BREAKING: Again, Fresh Crisis Rocks Wike, Fubara In Rivers

Despite the intervention of President Bola Tinubu, the political war between Nyesom Wike, the immediate past governor of Rivers State, now minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), and his successor, Siminalayi Fubara has shown little sign of abating, despite moves by the latter to concede grounds to his former boss. And ahead of the local government polls expected to hold early this year, both men have begun moves to assert their political dominance in the oil rich state.

“Wike has started his LGA election consultation,” said Chinondu Wokocha, a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state. “He visited Victor Giadom to seek his support for the upcoming LGA election because he knows Governor Fubara is in charge of PDP Rivers State. Wike is structureless in Rivers State.”

The last Rivers council polls were held in April 2021. The incumbent chairmen and councillors are due to leave office by June, which means that another election is due for early 2024, and in apparent show of strength amid the political crisis in the state, Wike last week, began consultations with stakeholders at the local government levels, using the occasion to fire shots at his successor, Fubara, who appears to have beat a retreat in recent days, even as some of his core loyalists appear to be backing down from the fight amid pressure from Abuja.

Edison Ehie, the factional speaker of the state House of Assembly and member representing Ahoada East Constituency II, who is a core loyalist of the governor, had last week Saturday, surprisingly resigned from the assembly and subsequently withdraw his contempt proceedings suit against 25 of the 27 lawmakers, who defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the APC.

Gov. Fubara, who was subsequently rumoured to have appointed Ehie as his chief of staff, had said during a gathering of notable figures in Port Harcourt, the state capital, that Ehie’s decision to step down as Speaker was “a strategic move to foster peace and stability in our state.”

Fubara had also emphasised that the move was not about personal gain or power but was a testament to the leadership’s commitment to the well-being of the people.

“It is to tell you what we can do for peace,” Fubara had explained, addressing the concerns and questions raised by many about the sudden resignation.

Ehie’s resignation and the decision of the governor to recognise the 27 lawmakers, who defected to the APC – a move interpreted by many as political suicide on his part – was largely seen as a concession of defeat to Wike.

Fubara, it was said, also implemented other resolutions reached at the peace meeting with President Tinubu, such as the payment of backlog of arrears and allowances accrued to the 27 House of Assembly members loyal to Wike, recognition of Martins Amaehwule as the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, as well as allowing the lawmakers to sit anywhere that pleased them.

However, other resolutions, such as re-presentation of the state appropriation bill to the Assembly and reabsorbing the pro-Wike commissioners that resigned in the heat of the crisis to the cabinet are yet to be implemented. This is even as recent events have shown that the battle is not relenting, as sources within the government say the governor is more interested in scaling the Supreme Court hurdle and stabilizing his government.

Political watchers have noted that the governor’s body language and some of his utterances in recent state functions do not in any way show that the two politicians are walking the part of peace but rather bidding his time given the legal hurdles he still has to cross.

The governor, had for instance, noted at a recent state function, that he was not pretentious about his commitment to providing quality leadership even though those fighting his administration wanted to dampen the spirit of Rivers’ people and forcefully truncate the pace of development but failed.

He encouraged people not to be disheartened over the ongoing crisis because nothing would stop him from steering the affairs of the state successfully.

Speaking at a crossover church service at the Saint Paul Archdeaconry Parish in Opobo town on New Year eve in Opobo/Nkoro Local Government Area, Fubara had said in veiled reference to Wike, that, “What they want is this red biro but it is still with me. We are the winners because we are still signing with the red biro. As long as we are signing with the red biro, development will continue in Rivers State.”

The governor emphasised that nothing would stop his administration from getting to its destination because its foundation was laid solidly in God, who alone would give him the grace to complete the process of building the state.

Fubara, who said there was already a designed development agenda and level of progress determined for Rivers State in 2024, stressed that he would not relent in working for the good of the state.

He, however, expressed gratitude to President Bola Tinubu “for the fatherly role” he played when he intervened to assist in the process of restoring peace in Rivers State.

“Like I keep saying, it takes a responsible man to be a father. He acted like a father. On our part, we will continue to give him all the necessary support because if he does not succeed in Rivers State, he will not succeed as a president.

“So, as a state, we will continue to give him every support. We are not pretenders. Our support is genuine and it is to uplift his programmes. Our sacrifices are part of the support,” he said.

At another state function to usher in the New year, Governor Fubara said the decisions taken by his administration in the evolving political crisis in the state were not borne out of fear but for peace to reign in the state.

“We will not be involved in any dirty fighting because we know that we are going to be the loser. Therefore, whatever it will take as seen in our decisions, many of you are worried as to why the Speaker would resign. It is to tell you what we can do for peace. It is not about what we want to gain or the power we want to exercise, but at the end of the day, what would our people benefit? So, we took those decisions not out of fear,” he said.

At the event, which had former governor Peter Odili in attendance, Fubara said if he was able to survive the “problems,” his administration would make sure 2024 favours all Rivers’ people.

Meanwhile, Wike, who spoke earlier during a church programme said Tinubu’s intervention, which brought about the eight point resolution, was necessitated by Gov. Fubara’s failure to abide by earlier agreements.

He noted that the president had earlier invited them privately and told them what to do, but alleged that despite agreeing to what the president said, the governor ended up not abiding by the directives, hence the invitation to the state’s stakeholders, where the eight-point resolution was signed.

Making an indirect reference to the governor, he said, “Part of governance is managing people. It is not only road contracts, but management of people. If you don’t know how to manage your crisis, then you don’t have business to be there. I have had my own crisis; I managed it and survived. If you have your own too, pray. If you can pray, go and meet pastors, they will intercede for you.”

Ahead of LG polls

Meanwhile, in what appears to be a move to consolidate his support base, Wike on Saturday last week visited Victor Giadom, an APC chieftain in his hometown of Bera in Gokana Local Government Area of the state.

The FCT minister, who used the occasion to speak about the ongoing political crisis in the state, boasted that he still had the strongest political structure in the state, while noting that soon, the people will know, who is truly in charge of the state.

Wike, who said he had no regrets working for the APC in the 2023 general election, dismissed Fubara’s loyalists as noise makers.

“Forget about these hungry noisemakers on the road,” he said. “When the time comes, we will know who is in charge and who is not in charge. I don’t know whether you understand what I am saying. There is a time for everything. There is a time to plant and there is a time to harvest.”

Continuing, he said, “We have no time for politics. This is not the time for anybody to say: ‘I am for this, I am for that’. We have not reached that time. When the time comes, we will know who is who.

“If you like, abuse me as you want. If you like, employ everybody on social media. Let me tell you: I have never bothered myself one day to know who is abusing me.”

He added: “Politics will come. We didn’t contest elections based on social media. We contested elections speaking to the people and they listened to us.”

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