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How political coup against Buni failed, by
Benjamin Kolowei

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The recent development in the ruling APC has been described as a political coup by the contending forces struggling for the soul of the party ahead of its national convention slated for March 26, and other things being equal.

The internal rumbling is expected especially as it relates to who gets what and how in the politics and politicking of the various lords and principalities in the party as the race to 2023 gathers momentum and acceleration.

Early in the week news broke that President Muhammadu Buhari had given order sacking governor Mai Bala Buni, as the national caretaker chairman of the party, and that Niger state governor Abubakar Sani Bello, who is a member of the CECPC take charge as the caretaker chairperson of the party contrary to the the workings of the party, its constitution and leadership.

But in a swift reaction, governor Buni-led CECPC through a statement by the national secretary of the party, Senator James Akpanudoedehe, titled, “Fake news: No Leadership Change in APC CECPC,” dismissed the report as pure fiction, advising the public to ignore it.

The statement reads: ”Our attention has been drawn to sponsored media reports on an imaginary leadership change in the All Progressives Congress (APC) Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC).

“The media report is fake news and should be disregarded.

“The APC is a progressive political party guided by rules. Leadership changes are not announced by ‘sources’ through name dropping in the media.

“We urge our teeming supporters, members and indeed the general public to remain calm and support the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led APC CECPC conduct a rancour-free and credible National Convention deserving of our great party.”

  • Did Buhari ordered Buni’s removal?

For about 48 hours, the speculation about Buhari’s purported order went viral like whirlwind until Kaduna state governor Nasir El-rufai gave e a voice to it while speaking on Channel’s politics today.

According to El-rufai, governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe state cannot return as the Chairman of the Caretaker Committee of the party because governor Bello had the backing of President Muhammadu Buhari and 19 governors.

“Buni is gone, the Secretary is gone. Gov. Bello is in charge and he has the backing of President Muhammadu Buhari and 19 governors. Buni can only return as Governor of Yobe but never as chairman of our party.

“President Buhari ordered his removal and this has been implemented. Governor Bello has taken over and things are moving according to plan. Party will be restored, convention will take place as scheduled. 19 governors and their deputies are solidly behind this move.

“Buni and his people got a court order to stop the convention but hid it,” he said.

  • No, Buni still our Chairman – Umahi

Countering governor El-rufai, Ebonyi state governor, David Umahi, insisted that the governor Mai Mala Buni, remained the Caretaker Committee chairman of the APC.

Umahi said that there’s no crisis in the APC and tasked party members to dispel the rumours that the ruling party is divided.

He said: “I want to thank the National Chairman of APC. And let me tell you that there is no division in APC. The chairman went on medical leave. And we were there when he asked the governor of Niger State, Mr Bello, to act for him.

“If there will be change, it will be notified. But for now, there is no change, and there is no crack. It is the PDP that is doing everything to destroy this country. But let me tell you, the attention of our party, the APC, has been drawn to all their antics, why they are misleading this country.”

  • What the party constitution says

Findings revealed that President Muhammadu Buhari has no power whatsoever to unilaterally sack governor Buni as the caretaker chairman of the party, although the president may influence the sack. Also contrary to governor El-rufai’s “President said claims”, only the NEC that can remove a national chairman and not the Preaident but the fact remains that the party can absolutely remove the President.

According to Article 13.3(v) of the APC constitution 2014, only the NEC of the party can exercise such control and take such disciplinary actions on governor Buni or his committee, if there is any allegation of infraction against him or any other member of the party.

Also, Article 13.2(vi) of the same constitution quoted in the preceding paragraph explicitly emphasizes that it is the same NEC that can appoint Niger state governor and his committee or any other person it may deem fit and assign powers and functions to them accordingly.

An informed party leader had said: “As of now, the NEC decision that appointed Buni and his committee is still binding on all organs and members except the National Convention according to Article 13.3(iii) and it is until the same NEC decides otherwise.

“I will rather ask governor Sani-Bello, governor El-rufai and others to urgently apologise to the Yobe state governor Mala Buni publicly for misleading the public and especially the numerous APC members.”

  • Implication of Buni’s removal

Analysts have, however said the ruling APC will be dancing on the brinks unless the APC National Executive Committee (NEC) ratifies governor Bello’s appointment or Mai Mala Buni is allowed back to superintend over its affairs, the ruling party may not have a valid national convention as scheduled.

