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Ever seen Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike in a subdued state?
Yes — when he kneels down in supplication as men of God lay hands on him. And no — when he is in a defiant and foul mood on the hustings, delivering what some have described as “hate speeches”.
His Excellency was remarkably placid on Saturday as he shook hands with President Muhammadu Buhari, who had just returned from a medical trip to London after 103 days. Wike, a member of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), was part of the reception.
Head submissively bowed, Wike exchanged pleasantries – and banters – with the President. “Are you with us now?” a source said Buhari asked Wike at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport. He shook the President with both hands.
At the Presidential Villa, Wike did with one hand and supported his wrist with the other. In both instances, the governor was beaming.
And when his Imo State colleague Rochas Okorocha shared a joke with the President, Wike’s face was unusually bright. He was all smiles.
What went through the minds of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Okorocha, Zamfara State Governor Abdul-Aziz Yari, All Progressives Congress (APC) Chairman John Odigie-Oyegun, Inspector-General of Police Ibrahim Idris and others as the ex-Minister of State for Education shared in the President’s great moment? Did they recall Wike’s unending attacks on the Presidency? Did they think of his constant description of the APC as a fraud? What was the President thinking of this man who believes his actions are monitored closely by key figures in the ruling party? Did the President throw a jibe at the Rivers’ helmsman who sees himself as the pillar of the opposition which has the key to the country’s revival?
Would Buhari have loved to be received by Ekiti State Governor Ayo Fayose? Fayose had said he had 11 pictures showing the President in a bad shape. Wouldn’t Buhari have asked Fayose: “My friend, where are your pictures? I hope you’re not afraid of shaking me? I’m alive; this is not my ghost, ok?”
Posers, posers and posers? But for Wike, who loves to be identified as “Mr. Project”, there should be no meaning read into his presence at the reception for the President. He says patriotism comes before partisan politics. He believes the APC has a lot to learn from his “surprising” presence at the airport and at the Presidential Villa to receive a man whose government he sees almost nothing to cheer about.
Only on August 8, he told African lawyers, who gathered in Port Harcourt: “They promised Nigerians change, but we are seeing nothing… Democracy in Nigeria is gone. By 2019, nobody should talk about democracy. The police is the one promoting crime in Nigeria. Most of the kidnapping in the country are done by the police. We cannot continue like this; enough is enough.”
His aides say his disagreement with the Federal Government is on principles and in defence of Rivers people.
“We are happy, that he is alive,” he said, “and that is why l am here today to rejoice with the family. We should not play politics with everything. We are here talking about health and irrespective of the party l belong to, you can see that l am here today to rejoice with the family. That is what it is supposed to be. Don’t play politics with health issues; don’t do that. So, irrespective of what is going on out there, one is happy to be here.”
“That is right,” a source said, “if it is coming from a genuine heart.”