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The false zoning propaganda in Bayelsa West: The True position



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We have always put out our views on the issue of the debate about zoning propagated by some persons who are scared of contesting in a free and fair election.

Our position has always been that there is no binding and valid agreement on zoning implemented at any election period in the history of Bayelsa West.

Our views are out there in the public domain and we know that have majority of the people in alignment with us. Only a tiny minority who are either afraid of contesting elections are supporting these mischief makers screaming zoning for their selfish political interests.

Our attention was drawn on to a publication yesterday by the All Progressive Congress stating their well-known position, that as far as they are concerned, there is no zoning in Bayelsa West.

This is not surprising because prior to the bye-election in 2020, this was clearly stated by all their leaders and members as they went ahead to confirm their rejection in ‘zoning’ by fielding Chief Peremobowei Ebebi, their senatorial candidate from Ekeremor LGA. Ebebi contested against Senator Dickson when Hon. Fred Agbedi an Ekeremor mab as a sitting member of the House of Representatives.

This confirms clearly that APC as a party has never believed in zoning and we agree with the position of the APC, that there is no binding and enforceable zoning agreement in Bayelsa West. It is only mischiefmakers and those who are opposed to persons with intimidating credentials who they think may contest elections that they bring up the issue of zoning periodically to go against such persons.

There are two issues involved. People confuse BALANCING with ZONING. Balancing is when the two offices are shared to both LGAs in the senatorial district. Happily, we have two large LGAs in one Senatorial District unlike the others that have three LGAs each. Therefore it has always been the practice for one LGA to take the Senate while the balance is introduced by giving the other LGA the House of Representatives. This is balancing and not zoning.

Zoning is when the various political parties and every stakeholder agrees in a binding way that a particular office should remain in a particular area for a given length of time. This is not the case in Bayelsa West and it has never been the case in Bayelsa West.

What was proposed severally was for this zoning formula to be adopted by parties and stakeholders but it has not been successful. It has always been opposed or violated. It has never been respected neither has it been implemented. It cannot even be implemented without the support of all the political parties and stakeholders who must own it and who must abide by it. This has not been the case.

For example, in the last bye-election, Hon. Fred Agbedi from Ekeremor LGA was in the House of Representatives yet people supported Chief Peremobowei Ebebi from the same Ekeremor LGA. In other words, if Ebebi had won the election, it would have meant that Ekeremor LGA would have retained both the House of Representative and the Senate seats at the same time. This was what those who proposed the Sagbama meeting wanted to avoid.

The meeting some elders and leaders organized in Sagbama where they proposed that the senatorial bye-election seat should only be kept for Sagbama was to ensure balance but the APC and their stakeholders boycotted it and instead encouraged the APC led by Chief Timipre Sylva to field a candidate from Ekeremor LGA in the person of Chief Peremobowei Ebebi believing that federal might and the treachery by some PDP leaders, would guarantee Ebebi to a win thereby leaving Sagbama LGA with nothing. This was their evil plan.

Chief Peremobowei Ebebi and the APC contested the election, went to all the courts even up to the Supreme Court to challenge the outcome of the election until they lost. It is therefore wrong, mischievous and incorrect for anyone to say the result of the election was because of zoning when the same purported zoning arrangement was violated in the first instance. It is a fact that PDP and its candidate, HE Senator Henry Seriake Dickson won the election and defended the outcome of the election up to the Supreme Court and won.

With the APC fielding Ebebi from Ekeremor and Ebebi contesting, even in the circumstances of a bye-election that had Hon. Fred Agbedi from Ekeremor LGA in the House of Representatives, that automatically meant the end of the notion of zoning in Bayelsa West. The only thing people can talk about is the notion of balancing. Meaning that, any political party can sponsor candidates from any Local Government Area provided that one Local Government does not have both. The APC and their supporters and some mischievous PDP leaders even violated the notion of the balancing.

The meeting in Sagbama that was held was a beautiful proposal and every stakeholder pleaded with the APC, Ebebi, his supporters and other political parties but it was not accepted. The proposal collapsed immediately as both the APC and PDP rejected it and went ahead and contested the election.

