Rivers: Time to dismantle politics of godfatherism

The ongoing political impasse in Rivers state between the immediate-past governor of the state and current minister of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Nyesom Wike, and his political godson, Governor Similayina Fubara, is a mockery of our constitutional democracy. 

However, Wike’s cold war with Governor Fubara did not come to many Nigerians as surprise. Since the return of democracy in 1999, Nigeria’s elite, armed with financial wherewithal, have constituted themselves into kingmakers. 

They heavily invest and use their political connections to sponsor politicians to power in anticipation of lucrative contracts and other financial patronages. But these politicians, mostly powerful state governors, after amassing stupendous wealth, suddenly, abandon their benefactors and become kingmakers themselves. 

These powerful governors deploy state’s resources and ensure their anointed candidates win elections at all cost. The reason for supporting their anointed candidates is not far-fetched. They want to continue ruling their states by proxies. In the last two decades of our democracy, the politics of godfatherism has been deeply entrenched and nurtured beyond redemption.

The ongoing crisis rocking Rivers state is the dangerous effects of politics of godfatherism. Governor Fubara who hardly enjoyed his honeymoon like his colleagues is waging a survival war with his political godfather, Wike. Sadly, the battle of supremacy between the duo is not for the benefit or development of the oil rich state. It is purely for the control of the state’s politics and resources.

Did Wike and Fubara sign a deal or an agreement before the last general elections? Did Governor Fubara at the early days of his administration breach or renege on the agreement he entered with his godfather (Wike)? The bone of contention or genesis of the political tension has remained unknown. 

When the crisis broke, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu called the dramatis personae to an emergency meeting and brokered peace. The governor later apologised to the good people of Rivers state and Wike. With the intervention by Mr President, many had thought that Fubara and Wike had sheathed their swords and allowed peace to reign in the volatile state. Alas, this is not the case.

The decision of 27 pro-Wike lawmakers to decamp to the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, in order to impeach the governor has added fuel to the flame of the crisis. Though, the lawmakers have cited the crises in the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, as the reason for decamping, this is far from the truth. 

The national leadership of PDP and Rivers state chapter have neither been engulfed in crisis nor factionalised to constitutionally warrant their cross-carpeting.To blame crisis within the rank and file of their former party is baseless and a figment of their imagination. To compound the crisis, another three pro-Wike commissioners resigned their appointment. 

Will Governor Fubara survive the Wike political tsunami? The decision by the governor to demolish the partially bombed state’house of assembly complex has given him the cover up against pro-Wike legislators who are desperate to hatch their dirty job. 

The national leadership of PDP has declared the seats of the 27 members who decamped to the APC vacant and called on the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to conduct fresh elections. While these measures taken by Governor Fubara and his party may provide a temporary relief, in the long run, Wike who is hell-bent on removing him will have his way.

If Governor Fubara is impeached, what will happen to the peace of Rivers state? And, if Wike, after serving as a governor for good eight years without any godfather’s interference, can have his way, what will happen to our constitutional democracy? The absurdity in Rivers state will set a bad precedent and elevate politics of godfatherism in the country to a dangerous level. It is high time we dismantled the politics of godfatherism.

Ibrahim Mustapha,

Pambegua, Kaduna state