The crisis currently rocking Rivers state is indicative of the degeneration of Nigeria’s democratic political process into a criminal franchise of power grab at all cost for self service. Oil rich Rivers State with huge monthly allocation from federation account derived from its oil wells has made its governors very influential and powerful in the political ecosystem in Nigeria since the advent of the 4th Republic in 1999.  So rich is the coffers of Rivers State that every of its governors since 1999 appear not to know what to do with money, hence they embark on political trouble shooting across the length and breadth of the political spectrum chasing influence and clout throughout their eight year tenure in office.




And after grabbing substantial clout and influence in Nigeria’s highly monetized politics, they often deploy their enormous financial war chest to make strong push for the presidency of Nigeria. From Peter Odili in 2007, Rotimi Amaechi and Nyesom Wike in 2023. And on each occasion these strong men of Rivers politics came so close to victory as to emerge as front runners with Odili stepping down in the 2007 PDP presidential primaries while Amaechi and Wike emerged first runners up respectively in the APC and PDP presidential primaries of 2023. This enormous influence and power that is usually wielded by the governors of Rivers State has also made the contestation for the power to control its huge resources one is characterized by the most machiavelian of political machinations by the various contenders, with every outgoing governor wanting to install their preferred candidate as successor.

Related News

In the under world of Nigeria’s machiavelian politics of power grab for self service, the only quality required of a prospective godson by an intending godfather is loyalty in the most absolute form. And that loyalty is gauged over time by how submissive, unquestioning, conspiratorially taciturn to abet plunder of public treasury, fierce execution of the godfather’s political decrees and proven ability to do the dirtiest of task on behalf of the godfather.  So, after eight years as governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike picked a certain Siminalaye Fubara, a gentle man who appeared to tick all the right boxes required of a suitable successor in a godfather and godson relationship. As at the time of his nomination and subsequent election as governor, Fubara was the Accountant General of Rivers State, was a wanted man by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in relation to an allegation of multibillion naira fraud involving the state government.

As has become a familiar scenario in Nigeria since 1999, the godfather/godson relationships between former governors and their successors have not always gone according to plan with godsons almost always revolting against their godfathers. From Nnamani and Chime in Enugu, Saraki sr and Saraki jr in Kwara, Kwankwaso and Ganduje in Kano, the Uba Brothers and Ngige in Anambra, the two Orjis in Abia, Oshiomhole and Obaseki in Edo and recently El-Rufai and Uba Sani in Kaduna, the 4th Republic is replete with tales of disappointment, acrimony, betrayal and destruction of godfathers by godsons. The latest in this pattern of sweet but turned bitter relationship between godfathers and godsons is Rivers State.

Former governor Wike must have convinced himself that he is going to succeed where others failed when he identified Fubara as the most suitable successor not so much because of his competence but more for his perceived loyalty and servitude. And when Fubara showed a side of him that was completely unknown to his godfather, things fell apart so rapidly with Wike’s loyalists in the State House of Assembly aiming a pre-emptive strike at the governor through an impeachment notice. At the core of the crisis that has engulfed Fubara’s Rivers is the mortal struggle between a godfather and taciturn godson for the soul of the state. Fubara’s seeming deft moves to out manoeuvre  bid to oust him through his control of the State Assembly, has gotten the judiciary entangled in machiavelian politics of Rivers State in a manner that has precipitated a constitutional crisis that was never envisaged by the framers of the constitution, as the legislative arm of the Rivers State government appears momentarily imperiled.

In all of these, former governor Wike has openly admitted his error of judgment and expressed regret for supporting Fubara to becoming a governor. According to Wike, the entire Fubara affair was a ‘’mistake’’ that will be corrected ‘’soon’’. It is often said that history is the best teacher. But sadly, its students are the worst learners. For someone who has been a godfather and godson in his long career as a politician, If Wike thinks that his mistake was Fubara then he needs to unlearn to relearn from the history of godfatherism in Nigeria’s politics.

His greatest mistake just like many of his other colleague out going governors is the failure to realize that the enterprise of installing a godson as successor at all cost has proven to be a high risk and capital intensive business with zero returns on investment and the additional risk of the godfather losing his entire political capital in the process if he decides to fight for what he feels he is entitled. Even if it wasn’t Fubara, no sitting governor in Nigeria’s 4th Republic is ever loyal to anybody else but themselves and their political interests . There is nobody in the whole of Rivers State that will be loyal and submissive in the way and manner Wike may desire as that is alien to Nigeria’s political culture of the survival of fittest.

The best insurance that can secure a peaceful and dignified life after office is good governance and absolute fidelity to constitutionalism and the rule of law by governors. As a former governor, you will benefit from the road, water, electricity, food, healthcare and security of lives and properties you provided for the people. Otherwise, you will similarly be a victim of the jungle like political culture of democratic subterfuge you help foster. And this jungle like situation was created out of Nigeria’s political terrain by failure of political leaders especially the class of governors to uphold the basic tenets of democratic good governance as leaders of their respective parties in the state. Like the lion cob, which was fed fat on mince of other animals in the jungle by the lion king chasing away his benefactor upon his maturity, Nigerian governors are as territorial and brutal. Wike should have known that no individual or institution can defeat a sitting Nigerian governor in a battle in the jungle that is Nigeria’s politics, where there are no rules and where might is right. And this is particularly true about the governor of Rivers state. Just as President Goodluck Jonathan could not overwhelm former governor Rotimi Amaechi with ‘’federal might’’so was president Muhammadu Buhari unable to do same to former governor Nyesom Wike.

Wike will also do well to pay heed to voices of the people of Rivers who are overwhelmingly in support Governor Fubara. The kind of massive support Fubara enjoys among the people of Rivers across ethnic and party line is not so much about their love for him but more about their rejection of the notion of Wike as the all conquering emperor of the state. The voice of the of the people is the voice of God and a mere mortal no matter how much energy he derives from a stomach full of carbohydrates should challenge the gods to a wrestling match.