So the proposal from Sagbama, contrary to it being portrayed as an agreement was simply a beautiful proposal that was rejected and never implemented. The proposal collapsed immediately Chief Peremobowei Ebebi became the APC candidate. The proposal was even openly rejected by the APC, its leaders and Ebebi’s supporters.

The communiqué from the Sagbama meeting was officially boycotted by the APC which openly rejected its outcome also. The communiqué and the comments in support of the issue of zoning made by Senator Dickson and other leaders before and after the Sagbama meeting were premised on the acceptance by the APC, their candidate and other stakeholders who rejected and condemned the communiqué and went ahead to contest. As it is now, stakeholders and parties can only talk about balancing and not zoning.

A look at the political leaders and stakeholders who rejected and condemned the Sagbama communiqué on zoning even in the circumstances of a sitting member of the House of Representatives from Ekeremor, Hon. Fred Agbedi, will show that the notion of zoning is a mischievous tool employed to hoodwink our people and in particular to galvanise opposition against capable persons whose credentials they cannot match.

It is surprising that when it suits such people they discard the supposed zoning arrangement even in a bye-election with a sitting House of Representatives member from Ekeremor in place. When it suits them now in the build up to the 2023 general election, where they fear that the massive support and acceptance for His Excellency, Senator Henry Seriake Dickson will give him easy victory, in the event that he indicates interest to re-contest, these same stakeholders now turn around to say zoning, zoning, zoning.

Can those talking of zoning answer the following questions?

Why did Ekeremor leaders and those who are in support of zoning not prevail on the APC and Ebiebi not to contest in the last senatorial bye-election in 2020?

What is the effect of the so-called zoning and the communiqué at the Sagbama meeting when the APC and Ebiebi openly rejected it and protested its outcome?

Why did the APC have aspirants for the senatorial bye election from Ekeremor in the person of Ebiebi, Hon. Omonibeke and others from Ekeremor if there is a zoning policy agreed by us all?

Why did the APC not give its senatorial flag to Hon. Capt. Matthew Karimo from Sagbama or Hon. Ebitimi Angbari, Major Andrew Oputa or other leaders who were interested from Sagbama to clearly underscore zoning?

Do they know that EbIebi scored almost 20,000 votes in the last election showing that the majority of the voting public do not believe in zoning but rather voted for candidates of their choice based on capacity and party affiliation?

Do they know that even after losing the general election, Ebiebi relied on the Federal might and the treachery of some PDP leaders, to challenge the election result up to the Supreme Court where he lost?

Have they forgotten so soon that the calculation and plan of the APC and its leadership was that Ebiebi with the support of some disloyal PDP members backed by federal might would defeat Senator Dickson and create a political upset which failed woefully?

Have they forgotten so soon that both Senator Dickson and several stakeholders pleaded with Ebebi severally not to accept the APC offer in order to consolidate the proposal on zoning but they refused which made the election to be the most expensive and seriously contested Senatorial election in Bayelsa State. They did not stop there but took the litigation up to the Supreme Court.

If Ebiebi and the APC had won the bye-election or at the tribunal, would these people still be talking of zoning and what would have been the fate of Sagbama Local Government?

Do these people honestly think that blackmailing Senator Dickson and his supporters with zoning will deter him if majority of our people feel that he should re-contest?

What is so difficult for persons wanting to go to the National Assembly in Bayelsa West to campaign on the basis of their capacity and achievements rather than hiding behind a non-existent zoning policy that has never been implemented?

We ask people to look at the names of the stakeholders from Sagbama and Ekeremor in the last bye-election who at campaigns and interviews openly stated that there was no zoning and fought the election of Senator Dickson on that basis and lost. Are these not leaders and stakeholders of Bayelsa West? Are these not mischief makers who are using zoning as the only argument to fight Senator Dickson at every election in Bayelsa West when it suits them?

We are of the opinion that the zoning debate is only a propaganda weapon used against Senator Dickson and used also to destabilise the PDP in the Senatorial District and in the state in the build up to the 2023 general election.

See the list of those who said there is no zoning in the Bayelsa West Senatorial District.

