The drama in the political space of Rivers State which has taken center stage in the media does not in any way hit those who are conversant with the real issues as a surprise development. This has been the pattern since the advent of democracy in the oil and gas-rich state that serves as the traditional headquarters of the Niger Delta region of Nigeria.
The current faceoff between the incumbent Governor, His Excellency Sim Fubara, and his erstwhile Godfather, Chief Barrister Nyesom Wike, the predecessor of Fubara and currently the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory. Both men belong to the same political party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. Although Wike lost out on the power play in the PDP to contest for the presidency, he has since pitched a tent with the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and serving under the Federal Government headed by His Excellency, Ahmed Bola Tinubu.
The factionalization of the APC in the state has been an advantage to Wike who seems to have nailed the coffin with his alliance with the APC Chieftains at the party’s headquarters as well as the residents of the seat of power, Aso Rock. Wike has been enjoying the mixed blessings until the rage of the storm in his backyard. This time, it was not the unfriendly knock of a familiar enemy but that of an untimely resistance by a political godson whom he baptized into the murky waters of Rivers politics.
Sim Fubara without a word, stood up to his father, mentor, and benefactor in a manner that proved that power has the capacity and ability to make boys into men.
If everyone is shocked at the developing story, Wike should not have been since his political journey in 1998. He ought to have realized that he is not and would never be the head of all principalities with the supernatural powers to overrun a system that has become an age-long pattern.
Even Wike in one of the political campaigns before the Governorship elections expressed his reservations about reserved people being more dangerous than loquacious politicians. This was in response to Fubara’s comment at a rally that Accountants talk less but show more action. He was responding to social media reports where opposition parties mocked him for not being able to speak for himself but allowed Wike to do the talking while he watched.
What is more intriguing in the whole drama is that even those who revered Wike as the doer of the impossible are now on the side of the Governor, apparently seeking an end to Wike’s envious reign in the Rivers political stage. Those who hailed Wike yesterday on this are now berating him! The average Rivers man prefers the treasure of the seat of power, formally known as the Brick House, then looking for money to board a flight to Abuja. It has always been the pattern. It is not expected that the erstwhile followers of the FCT Minister would relocate to hang around him in Abuja.
The State has enough to cater to those who come around the Government. If only Gov Fubara can be as generous as those before him, then he will gain more support, across party lines and ethnic affiliation.
Only a handful of Wike’s men can afford the hotel bills in Abuja to wait for empowerment. The rest will switch to Fubara.
It happened when Odili relocated to Abuja. It was recorded in Amaechi’s days as Minister. This time around, there won’t be anything different! It is a repeated pattern just like the “Abiku” by Wole Soyinka.
It only remains for the Governor to sustain the favor of the President. I only hope Fubara will not be sacrificed the way Amaechi was by the former President.
In all of these, I can say that there are familiar spirits in a territory that are difficult to cast out. I didn’t mention karma, even though some may wish to interpret it as such.
Wike will not be the first leader to be in a fierce battle with his political godson. But he will be the first to have defied all odds to successfully enthrone a successor, since the history of democracy in Rivers State. Ada George was unable to bring a successor. His former deputy, Peter Odili became Governor through others. Amaechi who was originally Odili’s choice was stopped by the President then. He eventually found his way to power through others, after Odili endorsed Omehia as a replacement. Then came Dakuku as a preference to succeed Amaechi, it was scuttled by Wike through the instrumentality of Dame Patience Jonathan, the former President’s wife. Amaechi and Wike had fallen out.
Wike believed he was different. He brought Some Fubara who was not in the political lineup as a potential successor. Wike made history by breaking the succession jinx. Fubara won and became Governor. Shortly after five months in power, he has been in a fierce battle with Wike.
It is not still clear how this will end as Wike pulls all strings and still believes “the law has not spoken.”
Remember that Fubara has won at both the tribunal and the Appeal Court. The case is pending at the Supreme Court.
No one is sure if Wike will align with Tony Cole of the APC to overrun the Governor. But that may be Wike’s political Golgotha as Cole remains Amaechi’s close friend and political ally. Fubara is enjoying the sympathy of the public even without spending a dime. But sympathy is not enough. While he has taken very fearful steps to stop Wike’s lawmakers from impeaching him, it is not in the public space his counter plans to end the Minister’s influence in the power play of the state.
But Fubara will be opening his wings if he believes that Wike will retreat without a deadly comeback, even if he anticipates a failed attempt. The Minister who many say is reaping from his sins of the past is not known to chicken out from a fight. Not acknowledging his political sagacity and chameleonic tendencies just to win a battle would be preposterous and inimical to stopping him.
Though Wike enjoys no special status as Minister, based on the provisions of the Nigerian constitution, he sure has the privilege of presidential backing. His main rival now, Fubara has full-fledged immunity and no President may want to lose the support of the sitting Governor of a state like Rivers. This remains a catch-22 situation for President Tinubu.
Obiaruko Christie Ndukwe is the Publisher of Beam Newspapers, columnist and political analyst. She can be reached via: firstname.lastname@example.org