There is no letting down in the internal political battle for the soul of Rivers State as the Federal Capital Territory Minister, Barrister Nyesom Wike, has boasted that anyone who meddles in the political structure he left behind in Rivers State will pay dearly for it.
Wike boasted, just as he reminded a visiting delegation that he is Abuja’s governor and need not seek to also administer Rivers State.
Wike and his successor in the oil-rich state, Siminalaya Fubara, have been enmeshed in a political brawk since it came to the fore that he was working with some state lawmakers to dethrone his successor.
Firstly, persons believed to be working for the state government set the chamber of the House of Assembly, where lawmakers were to meet on Monday to begin impeachment proceedings, ablaze. But the lawmakers still met, sacked the governor’s man and House Leader, Ehue Edison, and issued the governor an impeachment notice.
In a counter-move, the governor and his supporters stormed the assembly complex after Wike’s alleged “coup plotters”, had left; and despite being shot at with teargas cannisters and water, Fubar addressed his coterie of supporters in the burnt chamber, while some supporters moved from adjoining chambers to offices, seeking the coup plotting lawmakers to deal with. It is believed the state Police command had the backing of its high command in Abuja to give cover to the rebelling lawmakers.
Within hours, the sacked leader of the House, scrambled together about 20 lawmakers and set in motion a counter coup, sacking the House Speaker and other principal officers, suspending the state’s chief judge to whom the impeachment notice would be forwarded. Edison was named the new Speaker and proceeded to adjourn the house indefinitely.
In Abuja on Thursday, despite a reconciliatory brokered by President Bola Tinubu between Nyesom Wike and Fubara, the FCT minister said that he was already a ‘Governor’ in the FCT and was not interested in governance in Rivers State.
Wike, while playing host to National Assembly caucus from Rivers State on “thank you and solidarity visit” on Thursday, added that his hands are already full on his new job as FCT Minister.
He, however, explained that he was interested in maintaining his political structure in the state, and would not allow anyone to destroy what he has built for many years.
“I am not interested in the governance of Rivers State. I am here as Governor in FCT. I am interested in the political structure we’ve built over the years in Rivers State.”
“Anybody who try it will get the resistance of his life, anybody who puts his hands in Rivers State political structures, what you see, you take,” he said.
He denied reports that he was asking for 25% of the state’s monthly revenue through a revenue consultant he appointed before leaving office.
According to him, “I was Governor for eight years. I am now FCT Minister – not just Minister, and some will say that I am asking for 25 percent; that is madness.”
In a subtle swipe at persons turning away from him in Rivers, Wike noted that in life, people should learn to appreciate those who contributed to their lives in one way or the other; charging them not to disappoint the state and country.
He admonished his visitors, “Those of you that God has given the opportunity, don’t disappoint your state, don’t disappoint Nigerians. “When you make a mistake, we will call you to order. Take it in good faith, don’t say we are coming for kick backs.”
Head of the visiting delegation and House of Representatives Minority Leader, Kingsley China, explained that they visited to show solidarity and declare unalloyed support for the FCT Minister, as well as thank President Tinubu for his appointment.
His words: “We thank you for your invaluable support for all of us. You supported us all through the primaries and elections. You are the reason why we are in the National Assembly today.”
The lawmakers, comprising three senators and 11 House of Representatives members from Rivers State commended Wike for changing the face of FCT in barely three months and condemned the political crisis in Rivers state and declared their total support for Wike.
The visitors included Senators Barinada Mingi, Ipalibo Harry Banigo (former deputy governor to Wike) and Allwell Onyeso.
● Additional report by Wisdom Acka, as published in Abuja Digest.