Section 222 of the 1999 Constitution as amended states that only the national chairmen and national secretaries are recognized when parties are registered.

The Electoral Act has also stated the lines of communication between the parties and INEC.

One of the analysts, Comrade Jide Oluwasegun Ige said: “It does not make any political sense and even for logistical reasons to dismiss Buni and his committee a few days before the convention of the party. It’s a given fact that the committee, no matter whatever intention it may harbour, will always toe the directive of the President because of the way party politics is wired in this clime.”

  • Gov. Buni remains CECPC Chairman, APC declares

Meanwhile, governor Abubakar Sani Bello-led CECPC has declared that Yobe state governor Mai Mala Buni remained the Chairman of the Committee.

The new spokesman of the CECPC, Barrister Ismaeel Ahmed, confirmed that Buni did transferred a letter to governor Bello before he embarked on the medical trip.

Ahmed said: “It is pretty simple. I don’t know why this is a complicated issue for a lot of people to understand. Since the inception of this CECPC on June 25 2020, whenever the chairman is not around and Gov. Sani Bello is around, he acts on behalf of the chairman.

“He is our acting chairman and that has always been the case. That has never changed. And now we have a Convention on 26th March, the Chairman wrote a letter for his leave to go for medical treatment. Those are two emergencies. He has a medical emergency that cannot wait for the Convention and we have a Convention that cannot wait for him to be healthy.

“So, one has to leave for the other. The chairman transmitted a letter and Gov. Bello has been acting as appropriate. He is acting with the full authority of the CECPC and with the full authority of the stakeholders a d leaders of the party and with the full consent and knowledge of Gov. Mai Mala Buni. If anybody has any issues with any of our decisions, you can take it to court. For now, we know we are doing it with the full backing if the law. There is no ambiguity in this.”

  • As INEC rejects Bello’s invitation to NEC meeting

Confirming the legality of governor Mai Mala Buni-led CECPC, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has rejected a letter inviting it to an emergency meeting of its National Executive Committee (NEC).

The development implies that the electoral body did not recognize the removal of Gov Mai Mala Buni as chairman of the party’s caretaker committee and his subsequent replacement by Abubakar Sani Bello, governor of Niger state.

INEC’s response, which dated March 9, 2022, signed by the Secretary to the Commission, Rose Oriaran Anthony, was titled, “Re: Invitation to the emergency meeting of the National Executive Committee”, and addressed to the National Chairman, APC CECPC.

The commission drew the attention of the CECPC to the fact that the letter of invitation was not signed by the National Chairman and National Secretary of the CECPC, Buni and Senator John Akpanudoedehe, respectively.

This, it said, was contrary to the provision of Article 1.1.3 of the Commission’s Regulations and Guidelines for Political Party Operations (2018).

INEC also reminded those who wrote and signed the letter of the provision in Section 82(1) of the Electoral Act 2022, “which requires at least 21 days’ notice of any convention, congress, conference, or meeting convened for the purpose of merger and electing members of its executive committees, other governing bodies or nominating candidates for any elective office.”

The commission, therefore, urged APC to note the key issues raised for compliance.

The letter by INEC is considered a big clog in the wheels of a plot by a bloc in the party to stage a coup against Buni, who duly transferred power to Governors Sani Bello of Niger State, to enable him to attend briefly to health issues, according to a leaked letter on Thursday.

Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State had indicated on a TV program on Wednesday night that Buni was pushed aside because he was working against holding the APC’s planned National Convention, a claim Buni’s letter, dated February 28, 2022, and addressed to CECPC members, countered.

INEC’s letter read, “Please refer to your letter Ref.APC/NHDQ/INEC/019/022/32, dated 8th March 2022.

“The Commission draws your attention to the fact that the notice for the meeting was not signed by the National Chairman and National Secretary of the CECPC contrary to the provision of the Article 1.1.3 of the Commission’s Regulations and Guidelines for Political Party Operations (2018).

“Furthermore, the APC is reminded of the provision in Section 82(1) of the Electoral Act 2022, which requires at least 21 days’ notice of any convention, congress, conference, or meeting convened for the purpose of ‘merger’ and electing members of its executive committees, other governing bodies or nominating candidates for any elective office.

