The October 30 attempt by the Martins Amaehwule-led Rivers State House of Assembly to impeach Governor Similanayi Fubara was the climax of the silent war between the governor and his godfather, political benefactor and the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike. The two political gladiators had engaged themselves in silent war for several weeks over issues they have not made known to the public.
The two prominent politicians had enjoyed a good working relationship in the past eight years. As the accountant-general of the oil-rich state, Fubara had worked very closely with Wike.
As the accountant-general of the state, Fubara was said to be privy to all the financial dealings of the former governor. It is said that it was their close working relationship that endeared Fubara to Wike.
Prior to the March 18, 2023 governorship election, many people were interested in succeeding Wike, such as the immediate past chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, Bro Felix Obuah, Dr Tammy Danagogo, the present secretary to the state government and Senator Lee Meaba. From the other political divide, Senator Magnus Ngie Abe, Pastor Tonye Cole, Prince Tonye Princewill, Dr Dawari George and Tiens Jackrich, were equally eying the Brick House, the Rivers State Government seat of power.
Wike was said to have put all the political stakeholders interested in occupying the Brick House in suspense as he was said to be looking for a governor he would trust and at the same time give him all the necessary protection after he had exited office.
It is not hidden that Fubara rode to power through the political structure of the former governor. The FCT minister led the campaign council of the PDP to all the 23 local government areas of the state, presenting Fubara as the best candidate for the job. He used the instrument of power to frighten other political parties from campaigning in the state through his executive orders.
Sources close to both politicians informed our correspondent that trouble started as a result of the dos and don’ts set up for Fubara as the governor of the state, an agreement an unverifiable account noted was binding on him.
One of the agreements, our correspondent learnt, was the appointment of commissioners and key functionaries of the Fubara-led administration by Wike. The former governor was said to have influenced the appointment of almost all the commissioners and key government functionaries without any input from Fubara. It is said that the governor appeared to have become tired of the overbearing influence of his predecessor and mentor, which seems to have come to a nauseating level.
Prior to the Monday attempt to remove him through impeachment, the duo had been avoiding each other, unlike before when they attended state functions together. The governor hardly appeared in a function without Wike.
Unlike before, Governor Fubara was said to be absent in some of the functions in the state, which the former governor attended. For instance, he was absent at the unveiling of a building donated to the Anglican Church in Eleme by Wike’s close ally , Marcus Nle Ejeh, one month ago. Fubara was also absent at a recent workshop organised in Port Harcourt by an association of junior lawyers, which the minister and other prominent citizens of the state attended. He rather sent the attorney-general of the state to represent him.
The silent war between the two came to a boiling point on Sunday when yet to be identified arsonists invaded the state House of Assembly located directly opposite the headquarters of the Rivers State police command and set the chamber ablaze.
The arsonists were said to have scaled the fence of the assembly complex and overpowered the security agents manning it before gaining access to the chamber.
Furniture and computer sets were destroyed in the inferno. However, the quick intervention of the men of Fire Service stopped the fire from spreading to the entire Assembly complex.
On Monday, the Majority Leader of the House, Edison Ehie, a strong supporter of Governor Fubara, was removed to pave way for a possible impeachment of the governor. He was said to have frustrated the initial attempt to initiate an impeachment process against the governor.
Announcing Ehie’s removal in Port Harcourt, the Speaker of the House, Martins Amaehwule, said he refused to attend their sitting. He said 24 members supported the removal of the Majority Leader.
Unconfirmed report had it that the lawmakers directed the clerk of the House to issue an impeachment notice to the governor.
How Governor Fubara was attacked
It was alleged that some policemen at the Assembly complex shot at the governor while he visited the place to assess the extent of damage as a result of the bombing by hoodlums.
The governor described as unfortunate, the attempt by some disgruntled persons to forcefully take control of the Assembly.
He said, “The truth is that everybody who knows me knows that I am a peaceful person. I can never be part of such destruction, even if I am aware that there is a plot to impeach me.
