“You cannot buy loyalty; you cannot buy the devotion of hearts, minds, and souls. You have to earn these things”. -Clarence Francis
By any stretch of imagination, I doubt if the ripples between the Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara and his political master and Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, can again be called a minor family misunderstanding between father and son, as the former wants us to believe.
If the media parley the FCT Minister arranged with some select journalists in Abuja on November 24, is anything to go by, the misunderstanding between the father and son has transgressed beyond a minor family affair into a political imbroglio. We can only hope that the crisis will not degenerate into the kind of irreconcilable differences we have witnessed between Rotimi Amaechi and Wike since 2014.
Anybody who watched the media parley would appreciate the enormity of bitterness the former governor still harbours against his estranged protégé and successor, despite President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s intervention. I’m not sure the President himself will be happy seeing his beloved Minister flouting his directives of true reconciliation.
The media parley started like an innocuous chat that was meant to X-ray the policy thrust of Wike’s administration in the FCT, but ended up as another plot by Wike to hit at the Governor of Rivers State.
Was the media parley purposely orchestrated to spite the Rivers State Governor? This may be hard to conclude, but in all honesty, Wike’s open display of rage and indignation for a man he brought to superintend over the affairs of a state he ruled, yes, ruled with fist for eight years, calls for concern. The greatest concern is that Wike’s vituperation and tantrums came barely three weeks after President Tinubu had waded in.
The major takeaway from the sponsored interview is that the crisis between the ‘father’ and ‘son’ is far from being over as many, including Fubara, have thought. It will be naive, therefore, of Fubara to continue to see the crisis as a minor thing that can be resolved so soon in a family manner. This is because Wike’s exchanges with Fubara since the feud between the duo came to public glare on October 30 has revealed the inner working of Wike’s nature.
Now, let’s dissect Wike’s accusations against his protégé son. In the interview, Wike raked up many allegations against his estranged godson. He labelled Fubara an ingrate, accused him of masterminding the burning of the State Assembly complex to prevent his impeachment, accused him of disrespecting Mr. President and also charged the governor with an attempt to destroy his political structure in the state.
Wike’s claim that Fubara is an “ingrate” beats my imagination. Fubara an ingrate? Really? I’m not sure the FCT minister knows the meaning of ingrate. If he does, such word would never have slipped off his lips.
How on earth would a governor that conceded all the commissioners but two to his predecessor and godfather qualify for an ingrate? If Fubara is an ingrate the way Wike is portraying him, would he have allowed Wike to pick his principal aide such as Chief of Staff for him? Would he have consented to the idea of having the Secretary to the State Government appointed for him by the FCT minister?
Again, is it not the same “ingrate” that took bullets for Wike as his Accountant-General when the EFCC was investigating his government? If Wike didn’t have confidence in him, would he have put him forward to succeed him?
I will advise the FCT minister to look for another adjective to qualify Fubara because the word “ingrate” cannot fly by any stretch of imagination.
We were all witnesses to how Wike became a governor in 2015, and the role former President Goodluck Jonathan and his wife, Patience, played. I’m not sure anyone heard the then first family appointing commissioners and personal aides for Wike as a governor. Would Wike have even accepted if they dared doing it?
I want to believe that Fubara is paying the price for absolute loyalty to his political master.
Meanwhile, Wike accused Fubara of masterminding the burning of the state House of Assembly to prevent his protégé lawmakers led by Martins Amawhuele from impeaching him. This, to me, is a wild allegation that is akin to calling dog a bad name in order to hang it. Would the governor who orchestrated the burning of the Assembly visit the same Assembly the following day to assess the level of damage? Would Fubara have also condemned the act in such an unmistakable term if he had a hand in the incident?
I think the Rivers people will be glad if Wike can come out to substantiate this serious allegation with concrete proofs.
Now to the allegation of Fubara disrespecting President Tinubu, how? Between Fubara who has maintained calmness and has been preaching peace and Wike who has been throwing tantrums at Fubara after Mr. President’s intervention, who is disrespectful to the President? Wike’s accusation amounts to a pot calling kettle black.