“While hoping these issues are noted for compliance, please accept the assurance of the Commission’s warm regards.”

Barrister Benjamin Kolowei, is the national coordinator, South-south Emerging Leaders Forum (SELF).

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Opinion

Nigeria, the compromised Society

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By Jibrin Samuel Okutepa
Nigeria society seems to be a place where everything now appears to be compromised in favour of bad and corrupt practices. Nigerians are in hell in their own land. Those who worked hard to see that the right things are done are discouraged by decisions that support the continuation and approval of wrongs as rights. Nothing appears to be done to promote the greatest good of all in the governance and in decisions in judicial adjudications.

Justice appears polluted in favour of evil men in power and positions. The institutions that are supposed to protect us have left us to the whims and caprices of those who cheat us out of our rights. The pillars of justice appeared to have collapsed. Many have lost hopes. The ability to manipulate is required to be in the systems that need no manipulations. The judgment delivered today, the 27th day of May 2024, by the Kogi State Election Petition Tribunal
In petion No: EPT/KG/GOV/03/2023, YAKUBU MURTALA & ANOR. VS. INEC & 2 ORS clearly turned the law on its head. The Tribunal closed eyes to evidence and struggled to do what it did. It was pure judicial summersault in support of wrong processes.

The foundation for the collapse of justice was laid by those who have the responsibility to lay solid foundations for sustainable justice in legal processes. Justice suffers in the hands of those who are to serve it in the most undiluted form.Those who are trained to enforce the laws are doing it incorrectly and inconsistently and not within the letters and the spirits of the law. They closed eyes to injustice. They lament behind but lack the courage to do what is right.

We live in compromised systems.
The evil doers dictate everything that goes on in every department of the systems we operate. No system operates independently of interference. Those who do not want to compromise are living in agony and are daily agonizing. That is why democracy in Nigeria appears to be heading to catastrophic destruction.

Sovereignty does not belong to the people. It belongs to a few tiny cabals in and out of powers. We live in a completely compromised democratic corrupt system in Nigeria.There is nothing like the rule of law in Nigeria.
Justice has developed eyes and acquired sight to follow evils and to support and sustain them in Nigeria.

Nothing good will be seen and work in Nigeria until Nigerians collectively agree to do what is right and just. A just and egalitarian society can not be attained when truth and justice are compromised on the primordial partisan interests in judicial adjudications. Where cases are decided to support the subversion of democratic processes, anarchy is eminent.

No society can grow and develop when people are allowed to profit from their own wrongs and wickedness perpetuated in sabotage of law that was promulgated for the promotion of a just and fair process.
Society of compromises is a society destined for destruction.

It is a society where people are held accountable and punished for evil they do that can produce and promote enduring democratic legacy for the happiness of the vast majority of the people. Nigeria appears to be far from such an egalitarian society given the intolerable spirit of compromises by those who should not tolerate evils and violations of our laws.

By Jibrin Samuel

The purpose of law is to ensure orders and good behaviour. Those who interpreted the law upside down to achieve a predetermined outcome are enemies of a just society. But let me say that despite all these compromises, we must ensure that light is not overwhelmed by this darkness hovering in our land.

Calm down. We will not run away from practice. We will show light in darkness. One day and not too long, our light will outshine the darkness in the firmament of legal practice in Nigeria. Be calm. Congratulations to my colleagues on the wonderful legal team who displayed unparalleled legal dexterity despite all odds.

Jibrin Samuel Okutepa

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Rivers political crisis: Fubara raves as Wike likely retreats (4)

