Nyesom Wike And Abuja Roads – By Is’haq Modibbo Kawu

TODAY is Saturday, May 4th, 2024. I had an early appointment inside the precincts of Aso Villa. I live in the Gudu District of Abuja, so I came out of my residence and took the turn through the Gudu cemetery, and followed the direction towards Asokoro. That was where my “problem” commenced. I hadn’t driven in that direction for several weeks. After a while, I came upon construction workers that early in the morning, and further ahead, I noticed that I was literally heading into a maze. The roads had been opened up in several directions.

I’ve lived in Abuja for 22 years now, and with the surety of a native dweller of the FCT, I instinctively took a right turn and the next thing was that I found myself by the A-Y-A junction. Well, all was not lost, I thought to myself. I followed the road past the ECOWAS Secretariat, and further down, the road had been blocked! I turned round and made for A-Y-A again and took the under bridge turn, again with the false assurance that I would be led to the turn going into the presidential residence. And for the umpteenth time, I missed the turn. That was when I decided to consult the satellite navigation system; unfortunately, I missed the turn which I was directed to ply and I went further on the road till I found the older network of roads and I could conveniently orient myself in the proper direction. I arrived late to my destination but not much damage had been done in respect of my appointment.

Believe me, Abuja is changing in a lot of ways. But the most poignant and standout expression of the changes must be the incredible amount of work that’s been done on the road network since the commencement of the Tinubu administration. All over the city, the change is enveloping residents, and it is one aspect of infrastructural development that we can relate with.

My youngest kid attends a boarding school that is located in a serene location of the city. The drawback was the road leading to the school. Then Nyesom Wike happened as our FCT Minister, and he made a vow to revive the Abuja railways system. One of the problems associated with the light railway system was the absence of link roads into the city. My child’s school is located close to one of the railway stations. During one of the visiting days, we were pleasantly surprised to discover that the access road that Nyesom Wike promised early in the life of the administration was already opened up. As we noted, that area of Abuja won’t be the same again. Property would appreciate, and a lot more commercial engagements would surface. Change indeed has come, and it is all around us.

When President Tinubu appointed Nyesom Wike as Minister of the FCT, there was quite some surprise about his choice for the position. Wike is the typically cantankerous politico, one that cannot live outside of the cloak-and-dagger proclivity associated with the most deadly province of Nigerian politics. He has lived through and carries the most brutal scars from the peculiar complexities of South-South politics in general, and its local manifestations in Rivers State in particular. Controversy has been his first nature. The question was, “How well could he make the transition into the different calculations of Abuja politics”?

As for immersion in the pits of the local politics of his state, Nyesom Wike is still the gladiator. He is sharply administering jabs and making desperate efforts to own his corner. On the opposite side, he faces a very formidable array of opponents, ready to cut him to size, if not to pieces! But I am not too sure that there’s the need for the onlookers to pity either Wike or his adversaries. That’s the politics that built and fortified each one of them. In the long run, they would either fight to finish, and one side is completely disabled; subdued; or cut to pieces! Time will surely tell.

But back in Abuja, Nyesom Wike is living up to the billing as a minister, and the good work that he is doing must be admired. That’s not without its controversies. But surely, can we ever build without controversy? The last FCT Minister that was worth the name and able to impact on the general state of our capital city was Nasir El-Rufai. It’s looking like Nyesom Wike is trying to prove a point too. The incredible amount of work being done on the roads is testimony to his determination. I think he is earning plaudits that the Tinubu administration can be very proud of.

In the lead to the 2023 general elections, I was part of a team that conducted pre-election training for members of the Nigerian police in the six geopolitical zones of the country. We spent a few days training at the counter-terrorism school outside of Port Harcourt, but lodged in a hotel within the city. It offered an opportunity to behold the work that had been completed and those still under construction, especially with the flyovers in the Garden City.

Against the backdrop of what he had done in the past in his home state, it probably shouldn’t have surprised us that within a year, Wike is burning his imprimatur on the roads of Abuja. We are certainly enroute to a much better federal capital. Over the previous eight years, the city went through a peculiar form of inertia driven by the lamentable incompetence at the helm of its affairs. Nyesom Wike is showing that a year can truly make a difference!

Yes the man seems cut out of the political cloth of controversy. He is the ultimate show man and a ruthless political operator. Wike is a master of political communication and he has the annoying ability to get on the political nerves of his opponents. He attracts controversy and political opprobrium the way bees are attracted to nectar. But give it to him; he knows how to fix roads and he is doing a lovely job with the roads of the Federal Capital Territory. A few weeks to the first anniversary, the Tinubu administration can be very happy about the changes enveloping Abuja, and I think the president will give Nyesom Wike a very firm handshake for his efforts.

Kawu, PhD., FNGE, is a broadcaster, journalist, and a political scientist and can be reached on [email protected].

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