BREAKING: Rivers Political Crisis: Fubara Raves As Wike Likely Retreats (1)

In my copy of Monday, January 15, 2024, entitled, “Shaibu’s talk about Obaseki’s betrayal laughable,” I posed the question, “Do politicians have conscience, and if they do, does it prick them?” This followed the declaration by the lately impeached Deputy Governor Philip Shaibu, that Governor Godwin Obaseki had betrayed him by refusing to back his aspiration to succeed him on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)....READ FULL ARTICLE

Comrade Shaibu had reckoned that Obaseki supporting his ambition would be reciprocal for what he did to aid his first and second term elections, and his governments (under All Progressives Congress (APC) and PDP, respectively). Rather, Obaseki “anointed” a Lagos-based lawyer and financier, Dr Asue Ighodalo, to succeed him in November 2024.

In the article, I likened Shaibu’s accusation to “the kettle calling the pot black,” nudging him to recall “how he betrayed former Governor Adams Oshiomhole – whom he still addresses as ‘my father,’ perhaps to humour him – in order to ingratiate Mr Obaseki, who also betrayed Comrade Oshiomhole.”

Then, I took Shaibu through Oshiomhole’s unilateral endorsement of Obaseki against opposition from formidable foundation members of the defunct Action Congress (AC) and Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), “and did a yeoman’s campaign” for him to win the 2016 governorship.

But not long after, Obaseki broke with Oshiomhole for allegedly “attempting to lord it over him and his government as a ‘godfather,’ – which Oshiomhole really assumed in 2016 to swing the candidacy for and ‘crown’ Obaseki as Governor of Edo State.”

In closing, I noted that, if Obaseki could undermine “Oshiomhole’s benevolent spirit that broke his palm kernel for him,” and reward Oshiomhole with a series of betrayals, who’s Shaibu to escape retribution from Obaseki, who’s already “anointed” by Governor Oshiomhole as ‘Governor-in-waiting’ before Shaibu’s picked as his running mate?

That intro question of whether politicians have conscience, and if it pricks them, needs emphasising, owing to what’s happening in Rivers State between Governor Siminalayi Fubara and his “political godfathers” and Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mr Nyesom Wike, who Fubara’s rebelled against for alleged overbearing influence on his government that came into office on May 29, 2023.

Ahead of the general election – and the March 18, 2023, governorship poll that ushered in Fubara – Wike had “anointed” him against opposition from PDP chieftains, who’d assumed that Wike would pick one of them for governor after he’d “encouraged” them to so dream. They accused Wike of picking Fubara because he’s of his Ikwerre ethnic stock, whereas Fubara’s an Ijaw.

During the campaigns, Wike’s everywhere, as if he’s gunning for a “third term” in office. Like the mother-hen that protects her chicken from the predator-hawk, Wike shielded Fubara from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which declared him wanted for alleged financial sleaze perpetrated in his office as the Accountant General of Rivers State. Due to EFCC’s intense manhunt for Fubara, Wike literally assumed the candidate for the election.

Wike took all the arrows, darts and bullets aimed at Fubara, and made him governor under the PDP even when Wike – in support of the candidate of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu (now President of Nigeria) – worked against the interest of the PDP presidential candidate, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.

This was similar to what former President Olusegun Obasanjo (1999-2007) did for the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua (2007-2010), when his bid for president was hampered by ailments that kept him mostly overseas from the campaign trail. Obasanjo more or less “swapped” position with Yar’Adua and campaigned for him to win the 2007 presidential poll.

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Ditto for Senator and former Governor Orji Uzor Kalu of Abia State (1999-2007), who campaigned for his then Chief of Staff, Theodore Orji, who’s detained in a Lagos jailhouse over corrupion allegation. On the strength of Dr Kalu’s campaign under the defunct Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA), Orji won the governorship from prison, and was released to assume office in 2007.

In 2016, Oshiomhole, so to speak, “carried on his back” Godwin Obaseki – the nominal chairman of his government’s Economic Strategy Team (EST) – while campaigning for him to succeed him as governor in November of that year, which Obaseki did.

