(By Iheanyi Ezinwo)- The uncommon transformation achieved by Governor Ezenwo Nyesom Wike in Rivers State, Nigeria in the past three years has turned him to the proverbial golden fish that has no hiding place hence the avalanche of awards, with the most recent being the “Power of Sports ” award bestowed on him by the International Association of Sports Writers on Wednesday, May 9, in Brussels, Belgium, headquarters of the European Union.
Speaking with our Correspondent at the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa today on his arrival from Belgium, Special Adviser to the Rivers State governor on Political Matters and Strategy, Chief Emeh Glory Emeh, described the award as a global recognition of Governor Wike’s contributions to the development of sports and sporting architecture, not only in Nigeria but in Africa.
His words: “It is a thing of joy that over 108 countries were united and unanimous in the choice of Governor Nyesom Wike for the prestigious award by the International Association of Sports Writers.
“It will interest you to know that several countries competed for this award and the association, which is one of the major tripods of sports development in the world shortlisted three countries in which Nigeria was one of them.
“We are proud to note that, in the final analysis, our own Governor Wike, a Rivers man and a Nigerian, won the award in spite of the stiff competition. I can tell you with a lot of enthusiasm, having witnessed the conferment of the award that Rivers people can sit back and beat their chest that God, at this time, gave them a leader in the mould of Barr. (Chief ) Honourable Ezenwo Nyesom Wike.
“On whether or not the opposition would still have something to say about the rising profile of the governor locally, nationally and internationally, I can speak to you about opposition from experience, having been in opposition for a reasonable time.
“Let me tell you, people in opposition are naturally jealous, and in some cases very wicked. I think opposition in Rivers State combines the two: they are not only jealous, they are also unfortunately wicked. But this shouldn’t be the case as democracy is an interesting game all over the world and politics should not be a do or die affair. Interestingly, Governor Wike has repeatedly advocated that politics should not be a do or die affair.
“In any case, you can also see what is happening around them because the Bible says, ‘Touch not my anointed and do my prophets no harm’. So anyone who tries to defy that Biblical injunction is only inviting natural catastrophe. I have said it before, that God once in a while brings one of His creation to salvage His people. I think Wike came at the right time, when the state needed salvation. And as I have said in several fora, there is no alternative to Wike in Rivers State and it does not matter the evil machinations of those who have decided to call themselves opposition as they are constantly opposing themselves and not the government in power. My advice to people of Rivers State is to join hands with Governor Wike to fulfill his dream, vision and mission for which God brought him at this point in time in the political history of Rivers State, to turn our state to become like the California of the United States.
“What is interesting and gratifying to those of us working with Wike, in spite of the pull him down syndrome of the devastated APC in the state, is that Wike continues to receive the support of both the intellectual elites and professionals in Rivers State under the aegis of Rivers Patriots as well as elders of the state who are custodians of our culture under the platform of Rivers Elders Consultative Council. He has also on several occasions received accolades from the National Association of Rivers Daughters and other individuals and groups within and outside the state in appreciation of his uncommon and exemplary approach to governance.
“Wike’s approach to governance is multidimensional as he not only focuses on women and elders he is also
preoccupied with the welfare of youths who he recognizes as future leaders of our state. This underscores why he is the first administrator who is building a football academy in collaboration with the Real Madrid Football Club of Spain. It is important to state that almost all world acclaimed footballers passed through this type of academy and Governor Wike, as a forward looking leader is expecting that Rivers State will be the epicenter of talent hunt in all manner of sports, particularly the game of soccer”, Chief Emeh further explained.
It would be recalled that this is the second time an African is being bestowed with this award, the first being the late Moshood Bashorun Abiola, who at the time was described as the pillar of Sports in Africa, the reason why this award means so much and is highly appreciated by well meaning Rivers people, Nigerians and indeed Africans.