Many governors who finish their two terms in Nigeria retire into the red chamber and become ‘distinguished Senators’. But not so with His Excellency, Chief Barrister Ezenwo Nyesom Wike, CON, the sixth governor of Rivers State and a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) strongman.
When he refused to follow the traditional path taken by governors finishing their tour of duty, many thought he wanted to make a career in dancing to the beatings of a live band. There were arguments on where he would ply his trade – clubhouses or political gatherings – and whether he could attract a large audience that can offset the clubhouses’ bills or sway political opinions.
His calling may now be in the spiritual realm. Unbeknown to both his fans and traducers, Wike is brushing up his spiritual and prophetic connections to his god of miracles, a god that Nigerians, especially pregnant women in labour, have been waiting for.
On January 11, this year, a woman who was in delayed labour gave birth after calling on, according to a story, ‘The god of Wike’ three times. Hallelujah! A traditional ruler was the one who confirmed the story. And traditional rulers, custodians of our culture, are not given to frivolities and falsities. Are they?
In November last year, Dr Habi Sadauki, president of the Society of Gynaecology and Obstetrics of Nigeria (SOGON), lamented the high rate of maternal deaths in the country, saying Nigeria is nowhere near achieving the Sustainable Development Goal target of reducing the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births.
However, UNICEF, in its report, said Nigeria’s 40 million women of childbearing age (between 15 and 49 years) suffer a disproportionately high level of health issues surrounding birth. While the country represents 2.4 per cent of the world’s population, it currently contributes 10 per cent of global deaths for pregnant mothers. The latest figures show a maternal mortality rate of 576 per 100,000 live births, the fourth highest on Earth.
However, in the Journal of Global Health Reports, Vol. 4, of May 18, 2020, on its Viewpoint page, a write-up by Beatrice Wuraola Ope with the title “Reducing maternal mortality in Nigeria: Addressing maternal health services’ perception and experience”, said that maternal mortality ratio (MMR) in several low-and-middle-income countries is alarming, with about 34% of global maternal deaths occurring in Nigeria and India alone. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the MMR in Nigeria is 814 (per 100,000 live births). The lifetime risk of a Nigerian woman dying during pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum or post-abortion is 1 in 22, in contrast to the lifetime risk in developed countries estimated at 1 in 4900.
Whichever one we take, the maternal rate at birth is high and unacceptable and that is why we must all rise in unison and welcome ‘The god of Wike’ who may ultimately prove to be the game changer. Maternity wards across the country need only paste on their entrance doors that pregnant women in labour should call on ‘The god of Wike’ thrice. There may even be no need for antenatal or postnatal care because a woman in labour whose water has broken anytime can just call on this god thrice and, pronto, she is delivered!
Just imagine how cheap childbirth will become in our land. And there will be no reason for building maternity hospitals, clinics or wards again. This means that much-needed funds spent on maternity-related issues can now be redirected to other engagements needing them. But the problem we will have is if Nigerians would agree to give this newly revealed deity a chance to do the wonders in our lives that we need. Stubborn people we are, especially our women.
My Christian friends will say their God is not a god of confusion. But I believe every Christian and Muslim in Nigeria will tell you the same thing. However, can we say the same for The god of Wike?
Apparently, as its chief of staff and caretaker of its shrine, or perhaps its prophet, it told him to pardon and drop all charges over an alleged ₦96bn fraud against Rotimi Amaechi and then turn round and instructed him to refile fresh charges against him. No doubt it was this god that made him recognise Celestine Omehia as a former governor, making the State House of Assembly do so, but the same god made him strip Omehia of all gubernatorial privileges, including a refund of N600m entitlements he had enjoyed, within a week.
It is said Omehia became Atikulated. Could be the god was taken by surprise or it didn’t foresee that act of “betrayal” so it instructed its Chief of Staff to strike back. This vengeful, unforgiving god made its prophet sign the Certificate of Occupancy of land allocated to Senator Lee Maeba in Port Harcourt, River State, but six months later instructed him to revoke it!
But The god of Wike sometimes speaks tongue in cheek. It told Wike to tell us that it will not give power to the wicked. Very considerate of it, because at this point we do need any wicked person to have authority over us. We do not know if that is why it wasn’t there to aid its Chief of Staff during the PDP presidential primary election in which Atiku Abubakar emerged as the winner. Or maybe it prefers him to enrol in a pastorship school, come out and set up a Wike Fire In The Creek Ministry.
No politician in the history of Nigeria has the cult-like, die-hard following that President Muhammadu Buhari had. He is surely a great man and there is no way he cannot be prominently part of our history till eternity. He has combined the sort of followings that Sir Ahmadu Bello, Aminu Kano, Zik and Awo had. Even the kind of following gifted to Sir Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu because some people can go to war for him.
One thing he succeeded at doing is extricating himself from the class of people called “politicians”. And this in itself is great politics. His followers are quick to say to everybody’s hearing that “General is not a politician”. And because, wrongly of course, the average uninformed Nigerian’s perception, or definition, of a politician is that of a “liar”, “a person who does not fulfil promises”, “a thief” and anything bad that they can think of, Muhammadu Buhari became “a saint”, the “only thing clean” amid dirt. And “the only hope.”
•Hassan Gimba is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Neptune Prime.