  1. Chief Peremobowei Ebebi: The former Speaker and Deputy Governor was the APC candidate in the last Bayelsa West Senatorial bye-election.
  2. Chief Alex Ekiotene: An elder statesman who repeatedly said there was no zoning.
  3. Barrister F.B. Olorogun from Ekeremor town.
  4. Honourable Chief Christopher Enai: A notable political leader who argued that there was no zoning and supported the APC candidate.
  5. Chief Fedude Zimughan.
  6. Honourable Dimaro Denyanbofa from Peretorugbene.
  7. Hon Member of Ekeremor Constituency 1, Hon. Wilson Dauyegha was campaign coordinator.
  8. Chief Tobido Amanana
  9. Chief Andrew Egbagba
  10. Hinks Dumbo
  11. Ken Kayama.
  12. Elder Zee Debekeme
  13. Robinson Etolor
  14. Emar Sakor
  15. Awini Sarikeme
    16: OJ Martins
  16. Hon. Berry Enegeresin
    18: Alfred Akamu
  17. The Local Government and State officials of APC from Ekeremor and several other leaders.

Elders from Sagbama who in the last bye-election said there was no zoning and therefore supported Ebiebi even against the background of Hon. Fred Agbedi being already in the House of Representatives are as follows:

  1. Chief Nestor Binabo, former Speaker and former Acting Governor from Sagbama.
  2. Major Andrew Oputa (rtd).
  3. Captain Matthew Karimu.
  4. Hon. Ebitimi Amgbare
  5. Hon. Williams Ofoni: He was campaign manager of the APC and Ebebi from Sagbama.
  6. Richard Perekeme Kpodoh
  7. Brass Ogola
  8. Francis Kolokolo.
  9. Senator JK Braimbaifa.
  10. Dr. Stella Dorgu.

It is clear from the above that zoning during election is only a mere propaganda against Senator Dickson. They should stop the propaganda against Senator Dickson and the people of Bayelsa West Senatorial District, Bayelsa State and the Niger Delta in general.

If they want to contest, they should step out and contest and tell the people their achievements and what they are capable of doing instead of this propaganda and blackmail. They are free to contest on the basis of their capabilities not by political demagoguery.

Be that as it may, we enjoined these leaders to consider first, the collective interest of Bayelsa West Senatorial District, Bayelsa State, the Niger Delta region and Nigeria in general.

The Bayelsa West Youth Congress however wishes to inform that there will be a meeting on Saturday, 22nd January, 2022 to discuss critical and pressing issues concerning our Senatorial District and urges its members to attend.

Signed: Ebide Brown
Chairman, Bayelsa West Youth Congress

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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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Rivers political crisis: Fubara raves as Wike likely retreats (2)




