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The not-so-dynamic duo of Tinubu and Wike

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and his FCT minister, Dr. Nyesom Wike are two unusual people. If your first thought after reading my opening line is…

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and his FCT minister, Dr. Nyesom Wike are two unusual people. If your first thought after reading my opening line is ‘This is a Tinubu/Wike-bashing piece’, then you are absolutely right. However, it is not gratuitous, and every observation, I assure you, is a candid, unbiased one. Back to my titular characters: My main observation about them is, funny enough, how they are not good for each other. Let me explain: President Tinubu comes across as someone who likes being lauded and praised, almost to the point of adoration. Wike, on the other hand, fresh out of his Rivers state-level politics, has tasted the undying love and affection of his loyalists, and therefore knows how addictive it can be. 

Therefore, Wike simply opens the floodgates at will, pouring out sweet, succulent praise and adulation. You might ask me how that is a problem, and of course I have an answer. The FCT minister’s apparent need to please Tinubu is pointless, and will simply be a distraction if he continues. A very good bad example – or a very bad good example – would be the recent flurry of project commissioning all over Abuja. Yes, they are all welcome developments, all genuinely praise-worthy. But there’s no way anyone can convince me that the president himself needs to go and commission a road. An urban road! Not even a ‘flyover’ bridge. Yes, it’s a dual carriageway and lined with streets, but a whole president? No. Who, then, would we expect to commission the truly earth-shattering projects then? Be patient.

Or are the powers-that-be stylishly telling us this is their administration’s zenith? That would be a disappointment, because I expect more and better from Tinubu, even if Wike can be forgiven for not totally weaning himself from state-level sensibilities as he begins on a national surface. After all, he has a solid track record of performance in his state, and his eight years as governor will not be soon forgotten by the good people he governed. Why squander the dignity of those achievements and dance pointlessly for a principal who recognizes the praise game when he sees it being played?

And for Tinubu, he has, quite frankly, bigger fish to fry. He needs to make sure his team(s) sort out our abysmal economy, our so-so security, our dismal education system, and our terminally ill health sector, to name but a few blue whale-sized ones. Even the level he reached on the national stage as the governor of Lagos, quite frankly, puts him above something as mundane and vanilla-flavoured as the commissioning of city streets and bridges. Someone online even said it is out of a desperation to appear like he is working, which I shot down. He actually is working, even if needs to work smarter, than harder.

Wike should continue to commission the FCT projects, yes, but by enlisting traditional rulers and other VIPs to add more colour, and maybe even gravitas. He should also cut down on the loudness of his leadership style, because a video I saw recently in which he was speaking to high-ranking ministry officials like they are children spoke volumes. Not to mention that he was basically prodding them to thank the President for, you guessed it, doing his job. To be clear, I like Wike, perhaps a lot even. But only when he is performing and getting things done, not when he is crashing around like a bull in a calabash shop. It is difficult, yes, but it is not unattainable. 

President Tinubu should just find a strategic position and hunch down with his ministers to fashion a way out of our current mess. He does have the admin chops, the political skill and the necessary power to do it. A flash that gave me hope is in the statement he made that he will grade ministers according to their performance, and could possibly sack them for nonperformance. If he makes good on his promise/threat, think of how much good it will do to our systems, and the positive shock that would course through them. It might need extra effort, yes, but it is not impossible.

To wrap this up, let me make it clear that I am not saying Wike and Tinubu should work apart from each other. In fact, they should work in tandem, which is the only way the FCT can truly develop into one we truly will be proud of. I know it is too much to ask of two politicians, especially a duo of such quintessential ones. But believe me, if they shut down their base instincts briefly, they will see that serving people is actually easier, and more dopamine-inducing than soulless back-patting and pointless acrobatics. After all, like the saying goes, ‘na over sabi dey make dem see masquerade finish’.


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