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Rivers’ Rumbles, when clouds began to come together

Rivers' Rumbles, when clouds began to come together
Rivers' Rumbles, when clouds began to come together

The attempt to impeach Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalaye Fubara came to people of the State and Nigerians as a shock

No one could have envisaged a crisis of that dimension to happen in the state barely six months after the swearing-in of Fubara who has been touted to be the golden boy of the former Governor Nyesom Wike.

Politics being a game of selfish interest, at least, in these climes, Rivers people knew beforehand that the romance between Wike and his godson, Fubara would sour someday, but nobody expected that to happen so early in his administration. There were clear political indicators in the state that served as pointers to the fact that Fubara would never be an independent governor but “a stooge” in the hands of his “maker”.

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Right from when key positions were retained by people earlier appointed by the former governor, it was evident that Fubara would not be comfortable in Rivers.

With those sensitive appointments which he had neither hand nor any say, it was obvious that the governor was absolutely designed to be a jumping jack designed to dance whenever the strings are pulled.

The genesis of Fubara’s emergence as the governorship candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, at the Obi Wali International Conference Center in May 2022 was the first shock down the spine of political observers in the state. An astute civil servant. Quiet and quintessential, Fubara, sources confirmed, never had an inkling that he would ever become the governor of Rivers State. Not when he was still Accountant General of the oil-rich state.

That night at Obi Wali, Fubara, an infant politician pulled 721 votes to beat the likes of Prince Felix Obuah, former state chairman of the PDP, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, former Minister of Transport, Rt. Hon. Austin Opara, former deputy speaker House of Representatives, Dr. Tammy Danagogo, former Minister of Sports, Chief David Briggs, Dr. George Kelly and Isaac Kamalu among others.

“I don’t know what to say”, Fubara said in his acceptance speech. He was totally overwhelmed by the “grace” that was at work that night. Of course, it was clear that whoever won the PDP primaries would become the governor of the state. That same night, Fubara’s sobriquet changed to “your excellency”, “the next governor of Rivers state”.

More like Shakespeare’s “borrowed robes”, Wike who quickly noticed some shock waves down the spine of his “anointed”, stepped up to the podium and tactfully doused every dose of fear when he said, “power comes from God. When I became governor, I never knew that I would be governor. Everybody should see it that this is the way God designed it”.

It was not very clear whether there was any form of agreement written or not between Wike and Fubara for any of them to have over 90 percent of strategic positions allotted to him. Mouths began to wag in the state when the appointment of Wike’s loyalists were either retained or appointed to sensitive ministries like Justice, Finance, Works, Health, Power, Energy, Special Projects and Sports among others.

As important and sensitive as the office of the chief of staff is to any governor or president, the person occupying that position now was nominated by Wike. In the Legislature, the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Martins Amaewhule is a close political ally of Minister Wike from the same extraction.

The scenario above clearly painted a grim picture of dangerous landmines carefully connected for a purpose. This is where the dark cloud began to gather in Rivers state politics which culminated in the blowup that was witnessed on Monday, October 30, 2023.

With these appointments, the governor was suffocating in silence. He could not allegedly do anything without an approval from a particular external actor. Top government secrets were leaked on daily basis, thereby making the governor and his administration very vulnerable.

Though very reserved in nature, the governor could not continue to die in silence. He cried out. And the cry was loud enough for all to hear penultimate Monday. Even the deaf heard him.

Unconfirmed report had it that severally, the governor had threatened to dump the ship of governance and return to his private life. “They begged him”, a credible source said. A peace meeting was also allegedly said to have been held in faraway London and France where some level of understanding was reached.

Some elders in the state and the party were said to have waded in and urged the two parties to allow the status quo to remain for the peace of the state. Also in Abuja, another peace meeting was held to consolidate on the initial one.

Though Fubara’s emergence as governor cemented the yawning gap of riverine and upland dichotomy in Rivers state, it may not last for too long. His emergence answered the question of Ijaw governorship in the state. This is why Wike was celebrated when he chose the former Accountant general of the state as his successor. On that note, Fubara must have come with a mindset of what to do to please the people of Rivers state and leave a durable legacy like his predecessor who many tagged MR PROJECT.