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By Ehichioya Ezomon

As noted in part one under this header on Monday, April 29, 2024, Governor Siminalayi Fubara voluntarily and freely signed the peace agreement emanating from his solicitation for President Bola Tinubu to intervene in the political crisis in Rivers State that’s pitted the governor against his predecessor in office and Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Chief Nyesom Wike.
Fubara signed the “Eight-point Resolutions” in the presence of his backers, such as former Rivers Governor Peter Odili, Deputy Governor Ngozi Odu and chairman of Rivers chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Aaron Chukwuemeka, and with Prof. Odu and Mr Chukwuemeka also appending the document.
When Fubara’s newfound political allies railed and raised hell against the agreement, claiming the governor didn’t sign it – and if he did, it’s under duress from the almighty Presidency, and a betrayal of the Rivers people, who’ve lined behind him in his fight for political supremacy with Wike – Fubara confirmed that he endorsed the document willingly.
The governor, in a Christmas message on Monday, December 25, 2023, said the resolution brokered by Tinubu to resolve the crisis was “not a death sentence,” but would ensure lasting peace, and he’d implement it in a way to restore political stability in Rivers.
But implementating the peace accord appears a “death sentence” to Fubara, who – short of repudiating the document as urged by his supporters – is dilly-dallying, signalling that he might not honour the spirit and letter of the agreement, so as not to hand victory to his opponents.
Looking at the items in the agreement, it’s evident that Fubara’s sidetracking the sticky issues that caused and fueled the crisis in Rivers. For example, Fubara and his team – as urged in the peace agreement – haven’t withdrawn matters they filed in court against the Rivers Assembly and others.
The likely Fubara-engineered cases in court triggered the resignation of the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Prof. Zacchaeus Adangor, who, in an April 23 letter, accused Fubara as barring him from cases against the Attorney-General, and Government of Rivers State.
Adangor’s letter reads in part: “It is important to mention that 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.” However, Fubara – in a no-holds-barred speech on Monday, May 6, when he received a delegation of political and traditional leaders from Bayelsa State, led by former Governor and Senator Seriake Dickson – alluded to Prof. Adangor sabotaging the interest of his administration and that of Rivers State, as reason for redeploying him to the Ministry of Special Duties (Governor’s Office), which Adangor declined and quit the government within 24 hours of the letter of redeployment issued on April 22 by Secretary to the State Government, Dr Tammy Danagogo.
Recall that Mr Isaac Kamalu, Commissioner of Finance, moved to the Ministry of Employment Generation and Economic Empowerment, resigned his post same day, citing “inability to function properly in an atmosphere devoid of peace,” and disputed Fubara’s claim of doubling the Rivers internally-generated revenue in 10 months, noting a steady rise in internal revenue receipts for years, “culminating in what the state is presently generating though not the figures (Fubara) erroneously claimed in the media.”
Drafting this piece the upper week, I posited that the Rivers Assembly, led by Martin Amaewhule, maybe in name and in place, and sitting in a location of their choice, but wasn’t recognised by Fubara because 27 of its members had dumped the PDP for APC when there’s allegedly “no fictionalisation of the party nationally.” Hence Fubara’s vetoed bills passed by the Assembly, which then overrode the governor, and passed the bills into law.
Fubara’s now publicly proclaimed the pro-Wike 27 APC members in the Rivers Assembly as “not existing,” going by law, and stressed he only accommodated them as his former political allies, and for the sake of peace in Rivers. Also, Fubara, during the Bayelsa delegation’s visit, dismissed the Tinubu brokered peace deal between him and Wike “as not constitutional.”
Fubara’s words: “It (peace deal) is a political solution to a problem. I accepted it because these (APC lawmakers) are people that were visiting me and we were together in my house. These are people that I have helped in many ways even when I wasn’t a governor.
“Yes, we might have our disagreements, but I believe that one day, we could also come together. That was the reason I did it. But, I think it has gotten to a time when I need to make a statement on this thing, so that they understand that they are not existing.
“Their existence and whatever they have been doing is because I allowed them to do so. If I don’t recognise them, they are nowhere. That is the truth. So, I want you (the visitors) to see the sacrifice I have made to allow peace to be in our state.
“I can say here, with all amount of boldness, I have never called any police man anywhere to go and harass anybody. I have never gone anywhere to ask anybody to do anything against anybody.
“But what happens to the people that are supporting me? They are being harassed, they are being arrested and detained. There is no week that somebody doesn’t come here with one letter of invitation for trump-up charges and all those things.”
Fubara boasted that with the powers at his disposal, he knows what to do to put in check those that don’t want peace but to destroy Rivers State. “I know that I have always taken the path of peace. I have shown respect. I’ve subjected myself to every meeting of reconciliation for peace. And what happens, each time we come out from such meetings, we are faced with one thunder or lightning,” Fubara said.
