Oil producing south-south sub national entity, Rivers State has been in the front burner of national discourse from last weekend till date, as political behemoth cum Lord of the manor, Nyesom Wike and his protege, governor Siminalayi Fubara went for the jugular. The alleged covert moves orchestrated by the honourable minister of FCT to oust the helmsman of Rivers from Government House, Forces Avenue abode came to fore in frightening fashion. It spilled into public domain at the speed of light with mockery of the tenets of democracy where a kangaroo sitting led by the pro-Wike faction (as it stands so far) removed it’s Majority Leader, Edison Ehie at an improvised venue (who has now morphed into the Speaker by the pro-Fubara faction) in a move widely seen as prelude to the governor’s impeachment. Twenty-four Assembly members, including the now former Speaker, Martin Amaewhule, supported Ehie’s removal reminiscent of George R.R. Martin’s medieval world earlier that morphed into the Games of Thrones blockbuster on HBO.
This allusion has an intricate blend with the current political crisis in Rivers State that witnessed the governor who embarked on an assessment tour of the burnt Assembly Complex a night before as tear gas, water cannons and shots were fired outside the building with the security aides of the Rivers State Governor shielding him from enemy fire. Fubara, while addressing his supporters at the Assembly Complex, stated that he has not committed any offense to warrant impeachment by the Rivers State of Assembly. “Let them come out and tell Rivers people the offense that I have committed to warrant any impeachment.” Fubara said. The Governor also assured the state’s citizenry of getting the dividends of democracy and noted that he would speak on the matter at the appropriate. These development occurred just hours after a fire outbreak broke out at the Assembly Complex last weekend.
The expeditious manner the imbroglio was exported to the seat of power in Abuja is stuff of legends, as the major news development that surrounded the sidelines of the Federal Executive Council meeting (FEC) on Monday with newspaper headlines, digital and electronic media agog with the latest sparks in Rivers – For much of last week Fubara has been the top trending topic on social media platforms. In a purely Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) internal matter, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu on Tuesday took immediate steps to end the rift between Governor Simi Fubara and his predecessor, and FCT Minister, Nyesom Wike, which has snowballed into political crisis in the state.
The president used the opportunity of last Tuesday’s meeting of the National Police Council at the State House, Abuja which both parties attended as members, to end the feud between the two political allies who appear to have gone southwards at this rate. Bauchi State Governor, Senator Bala Mohammed, who disclosed this while briefing newsmen on the outcome of the meeting presided over by thee president at the Council Chambers, said President Tinubu engaged in discussions with both parties with a view to restoring peace in the state. Despite their face-off, Fubara and Wike have earlier exchanged pleasantries outside the Council Chambers venue of the meeting.
Mohammed, who is Chairman of the PDP Governors Forum (PDP-GF), also disclosed that the opposition governors have resolved to work with the president because he has shown good faith by not interfering with gubernatorial uses brought before the courts by PDP members.
The meat of this treatise is hinged on the phrase “more than what meets the eye”. The current situation in Rivers State is more to something or someone than what is immediately visible or apparent. It strongly suggests that there is a deeper level of complexity or meaning that is not immediately apparent. The metaphorical phrase “don’t judge a book by it’s cover by its cover” has come to fruition in public domain except you digest some chapter(s) to reach a conclusion. What you see is not always what you think you’re getting.
This inference has manifested therein in Rivers State with heightened tensions that have morphed into ethnocentric dimensions and beyond with strongly worded statements by Ijaw National Congress (INC), elder statesman and nationalist, Chief Edwin Clark. The stinging treatise and submission earlier by Nigerian nationalist, Ijaw leader and politician from Delta State, Chief Clark where he urged President Bola Tinubu to intervene in the current political crisis in Rivers State. Clark’s appeal specifically targeted the Minister of FCT, Nyesom Wike, while urging Tinubu to advise and caution him. Speaking at televised press briefing on last week Monday, Clark said the President should caution Wike and the security agencies in order to avert any untold crisis in the state. “I have been greatly disturbed by the reported developments in Rivers State in the last 24 hours. I have been reliably informed that there is a plot to unlawfully remove the Governor of Rivers State, Siminalayi Fubara, who has spent only about five months in office,” he said. Clark claimed that the current crisis is aimed at removing the governor, force his deputy, Prof Ngozi Odu to resign, and install the Speaker of the House of Assembly. “Let me warn strongly that allow that to happen,” he vowed.