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By Ehichioya Ezomon

Seeming to belie the header for this article that’s run three installments, a couple of weeks has witnessed the return of former Governor and Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Chief Nyesom Wike – from his semblance of a sabbatical leave – to rejoin Governor Siminalayi Fubara in shadow-boxing, and stoking the metatarsising Rivers political crisis.
On Saturday, May 11, 2024, in Ogu-Bolo, Rivers State, at a grand reception in honour of Chief George Thompson Sekibo for his 20 years of public service, Wike – who no longer has the luxury of daily political rhetoric as when he’s governor – addressed five issues Fubara would likely tackle on separate days.
They include: A mistake he’d made, without elaborating; his deliberate bullying of the Fubara camp, to create fear, and make it to commit mistakes; that nobody can remove his pro-lawmakers sacked by the court; denying asking anyone to worship him; and the need for beneficiaries to show appreciation to their benefactors.
This comes as Fubara says he’s records of his duties as a civil servant, and the Accountant General of Rivers State under the Wike administration (2015-2023), stressing that all activities he carried out were based on “approvals” from his superiors.
In a veiled reference to his promise to probe the Wike government, Fubara, during the inauguration of Egbeda internal roads, in Emohua local government area on Thursday, May 16, said he’s ready to answer any queries, as his records would show that his previous official activities in government “were based on approvals.”
In similar masked remarks obviously referring to Fubara, Wike said he made a mistake in his political calculation, by shutting out an array of chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from the Rivers governorship in 2023, and settling for Fubara. “But nobody is above mistakes,” Wike said, and asked Rivers people to forgive him.
His said: “I want to say this clearly, in life we have made a mistake. I have made a mistake. I own it up and I say God forgive me. I have said all of you forgive me. I am a human, I am bound to make a mistake. So, forgive me for making a wrong judgment. So, nobody should kill (because of it). But we will correct it (mistake) at the appropriate time.”
On the sacked lawmakers loyal to him, Wike said the law and due process would take its course, irrespective of whatever happened, adding, “If they like, they can go to anybody by 2 a.m or 4 a.m to get an injunction. The law will take its course. We must follow due process.”
Wike urged the lawmakers not to be intimidated, saying, “Don’t be afraid. Nobody will remove you as a lawmaker. Most of you don’t understand. This is our work. Our business is to make them fear. That is what I am doing. We will make them to be angry every day, and they will continue to make mistakes.”
Rounding off, Wike said he isn’t God, and as such, had never demanded that anybody should worship him. “Nobody can worship man. All of us believe that it is only God we will worship. (But) as politicians, we appreciate people who have helped us.”
On the latter issue, Fubara’s previously said he appreciated the fact that Wike played a pivotal role in his governorship, but that it’s God that used him as a vessel to fulfil His purpose, and so, only God deserves his worship and not any human.
Fubara said: “God can do anything He wants to do when He wants to do it. It is only for us to realise that God will not come down from Heaven but will pass through one man or woman to achieve His purpose. So, for that reason, when we act, we act as humans; human vessels that God has used, and not seeing yourself as God.
“I want to say this clearly, that we appreciate the role our leaders, most especially the immediate past governor (Wike) played. But that is not enough for me to worship a human being. I can’t do that.”
On the hot-potato matter of probing Wike, whose government Fubara served as Accountant General, the governor told his audience at the Egbeda roads’ inauguration in Emohua that he wasn’t entertaining any fears, but ready and prepared to defend himself whenever he’s queried or called to answer alleged financial impropriety under the Wike government.
Fubara said: “What we bring to our people is service delivery at record time and cost-effective. Everything we are doing is in my white paper (record of activities). I carry it along. There is no issue of any manipulation. Call me any day, any time, it is there.
“Even the ones l did (as a civil servant) before this time, I still have all the records. If you call me any day, I will bring my records of all my activities in government. I know that as a civil servant, what is most important is record-keeping.
