Disturbing Yet Familiar Developments in Rivers State

Disturbing Yet Familiar Developments in Rivers State
  • PublishedDecember 19, 2023
Blueprints with Oluwaseun Abosede
Blueprints with Oluwaseun Abosede

A few days ago, I engaged in an intriguing discussion with my esteemed brother, Yaya Ademola. Our focus was on Rivers State – the clash between Wike and Fubara. Although I sensed that Nyesom’s grip on Rivers was diminishing and Fubara would challenge him, the shocking demolition of the State House of Assembly took me by surprise.

Amid rumors of an impending impeachment procedure against Governor Sim Fubara on the night of October 29th this year, news broke that fire had engulfed the Rivers State House of Assembly Complex. Initially, it was unclear if the fire was linked to the political turmoil, but preceding events indicated that the multi-billion-dollar Rivers Assembly, built during the Peter Odili administration and arguably the most aesthetically appealing legislative complex in the country, had become a battleground for Wike and Fubara. As the saying goes, “When two elephants fight, it is the grass underneath that suffers.” Things took a turn for the worse on December 13 when, on the Governor’s order, the Assembly Complex was finally demolished, citing structural defects resulting from the recent explosion and fire incident.

This isn’t the first time the Assembly Complex has become a battleground for political gladiators. In September 2010, the former Governor of Ogun State closed the gate of the State House of Assembly for nine months, reopening it only upon his exit as Governor on May 31, 2011. The Assembly couldn’t convene for nine months, all in the name of political expediency.

Regrettably, politicians are consuming the State House of Assembly in the heat of their rivalry, highlighting the elevation of individuals over institutions in Nigeria. The State Assembly should be independent of political shenanigans. In saner climes, the House wouldn’t come under any form of attack during an executive impeachment battle.

Wike should realize that he is reaching the end of the road in this Rivers State saga; one cannot have it both ways. While there is a right to a political movement, one cannot be an apostle on the APC ministerial table of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and still lord over Rivers PDP. Fubara may have been a pet project, but it is beyond him now; the PDP as a party is fighting back.

As it was in the beginning, so it is now. The ongoing battle between the political father and son is a familiar spirit in Rivers territory that is difficult to cast out.

Peter Odili became the Governor of Rivers State in 1999 against the wishes of his former boss, Rufus Ada-George, whom Odili served as the Deputy Governor during the NRC era. Their one-year reign was cut short by the military; when democracy was restored in 1999, Ada George endorsed someone else to succeed him, but fate had a different plan. As outgoing Governor, Rotimi Chibueke Amaechi outsmarted his former employer Odili, whom he once served as a Special Assistant before becoming the Speaker of the Rivers State. Governor Odili and then Nigerian President Obasanjo had endorsed Omehia as Odili’s replacement. Amaechi completed his eight years in office; Chibuike, forgetting how he rebelliously came to power, sought to plant his successor in the person of Dakuku Peterside. Nyesom Wike, his Chief of Staff, with the backing of Dame Patience Jonathan, took over the mantle of government.

Wike succeeded where his predecessors failed. He successfully planted his successor, the seemingly quiet Fubara, expected to be docile enough to be easily steered. Unfortunately, power has the capacity to turn boys into men. Fubara, though appearing quiet, is loud enough to nullify his successor’s political wits, as events unfold. Five months is all it takes for the familiar demon of Rivers to rear its head.

Currently, Rivers State is tense, and change is imperative. My advice to Fubara is not to endorse any successor; perhaps, he might enjoy a peaceful retirement. However, given the current circumstances, tomorrow is uncertain. If you think Mr. “talk and do” Wike will let the sleeping dog lie, you are mistaken. Options are limited, though. The Supreme Court judgment, along with Tribunal and Appeal Court judgments, is the only legal ground. Should Wike pursue that route, he may inadvertently return Rotimi Amaechi to power as his godson, Cole of the APC, becomes the beneficiary. Clearly, there is no impeachment threat on Fubara; he would rather bring down the entire Rivers State than let that happen.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *