By Paulinus Nsirim
Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike is not a stranger to receiving awards or attracting commendations and recognitions for his numerous heroic and courageous acts.
His visionary leadership, astute, strategic governance and exemplary crusading exploits as a man of the people, have all yielded a bountiful harvest of awards over the years.
In fact, the shelves of his trophy cabinet are splendidly decorated with an array of multiple plaques, silverware, mementoes and other memorial items of recognition from multi-sectoral professional and academic establishments.
Governor Wike’s recognition for his sterling, superlative leadership accomplishments started even less than two years into his tenure as Governor, when the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo bestowed on him the title “Mr. Projects.”
According to the Vice President, the Governor deserves the appellation of “Mr Projects” because of his high profile projects across the State.
The year 2017 was indeed a year of bumper harvest of awards for Governor Nyesom Wike. The Leadership Newspaper crowned him as Governor of the Year and according to the Group Managing Director of Leadership Newspaper, Abdul Gombe, the nomination of the Rivers Governor as Governor of the Year, was endorsed by two former Heads of State and a Supreme Court Justice.
That year alone, Governor Wike bagged the Silverbird Man of the Year, Sun Newspaper Governor of the Year, New Telegraph Man of the Year and Independent Newspaper Political Icon of the Year.
In 2018, Governor, Nyesom Wike was nominated for the prestigious International Sports Press Association-Africa (AIPS) Africa Power of Sports (POS) Award (in addition to the other awards he was conferred with that year) and that, by the way, is how the POS initials became attached to his introductory citation.
In a nomination letter to the Rivers State Governor, dated 26th March, 2018, President AIPS Africa, Mitchell Obi, said Wike is being recognised for his remarkable fidelity in raising the bar of sports matters and using sports as a catalyst for development.
In 2019, The Badminton Confederation of Africa nominated the Rivers State Governor for the “Award for Distinguished Service to Sports in Africa.”
Speaking during a Courtesy Visit to the Rivers State Governor at the Government House, Port Harcourt , President, Badminton Confederation Africa (BCA), Mr Tukebana Bau praised Governor Wike for his support for the growth of Badminton in Africa.
He said: “We acknowledge your support and passion for Badminton in Africa. For this reason, the Badminton Confederation Africa Board resolved to honour you with the prestigious award for your distinguished service to sports in Africa.
Hallmark Man of the Year 2020 was what Governor Wike used to crown his developmental strides in a year when governance was at a very low ebb because of COVID-19.
Governor Wike had in the preceding years, established an excellent track record of winning special, uncommon and distinguished awards and thus it was, that it didn’t come as a surprise to many, when the management of Silverbird Group announced that they were going to confer a special award on Governor Wike; the “2020 Extra Ordinary Personality of the Year Award.”
The announcement, which had been on on the airwaves for several weeks, was formally affirmed on Wednesday, February 3, 2021, as a powerful delegation, led by Mr. Jacob Akinyemi Johnson, the Silverbird Creative Development General Manager, were in Government House, Port Harcourt, to officially present the letter of nomination.
Those who know Governor Wike very well, will easily confirm that the Rivers State Governor is not one to solicit for or be easily swayed with awards.
He does not subscribe to receiving any kind of award where the awardees neither have reputational mettle nor established credibility in their constituency.
As a matter of fact, Governor Wike made his views on awards very clear when the national leadership of the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) paid him a courtesy visit on Friday, October 30, 2020.
He used the opportunity of that visit to urge journalists to hold government officials accountable, rather than give them awards on the basis of “friendship.”
“What I have seen of you is that you praise us and give us award because of relationship or friendship. That’s not the way it should be. Challenge us — the people in authority; and we will sit up to our responsibilities. We will have no choice than to perform and serve the people as it should be.
“My support for you has to do with the fact that you are supposed to tell the truth of what is happening in Nigeria. There is a need for journalists to put in more efforts as the strong voice and conscience of the society”, he told the leadership of the NGE.
Indeed, anyone who listens regularly to Silverbird’s Rhythm 93.7 FM Station in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, will agree that it is one of the few independently owned Radio stations that has exhibited commendable professionalism in handling its core journalistic responsibility.
The Station has often been praised for delivering factual, honest and substantiated reportage thus offering constructive and objective criticism where necessary.
They are also known for highlighting stories and reports that celebrate achievements of good governance and add value to collective existence.
It is therefore a remarkable reflection of the very exceptional standards of the Silverbird Group, that a leading and very prominent figure in the Nigerian socio-political space like Governor Wike, should quite appropriately be conferred with the “2020 Extra Ordinary Personality Award,” an award which literally captures the quintessential leadership essence and the courageous public spirited advocacy of the phenomenal Governor.
Corroborating what has now become generally accepted and greatly admired by many, as the core extra ordinary attributes of Governor Wike, the Silverbird Creative Development General Manager, Jacob Akinyemi Johnson, said the award is to let the Governor know that he is doing a fantastic job for the people of Rivers State and Nigeria and his actions have not gone unnoticed.
“Your boldness made you the first prominent Nigerian to raise the alarm over the atrocities of the now disbanded SARS. And you also spoke against the politicisation of security. Now your forthrightness in telling the truth to power including the presidency when you think things are going wrong, is worthy of emulation. You did not hesitate to commend when necessary also. And on political issues, you are not afraid to tell even your own party, the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) the whole truth when necessary. “
“There are very few Governors like you who walk the talk and there are very few Governors like you who have the passion and are not sentimental. You say things the way they are and you also say the things that you believe in.
“So we sat back and we said the person we can think of this year is your Excellency Nyesom Ezenwo Wike. Also in the area of projects, the last time I was here, you were referred to as Mr. Projects. Now you have been elevated to Mr. Quality Projects.
“You promised on the day you were sworn in for second term that you will work for Rivers State people to the very last day and you are living up to that task. Seven bridges in a record period of time and all these were embarked upon in 2020 when the country and indeed the entire world were greatly impacted by the COVID 19 pandemic, but you still delivered.”
Governor Wike, in accepting the nomination, was as usual, candid and honest, by first graciously thanking the management of Silverbird for the honour bestowed on him and the people of Rivers State by deeming him worthy to be conferred with an award of such deep, illuminating and connotative magnitude.
He did not however fail to take a swipe at the Media for losing their voice in the face of bad governance that has bedevilled the country.
Governor Nyesom Wike is indeed an Extra Ordinary Personality and leader, the like of which has arguably never been seen on the Nigerian socio-
political landscape in his present status as a State Governor and even his critics will agree, albeit reluctantly, that if any Nigerian leader, statesman or prominent public figure truly deserves the “2020 Extra Ordinary Personality of the Year Award”, then nobody is better qualified and more deserving of the Award than the outstanding “Mr. Quality Projects” himself.
The award is well deserved and simply corroborates and endorses what Rivers people are saying on the streets of Port Harcourt and across the length and breadth of the State in pidgin English: “Wike dey work. Everybody dey see am”.
Nsirim is the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Rivers State