OpinionWike vs Gov Fubara: Rivers And The ‘Familiar Spirit’ Tussle

Wike vs Gov Fubara: Rivers And The ‘Familiar Spirit’ Tussle

May 13, (THEWILL)- The problem is that talking about the differences between the governors that ruled Rivers State since 1999 has been a frenzy, but nobody ever bothers to think of their similarities. And that matters a lot. The similarities tell a flattering story of a sea of sameness in the ‘spirit’ that rules all of them.

Close watchers of governance and politics in the state since the advent of the current democratic dispensation in 1999, will obviously affirm that a “familiar spirit” rules the minds and hearts of all those who governed the state from that time till now, without exception.

Why is this disclosure necessary now? It is simply because the ordinary Rivers people have remained at the receiving end, as the governors typically abandon governance in pursuit of ‘political enemies’ and inordinate Abuja ambitions.

As already established, all the governors that ruled the state from 1999 to date usually start the same way and end in the same manner, only to turn back and blame almost everybody but themselves for misapplying the state resources and end up as political pariahs both at home and on the national stage.

When Odili came in 1999, he had only one mission in mind: to frugally apply the state resources in infrastructure and human capital development. And no matter what anybody says, he did well in achieving fleets of milestones in initiating and executing outstanding people-oriented projects across the state. Pathetically, he lost every sense of service to Rivers State when he got carried away by the lure of becoming Obasanjo’s successor.

Amaechi also did very well in his first tenure, in initiating and implementing relevant people-oriented development projects. Amaechi took the empowerment of Rivers people to heights not recorded before him, in awarding big project contracts to indigenes of the state. However, this turned out to be one of his biggest undoings, as almost all of the indigenous contractors either did shoddy jobs or outrightly collected full payments for project contracts without lifting a pin on site. He also lost it when he abandoned governance in Rivers State in his pursuit of the Governors’ Forum politics and his alleged vice presidential ambition.

The immediate past governor, Wike, no doubt, in his peculiar way, also recorded some commendable feats. In addition to some he initiated, he took on all abandoned and uncompleted projects by his predecessor and executed them with the characteristic zeal of a yewali. But like his predecessors, the lure of Abuja politics and power play badly distracted him from the pressing needs at home throughout his second tenure.

He lost sight of the state to his commanding role in the PDP crisis, most of which he intentionally created to fuel his chances of clinching the PDP 2023 presidential ticket.

Despite all Odili did in Abuja and across the country with Rivers State money toward realising his dream of becoming President of Nigeria, Obasanjo abandoned him. And whether anybody wants to hear this or not, after all, Amaechi also did with Rivers State money to support and actualise the Buhari Presidency, he was almost abandoned and was just narrowly accommodated where he was allowed to only deal with Chinese prisoners turned engineers in the ill-fated railway modernisation project. All the lucrative parastatals under the ministry he superintended were expunged and given what was more of a full autonomy status.

Surprisingly, Wike did not learn any lesson from the mistakes of his predecessors. Obviously not! His dance steps in the last general election showed he never learnt anything from the way Odili and Amaechi were treated at the centre. So he has outrightly ended up like them and that obviously, also was after draining the highly needed and now scarce resources of Rivers state to chase familiar spirits in Abuja. It was even alleged that for him to be ultimately accommodated in Tinubu’s government, he had to dole out tens of billions of Rivers peoples’ money to some very powerful people at the Presidency.

Now, is it not curious that no incumbent governor of Rivers State since 1999 has ever tolerated, accommodated, or cooperated with their immediate predecessor? Do they quarrel because of the interest of the state and its people? No, it’s for the control of the state resources, Rivers money! It is for the narrow selfish and inordinate ambitions of these men who normally reign like mafia bosses.

Peter Odili planted the seed of the romance with this “familiar spirit” that has continued to short-change the people when he, directly or by proxy, chased away Rufus Ada George from the state and made him a persona non grata. Every politician closely linked to Ada George was literally chased out of Port Harcourt. I was there as a journalist in Port Harcourt!

Also, when Chibuike Amaechi came, after his days or rather months of “Jacob’s trouble,” he was all out to pay back his enemies and the topmost on his list were Odili, his former Oga, and of course, Celestine Omehia, who was used to replace him.

In an attempt to make his vendetta mission look legal and patriotic, he recruited the late Justice Kayode Eso to execute the “Rivers Truth and Reconciliation Commission,” an idea that was supposed to heal all wounds and bitter hearts across the state but ended up deepening existing wounds.

As stated by Odili in his submission on the Kayode Eso Commission, “the setting up of the so-called Kayode Eso ‘Truth and Reconciliation Commission’ was clearly conceived, designed and programmed to permanently indict and incarcerate Odili.

“Clearly, no truth or reconciliation was intended by those who conceived the idea of this Commission, and given the trend so far, I dare say that no reconciliation can be achieved.”

Odili’s belief on the matter turned out to be the truth.

Fast-forward, barely one month after he was sworn in as governor, Nyesom Wike inaugurated a six-man panel of inquiry, headed by Justice Godwin Omereji, to investigate the financial transactions of the former government headed by Rotimi Amaechi. The panel was charged with the responsibility of scrutinising contracts awarded by Amaechi and the issue of assets of the state allegedly sold by his predecessor.

With the speed of light, the panel nailed Amaechi on sales of state assets to his cronies and the diversion of the proceeds to unknown accounts.

In response to the development, Amaechi’s group claimed that Wike’s panel was aimed at blackmailing and rubbishing the former governor as part of alleged desperate efforts to scuttle his chances of getting an appointment in the Buhari-led federal government.

Now, what is happening between Wike and Fubara is a new face of the evil manifestation of the same ‘familiar spirit’ and from all indications, it’s a mutant of the attributes of the real McCoy.

It is very interesting because there is a complete reversal of the now-familiar dance step. Rather than the incumbent governors vowing to deal with or rather pay back their predecessor, it is now the ex-governor vowing to deal with the incumbent, who he boasts everywhere to have single-handedly installed.

Rivers people know clearly well that it is not in doubt the role Nyesom Wike and his loyalists played in getting Sim Fubara elected as the Governor of Rivers State. but to incessantly bully the governor to do their bidding against the collective interest of the state and its people is not only callous but outrightly evil.

Labelling Governor Sim Fubara an ingrate has become a lucrative job for the pro-Wike conflict entrepreneurs. It’s now a lucrative pastime to publicly abuse the hitherto exalted Office of the Governor of Rivers State and the person sitting there because a bunch of scoundrels loyal to the ex-governor want to prove they are still with him.

Has anybody ever wondered what could have been the cause of the ongoing “irreconcilable bitterness” between Wike against Fubara who he said was single-handedly installed by him? All the adduced reasons – dismantling of Wike’s political structures; going back to romance Wike’s perceived political enemies; disloyalty; covert vendetta etc. – are at best mere figments of the imaginations of backpackers.

Truth be told, neither Wike nor Fubara can explain in real terms the root cause and sustenance of the bitterness between them. The question is: why has it become so difficult or rather an impossibility for Wike and his men to forgive Fubara of whatever alleged misdemeanour in the interest of the state? Is it not the working of the “familiar spirit”?

The political rivalry between Governor Sim Fubara and his predecessor, Nyesom Wike, is over the control of the state treasury. Pure and simple.

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Ifeanyi Izeze, THE WILL
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