The news emanating from Rivers State is very troubling. The wrangling between a political godfather and his godson has set the state in reverse gear.

It was ignited by a godson who wanted to break loose of the godfather’s choking stranglehold. His attempt to have a little hold on his office led to unwarranted premature plans to impeach him. This eventually divided the state House of Assembly into two. While the majority of the members of the House aligned with the godfather, Nyesom Wike, immediate past governor of the state and now Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), a very negligent few stood by the governor, Sim Fubara.

Negligent? Well, not exactly because the so-called majority made a grave mistake by dumping the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) en masse and joining the All Progressives Congress (APC).

If the constitution of the country is anything to go by, they are deemed to have lost their seats as lawmakers. Many legal authorities have stipulated that a lawmaker loses his seat if he defects from the political party on whose platform he is elected. That was why the seats of the affected politicians were declared vacant.

However, that was jettisoned, following the political solution proffered by President Bola Tinubu. Even the commissioners loyal to Wike, who resigned their positions, were reabsorbed but that did not seem to assuage the Fubara opponents, leading to the reopening of the crisis on a much larger scale.

Fubara has come out smoking and his three-man loyalists are now holding forte as the authentic lawmakers of the state legislature. The reabsorbed commissioners have resigned for the second time in sympathy with their boss, Wike, whose eight-year administration Fubara has threatened to probe.

People accuse Wike of trying to be an emperor. He still wants to call the shots regardless that he has moved on to Abuja as a minister.

To be fair to Wike though, he was instrumental in Fubara’s election but he is outlandish to claim that he made him governor. No single individual can achieve that feat anywhere.

Ironically, this same Wike, who is now President Tinubu’s Man Friday, had once castigated the President for dictating the pace of things and who gets what in Lagos.

The godfathers never enthrone godsons because of altruistic reasons. They fight tooth and nail to foist their stooges on the people, who would be loyal to them, not to the people or Constitution, hoping to use them to cover their evil deeds in office. That is why Wike must worry about the likelihood of a probe, especially because Fubara was his Accountant General and, even if both of them sink together, knows what EFCC may never be able to find out.

Having said that, it is either ingratitude or nemesis or both that would make a godson to forget how he got to office but decide to bite the finger that fed him. You should never enter the kitchen if you do not want to smell of smoke. Unfortunately, in a country lacking in morals like Nigeria, nobody cares about anything. Their interest is to get to the office; however they get it is immaterial.

Some years ago, one godson was taken to Okija shrine to swear an oath. Funnily, he claimed to have gone there while still clutching his Bible or something like that. Must one be governor that you would go to any ridiculous extent?

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Back to Rivers, it was rumoured that the list of commissioners, special advisers and other key aides was compiled by Wike, with their portfolios attached, and handed over to Fubara. This is to emasculate the governor, whose role would be ‘boiboi’ while wearing the tag of a glorified vacuous office. How true this is hangs in the air but considering how the commissioners resigned in solidarity with Wike seems to validate the claim. Also, the lawmakers could not have risked their Assembly seats for nothing. In any case, Wike confessed to buying the nomination forms for all the PDP candidates in Rivers State. Wike’s Father Christmas disposition is under interrogation: Did he use his personal money or Rivers State’s money for this ‘magnanimity’?

Fubara was also reportedly barred from attending PDP stakeholders’ meetings outside the state and interacting with political stalwarts. His refusal to honour the directive contributed to the plot to impeach him after barely six months in office by the state House of Assembly, led by Martin Amaewhule, a kinsman of Wike. However, the plot failed because the then House Leader, Edison Ehie, refused to endorse the move and emerged as fractional speaker of a four-man pro-Fubara legislature.

The total breakdown of legislative function in the state is worrisome. Why the National Assembly is hesitant to take over its responsibility in line with the provision of Section 11 (4) and (5) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) is disconcerting.

Meanwhile, insults are being heaped on the governor on one side, and Wike on another. There have been protests and counter-protests for and against the combatants. At one point, an assassination attempt was allegedly made on the life of the governor when police reportedly fired at him.

The crisis has also assumed a frightening tribal coloration, as the Ijaw insist that nothing must happen to the governor, their son. Talking tough, they warn that though Wike had won many battles, he was bound to lose this one, claiming that it was against the Ijaw as a nation, adding that it was a call for fire. Such unhelpful acerbic statements are setting the stage for something ominous.

One hopes that the day does not come when miscreants and militants would hijack these protests or beat the drumbeats of war, as that would set off a spin of violence in the volatile Niger Delta. It is doubtful if the country would be able to contain it.

Wike seems to have emerged as the most powerful politician in Nigeria. He is the only politician that controls two political parties. Though officially a member of the PDP, he openly worked against the interest of his party in the 2023 general election. After losing his quest to fly the presidential and later vice presidential flag of the party, he opted for the spoiler’s role and played it brazenly perfectly. Strangely, the PDP still lacks the balls to discipline him. Likewise, Wike is still calling the shots in Rivers PDP, until lately when Fubara stood up to him.

Regardless of being a PDP member, he serves in the APC Federal Government and also runs the show in the Rivers APC. That explains why his lawmaker loyalists dumped the PDP and joined APC, perhaps, to clear the road for his later decampment.

This crisis is at great cost to the state and country. The state is bleeding. So far, governance is being distracted and slowed down in Rivers.

Admittedly, Wike did very well as Rivers governor but all that is being reversed today because he refuses to accept that the stage now belongs to someone else.

The state lost its multi-million naira state House of Assembly complex chambers, which were demolished after it had been bombed on October 29, 2023, and adjudged unsafe.

Moreover, President Tinubu’s image may suffer from the backlash of Wike’s seeming recalcitrance, considering the controversies, trailing the presidential election in Rivers last year, which Wike allegedly rigged in favour of Tinubu. Failing to call wike to order would be seen as compensation for that alleged ‘ignoble’ role. On the other hand, sanctioning Wike could be seen as ingratitude to the former Rivers governor.

Nevertheless, many doubt how objective the judiciary could be. Politicians have succeeded in making the last hope of the common man a laughing stock, which explains why ‘jankara’ interlocutory injunctions are being procured, where courts of coordinate jurisdiction counter each other anyhow, alongside thriving forum shopping.

The Rivers crisis if not nipped now portends ill for the survival of democracy and the economic fortunes of beleaguered Nigeria. Rivers State is the nerve of Nigeria’s economy. The state must not be allowed to conflagrate, especially now that all indices point to a doomed economy, no thanks to the country’s profligate leaders, who had no qualms in running the country into a ditch.

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