November 13, (THEWILL) – The vanity of godfatherism in Nigerian politics is boldly engraved on the crisis currently rocking Rivers State. It should have been very clear to politicians by now that imposing their preferred candidate on the people does not guarantee any peace or mutual respect between the godfather and godson. The selfish arrangement to rule by proxy and remain politically relevant from all indications has remarkably failed when the godson takes an oath of office. However, in their desperate bid to cover up traces of corruption while in office, politicians recruit supposed minions who will do their bidding after bowing out. Siminalaye Fubara, the Governor and anointed son of Nyesom Wike, falls within this category of lackeys. He is on a hot seat taking a basic bitter lesson in political disloyalty for attempting to assert himself as Governor. The political attack dogs of the former governor in the State House of Assembly and elsewhere have been deliberately positioned for the eventual temerity of this nature from the Governor or anybody who dares to challenge Wike.
The unfortunate drama going on in Rivers State is not new in Nigerian politics. It is not different from the calamity suffered in Enugu, Anambra and Lagos by Governors Chimaroke Nnamani, Sullivan Chime, Chris Ngige and Akinwunmi Ambode to mention a few in the hands of their godfathers. Greedy godfathers or kingmakers in and out of government or those wielding political or economic influence in the society bought tickets for candidates, anointed political office holders and placed them in positions of authority through any means crookedly possible. Afterwards, they will throw weight around and impose themselves, always wanting to dictate the way and manner government has to be run or demand outrageous settlements based on sinister terms and conditions signed blindly or by compulsion on behalf of the people. Some of them go as far as sponsoring state legislatures to keep the Governor in check, nominate personal aides to the Governor and majority of the commissioners, and board members, demand for outrageous share from the monthly allocation and juicy contracts paid for in full, which they will never execute and other perks. This incidentally creates the kind of unhealthy relationship, unease and animosity we had seen elsewhere and are witnessing today in Rivers.
News of the impeachment of the Governor rented the air over the weekend. Incidentally, a mysterious fire razed down the State House of Assembly Complex, the night before the day slated for the planned action. There have been accusations and counter-accusations regarding those responsible for the arson of the strategic public utility. This has led to the removal of the Majority Leader of the House of Assembly, Edison Ehie, who the House accused of being the mastermind. It was rumoured that the Majority Leader of the House is loyal to Fubara and thus will stand against the removal of the Governor. His position in the House is crucial to the plan and if he is not forthcoming with the envisaged support, let his office be desolate and another take it. The 32-member House is already divided with Edison Ehie leading a faction of 26-member pro-Fubara group as the new Speaker while Martins Amaehwule led others. Was removing the majority leader for an alleged offence such as arson the right thing to do? One had thought the house should have unanimously reported the matter to the police.
Governor Fubara seems to have on his side the overwhelming support of the Rivers people in this political ordeal. On his way to inspect the burnt House of Assembly Complex, he was seen with thousands of supportive youth who voiced their dissatisfaction against Wike and the ugly political trend in Rivers. Rivers State is rich and the power tussle in the State is as rich and fierce as the state itself. The scramble for complete loyalty and political control of state resources is at the heart of the crisis. The then governor Rotimi Amaechi wielded enormous powers at his disposal against Wike. Now Wike has obviously forgotten the famished road that led him home and turned against Fubara. Fubara, if he survives this onslaught, would have learnt more about how to wield executive powers. Politicians in Nigeria are the same both in character and actions. He will ruthlessly crush anybody and anything on his way to also carve a niche of political colony for himself.
Nigerian politicians cannot compete or be compared to any in the world. Greedy. selfish, self-centred, power-drunk and comfortably unpatriotic. They are the most unproductive policymakers in the world. How does one consign Nigerians to live below the poverty level in 2023 while each member of the National Assembly is entitled to Sport Utility Vehicles priced at N160 million? Leadership to them amounts to unbridled primitive accumulation of wealth and power in and out of office. Developmental goals are never genuinely a top priority. Those at the receiving end of this political imbroglio are the poor Rivers people who are by this crisis denied good governance and are left to wallow in abject poverty on account of the selfish interests of two individuals. Rivers people are advised to refrain from joining issues or aligning with either party to the crisis. They should rather demand that good governance should not be interrupted by the vested interests of the two political gladiators.
The Nigerian police should always endeavour to act professionally in its conduct and desist from taking actions capable of suggesting that they have taken sides on some national issues. On his way to inspect the burnt House of Assembly Complex, the Governor was seen being poured water and fired tear gas by the officers of the Rivers State Police Command deployed to restore order in a video circulating online. The Governor has claimed that the police wanted to kill him. When Rotimi Amaechi was the governor of Rivers, the state security institutions seemed to take orders from him. It only remained a little for Amaechi to run Nyesom Wike out of town. A high-ranking police officer was named as the arrowhead deployed to crush opposition, so was a high-ranking police officer named in this one.
Power corrupts and absolute power like the one wielded in Nigeria corrupts absolutely. Nobody in any position of authority likes to be dictated to let alone Fubara. Those dictating for him now dealt ruthlessly with every little dissenting voice. Fubara himself or anybody in Nigeria would not feign ignorance of the likelihood of what is happening today when they chose to run for political offices on the shoulders and popularity of some state political giants. What does he expect? Politics is a game governed by interest. Interest in Nigerian politics revolves around the physical to mundane – loyalty, control, money, and contract. It is an “investment.” The Governor was aware of the stuff Wike was made of and his overbearing influence. Even during the campaigns, Wike left nobody in doubt that he was in charge and would continue after handing over. Therefore, blaming Wike and sympathizing with Fubara is not fair.
The Governor saw the brimming furnace and poked his five fingers. He cannot eat his cake and still have it. This does not imply that Rivers State should be turned into Wike Nigeria plc. The former governor invested so much and made enemies to ensure Fubara wins but he alone cannot personally determine how Rivers State should be run from the comfort of his office as the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory. Wike should better understand that taking up the role of a minister will drastically reduce his influence and also deny him better knowledge of events as they unfold. This is what we see when politicians discountenance competency in place of loyalty. What is going on in Rivers is almost the same throughout Nigeria. Therefore, we look forward to more political intrigues between the godfather and the godsons. However, we ask that peace should reign in Rivers State. Nobody is absolutely right. The vanity of political godfatherism.
Written by: Sunday Onyemaechi Eze, a Media and Development Communication Specialist, writes via email@example.com and can be reached on 08060901201