It is on record that Fubara had, in a well publicised press statement titled, “Peace is Priceless”, apologised to Rivers people and likened the feud between him and Wike to a mere family misunderstanding between a father and his son. He restated this when he received a military delegation led by Gen. Christopher Musa to the Government House in Port Harcourt, three weeks ago.
Fubara said: “For our dear state, I know everybody is wondering what’s going on, and what’s not going on. We are okay, there is no problem.
“If we have an internal issue, it will be resolved and everything will go back to normal.
“There is nothing wrong if a father and a son have a problem. If there is any problem, but I don’t think there is any, whatever it is, we will definitely resolve the issue.”
Even at the church service marking the commencement of the 2023/2024 Legal Year ceremony in the state, the governor paid homage to his predecessor who he fondly calls “my oga”.
Since President Tinubu brokered peace between the duo, has Fubara made any offensive statement against Wike or the President? Even when it was convenient for the governor to tinker with the political office holders Wike imposed on him, Fubara has maintained the structure till date just for peace to reign.
Even as a governor from the opposition party, Fubara has continuously revered Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda in all his undertakings. How then has Fubara disrespected the president?
It’s, therefore, appallingly disturbing for Wike to come out on the live television again to threaten fire and brimstone, making wild allegations against the governor.
The fact that Wike used the media parley to denigrate Fubara after the President had sued for peace is a gratuitous insult on Rivers people and an unmistakable act of disrespect to the president.
And now to the accusation that Governor Fubara was seeking to destroy the structure that produced him as governor just within three months of his emergence.
Hear Wike: “In three months, it is sad for someone to scatter a political structure that supported and brought him up.
“You know what is painful. All these allegations, I smile. In all your doings be grateful in your life, no matter the circumstance.
“Nobody who is a gentleman and a politician will support this kind of thing. And I kept quiet”.
He continued: “Be fair to the structure that brought you to power. You are the governor, but all you must understand is that some people had sleepless nights because of you. It is too early to fight that structure.
“I’ve never seen it happen anywhere. You have told Nigerians the kind of person you are. Some people will even pretend for one year or two years”.
Wike’s accusation sounds timid and lame, to me. Has anyone seen Fubara tampering with the political structure Wike left behind, either within the state PDP or within the cabinet Wike constituted for him? Perhaps, the FCT minister should be kind enough to tell us how many structures, either at the state PDP executive or at local or ward levels Fubara has dismantled or to use Wike’s words, destroyed?
Wike is merely being hunted by his own shadows. We were all in Rivers State when Wike hijacked the PDP structures from the then sitting Governor Amaechi with the help of President Jonathan and his wife. Could this be the reason why he thinks Fubara would pay him back in his own coin?
Whoever has taken time to study Wike’s political lifestyle over the years will attest to the fact that the Obior Akpor strongman doesn’t let things go off easily, much more when the issue revolves around power. Since he became the Chief of Staff to Governor Rotimi Amaechi in 2007, Wike has left no one in doubt that he is an ambitious man with a desire for power after power that ceaseth only in death. So, whoever tries to challenge his behemoth must be ready to receive his rage and tantrums.
But Wike should stop playing God in Rivers politics. No doubt that he still wields power as the FCT minister who has the ears of Mr. President, but he should exercise greater restraints and circumspection in whatever things he is doing right now. Nobody plays God and succeeds.
To Minister Wike: Like many people have rightly pointed out, there can’t be two captains in a ship lest it sinks. Yes, God used you to help Fubara ascend the exalted office of the Governor of Rivers State, just as God used Jonathan and his wife to make you governor in 2015; and Fubara is appreciative of your role, hence, his frequent mention of ‘My Oga’. But you should note that Fubara is the governor everybody knows in Rivers State today, he should be allowed to govern the State to the best of his ability without further distraction. I dare say that you can only win the loyalty of your estranged protege son back if you give him free hand to govern Rivers State.
Both President Bola Tinubu and Vice President Shettima installed governors but gave them free hands to govern their states. The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator George Akume; Minister of Works, Dave Umahi and other appointees in President Tinubu’s cabinet also installed governors but do not interfere in the governance of their states. So why does Wike want to be FCT minister and governor of Rivers State at the same time?
Boboye writes from Port Harcourt.