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Rivers State under Wike’s third term; matters arising

Rivers State may be setting up itself as the model of a state in which the syndrome of god-fatherism—wherein an incumbent governor formally acquiesces to…

Rivers State may be setting up itself as the model of a state in which the syndrome of god-fatherism—wherein an incumbent governor formally acquiesces to subservience to his predecessor, may have become state policy. 

It is no more news that recently, following an interpersonal disagreement between the incumbent governor of Rivers State Siminalayi Fubara and his predecessor in office and now Minister of the FCT Nyesom Wike, a political storm ensued in the governance of the state, with the first to blink in surrender being Fubara.

At its peak, the storm featured among several anomic outcomes including a bomb attack on the premises of the Rivers State House of Assembly, an attempt to impeach Fubara by the same institution for yet-to-be-disclosed offences. This was followed by the storming of the assembly precincts by the governor in the course of which he claimed to have escaped being shot at by the Police. Unavoidably, a wave of tension spread across the entire state, in the wake of the storm. By the last count, calm – even with palpable uneasiness has returned to the state with the governor eating the humble pie and apologising to the people, over the sordid drama which set the latter on edge.

Meanwhile the former governor Wike, had at no time disguised his vice-like grip on the affairs of the state – which he gloatingly claimed to be effective even from a remote location which could include the moon!  His play-out of impunity in this matter has seen him boasting on television about how he filled the nomination forms for all aspirants to political offices in the Rivers State chapter of the PDP, how dangerous it is to tamper with his political structure, and his capacity to do whatever he likes in the state, without anybody stopping him. This is the playout of what was widely believed to be Wike’s third term agenda.

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Incidentally his claims are not light statements that any citizen should mouth without expecting some response from the establishment, given that beyond the putrid smell of impunity around them, a wide swathe of criminality is also implied. More significantly, this state of affairs runs against the run of extant provisions of Nigeria’s Constitution, even as a groundswell of public opinion has been swirling in encouragement for Fubara – urging him to live up to the mandate given to him, (even if it was procured by error as some are insinuating or by design) and assert himself. But he seems reluctant to have any of such.

Yet this tepid stand of Fubara in the discharge of his gubernatorial mandate —especially in the face of the trenchant bellowing by Wike, has both long and short term implications for the Rivers State and the Nigerian federation. Due to his off-the-cuff circumstances, Wike has established a siege mentality on the Rivers State Government with telling consequences.

In the circumstances the onus lies more on Fubara than Wike to resolve. And in this respect all that this column has to offer governor Fubara is a short story set in a typical African village.

There was a village chief who had his lecherous eyes set on a very beautiful damsel whom he had proposed marriage to. The young lady was the daughter of a poor farmer, hence the chief had expected no resistance from her to his romantic overtures. Hence he was shocked to his marrow when the young lady mustered the temerity to turn him down. So charged was the chief that night after night he missed the lady and every thought of his was how to lure or capture her to his cove.

So he arranged a lavish marriage ceremony through which he lavished stupendous wealth on the lady’s family, which made them force her to marry the chief. However to drive her aversion towards marrying the chief, the lady drank poison soon after the marriage in order to avoid any chance of the chief consummating the marriage with her, alive. With the poison in her system she died soon after.

But she had misjudged the determination of the chief to have her. For on her sudden death the chief ordered the immediate burial of her body at   a spot of his choice in a nearby forest. Latter in the night, the chief sneaked out of his palace and into the forest where he exhumed the dead lady’s body, and indulged in the sacrilege of having carnal knowledge of the now death-cold body.

Expectedly, the ordeal of his sacrilegious escapade exhausted him, and he fell asleep, out in the night and by the grave, until early in the morning when a palm wine tapper discovered the strange scene and woke up the chief. Soaked with shame and regret, the chief pleaded with the palm wine tapper to keep the secret for a fee, which the latter accepted.

Several seasons later, the village chief was presiding over a land dispute in which the same palm wine tapper was an interested party. So whenever the chief took a position that was in conflict with the interest of the palm wine tapper, he would look sternly at the chief who would immediately back-track in concession to his adversary.

This state of affairs continued until it became an embarrassment to both the presiding chief as well as the other parties in the matter, and protest were muttered by some people who noticed the anomalous relationship between the chief and his tormentor, the palm wine tapper. So one day the chief decided to take things into his hands as it was judgment day.

As the chief cleared his throat with a cough to speak, everybody expected thunder from him. And he did not disappoint.

First of all he called the palm wine tapper to stand up, even as the latter was all the time smarting to spill the secret of the chief. Then in a bellowing voice the chief pronounced the following.

“My people, this your chief is an immortal with extraordinary powers”. The crowd echoed yeeah! Continuing, he made several other claims of extraordinary exploits to which the crowd echoed yeeah! The he launched the bombshell – “Even a dead woman, I have consummated”. At this the crowd shouted the loudest yeaah!  Then he turned to the tormenting palm wine tapper, “Look, you this vagabond, I notice that whenever I am talking you look at me with a funny look. Am I your mate? Next time you look at me, I will pluck out your eye balls and chew them raw. Now my people throw this man out this place”. And without much ado the crowd simply picked the palm wine tapper up, beat him to pulp, and threw him out of the arena.

I hope, Siminalayi Fubara reads this story. No matter how you came to power, this is Nigeria. Let your voice be heard by the people now that as the governor, you claim to be here to serve them, and no other master or Oga.