Governor Siminalayi Fubara of Rivers State is a victim of the perfidious exercise that was the 2023 general election in Nigeria. Largely unknown before his nomination as governorship candidate, Fubara was propped up by Nyesom Wike who was then reigning as the imperial governor of Rivers State.


Going by the boisterousness and pomposity that he brought to bear on his office, Wike would have readily schemed to stay in office beyond the constitutionally guaranteed eight years. Given that that was not possible, Wike had to plan to plant a stooge, someone that would just be in office as a puppet. He was not going to promote someone who would, sooner or later, aspire to be his own man. Fubara, in Wike’s estimation, was fit for purpose. He would be the lackey and the factotum that Wike would want him to be. That was how they set sail.

Coincidentally, this scheme was going on at the time Wike was somewhat stranded at the federal level. He had run into a storm with his political party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Having failed in his bid to be nominated as the vice presidential candidate to Atiku Abubakar, the party’s presidential flag-bearer, Wike had decided to play the bull-in-china-shop. Every step he took was geared towards bringing down the house. Wike’s endgame went on amid PDP’s disdain for whatever he represented. In the end, he found accommodation in Bola Tinubu’s All Progressives Congress (APC). This unholy alliance between PDP’s Wike and APC’s Tinubu culminated in the perfidy that attended the 2023 general election, particularly the presidential election.

The alliance gave us a strange arrangement in which Wike worked for APC in one breath and worked for PDP in another.

Fubara was the beneficiary of Wike’s cross politics at the state level. Wike went out of his way to deliver Fubara just as he did for Tinubu. Wike did all this to feather his own nest. He has since been rewarded by Tinubu with a top-notch ministerial portfolio. Wike is savouring his office. He sees Abuja as his enclave. He straddles the Federal Capital Territory as if he is the governor.

But it is a different ballgame at the level of Rivers State. Here, Wike did not get exactly what he bargained for. His nominee and protege, Fubara, has revolted against him. He is ill at ease with Wike’s overbearing presence. Fubara’s rebellion has since unsettled the political atmosphere in Rivers State. Wike is up in arms against Fubara. The battle of supremacy is what has been playing out in the state for months now.

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Sadly, Fubara, the sitting governor, appears weak. He has neither acted nor talked tough since the imbroglio began. If anything, he has been looking oppressed like an orphan child. As governor, many find it strange that Fubara cannot bare his fangs. As governor of an oil-rich state, Fubara is not in need of funds. He has so much of it with which to fight his wars, if the situation so demands.

Regrettably, however, Wike is on top of the situation. He dictates the terms and conditions that must be met, if Fubara must be allowed to govern. In doing this, Wike is relying heavily on his connection to the Presidency. Tinubu’s Presidency owes Wike a debt of gratitude. Ensuring that he retains his hold on Rivers State matters. That is why Tinubu is papering over the issue in Rivers. He has to ensure that the dispute is settled in favour of Wike.

The interest of the presidency in the Rivers political crisis has compounded Fubara’s problems. Apart from his personal weaknesses, Fubara has had to grapple with the biases of a presidency that wants to do everything to please their benefactor, Wike. Because Abuja is behind Wike while pretending to be neutral, Fubara is looking forlorn and forsaken. Wike, on the contrary, is the strongman of the dispute. He is trampling upon the governor as if he is in office at his (Wike’s) pleasure. This makes Fubara a victim of the sham election that the Independent National Electoral Commission conducted in Nigeria in 2023.

If all were to be what they ought to be, there would have been no Wike to terrorise Rivers State with federal might. If the 2023 general election was programmed to succeed, there would have been no overbearing Wike to thwart the people’s will. Those who merited to win elections in the state would have won. Instead, what we saw was a show of might. It was a ding-dong affair in which the strong freely trampled upon the weak.

Fubara was a beneficiaryof this dog-eat-dog situation. But he appears stuck. The lion on whose back he rode to power wants to devour him. The instruments of governance which Fubara ought to be in control of are in Wike’s command. The House of Assembly in the state remains Wike’s trump card. He deploys it any time he wants Fubara to fall into line. The Assembly, at every turn, threatens him with impeachment. Each time they do this, Fubara cringes and crumbles. What a pity.

But should Fubara continue this way? Should he remain like fish out of water?

The governor needs to fully come to terms with the fact that he is the Number One citizen of the state. It is embarrassing for him to continue to fight shy. He has to take charge of his environment rather than act like a stranger that cannot walk sure-footedly.

If, for instance, Wike is in control of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Fubara made it possible through his own weaknesses. He can dismantle Wike’s hold on the Assembly, if he acts boldly.

By acting and playing weak, Fubara is conferring on Wike the importance he does not deserve. Rivers State has never been known to be under the control of one individual. But for some strange reason, the political leaders in the state failed to rise to the occasion when it mattered. They allowed Wike to overrun the state on February 25 and thereafter. I understand that they have regrouped and are backing the governorship of Fubara. This development presents Fubara with an opportunity to rescue both himself and Rivers State from the stranglehold of Wike. Fubara is playing the good man at his own expense. Someone should let him know that politics in Nigeria does not admit of such niceties.