“I am not scared of anything. Anybody who calls me up any day, any time, I have my records to show. I have all the approvals to show that I acted based on approvals, and not personal decisions. We are not going to rest until we make everyone happy in Rivers State.”
This leads to the questions: If Fubara’s that sparkling clean, as he claims, why did he allegedly hide, and refuse to surrender himself to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for investigation during the 2023 general election? Or was it then Governor Wike trying to shield him from the EFCC, to prevent him from spilling reported malfeasance in the Wike government? Members of the public Fubara’s called to witness his incorruptibility deserve a plausible answer to the query!
Meanwhile, as the probe of Wike looks to proceed apace, only a miraculous intervention in the crisis – which Fubara doubts can be settled amicably after President Bola Tinubu’s brokered peace deal between Fubara and Wike looks to breakdown – would prevent him from declaring soon that, “enough is enough,” and go for Wike and his members’ jugular, deploying the enormous powers at his disposal that he’s said “he doesn’t know what to do with power,” as “the most hit and abused governor” (in Nigeria). So, when he’s decided, the scenarios may look as follows:
First, there’re a few strategies that Fubara’s outlined to deal with the recalcitrant lawmakers he’s described as “not existing.” The governor could evict them from the Rivers State House of Assembly Residential Quarters in Port Harcourt – where the legislators and their families domicile, and also use as a legislative chamber – to deny them the venue and avenue to make laws and/or plot his impeachment.
Second, Fubara could mimic some of his counterparts, and withhold the lawmakers’ emoluments, and allocations to the legislature, such as he allegedly did to the April 2024 allocations to Rivers local councils, whose chairmen, majorly loyal to Wike, have vowed to remain in office after their tenure in June 2024, “in line with the law” passed by the pro-Wike lawmakers, extending their tenure until elected local government officials are installed.
Remarkably, a Rivers High Court has struck down that “law” as illegally enacted by the lawmakers whose seats had been declared vacant on account of their defection to the All Progressives Congress (APC) from the PDP, which sponsored them in 2023.
Prior, Fubara had warned the council chairmen that they’d a few days remaining in their tenure, and shouldn’t forment trouble within the period, as “nobody has monopoly of violence.” He handed down the warning at Egbeda community in Emohua, during the official flag-off of the Elele-Egbeda-Omoku road project.
As reported by New Telegraph, this comes as miscreants, allegedly at the behest of the aggrieved council chairmen, attacked some persons who attended the governor’s inauguration of the Aleto-Ogale-Ebubu-Eteo road project in Eleme local government area on Tuesday, May 14.
Fubara said: “Let me also say this here. When we left Aleto the other day, some people went there and attacked our people. There is no need for that. Nobody has the monopoly of violence. So, I’m begging everyone, please, conduct yourself. As a matter of fact, I am the one who is most hit and abused as a Governor who doesn’t know what to do with power. Is it not? Have I said anything?
“So, I am advising those people, who call themselves local government chairmen: you have a few days in office. Please, conduct yourselves in a peaceful manner. Politics will come, politics will go, but we will still live our lives. Let nobody deceive you, if you deliberately hurt anybody because of expressing your useless support, nobody will forgive you. You will pay for it.
“Just endure until when you finish, then you go your way. I don’t want trouble. I don’t want anything that will bring any problems in this state. I know what they want to do, but we will not give them the opportunity.
“We have made our promise to our leader, who happens to be the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, that we will take the path of peace and that is the path we are taking. We will continue to take that path.
“Don’t mind what they say. Don’t mind what they do. Peace remains the path to take. (But) while taking the path of that peace, it does not mean that we won’t defend ourselves… No, no no. We need to also protect ourselves in a lawful manner.”
The next installment of the serialisation under the running header will conclude what Governor Fubara could do to cage former Governor Wike and his loyalists in the cascading political crisis that daily produces different scenarios in Rivers State!