In Abuja when some agreements cloud not be reached the rumble began.

It was at this point that the conspiracy for impeachment against him was plotted. Wike said in Abuja Thursday that impeachment was a political process, implying that he might not have been unaware of it. However, he made it clear that he was not interested in the governance of Rivers as he had his hands full as FCT minister. But he said he would not allow anybody hijacking his political structure in the state.

The Songhai farm was established by the government of former governor Rotimi Amaechi in 2010 in Bunu, Tai local government area of the state. Over 300 hectares of land was acquired for the project and more than 100 young men and women from the state were sent to Port Novo in Benin Republic to learn the skills of modern farming.

The affairs of the farm were managed by the Rivers State Sustainable Development Agency, RSSDA, with a beautiful edifice in Port Harcourt. The project was abandoned and the previous administration did not care a hoot about its importance to food security in the state and the capacity to create jobs to the teeming youths.

There are some key projects which were not touched by the Wike administration. The Billion naira monorail and the Songhai Farm, just to mention two. Fubara visited the farm recently and promised to revamp it. Revamping the dilapidated farm project presupposes a subtle move away from Wike’s position on the farm which could be seen as an unholy romance with former minister Rotimi Amaechi. Wike would not like such development.

“All of us want to be politically relevant. All of us want to maintain our political structure”. That is Wike’s fear. The fear of losing his political base in Rivers state. The Songhai visit by Fubara is a stone cast foundation for such fear. Wike will rather “die” than see his political structure swept off his feet. This is why he visits home every weekend to tend to his political base.

To every politician, a thousand years is like a day and a day like a thousand years. 2027 may be four years away from now. A serious politician like Wike believes that 2027 is like the next day.

Amaechi is still very relevant and exponentially dangerous to the political interest of Wike. Yes, Amaechi may be described as an “outsider” in today’s All Progressives Congress, APC, under President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, he still controls some remnants of party faithful in the state and across Nigeria.

Sources are of the view that Amaechi is a more tolerable, more accommodating and more compromising to ideas than Wike. He is also an Ikwerre man from the upland part of the state. Amaechi was equally alleged to have rooted for the PDP presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar in the last general election. He remains politically relevant. “You cannot work and people will begin to bring enemies, those who fought you when you were struggling for the person to be in office……..but don’t touch the political structure of the state. I will not shut my eyes”, Wike postulated.

If that is true, then one can draw the lines that Amaechi can breathe better under the umbrella than a suffocating Tinubu’s APC with Wike serving as a super minister under that same banner. So, could it be that the Songhai Farm visit was a clear signpost for future political alliance between Fubara and the former Minister of Transport, hence, Wike would not want to lose his base? Wike knows the value of staying close to base.

Under President Goodluck Jonathan, Amaechi then as a governor threw Wike to Abuja as a junior minister so that he could breathe. Wike later became a super star and returned back to suffocate his “maker”. One could remember vividly the crisis that erupted on the floor of the state House of Assembly in 2013 leading to the worst bloodbath in the history of the state.

Governor Fubara was rattled on Monday when about 24 lawmakers allegedly signed an impeachment notice on him. This was sequel to the bombing of the legislative chamber on Sunday night. The arson was to forestall the lawmakers from gaining access to the complex for the execution of their scheme.

Well, by intervention, peace appears to have returned to the state.

This is pyrrhic, though. Pyrrhic in the sense that the impeachment notice is yet to be withdrawn. Secondly, there are two Speakers in Rivers state at the moment: Rt. Hon Martins Amaewhule and Rt. Hon. Edison Ehie who was sworn in in the heat of the crisis on Monday and had since been congratulated by the governor.

Who then is the Speaker of Rivers state House of Assembly? When will either of the two Speakers assume duties in the Dome Complex for legislative responsibilities? Can Wike concede the speakership position to Fubara? A complex dream.

Techrectory with Agency Report.

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Written by Percy Onyeka

A seasoned Tech/Business Analyst, Digital Media Consultant , Publisher and Entrepreneur with more than a decade experience. Online Editor in Chief-New National Star newspaper and a host of clients...

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