With the Supreme Court’s affirmation of Siminalayi Fubara as validly elected Governor of Rivers State, last week, whichever way one looks at it, things are not likely to be the same anymore in the state referred to as the treasure base of the nation. Many analysts and political pundits posit that it is only a
With the Supreme Court’s affirmation of Siminalayi Fubara as validly elected Governor of Rivers State, last week, whichever way one looks at it, things are not likely to be the same anymore in the state referred to as the treasure base of the nation. Many analysts and political pundits posit that it is only a matter of time before the regime of peace of the grave yard currently in existence in Rivers state will give way, one way or another.
While Governor Fubara would seek to consolidate his control and hold on the political levers of power in the state, his opponents would seek to checkmate and frustrate all his moves and structures that could make things easy for him to attain his goals. The powers of the state governors are enormous especially because of their privilege to make and give appointments and the privilege to dispense state largesse through contracts. Rivers state is naturally endowed and known as one of the richest states in Nigeria.
There are visible signs that the former Governor Wike’s camp, which constitutes the main opposition to Governor Fubara is determined to make life and governance difficult for the governor. Their overall intent is to weaken him and make him a lame duck governor. The handwriting is not only on the wall, it has started manifesting. Three of such early trigger signs reared their ugly heads last week to the embarrassment of many key watchers of the politics in Rivers state. They didn’t want him to settle down and savor his electoral victory in the court.
Nine Returning Commissioners Ruffle Governor’s Feathers
Engr Emeka Woke
Shortly after taking their oath of office before Governor Fubara, as returning members of the State Executive Council as Commissioners, the newly sworn-in persons addressed their supporters boasting and saying “We did not signify interest to return as commissioners, we were recalled”, indirect reference to the 8-point agreement brokered by President Tinubu between Governor Fubara and Nyesom Wike which ordered their re-absorption.
They said after President Tinubu issued his directives, Governor Sim Fubara through his “SSG wrote them to signify their interest to return to the Cabinet as commissioners. But they ignored him because they are men of class’. These are persons who resigned with fanfare December 2023, citing personal principles. Chief Emeka Woke, former Chairman Emohua LG, former Chief of Staff to Governor Wike and former Commissioner for Works, spoke on behalf of the group.
The commissioners are contemptuous of the Governor and don’t really regard him as being superior to them in any way despite being in possession of the powerful “red pen”. They proudly referred to themselves as members of the Grassroots Development Initiative (GDI). The GDI is the Wike’s structure that produced all of them. The Governor is perceived as an outsider, not being a practicing politician like most of them.
Wike’s preference for Fubara as governor was for his enlightened self-interest. Governor Wike’s choice of Fubara is believed was for political exigency. Fubara was not politically savvy and really not a member of the Wike’s political structure being a technocrat. The story: Wike has been investigated by the EFCC for some financial infractions in Rivers state as Governor. Fubara was his Accountant General with whom some of those deals were perfected. So, Fubara holds the aces for those cases. An immunity for Fubara is a form of indirect protection for Wike. Their fate is co-joined.
The soberness displayed in the SEC chamber while taking their oath of office disappeared when they mounted the podium few hours later. Governor was touched by their soberness that he uttered the following words to comfort them: “I can see how heavy your hearts are. But I assure you that I don’t have anything against anyone of you. You were caught in between during the crossfire. I will advise that you give your best. Like I said the first time, let this state and posterity remember you for what is good,”
Chairman Ikwerre LG, Calls Governor Fubara A Fool in Public
Addressing a crowd of his supporters in Isiokpo, the headquarters of Ikwerre local government, Dr. Samuel Nwasonoke threw caution to the winds and threaten Governor Fubara to warn his supporters to stop attacking Nyesom Wike and in the process calling him “a fool” which he repeated a couple of times.
Only for him to return a few days later to recant and apologise though without showing remorse. He said he regretted his action: “My outburst calling Governor Fubara a fool. “H.E I am sorry for the foolish outburst”. He explained further that Wike called him to tell him it was wrong of him to speak to a Governor like that even if he is 18 years old.
So, without Wike calling his attention to his “foolish outburst”, he wouldn’t have known that his action was childish and disrespectful to the office of a Governor?
House of Assembly Overrides Governor’s Veto of Four Bills
Rivers State House of Assembly on Friday voted to override Governor Siminalayi Fubara’s veto of four controversial new bills and passed them into law at plenary session at the Assembly Quarters. The bills are essentially to weaken the authority and privilege of the Governor. The Speaker Martin Amaewhule had read out four letters from the governor expressing his refusal to assent to the bills.
He relied on Section 100 sub-section 5, stating that the governor’s assent is unnecessary for the bills to become law. The section stipulates, “where the Governor withholds assent and the bill is again passed by two-thirds majority, the bill shall become a law, and the assent of the Governor shall not be required.”
Speaker Amaewhule accused the Governor of unwillingness to hold elections for local government in the state.
“Based on the Governor’s justifications, it appears that he does not intend to hold local government elections in the state, The important thing to remember is that this law eliminates the Governor’s authority to designate Caretaker Committee Chairmen for the Local Governments.” He continued, “The governor is not pleased that we are taking away his authority to name interim chairs”.
The four bills vetoed and passed into law are: The Rivers State Local Government Amendment Law 2023, the Rivers State Funds Management and Financial Autonomy Law 2023, the Rivers State Advertisement and Use of State-Owned Property Prohibition Repeal Law 2024, and the Traditional Rulers Amendment Law 2024 are among the laws.
Unlike the popular song in Rivers state which says “Dey your day, make we Dey our dey”, it is becoming clearer that the Wike supporters are not ready to “dey them dey”. They know there will be consequences for being in opposition to the Governor. Resources from the Federal Capital Territory will never be enough to satisfy the group. So, it is a question of time before people start crossing the lines.
While some will dare the Governor more and more others may seek rapprochement and accommodation. One thing is sure for now, Governor Sim Fubara seems to be enjoying the support and goodwill of the people especially the civil servants, who also see the Governor as one of their own. For how long, this will be answered as time soars.