Wike, Fubara, Rivers Godfatherism
Amid the festering political crisis in Rivers State, the National Coordinator, South-South Leadership Forum, Chief Anabs Sara-Igbe, on Saturday said Governor Siminalayi Fubara offered to resign his position before the crisis in the state escalated to the level it currently is.
He said it took the intervention of some Peoples Democratic Party leaders to prevail on him to shelve the idea.
Sara-Igbe, a former spokesperson for the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), said the governor opted to resign because apart from the way forces above him prevented him from asserting his independence, he didn’t have enough control over the state’s funds and had difficulty running his government.
Fubara and his political godfather, Nyesom Wike, who is the current Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, have been at war over the control of the state, plunging the state into political crisis.
Speaking in an interview on Channels TV, Sara-Igbe, who is a former Security Adviser to former governor Peter Odili, predicted that more commissioners would leave Fubara’s cabinet because Wike’s loyalists dominated the cabinet, which he said was evident in the way the commissioners had resigned their positions.
He alleged that even after leaving office, Wike still had a say in government operations and how the governor was managing the affairs of the state.
He stated, “What is the problem? Wike has come to tell the world that he was fighting Sim because Sim wanted to take his structure. What is the structure six months after elections; we are not close to elections, so what has structure got to do?
“Let me tell you about the structure; before Wike left government, the state was making over N10bn internally generated revenue (monthly). When he left, the IGR came down to N6bn. And the governor, a former Accountant General of the state, asked questions and in the process he engaged somebody to look at the books, and the commissioner of finance reported to Wike and the former governor got angry. That is the structure.
“Secondly, the money coming from the federation account, Wike tied the money to one project or the other. So, when the money comes, it goes to the banks and they collect theirs from it and pay the contractors. Of course, we didn’t even know the cost of the contracts, so when this governor felt, ‘how will I run a government when I don’t have the resources’, the minister became hostile to the governor and the governor said ‘okay, let me resign if that is the case’. The PDP elders prevailed on him not to resign, thinking it would be messy.
“As soon as that ended, I came on air and advised Nyesom Wike to leave this man alone to govern, allow him, even if he’s your son’. I even went as far as giving him references like the Sarakis. Dr Olusola Saraki brought the son, Bukola, to that seat but when their ideologies did not agree, the son told him to go and rest.”
Sara-Igbe said it was difficult to make a governor subservient in Nigeria, because of the huge influence and power available to the occupiers of the office.
He added, “You cannot make somebody a governor; a very important seat in Nigeria – that was the seat Odili sat and he almost became the president; that was the seat (former governor Rotimi) Amaechi sat and he connived with others to remove a sitting president; that is the seat Wike himself sat and became a superman – and you are asking somebody who is on that seat to be subservient. But the governor is still loyal.
He said the former governor knew about the defection of the 27 PDP Assembly lawmakers to the APC, “he (Wike) is a lawyer, he ought to know that such a move would cost the Assembly members their seats”.
When reminded that the lawmakers had said openly that their defection was not engineered by the minister, Sara-Igbe noted, “I am a father to some of them. I know their personal grievances, but they cannot do what they did without the support of their godfather. They believe Wike and Sim were having problems and because of that they leveraged that to get at him (Sim).
“Even before the impeachment saga, some were threatening the governor that if he did rubbish they would get him removed from office. But the governor is a calm person, and I believe strongly that this is one man who loves Wike so much and has sacrificed so much for him before he became governor and even after.
“Today, the governor is not disposed to making trouble with the minister. He still sees it as a father and son relationship, but the minister, because of greed, is someone who wants to get everything, trying to take over the two parties, APC and PDP. When somebody is in control and wants power at all cost, it’s not the best, and that is what is leading to some of his problems.”