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Rivers’ crisis: Again, Gov. Fubara draws battle line, dares Wike

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Rivers' crisis: Again, Gov. Fubara draws battle line, dares Wike

Rivers State governor, Siminalayi Fubara, after months of stooping low in the face of onslaughts from the camp of his former principal, turned political adversary, Nyesom Wike, has finally braced for battle.

In the course of last week, Fubara used two occasions to fire shots at the immediate past governor of the state, now minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and the state House of Assembly. A threat from the House of Assembly to resume impeachment process against him for what they termed ” disregard to the laws passed by the House” seemed to be the litmus test for the governor to bare his teeth.

Wike, who evidently has eyes on Aso Rock, having unsuccessfully contested for the presidential ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2022, before ultimately opting to support President Bola Tinubu, candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the presidential election, against Atiku Abubakar, his party’s flag bearer, who had failed to choose him as his running mate, had opted for Fubara, his soften spoken, almost shy, EFCC hunted accountant general to succeed him, believing, perhaps, that he would be a stooge and enable him remain in charge of the state after leaving office.

But Fubara had other ideas, and hardly had he taken office, when the political rift between the duo began. And although the governor had before now appeared unwilling to fight, leading to many dismissing him as a weakling, he appears to have finally grown some balls, daring Wike to the admiration of his loyalists.

“Those underrating Governor Sim Fubara will get the shock of their lives,” boasted Toby Chris, @Topboychriss, a loyalist of the governor, who was initially a staunch supporter of Wike.

Fubara threatens Wike

Speaking on Tuesday when local government employees from 23 local government of the state paid him a visit at the Government House, Port Harcourt to thank him for the implementation of the N30,000 minimum wage, Fubara, who in recent days has been receiving Rivers tough men such as Asari Dokubo, Ateke Tom, among others, warned Wike against taking his calmness and disposition to peace as cowardice, while promising to swing a surprise if taken for granted by the former governor who he suggested lacked maturity despite his age.

“Maturity is not about age. I chose not respond to people I assumed were mature, but are immature in attitude,” Fubara said before the friendly crowd running into thousands within the government house premises.

Many supporters of the governor had been taken aback when he accepted to implement an agreement reached at a meeting with President Bola Tinubu, between him and Wike in December 2023.

The eight point agreement, which among others, included the recognition of the leadership of the state House of Assembly as led by Speaker, Rt. Hon. Martin Amaewhule, alongside the 27 members loyal to Wike, who resigned from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to join the All Progressives Congress (APC); withdrawal of all court cases filed by the governor and recalling of all cabinet members loyal to Wike, who had resigned their positions, jolted many, who felt it was tantamount to capitation on his part.

But addressing his decision to implement the agreement on Tuesday, Fubara said it was out of respect for Tinubu, while warning that it should not be seen as a weakness on his part.

“Mr. President invited all the parties to Abuja, and came out with a resolution that we should implement. It’s not a constitutional resolution, but I’m implementing it as a political solution to a problem,” he said.

“And I’m doing it because of the respect I have for Mr. President, but let me say it here, if that action that I have accepted to follow will be taken as a weakness on my part, I will surprise them. I want this message to go to them and I believe you know what I mean.”

The governor’s peace overture may have helped him scale the Supreme Court huddle, as the apex Court, subsequently, affirmed his election, and Wike appeared to have shifted the battle to 2027, when another election would be due. The FCT minister had boasted during a thanksgiving service by Senator Barinada Mpigi in Koroma, Tai Local Government Area of Rivers State on Sunday, February 18, that with the forces his has, Fubara would be a one term governor.

“With the forces we have I don’t know of anybody, who can challenge us. I can tell you it is like tomorrow is 2027,” he had said. “For me it is still very far, I can’t wait. The two leadership of the party, APC is here, PDP is here; where can you find that leadership unity? Which state? It is only in Rivers that you can find that unity.”

But the frosty relationship, which continues between Wike’s loyalist, who by the implementation of the peace accord, now control the state assembly, and the governor has ensured that the battle won’t wait until 2027.

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On Tuesday, March 26, PDP stakeholders loyal to the governor, including Dr. Abiye Sekibo, Rt. Hon. Austin Opara, Senator Lee Maeba and Prince Uche Secondus, addressed the press, expressing support for Tinubu, while disparaging Wike and describing the state assembly as an unconstitutional one.

In response, the assembly, on Saturday, March 30, accused the governor of dishonesty, threatening to resume impeachment proceedings against him.

Amaewhule, the Speaker of the House, who addressed the press in Port Harcourt, accompanied by 26 members of the assembly, accused the governor of refusing to hold up to his end of the Presidential Peace Accord, which he wilfully signed without coercion.