“Even when I have all the instruments of State powers, I have shown restraint, and I believe that whoever is alive, and has been following the activities of our dear state, knows that I have acted as a big brother in the course of this crisis.
“I have not acted like a young man that may want the house to be destroyed but, I have behaved like a mature young man that I am. This is because I know that no meaningful development will be achieved in an atmosphere of crisis.
“And because our intention for Rivers State is to build on the foundation that had been laid by our past leaders, it will be wrong for me to take the path of promoting crisis. That is why we are still recording the development that you are hearing around Rivers State.”
In line with his declaration of “non-existence” of the 27 pro-Wike members, and the leadership of the Rivers Assembly, Fubara’s refused – contrary to the peace deal – to represent the state budget of N800bn he presented on December 13, 2023, to his loyal five PDP lawmakers, headed by former “Speaker Edison Ehie,” who passed the budget within 24 hours, and signed by Fubara the next day. A 48-hour wonder!
But on Monday, January 22, the law came on the side of the Rivers Assembly – and by extension the presidential peace agreement – when a Federal High Court in Abuja set aside the N800bn budget because both the presentation and passage of the appropriation “amounted to nullity, and a wilful breach of the court order made on November 30, 2023,” the court ruled. Justice Omotosho also restrained Governor Fubara from frustrating the Amaewhule-led Rivers Assembly from sitting or interfering in its constitutional and legislative functions, and barred the National Assembly, the police and any member of the state executive arm from interfering in the assembly’s affairs.
Similarly, a Federal High Court, Abuja, on Tuesday, January 30, dismissed a suit seeking to stop Governor Fubara from re-presenting the N800bn 2024 budget of Rivers State, with Justice Joyce Abdulmalik, ruling that a similar suit in the matter had been decided by a sister court on the day she had granted an interim order (which she subsequently set aside) to the plaintiffs, who claimed that Tinubu, Fubara and the Rivers assembly have no right nor entitled to enter into any agreement that has the effect of nullifying or undermining the provisions of Section 109(I)(g) and (2) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
Meanwhile, the Court of Appeal has reserved judgment on appeal by some Rivers elders, led by a member of the Rivers State Elders Council, Chief Anabs Sara-Igbe, and nine others, questioning the legality of the peace agreement that they asked to be declared unconstitutional, and the representation of the Rivers 2024 N800bn budget to “a properly-constituted Rivers State House of Assembly for approval,” as demanded in the peace deal.
A Rivers High Court, presided by Justice Chinwendu Nworgu, had struck out the suit, seeking interpretation of the Constitution on whether the president has the legal right to direct Fubara to re-present the budget to 24 lawmakers, led by Amaewhule, “even after their seats were declared vacant.”
As first reported by PUNCH, the dissatisfied claimants appealed the high court ruling, joining President Tinubu, Governor Fubara, Rivers Assembly Speaker, Martin Amaewhule, the state House of Assembly and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
On Wednesday, May 1, the three-man panel of the Appeal Court, led by Justice Elfreda Oluwayamisi-Dawodu, reserved judgment to a date to be communicated to parties after they’d adopted their final written addresses. While the counsel for President Tinubu and Governor Fubara didn’t file any brief of argument in the suit, no lawyer represented the PDP during the proceeding.
In support of his adopted written address, counsel for the claimants, Wilcox Agberetor (SAN), argued that the appeal be allowed, and the matter transferred back to the Chief Judge of Rivers State, for reassignment to another judge, while counsel for the House of Assembly, K.C Njemanze (SAN), urged dismissal of the appeal.
Equally unimplemented in the eight-point peace accord between Fubara and Wike are issues of the caretaker committees in Rivers local governments, and dissolution of the Local Government administration, which the peace deal declared “null and void and shall not be recognised.”
This has added a fresh layer to the power tussle between the governor and Rivers Assembly, which’s overriden five bills Fubara’s vetoed, including the revised Local Government Law that paves way for election into the local government areas of Rivers State.
Is Governor Fubara intent on honouring the peace resolutions? If he does, what’s worth doing at all is worth doing well! No need to continue digging in; it only profits the puppeteers and “where-belly-face” politicians egging him on to renounce the agreement. Many of them were with Wike yesterday, they’re with Fubara today, and will be with another governor tomorrow for “stomach infrastructure.”
Fubara should free himself of the sycophants and bootlickers in and about the corridors of power in Rivers State, so he can clearly see and directly hear from the masses, who suffer more as his fight-to-finish with Wike lingers! Or does he want a no-end to the Rivers crisis?
Fubara talks about being patient, tolerant and restrained in his dealing with the Rivers crisis. Will his patience snap, and pull off completely the gloves, and bare-knuckle his traducers in Abuja and Rivers? How will he carry out the struggle? Defensive or a blitzkrieg?
That’ll be taking a page or two from former Rivers governors, who hounded and/or probed their predecessor-governors over real or phantom allegations! And he’s at liberty to tread that path in Rivers peculiar, firebrand politics. More in the next piece under this header!