There’s no crystal ball to foretell if Yar’Adua would’ve estranged Obasanjo had he lived beyond 2010 when he died, but he’s beginning to question some of Obasanjo’s policies, and even the election that brought him (Yar’Adua) to power in 2007 as indeed “rigged” in his favour. But Governors Obaseki, and Orji dealt with their political benefactors, Comrade Oshiomhole and Dr Kalu, accordingly.

Not surprising – given the MO of Nigerian politicians, Governor Fubara’s toeing a likely line, forgotting so soon Wike’s political sacrifices for him, and thus proving a liner from a book by former Rivers Governor Peter Odili (1999-2007) – and quoted by Wike – that, “Give a man power and money, that’s when you will know the person.”

“If you have not given a man power and money, do not say you know the person,” Wike adds in an interview on African Independent Television (AIT), in reaction to the torching of the Rivers State House of Assembly on October 9, 2023, in attempts by pro-Wike lawmakers to impeach Fubara, who pulled down the complex to prevent the lawmakers’ action against him.

With power and money, Fubara’s graduated from “bended knee” (sevant) to straightened knee (master), and daily challenges Wike’s political clout, and his professed love for Rivers State. For instance, on April 27, on a visit to condole with “former Governor Celestine Omehia” on the death of his mother, Mrs Ezinne Cecilia Omehia, Fubara vowed he’d not kneel (to Wike) to govern Rivers.

(By law, Omehia’s never a governor of Rivers State, as his few weeks/months in office was vitiated by the Supreme Court, which declared Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi as the duly-elected governor of the PDP in 2007, sworn-in and ruled for eight years (2007-2015) – even though he only won the PDP primary, and didn’t participate in the governorship election, as he’s exiled in Ghana, afraid for his life from alleged officially-backed political goons. It’s Omehia who, supported by Wike, that campaigned and “won” the poll, which the Supreme Court voided because Amaechi won the primary for the governorship poll.)

Fubara’s words: “Anybody who claims to love this state should not be party to anything, directly or indirectly, that will bring us backwards. We will continue to support every course (cause) that will advance the interest of our dear Rivers State.

“And I am happy to say, and I’ve said it over and again, it doesn’t matter the number of people that are standing with me, I will stand on the side of truth. I will not, I repeat, I will not govern our dear state on my knees. If that was the purpose, I will not do that. I will stand to govern our dear state and stand continually on the side of (what’s) right.”

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In response, Omehia expressed appreciation, on behalf of his family, to Governor Fubara, his delegation and other friends, among whom were those he described as “mature elders,” for the show of love.”

Then, Omehia massaged Fubara’s ego, saying, “I have taken a decision to be SIMplified (an alias derived from the governor’s name, Siminalayi). Wherever you (Fubara) go is where I will go. If you say tomorrow you are no more interested in this position, I will also stop fighting for anything in Rivers State.”

Omehia stated emphatically that almost the entire people of the State, including chiefs, elders, opinion leaders, women, youths, civil society groups and professionals across all spectrums, “were praying and working assiduously for the success of the Fubara administration,” stressing it was that support and prayers of the people that he needed to succeed, because, “one with God, is with majority, and would always excel and succeed.”

The inevitable questions: Wasn’t Fubara on “his knees” when he’s aspiring to be governor of Rivers State? Didn’t he bow, cower, crawl, cringe, flatter and genuflet to Wike to achieve his ambition? If Wike had asked him to commit a criminal act against Rivers State, would Fubara be his own man he claims, and stand straight and look the governor in the face and say, “no, I won’t do it?”

Why does Fubara think he loves Rivers more than Wike; that only a few Rivers people, like Omehia, “understand that Rivers State belongs to everyone of us,” and “we must, therefore, fight together to sustain the soul of this state,” and that, “anybody who claims to love this state should not be party to anything, directly or indirectly, that will bring us backwards?”

Really? Because Wike – who single-handedly brought Fubara into his government, appointed him Accountant General, and anointed and crowned him as governor – asked him to honour a behind-the-scenes gentleman’s agreement Fubara entered into, Wike’s become an enemy intent on destroying Rivers State he’s helped to develop in his eight-tenure as governor (2015-2023)?