He reminded him that they withdrew their impeachment notice against him out of respect for President Tinubu and a hope that the governor will have a change of heart. The lawmakers threatened to resume the impeachment proceedings should Governor Fubara continue what they referred to as constant constitutional breaches.

“Enemies of the people and those, who cannot withstand the principles of the rule of law as well as checks and balances in our nascent democracy, in their frustration, started with the burning and later demolition of the hallowed Chamber,” Amaewhule said.

“The latest of the new groups recruited against the 10th Assembly is the “Former Rivers State PDP Presidential Campaign Council”. In a press conference on the 26th of March 2024 signed by Dr. Abiye Sekibo, this group inferred that the House is an illegal and unconstitutional Assembly.

“Others in this group are the likes of Rt. Hon. Austin Opara, Senator Lee Maeba and Prince Uche Secondus. Hon. Tamunosisi Gogo Jaja, Sir Celestine Omehia amongst others are among these desperate politicians, who left their houses and gathered under a canopy with H.E. Atiku Abubakar and H.E. Ifeanyi Okowa’s pictures on a banner behind them professing their new support for Mr. President and the Rivers State governor.

On the other hand, they derided the 10th Assembly, who they are unhappy with for joining the All Progressives Congress (APC), which incidentally, is the President’s political party. Worse still, they lied against and attacked the FCT Minister, who worked tirelessly for the victory of the president and the governor in Rivers State.”

The Assembly’s threat has since charged the political atmosphere in the state once again, and despite conceding its leadership to Wike as part of the peace accord, with its attendant implications, Fubara, this time, has vowed to stand firm.

Speaking further on Thursday at the ground breaking of automobile spare parts market in Port Harcourt, Fubara declared the purported list of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Caretaker Committee members for the state, circulating on social media as fake, while vowing to make Wike and his loyalists restless.

Describing the list, which has the names of some Wike’s loyalists, as the handiwork of cheap publicity seekers and agents of crisis, Fubara said, “I know that a lot of you saw something flying in the social media, dailies. Let me brief you, we had a meeting, and we agreed that, not just in Rivers State, but in all the States affected, that the Executive Councils (of PDP) should be extended for three months.

“This extension is not meant to bring in new names. The extension also did not say that you are working without the authority of the governor. So, for those lists that you saw and those ones altered, I can assure you that they are not going to stand.

“For record purposes, so that you will understand, we also agreed that there is going to be a NEC meeting on the 18th of this month (April) that should ratify that decision.

“So, what you are seeing is the handiwork of desperate people, who like media publicity. In fact, empty drums make loudest noise. So, don’t bother about anything. Nothing is happening.”

The governor alluded to the fear that has come upon his detractors given the warning he issued a day ago that he will surprise those, who dare him, and vowed to continue to make them feel restless.

“You can see how restless they have been since I made just one statement, yesterday. We will continue to make them restless,” he said.

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“They won’t know where we are coming from. We will also continue to hit them hard the way we hit them yesterday. So, those of you, who were worried when you saw those lists that were flying, go and rest, nothing is happening.”

Wike’s camp responds

In response to Fubara’s message, the state’s Caretaker Committee Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Tony Okocha, on Thursday, dared the governor

Speaking at a press conference, Okocha accused Fubara of plotting illegality, vowing that the people of the state would resist his moves. Okocha alleged that Fubara was planning to engage some judges in the state to obtain an interim order to announce as illegal, the Rivers State House of Assembly as constituted and led by Hon. Martin Amaehwule.

“But let me put it clearly here that we will stoutly, vehemently oppose such negative subterranean moves by a man, who ought to protect the dignity and integrity of a state called Rivers State.

The gift according to Frantz Fanon, that I like so much, the gift to an intransigence government is civil disobedience. If the Government of Siminalayi Fubara tends towards intransigence then he will meet with civil disobedience. It is just natural.”

Wike, Secondus square up

Uche Secondus, former national chairman of the PDP, who was drafted in to take the role by Wike in 2017, but was subsequently, forced out by the same Wike in 2021 as he began to prepare grounds for his presidential bid, had last week, in conjunction with other party leaders in the state, affirmed support for Fubara, while reprimanding the FCT minister.

But the development did not go down well with the former governor, who in an interview last week, described Secondus and a former Minister of Transportation, Abiye Sekibo, as “expired politicians” for taking side with Fubara.

However, Secondus in a statement by his media Aide, Ike Abonyi, hit back at Wike, noting that he exhibited “his well-known trait of being a harbinger of half-truths, and a mastermind of outright falsehoods just to hoodwink unsuspecting members of the public to believe him by playing to the gallery and drawing some unwarranted applause and attention.”

 

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