. Although Wike escaped unscathed, the car has been preserved as a reminder of what he has had to endure to stand for what is right and just. Recalling the incident Wike would rather refer to it as the day he died because of his passion for and commitment to the ideals and vision of Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi for a new Rivers State.
Married to the quiet and unassuming beautiful Mrs Sussett Wike, they are blessed with two boys and one girl. He is one of the most detribalised Nigerians, surrounding himself with staff and aides from different parts of the country. One of his closest allies and the Director of Administration of the Campaign Team, Hon. Chuma Chinye, attest to the fact that Wike is a devoted friend. A democrat to the core, he detests injustice in any form. He is also a philanthropist. It is a well known fact within the Amaechi's camp, that the fear of Wike is the beginning of wisdom if you want to remain relevant.
From 2003 – 2006 he was the National President of All Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON), the umbrella Forum through which all the 774 Local Government Council Chairmen in Nigeria interface and interact on issues affecting the Politics and policies of Nigeria while from 1999-2007 he was the Executive Chairman of Obio-Akpor Local Government in Rivers State, an office he used to redefine and exhibit his special brand of governance. He constructed the Local Government Secretariat that stands as one of the best in Nigeria and a great edifice to behold. His tenure witnessed various developmental initiatives in the local government and he is remembered most especially for empowering a lot of youths, elderly women and men, the physically challenged. An ardent hand at grassroot mobilisation, He is credited with founding the formidable political vanguard in Rivers State - the Ikwerre Youth Movement (IYM) that decides and determines to a large extent the political tide in the state.
Senator George T. Sekibo, the Leader of the Rivers State Caucus in the National Assembly and Chairman of the Labour Committee of the Senate and the Senatorial Candidate of Rivers State East has also attested to the political prowess and magnanimity of Chief Wike at the Obio Akpor leg of the campaign. According to Senator Sekibo, Chief Wike wanted to be a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in this dispensation and the fact remains that I ought not to be here addressing this rally as a Senatorial candidate aspirant of PDP if not for the sagacity and benevolence of Chief Wike conceded to him. In Sekibo's words, “...He (Wike) stepped down for me when it was obvious that he had the support of 85% of the delegates…but because the Governor of Rivers State, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi prevailed on him to reason that Ikwerre area can't produce the Governor of Rivers State and the Senator from the same Zone at the same time (Gov Amaechi and Chief Wike are of the Ikwerre extraction); based on this, Chief Wike had to step down for me because I hail from the Okirika axis of the zone..” To Chief Hon. Victor Tombari Giadom the Executive Chairman of Gokana. Chief Wike is the Eze gburu-gburu 1 of the Gokana Kingdom (an equivalent of Dim Odimegwe Ojukwu's title in Ibo land); to Chiefs Amaechi Ikenga and Emeka Bekee, Major Jack ardent followers of “Wikeism” brand of politics, “Chief Wike is the oil that greases the political machine of Governor Amaechi, because without him, “most of us would have been history when we were discarded and treated as lepers when Amaechi was forced into exile by the PDP stalwarts in 2007 while fighting to redeem his stolen mandate. If not for the large heart of Chief Wike who ensured that we were kept together most of us would have died of hunger before the intervention of the Supreme Court”.
To Chief (Barr) Ezebunwo Nyeson Wike, Chief of Staff, Rivers State Government; Governance means ability to provide for her people. “My vision of governance is (1) to make the people happy. What do I mean by making the people happy? First of all, you know before this period, we have what we called direct democracy'. Direct democracy is where the population was very small. So it was possible for everybody to gather and take decision for themselves. But as the population began to expand, they said that there is need for indirect democracy. The people will now elect people who will take decisions on their behalf'. What do they expect from you? They expect true governance and representation, the basic things of life has to be provided, they will have roads, schools, hospitals, powers when they need it. So, for me, my vision for governance is to make the less privileged, to make the people who have elected you to be happy. That is my own vision of governance.
This is Chief Wike the proponent of the Anya-neli concept in the Rivers State politics and if by 16th April, 2011, Rt. Hon. Chuibike Amaechi is re-elected, the politics of Rivers State may not be the same again as the inputs of the Anya-neli exponent cannot be underestimated in the socio-economic and political future of this great State that has become the richest State in Nigeria by the reclaiming of its 86 oil wells from the Akwa Ibom State.
To any positive follower of the politics of Rivers State, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi re-election is to ensure continuity in realisation of people-oriented projects and programmes in the next political dispensation which includes among numerous others massive infrastructural investments around the state, including road projects, schools, health centres, electrification, ongoing monorail project, rural development and implementation of the Greater Port Harcourt Master Plan and most importantly the attainment of relative peace and security as evidenced by the attraction of foreign investors to the State. He stands as the only African Leader to have constructed sixty physical projects and donated the same to sixty communities in sixty days that earned him the name of a developmental magician! His astute leadership in striving for financial transparency, accountability and inclusive governance has earned the State a lot of accolades, numerous awards and recognition by international bodies and corporations. In this regard, the Governor has won the prestigious 2010 Zik Prize for Good Governance based on his performance in the implementation of credible governance principles. The Zik Prize is part of the yearly activities to honour the late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, the First President & Commander-In-Chief of the Armed forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which was instituted in 1994 by the Public Policy Research and Analysis centre to encourage patriotic leadership in Nigeria. This enviable award is to be bestowed on the Rivers State Governor for his ability to attract a B+/AA Fitch investment rating to the state, boost economic and structural development as well as enhance content development in all sectors of Rivers State and recently honoured as the most outstanding Governor in Nigeria by the Independent Newspapers ltd so the product that Chief Wike is assiduously marketing is a sellable and good product and I sincerely wish him and his Team the best of luck.
Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze is a Media Consultant based in Port Harcourt
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