Mr Ezomon, Journalist and Media Consultant, writes from Lagos, Nigeria

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Opinion

Rivers political crisis: Fubara raves as Wike likely retreats (3)

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By Ehichioya Ezomon

As the Rivers political crisis reaches – or being pushed by the feuding parties to – its crescendo, Governor Siminalayi Fubara’s adopted a strategy of one-day, one-taunt, one-threat, one-allegation to deal with his opponents, or enemies of Rivers State, as decreed by the governor.
Hence such headlines as, “Rivers crisis: ‘I have defeated my enemies, they now sleep with two eyes open’ — Fubara,” “Fubara: ‘Small thing I did they no longer sleep,'” “You haven’t seen anything yet, wait for joker, says Fubara,” “We’re battling huge debts left behind by Wike’s government — Fubara,” “Fubara vows to probe Wike, says ‘jungle is mature,'” “I’ll liberate Rivers from oppression, says Fubara,” “Rivers crisis: ‘Conduct yourselves, nobody has monopoly of violence,’ Fubara warns LG chairmen.”
To rein in his traducers, Fubara’s decided to probe the administration of former Governor and Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, Chief Nyesom Wike – ironically his political godfather-turned nemesis accusingly fueling the Rivers crisis.
On Monday, May 13, at the inauguration of Dagogo Israel Iboroma (SAN) as Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, to replace Prof. Zaccheaus Adangor, who resigned after he’s redeployed to the Ministry of Special Duties (Governor’s Office), Fubara vowed he’s “not going back on it (probe).”
He told Mr Iboroma – who’s sworn in after screening by the pro-Fubara three-member House of Assembly, presided by Victor Oko-Jumbo – that he’s brought on board as the Attorney-General to tackle the legal matters faced by the government “with bravery and courage.”
Fubara’s words: “My brother, Dagogo Iboroma, you are going to be the brand new Attorney-General of our dear State. SSG (Secretary to the State Government), give him his letter, he is the Attorney-General
“Why are we bringing you at this very critical time? We have a lot of issues around us. We believe that you are not going to be the one that, when they send (court) service to you, you go and file ‘nolle prosequi’ (a formal notice of discontinuance) or you go and file one thing that would kill us here.
“Let me also say this. You have a big task. We will be setting up a judicial panel of inquiry to investigate the affairs of governance. So, brace up, I am not going back on it (probe).
“Please, defend us. We know that you are going to defend us because your record is clean. You are a gentleman and peaceful. You are not a noise maker. People like you are endowed, and they have the fear of God.”
Prof. Adangor didn’t escape Fubara’s censor for allegedly sabotaging the administration “he served as chief law officer,” even as Adangor, in his resignation letter, claimed Fubara interfered in the discharge of his duties.
Adangor’s letter reads: “The Governor of Rivers State had, in the past couple of weeks, willfully interfered with the performance of my duties as the Hon. Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Rivers State, by directing me not to defend, oppose, or appear in suits instituted against the Hon. Attorney-General and the Government of Rivers State by persons admittedly hired and sponsored by the Government of Rivers State.”
But as Fubara said: “It is good that you (Iboroma) were already a SAN (Senior Advocate of Nigeria) before your appointment. This means that you’re a very thorough lawyer and has earned your appointment. Not like the one (Adangor) we had here.
“Instead of you (Adangor) to close your mouth, you go publicly to claim that you are a learned person, and go publicly to tell people that you were the chief law officer. Chief law officer?
“You were here and you went to stand before a Magistrates’ court. At that time, you didn’t remember that you were a chief law officer, going against the ethics of your job. Like I said, you will get your reward, not in the next world, but in this world.”
Though Fubara’s elated to’ve found “a well- constituted House of Assembly” (of only three members out of 31) to discharge legislative duties, and “the appointment of a seasoned lawyer as Attorney-General,” he doubts the resolution of Rivers’ crisis amicably due to alleged “deliberate sabotage” of his government.
“It has become very clear that… there is no way to resolve it (crisis) amicably, and for a lot of reasons. There is visible evidence that there is sabotage, deliberate attempt to sabotage this administration,” Fubara said, adding, “for that reason, we have to move forward, and moving forward, if it means taking decisions that are going to hurt anybody, we are not going back.”
One such decision is Fubara’s avowal to rehabilitate the Rivers State House of Assembly Residential Quarters in Port Harcourt, launched in 2022, thus pre-empting the report of experts he’s commissioned to carry out integrity tests on the quarters that houses the lawmakers and their families, and also serves as a legislative house, which Fubara’s lately relocated to the Government House via an Executive Order.
With opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers alleging the governor intends to demolish the structures, as he reportedly did to the House of Assembly complex, Fubara, on Thursday, May 9, displayed the attitude of the typical politician to regard – and appropriate – state resources: financial and material as theirs.
After he “stormed” the residential quarters – and journalists wanted to know his mission to the place, Fubara asked what’s amiss if he visited his own property. He said: “Is the assembly quarters not part of ‘my property’? Is there anything wrong in going to check how things are going on there? You are aware of the developments. We have a new Speaker, and I went there to see for myself how things are. There might be a few things I want to do there for the good of our people.”
