Mon. Dec 4th, 2023

Sharing is caring!

(Last Updated On: May 13, 2023)

As the governor of Nigeria’s oil-rich Rivers State, life is bound to
be bright and beautiful, and bubbly. If you are now predisposed to
epicurean pleasures like Governor Nyesom Wike, bingeing daily on the
most expensive bourbon or champagne or cognac should not raise any
eyebrow, no?

This must be Governor Wike’s response to the mass hysteria that
heralded a viral picture of him, in company with Ayo Fayose, his
social and political collaborator and former governor of Ekiti
State—regally placed on a table before them was a bottle of Dalmore
whiskey. Different commentators lampooned the governor for the brazen
display of the whiskey especially those who remembered that in the
wake of the presidential election, Wike had gleefully told a stunned
nation that he was drinking a 40-year-old whiskey whilst his party
members were protesting their electoral loss.

Indeed, some days after Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressives
Congress, APC was declared winner of the February 25 presidential
election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, candidate of the People’s Democratic
Party, PDP, led leaders and members of the party in a protest march to
the headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission
(INEC), Abuja, stating that the election was marred with

Wike, typically, took potshots at everybody involved with the rally.
He said, “As they were protesting, I just sat down and I took one
40-year-old whiskey. I called some of my friends ‘o boy, sit down.
Make una sit down open 40 years. Then I put on television, see as dem
dey do marching. They have become labour union, they have become
students union ‘all we are saying…’ chai. You are saying what? What
are you saying? That you have taken over the role of students’ union,
aluta continua. That is what the party has become, aluta continua.”

Ironically, the protest was held around 11 am on Monday when rational
and responsible people were at work and a dutiful and serious-minded
governor was expected to be in his office attending to state matters.
But, not Governor Wike. It was whiskey-o-clock on Monday morning.

Phrank Shaibu, a spokesperson for Atiku, addressed this in a strident
statement. Shaibu advised the governor to stay off alcohol because it
had “affected his voice and demeanour,” adding, “Governor Wike says he
was drinking whiskey during the protest at 11:30 am on a Monday. This
reveals the sort of man he is – a dipsomaniac who abandons his
official duties on Monday morning to binge on whiskey.”

Aside from the shock and surprise that he was drinking on a Monday
morning when his party had just lost a presidential election; the
price of the drink threw many people completely off balance. Dalmore
whiskies tend to be on the upper end of ‘premium’, and well outside
the price range of average whiskey drinkers. The ‘40year’ that Wike
announced that he was drinking cost a princely $9, 500. In naira,
that’s slightly over a gasp-inducing N9 million per bottle.

In retrospect, there might be a semblance of truth in what Wike’s
predecessor and the immediate past former Minister of Transport,
Rotimi Amaechi, alleged during electioneering that the governor spends
N50m on alcohol every week. Of course, the majority of those who read
the report thought that it was not only incredulous and near
impossible but that it must be borne out of envy, malice, and their
long-drawn animosity towards each other.

Amaechi and Wike are known to be sworn enemies, stemming from the
former’s opposition to the latter’s aspiration to succeed him as
Rivers State governor before the 2015 election. Before their bitter
fallout, Wike served as Chief of Staff to then Governor Amaechi. So,
they know each other intimately.

During one of his stumps for the All Progressives Congress, APC,
governorship candidate, Tonye Cole, in the Ogba-Egbema-Ndoni local
government area of the state, Amaechi was quoted as saying, “The
person Wike buys alcohol from said Wike spends N50million every week
on alcohol. The primary school we built is N112 million. It means that
in two weeks, Wike has drank one primary school. When Wike talks, it
is alcohol that is talking. And he’s so shameless about it. Wike told
the whole world on live TV that he was drinking a very expensive
40-year-old whiskey in the morning.”

Even if many are not privy to the budget for the governor’s drinks,
the viral picture puts paid to all doubts. Indeed, the worst kind of
enemy has to be a friend that you have been through the trenches
together, who knows your weaknesses and strengths and best-kept
secrets. Amaechi knows Wike like the back of his palm. And there is a
correlation between what Amaechi, an accustomed teetotaller, said
about his former buddy’s utterances and the effect of alcohol,
especially the type Wike fancies. Amid intense revelry, whiskey
loosens the tongue and helps drop the reveller’s guard; and if you are
not adept at controlling it, what the drinker utters will be unbridled
and, sometimes, regrettable.

Though modesty and decorum are not exactly Wike’s strong suit, there
must have been a regular, potent trigger behind some of the most
absurd tales and tantrums, soundbites, and tabloid headlines that he
treated Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora to in the run-up to the
last general election. Governor Wike takes the cake for being the
undisputed protagonist in the series of macabre dramas that happened
during and after electioneering. The story of how he lost the People’s
Democratic Party, PDP, presidential primaries to Alhaji Atiku Abubakar
who also overlooked him for the running mate slot, preferring Governor
Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, is well documented. Also well-known is
how he and his G-5 cohorts polarised the party.

Every other day, he had something to say about his party and those
who ‘betrayed’ him, particularly, Iyorchia Ayu, the suspended national
chairman of the party. Wike unravelled as something like a court
jester, a sore loser, and an absolutist lacking prudence and
perspicacity. In many quarters, it was alleged that his unguarded,
crude, and intemperate persona contributed to why he lost the PDP VP
slot to Okowa.

The accretion of these perceptions made many conclude that Wike should
be nowhere near public office. Yet, Wike had been in the corridors of
power since he left law school in 1997. An only-in-Nigeria kind of
political success story, he was appointed the executive chairman of
Obio Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State in 1999 and was in
office till 2007. He was subsequently appointed the Chief of Staff to
Amaechi and served for four years. In 2011, former President Goodluck
Jonathan appointed him the Minister of State for Education. Wike
became a substantive Minister a while later. He resigned in 2014 to
contest the governorship of Rivers State and won. Now in the twilight
of his second term, a shot at the presidency left him with egg on the

Consequently, that devastating loss made him change from one of
Nigeria’s best-performing governors to a cautionary tale whose
utterances belie his divine political trajectory and successes. But,
warts and all, whiskey or no, Wike has achieved a lot in his political
career, and he would prefer that Nigerians cut him some slack for his
indulgences. His second term as governor ends on May 29. Luckily, he
succeeded in installing one of his loyalists, Siminalayi Fubara, as
the next governor of Rivers State. This means Governor Wike will not
lack his favourite expensive whiskeys for some time to come. After
all, one good ‘round’ deserves another.

Facebook Comments Box

Sharing is caring!

By admin