Governor Wike of Rivers State, still reeling from his “betrayal” at the PDP presidential primaries where he lost narrowly to Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has just “released” another chart-topping, hilarious hit song.
This time, Wike didn’t just sing in Igbo, he sang in what closely sounded like the idiomatic Ngwa dialect.
The Ngwa are a sub-clan of the Igbo tribe. And curiously, Wike’s immediate native Ikwerre audience sang along with him. The way they sang, if you are Ngwa or Ukwa, you will understand that the dialect wasn’t learned. They were born into it.
And legend has it that the Ngwa, Ukwa and Ikwerre share kinship ties – ties that, in contemporary times, have been confounded by claims of Benin ancestry by the Ikwerre, despite the overt affirmation of those ties by some Ikwerre leading lights, including Rotimi Amaechi.
Governor Wike himself is on record to have abjured those ties.
What Wike did by that song, in his sobering moment of profound political despondency, was to sound “a dog whistle.”
A dog whistle is a political allusion or comment that only a certain audience are intended to recognise the significance of – and be roused and rallied.
A classic example of a dog whistle is Asiwaju Tinubu’s recent Abeokuta EMILOKAN speech, by which the Asiwaju, sensing mighty conspiracies and intrigues against his presidential aspiration, moved to rally and sensitize his Yoruba kinsmen.
The “members of Wike’s intended larger audience” heard him loud and clear but are only wondering why Wike has lived so long in abjuration – not that they covet Ikwerre silver or gold, or are forcing “Igbonness” on the Ikwerre.
The inescapable suspicion here is that Wike’s moment of political woto-woto is forcing, perhaps, a journey to self-discovery.