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

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What’s Gwan with Ajuri Ngelale




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By Maikudi Tanko Yahaya

Many of my generation can relate with a very popular song; What’s Gwan released in the early ’90s by Aniocha North-born Okeleke Elumelu, better known by his stage name, Ras Kimono. The dread locked wearing reggae exponent who brought his rustic village, Onicha Olona in Delta state to national, regional, and to reasonable extent global recognition ruled the airwaves along his other colleagues like Mandators, late Majek Fashek, Orits Williki and few others. The wide-eyed dance hall crooner who by the way would have being 66 years old this month, according to news reports slumped at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos while waiting to board a flight to the United States of America was pronounced died moments later at an Ikeja-based hospital on 10th June 2018 at the age of 60.

While working on this article, the title of that lyrically strong and masterful produced song which by every standard was a marketing success came to mind. With the frequency of snide remarks and subtle attacks on the presidential media adviser, Ajuri Ngelale, one can’t help but ask “what’s Gwan.”

During campaigns and after his emergence as the president-elect of Nigeria, Bola Tinubu was equivocal and unapologetic about his intentions to include youths in sensitive positions in his government. Weeks after his inauguration on May 29, 2023, Tinubu set the ball rolling by putting action to his promise with the appointment of Ajuri Ngelale as his Special Adviser, Media. This to a large extent, came as a huge surprise to many in the country’s media fraternity. Hitherto, some familiar names had being flying around as likely choice for the position.

Indeed, with the emergence of Ngelale as the chief spokesman and publicist, Tinubu, in some ways has ingeniously created history, and broke away from the norm. Appointing Ngelale, in his late ’30s to such high-profiled position further confirms Tinubu’s commitment to youth inclusivity in his government. Also, Ngelale when juxtaposed with his predecessors, since 1999, from Doyin Okupe to Late Tunji Oseni, Late Remi Oyo, Segun Adeniyi, Reuben Abari, and Femi Adesina seems to be less popular, accomplished and experienced. All but one of these former media advisers are (were) distinguished fellows and members of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, (NGE). That Tinubu entrusted the management of his media and publicity to someone derogatorily regarded as “rookie” by some people speaks volume about his penchant for youth-growth, and capacity development.

Further to this, Tinubu has shown that he is conscientiously committed to grooming the younger generation for leadership with the appointments of more youths into his government. Betta Edu, suspended Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation Minister; Khalil Halilu, Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive of National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure, (NASENI); Jamila Bio-Ibrahim, Minister of Youths Affairs and her colleague the Minister of state; and few others are all in their 30s. The appointment of 37 year old Ngelale, and that of his contemporaries succinctly confirms Tinubu’s status as a leader passionate about grooming youths for the future.

Despite Tinubu’s noble, novel initiative, and determination to encourage the participation, involvement, and elevation of youths in his government, it thus appears that some people are opposed to Ngelale. From careful analysis, he has being subject of criticism, complaints, and characterisation by people who somehow detest his ambitious, audacious, and unusual confidence and operations. For some people, they feast on any issue to not only pour their frustrations and anger on Ngelale but also throw tantrums and invectives to mischievously whittle down his hardwork. Any unintended slip from the United Arab Emirates issue to USA’s NASDAQ and Maersk incident are used as avenues to roll out salacious and jealousy-imbeded comments and statements.

For now, it’s apposite to ask those opposed to Ngelale, why now? Criticisms are good, necessary for effective and efficient deliveries and performances. But when hate, dislike, and anger are clothe and cloaked in garment of constructive engagement it impedes concentration, confidence, character, and capacity. For now, contrary to the moonlight tales and negative narratives of those who appears miffed with Ngelale, the Rivers-born publicist who is the youngest occupier of the position is not doing badly. Given his professional background as a hard-nosed and hardworking reporter in AIT, and CHANNELS before his transition to public service as aide on public affairs to former Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, and now as Tinubu’s spokesman, the light-skinned, and six-foot tall son of former water resources Minister, Precious Ngelale is improving on the job.

As someone who strikes as receptive to new ideas, professional initiatives, and constructive criticism from genuine quarters, the writer believes Ngelale would be willing to hear, listen to robust engagements from any person. Rather than resort to regular “exposure and vilification” of his “errors and gaffes” it is advised that these professionals should offer genuine counsel whenever necessary to help grow and nurture the career growth of their younger brother and colleague.

Maikudi Tanko Yahaya is a Public Affairs Analyst based in Kaduna

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