Fubara’s query reminds of the late media sensation and Kano State Governor Sabo Bakin Zuwo, during the short-lived Second Republic (1979-1983). Sen. Zuwo had hardly spent a few weeks in his three-month stay in power (October 1 to December 31, 1983) when he appropriated the state resources to the Government House for quick disbursements.
When anti-graft operatives had intel about – and actually saw – the stacked amount of Kano State’s money in the government house – where Zuwo handed it out at his whim and fancy – and was asked for an explanation, the following dialogue ensued:
Zuwo: “Whose money is this?” Security operatives: “Kano State’s money.” Zuwo: Whose house is this?” Security operatives: “Kano State’s Government House.” Zuwo: “You found Kano State’s money in Kano State’s Government House, is there any problem with that?” Security operatives: Tongue-tied, no response!
Fubara’s claim of Rivers property as his also recalls an apocryphal (unverified) saying, attributed to Louis XIV, King of France and Navarre, “L’État, c’est moi” (“I am the state,” literally, “the state, that is me”) – allegedly said on April 13, 1655, before the Parliament of Paris – is a phrase that “symbolises absolute monarchy and absolutism,” according to Wikipedia.
In the context of Nigeria’s politics, the President and Governor act as absolute monarchs, who equate themselves as the State, and do what they like with its resources, without questioning from the legislative arm of government under their stranglehold. That’s where Fubara’s veered lately with his proclamation of a three-man Rivers State House of Assembly, to make laws for the state, and oversight the executive that installed the chamber itself.
Getting away with a five-member Rivers Assembly that passed a hefty N800bn budget within 24 hours, and signed into law the next day – a 48-hour wonder – Fubara gambles now with three members in a 31-member assembly, to “guard” his government in the next three years before the 2027 general election.
And seemingly free of the political bondage he’s been held by Wike, Fubara’s ploy – barring any unforeseen circumstances – is to put the final nail into the political coffin of his opponents: Wike and his sacked loyal members of the Rivers Assembly, depending on several factors, chiefly, the direction of cases in court, resistance from the sacked pro-Wike lawmakers, and local council chairmen, whose tenure ends in June, and the courage by Fubara’s three-member legislature to go the whole hog with the governor for the ultimate showdown with Wike.
Top of these challenges is the Wike probe, which sing-song Fubara took a notch higher on Tuesday, May 14, when he alleged that Rivers’ huge debt overhang was incurred by Wike, who also didn’t pay contractors for projects executed for the state, as reported by Premium Times on May 15.
Fubara revealed this at the commissioning of reconstructed 10.89km Aleto-Ogale-Ebubu-Eteo road at Ebubu community, Eleme local government area, where he said he’d lived and worked to get to Level 14 in the Rivers civil service.
His words: “This is to let the world know that if there is one problem this administration has, it is the huge debt burden. Most of the projects being commissioned, the contractors are coming for their balance-payment, and it is running into billions.
“I have said that I don’t want to talk. I don’t want to talk because I was part of that system. But, when you (Wike) keep pushing me to talk, I will say it so that the people will know the true situation of things and be properly informed.”
Fubara’s charge counters claims by then Governor Wike in November 2022, that he’s fully funding the multi-billion naira projects executed by his administration, and that he wouldn’t leave any debts behind for his successor.
Wike said he’s deploying arrears of 13 per cent of oil revenue – (later with additional refunds of N78bn incurred by the prior Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi government (2007-2015) to rebuild federal roads in Rivers) – paid by then President Muhammadu Buhari to Rivers State.
Wike, inaugurating the Rivers State campus of the Nigeria Law School (NLS) declared: “That is why, since 2019 till now, we have been commissioning projects in the state,” and threw a challenge to other governors in the South-South zone “to account for the oil revenue they have received.”
Whatever, Fubara’s poured cold water on Wike’s claim of financial prudence and accountability, as he’s in a postion to know – as then Accountant General of Rivers – the actual financial health of the state, and challenges Wike to account for how he spent Rivers resources in eight years!
On the launching of the road, Fubara said he’s happy to be there (Ebubu community), and “to join the good people of Rivers State to start this wonderful celebration of our first anniversary in the face of all the troubles. It shows that we are still focused, not minding the level of distractions.”
“This project was awarded at the cost of N6.7 billion, and I can say boldly that no kobo is remaining. We’ve paid the contractor its complete sum. Our gathering here is to tell our people that their problem is our problem,” Fubara said.
Obviously as a parting shot at Wike, Fubara said he’d invited Abia State Governor, Dr Alex Otti, to inaugurate the road because Otti is not a man of “artificial integrity,” but a “pragmatic man.”
Now that the die is cast for the probe of the eight-year tenure of governance of Rivers State by Nyesom Wike, how will Governor Fubara proceed with the task? This and other issues will form the next installment of this article!

Mr Ezomon, Journalist and Media Consultant, writes from Lagos, Nigeria

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