Furtherance to the riposte fired earlier by the elder statesman, there are laid down laws and rules for impeachment process whereas these rules are adhered to for equity and transparency, but the antics employed by the factional members of Rivers State Assembly is from the gangster’s playbook reminiscent of Mafia syndicates. If allowed, the factional members will seat and within the sitting they will skip all the 11 steps as enshrined in the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria to unseat the Governor and pronounce him impeached. The Rivers State Elders led by Chief Ferdinand Alabraba has also fired a strong response via a press conference earlier to counter the narrative by the INC on the simmering crisis.
This latest development has rattled all and sundry with Wike excreting bricks at this rate based on his facade that looks downcast. In a long time he has not betrayed such emotions in public – The cause celebre spoke at the sidelines of the FEC meeting post press briefing for less than sixty seconds – Classic Wike waxes lyrical when he’s handed the opportunity to speak in public domain with the accroutrement of his live band while he held sway as Rivers State former governor. All through the said presser he was fondling with his mobile phone to keep abreast with development in his home state. These optics exhibited by Wike betrayed emotions of a figure whose characteristic ebullience, braggadocio and bravura that he carries like a badge of honour. Wike also added that he’s finished, if he loses political relevance in Rivers.
Wike is a cat with nine lives – It’s a case of never say never. He will not surrender without a fight, as it’s widely speculated that the Abuja meeting cum mediation earlier is a sham and only a ruse to get Fubara to drop his guard while Nyesom Wike engineers alleged subterranean moves to deliver a destructive counter blow. Wike bears petty and unforgiving characterization – It’s not beyond his persona to execute such antics.
Meanwhile, Fubara has expressed optimism that the ongoing political crisis would be resolved amicably. Fubara disclosed this on last week Wednesday when the Chief of Defence State, General Christopher Musa, led a military delegation to the Government House in Port Harcourt, the state capital. He noted that there is nothing wrong with a father having an issue with his son, saying that the political problems in the state would be resolved. His words: “For our dear state, I know everybody is wondering what’s going on, what’s not going on. We are okay, there is no problem. “If we have an internal issue, it will be resolved and everything will go back to normal. There is nothing wrong if a father and son have a problem if there is any problem, but I don’t think there is anything, whatever it is, we will resolve the issue.”
It remains to be seen if the parties will adhere to this statement by Fubara therein. In a nutshell, the advice by Lord Baelish aka “Little finger” to Sansa Stark when the various Houses in the seven kingdoms were at each other’s neck for the Iron Throne applies in this situation. “Don’t fight in the North, or the South. Fight every battle, everywhere, always, in your mind. Everyone is your enemy, everyone is your friend, every possible series of events is happening all at once. Live that way and nothing will surprise you.”
The battle for the soul of power continues in Rivers State and it’s not for the faint hearted. According to Nicolo Machiavelli, politics is a constant struggle for power. All politics is power politics. Those who wield power want to maintain it by all means possible and those who are not in power are also doing all sorts of dirty tricks as to get into power.
Politics is not a game of angels or of lesser evil men. It’s a game characterized by competition, conflict, co-operation, prudence and pragmatism. Governor Fubara needs to take this mantra at heart going forward, as he navigates the complex ecosystem of managing the affairs of the oil rich treasure base of the nation laden with colossal oil and gas reserves – The goose that lays the golden egg must not be destroyed thanks to primordial dwarfism and tendencies.
•Ayoola Ajanaku is a Communications and Advocacy Specialist based in Lagos, Nigeria…