Abiodun Alade and Victor Edozie
Oil-rich Rivers State has not been immune to political crisis since the return of democracy in 1999.
However, the recent crisis between former governor of the state and Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike and his embattled political godson, Similanayi Fubara, reared its ugly head earlier than expected and is becoming another clog in the wheel of progress in the state.
Lawmakers elected to represent their constituents and make meaningful laws for the state are no longer able to carry out their functions as they become polarized along the battle line.
The Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Martins Amaehwule, is leading 24 other lawmakers loyal to Wike while Majority leader and factional Speaker, Edison Ehie and eight others are with the governor. The two groups have been holding separate sittings.
Battle over political structure
In a recent interview, Wike accused Fubara of being an ingrate plotting to destroy his political structure in the state.
“Let me tell you, I don’t like ingrates; I don’t like it. What is happening now is what Odili said in his book; ‘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,” he said.
Wike added; “God gave this (power) on a platter of gold, no crisis. The federal government is not fighting you, nobody at home is fighting you. You are the one trying to create a crisis for yourself.
“What kind of system is that? Who does that? Only ingrates that it is in their blood that will support what is happening there (in Rivers). Only those who are naturally ingrates.”
Wike insinuated that Fubara was behind the burning of the chambers of the state House of Assembly on October 29 to prevent his impeachment by lawmakers.
The minister, who was responding to questions on whether he masterminded impeachment moves against the governor, said Fubara should have rather confronted him on the issue, than send people to “burn the hallowed chambers”.
He also accused Fubara of pursuing ethnic politics in the state, which he said had never happened before.
“If they are impeaching you, did you call me? Assuming I’m the one who plotted it, did you say ‘Sir, they want to impeach me’? Is that why you will go and send people to burn the hallowed chambers? Is impeachment done in one day? Is it a one-day affair? Then, you raised ethnic politics. We have never had it like this before,” he said.
A true Ijaw son
While Fubara has not officially reacted to Wike, he claimed to be a true Ijaw son.
He said the people of Opobo in the state are an integral part of the history of the Ijaw struggle, which makes him a true Ijaw son.
Fubara stated this when he met with the Regent and other representatives of Kalabari Se Kobiri at Government House, Port Harcourt on Friday,
Governor Fubara in a statement by his media aide, Boniface Onyedi, dismissed insinuations in some quarters that labeled him as a non-Ijaw, saying such persons were not conversant with the history of the struggle that made Ijaw a reputable class of people.
“So, whoever is feeding you with that information should go back to their history classes. You cannot talk about the Ijaw struggle without the Opobo, the Bonny and the Kalabari.
“We had our trade lines at that time and for you to occupy a trade line, it means you are a true Ijaw man. So, for the records, I am a full-blooded, up to my bones, an Ijaw man,” he said
In a bid to slow down any impeachment move, the Rivers State Government ordered the redeployment of the Clerk of the State House of Assembly, Emeka Amadi, and his deputy, Calistus Ojirika.
A memo from the State Head of Service, Dr George Nweke, said Amadi has been redeployed to the Scholarship Board while Ojirika, who doubles as Head of Legislative Department in the House of Assembly, was posted to the Readers Project.
Although no reason was given for the redeployment, political observers said it is connected to the political crisis in the state.
Wike ‘takes over’ APC structure
While Wike claimed Fubara is plotting the destruction of his political structure, the former governor is positioning his men to lead the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state.
Despite not quitting the Peoples Democratic Party, Wike is in a romance with the ruling APC.
The Abdullahi Ganduje-led National Working Committee (NWC) of the APC, last week, dissolved the Rivers State executives of the party at all levels and appointed a seven-member caretaker committee led by Wike’s loyalist, Tony Okocha, to steer the party’s affairs in the state for the next six months.
The former executives were loyal to the former Minister of Transportation and governor of the state, Chibuike Amaechi.
While questioning the legality of the action of the Ganduje-led NWC, the publicity secretary of the dissolved council, Dalington Nwauju, said Okocha is not a member of the party.
A chieftain of the APC, Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, alleged that the dissolution was part of a plot to embarrass Amaechi.
The erstwhile National Publicity Secretary of the defunct New People’s Democratic Party (nPDP) in a statement, yesterday, said both Tinubu and Ganduje plotted the scheme to hand over the state chapter of the party to Wike.
He reminded those he called the cabal to be wary of Wike, who he described as a political chameleon.
In the build-up to the 2023 general elections, political observers claimed that Wike worked for Tinubu while Amaechi supported Atiku.
If the Wike and Fubara feud remains unresolved and the governor survives the impeachment plot, Wike may defect to the APC while Amaechi who was among the five serving governors who formed the G-5 faction within the PDP and defected to the APC in 2013 to unseat then President Goodluck in 2015, will return to PDP.