“I am worried that a facility like this, which we used taxpayers’ money to build, will be destroyed for selfish reasons, just to please somebody. From what I have seen, even security agents are compromised because they were shooting at me directly. The DC, operations, was shooting at me,” the governor alleged.
Fubara described as null and void, any illegal legislative action by some House members who held a purported plenary session. He added, “Let it be on record that whoever masterminded the attack at the Assembly was trying to divert attention.”
He commended Rivers youths for standing up to protect the interest of the state, adding that he was not scared of impeachment, but such action should be properly explained and justified.
“If Siminalayi Fubara is impeached, I won’t be the first, neither would I be the last. But what is important is that any attempt that is not justified will be resisted. Let them come out and tell Rivers people the offence I have committed to warrant impeachment,” the governor said.
Ehie emerges as parallel Speaker
The suspended Majority Leader of the House of Assembly, Edison Ehie, said 26 members had elected him as Speaker.
“My commitment to Rivers people is that I will be fair and just to all and sundry. I will ensure that rule of law takes its course. I will not betray my colleagues, I will not betray Rivers people, I will not betray my constituents,” Ehie told journalists at Government House, Port Harcourt.
PDP calls for caution
The leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State called on both the legislative and executive arms of government in the state to exercise restraint in the ongoing impasse between them.
The party, in a statement signed by the state chairman, Desmond Akawor, and secretary, Benebo George, noted that it was consulting with elders and other notable personalities in the state, with a view to resolving the situation at hand. It expressed optimism that the conflict would be resolved amicably.
“The leadership of the party further calls on youths in the state to exercise caution and refuse to use the situation to embark on wanton destruction of state properties, but rather continue to maintain the existing peace and tranquility in the state. Let the people of the state remain calm and await the peaceful resolution of the situation,” the statement added.
APC condemns attack
The Rivers State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has condemned the destruction of public assets at the state House of Assembly complex.
The party, in a statement issued by its publicity secretary, Darlington Nwauju, warned political actors not to jeopardise the fragile security of the state because of their political greed.
“We had warned Rivers people of the third term ambition of the immediate past governor, Nyesom Wike, and the unpatriotic agenda to continue to emasculate the state and keep our people perpetually in poverty with the ‘consolidation of a convoluted economy powered by mercantile distribution of state resources,” Nwauju noted in the statement.
Rivers police issue statement
Meanwhile, the Rivers State police command, in a statement by its public relations officer, SP Grace Iringe Koko, noted that they were on top of the security situation at the House of Assembly complex.
He stated that a full-scale investigation had been launched to unravel the circumstances surrounding the situation so as to take action against anyone found wanting.
Stakeholders, groups call for caution
Stakeholders and interest groups in Rivers State have warned of grave consequences if Governor Fubara is forcefully removed.
An elder statesman and former spokesman of the PAN Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Chief Anabs Sara Igbe, warned those behind the plot to remove the governor to have a change of mind or be ready to incur the wrath of Rivers people.
He blamed the attempted impeachment of the governor on those he described as selfish politicians, who he said were bent on milking the state dry.
He called on the governor to brace up to the challenges of leadership and take full charge of the state.
“What happened in Rivers State on Monday was very shameful. He should take charge and do away with any obstacle on his way of governance. He has immunity and nobody can toil with that. He should go ahead to remove anybody that is not loyal to him. I will advise him to immediately dissolve the State Executive Council and reconstitute it with those who will be loyal to him,” he said.
My problem with Wike, internal, will be resolved – Gov Fubara
Meanwhile, Governor Fubara, on Wednesday said his problem with Minister Wike was internal and would be amicably resolved.
The governor said this when the Chief of Defence Staff, General Christopher Musa, led a military delegation to the Government House in Port Harcourt during a visit to military formations in the Rivers. He said it was not out of place for a father and son to have problems, adding, “Whatever it is, we will definitely resolve the issue.”
I will protect my political structure – Wike
But former Governor Wike said he would do everything within his power to protect his political structure in the state. He made this known to PDP governors on Wednesday when they visited him in Abuja.