Does Fubara equate his fight over personal political and other hidden interests as a fight for the soul of Rivers? No, Mr Governor! Your fight isn’t for Rivers State nor for Rivers people, who weren’t there when you probably signed an agreement(s) you knew would mortgage the state! Now, you claim victimhood, stirring up, and blackmailing the innocent, but gullible citizens of Rivers to assist you to fight your self-induced battles with Wike!

If Fubara actually believes “politics of bitterness will not take us anywhere,” he should shealth the sword, stop rattling the sabre and threatening fire and brimstone everywhere and at any opportune moment – such as he did during a solemn occasion of condoling with Sir Omehia over the death of his beloved mother.

There’re no half measures for peace. It’s holistic and enduring. If you want peace, you continually talk peace. If you talk peace, you cultivate peace. If you cultivate peace, you walk peace. If you walk peace, you drop the stick for the carrot. If you preach peace, you don’t pursue war. For war doesn’t achieve peace, but eternal enmity.

You don’t pretend to preach peace, and do the opposite. It amounts to betrayal of trust, and the cause. It cuts deeply, even in politics where there’s no permanent friend or permanent enemy but permanent interest.

The road to peace – which Fubara preaches openly while also fanny the embers of discord – is to honour another gentleman’s agreement he publicly endorsed at the Presidential Villa in Abuja on December 19, 2023, before President Bola Tinubu, his (Fubara’s) representatives, and Wike and those in his camp.

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Agreed that controversy trailed the eight-point agreement, which’s the outcome of Fubara’s reported personal invitation to Tinubu, to intervene in the crisis in the Rivers polity. Yet, contrary to claims by newfound political allies, Fubara didn’t object to any of the items, and he signed the document in the presence of his backers, some of whom also signed the agreement.

Fubara, in a Christmas broadcast on Monday, December 25, 2023, said the resolution brokered by Tinubu to resolve the crisis was “not a death sentence,” but would ensure lasting peace in the state, and pledged to implement the agreement in such a way that would restore political stability in Rivers.

This was as the National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP warned Fubara against implementing the accord without its input, while some Rivers elders filed writs against President Tinubu and others for allegedly violating the amended 1999 Constitution, by finding political, rather than legal solutions to the Rivers crisis. Just imagine, faulting the deployment of a political strategy to solving a political issue!

Present on the government side at the parley were President Tinubu, Vice President Kashim Shettima, National Security Adviser (NSA), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu and the president’s Chief of Staff, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila; and on Wike’s side we’re Wike, Rivers Assembly Speaker Martin Amaewhule, and APC Chairman, Rivers State, Mr Tony Okocha

From the governor’s camp were Fubara, former Governor Odili, Deputy Governor Ngozi Odu, and PDP Chairman, Rivers State, Mr Aaron Chukwuemeka; and those who signed the agreement included Fubara, Wike, Prof. Odu, Ribadu, Amaewhule, Okocha and Chukwuemeka.

As a governor, who claims to “stand by the side of truth and the side of (what’s) right,” it behoves, and is incumbent on Fubara to wholeheartedly respect President Tinubu and his intervention in the Rivers palaver, and honour the “peace agreement” fully, and not pick-and-choose for piecemeal implementation that’s the potential to exacerbate tension in Rivers State. The eight-point Resolutions are as follows:

• All matters instituted in the courts by Fubara, and his team shall be withdrawn immediately.

• All impeachment proceedings initiated against Fubara by Rivers Assembly should be dropped immediately.

• The leadership of the Rivers Assembly, as led by Amaewhule, shall be recognised alongside the 27 members who resigned from the PDP to APC.

• Remunerations and benefits of members of Rivers Assembly and their staff should be reinstated immediately and the Rivers governor shall, henceforth, not interfere with the full funding of the Assembly.

• The Rivers Assembly shall choose where to sit and conduct legislative business without interference and/or hindrance from the Executive arm.

• Governor Fubara shall represent the state budget to a properly-constituted Rivers State House of Assembly.

• The names of commissioners, who resigned their appointments due to the political crisis in Rivers, should be resubmitted to the Assembly for approval.

• There should be no caretaker committees for Rivers State local governments. The dissolution of the Local Government administration is null and void and shall not be recognised.”

Looking through the items in the agreement, it’s evident that Governor Fubara’s continued to sidetrack the sticky issues that backgrounded the political crisis in Rivers. This, and other matters will be treated in the next installment!

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