• Monday, July 22, 2024
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Wike vs Fubara: Who wins the ‘resource control’ war in Rivers

Wike, Fubara’s clash triggers APC call for state of emergency

The nation has heard much about the ‘Ides of June’ in Rivers State which signifies the period when the final showdown between the Nyesom Wike forces and the Sim Fubara troops would clash over control of the grassroots through control of the 23 local councils and 390 wards.

It also would coincide the period when the courts would decide whether the 27 defected lawmakers (now un-defected) had lost their seats or not.

In interpreting this, it would lead to whether the laws made by the 27 (controlled by Wike) were legitimate or not.

The moment that decision is reached, it would decide also whether the laws and screening made by the rest three lawmakers loyal to Fubara were legitimate. By this, it would be ‘winner takes all’ because whoever would win in the decision about the 27 defected lawmakers would go ahead to control the LGAs who would in turn control the grassroots troops that win elections by breaking bones and ballot boxes. That is what the ‘Ides of June’ in the state amounts.

What made June 18 very significant in the ‘ides’ is because it was dreaded as the day of doom or gloom for either camp.

The Rivers State House of Assembly (RSHA) which had attempted to impeach Gov Fubara had played another strategy by elongating the tenure of the LGAs. By this, the council bosses most of who do not regard Fubara as anything would mobilise to defeat the governor in 2027, reason why Wike boasted he wished the day to come faster.

Fubara thus began moves to remove those forces that would make 2027 difficult for him, refusing to organize local council elections under the shoes of the Wike LGA bosses. The RSHA thus extended the tenures so Fubara can wait in vain. The governor waited till their expiration on June 17, 2024, and appointed caretaker committees, something the defected lawmakers would not hear. The next day, June 18, the war began.

At the end of the battle, youths believed to be loyal to Fubara (SIMplified) massively moved into the councils to show that Wike’s GDI forces were no longer in power.

The LGA bosses could hardly mobilise enough men to march the Fubara boys. At this point, the ‘Ides of June’ began and is on.

The Supreme Court is looking into a case filed by the FG to which Wike belongs to say that state governors should leave LGAs alone. If the verdict goes against Fubara, Wike hopes to get upper-hand. Meanwhile, Fubara has appointed caretaker teams which have started work, no matter what the apex court would rule soon.

Fubara had also stopped the funds of the LGAs and may release it quickly to the new bosses. By this, if the Supreme Court ruled that state governors should not tamper with LGA funds, Fubara would say he had released the funds and it had been spent already.

Wike’s anchorman, Tony Okocha (APC caretaker chairman) admitted that much on June 19, 2024, when he said Fubara was undercutting the eventual verdict of the apex court.

Another case of significance is in the Court of Appeal in PH. It looks into the legitimacy of the 27 lawmakers and the speakership of Fubara’s Victor Oko-Jumbo. If the Appeal Court rules that the 27 defected lawmakers stand defected and have lost their seats, then, Fubara would have taken over the House until maybe the Supreme Court gives final ruling in about one year time.

If the Appeal Court should rule that the 27 defected lawmakers were still on seat, then, Fubara would likely forestall their work and hold on to Oko-Jumbo until the apex court finally ruled. During this period, the governor would use Oko-Jumbo very effectively and devise means to survive an impeachment that must come from the 27. This is the criticality of the ‘Ides of June’.

Balance of power:

The balance of power in Rivers State is somehow intricate. There are official and unofficial power points in the state.

Cabinet:

There is the highest power point; the Rivers State Executive Council presided over by the Governor, His Excellency, who disburses over N800Bn in one year and oversees about 100,000 appointments and employments. The governor wields such huge power, plus the right to nominate deferral appointees (if all things were equal). Often, all things tend to gravitate toward the lord of the Brick House.

Gov Fubara now holds this power firmly in his hands after the second lap mass resignation of Wike men from the cabinet. Before then, Wike was believed to hold 75% of the power of the governor.

House of Assembly:

Often, those who occupy this House were handpicked by the lord of the manor in the Brick House. When this is the case, budgets are passed in hours and details may not be available to the public and it may not matter. Public hearing for bills may or may not hold. When it is held, it is guided starting from how the announcement is made and notice given.

For now, Wike has 27 (minus one death) while Fubara has three (because one has become chief of staff). The problem is, the defection is now an issue and may knock them out. They seem to realise this and have now said they did not defect. Their seats are under severe threat of nullification and vacancy. The case is at the Appeal Court at the moment and may get to the Supreme Court. While this lasts, the fund goes to the three while the 27 (26) may be surviving on handouts from their godfather.

LGAs:

Another strong power point in the state is the local council block. As is with the House of Assembly, the lord of the manor usually handpicks them and they all must belong to the ruling party and very loyal to the Oga in the Brick House. They have huge treasury from monthly allocation and internally revenues. They have jobs to give to the boys and thus command heavy loyalty.

They are the contact point with the ‘bad boys’ who determine elections and many other things. Most governors use them to block rival parties and leaders from breathing, thus making it difficult to pin any accusation on the governors.

At the moment, this layer of power is also uncertain. The tenure of the 23 chairman and 390 councilors has ended but the elongation from the House of Assembly is under total threat by the Fubara boys.

The boys mostly GDI forces that use to make the LGA chairmen powerful seem to now eye SIMplified Movement. All the money now seems to reside with Fubara. For now, the owner of this power base is uncertain as the courts look into this.

Royal Fathers:

Rivers State is a state where royalty and regalia make much impact. They come under the Traditional Council. The governor has power to upgrade a stool, and to appoint new ones.

At the moment, the royal fathers seem not under the control of one of the camps. The chairman of the council has just been replaced because he could not find footing in the new administration, having recently been appointed by the former. For now, the control is with Fubara. He alone has all the power and funds in this regard.

Youths:

This is a very serious power block that is not a layer of government, but is a fuel depot. Most cultist groups, pirates, militants and ex-militants, bunkerers, drugs dons, jobbers, students, brains, budding entrepreneurs, etc, operate under this group. During elections, they emerge to install a governor and other leaders and go back to await dividends of democracy in many forms.

Their godfathers get most of the government appointments in compensation and cause trickle down effect.

At the moment, these youths are now found under GDI and SIMplified. The issue is that they are hardly placed evenly. They move in one major direction depending on what decision the chiefs, kings, and leaders had made on who should be governor. For now, they seem to have massed into SIMplified.

Conclusion:

The ‘Ides of June’ has started but there seems to be no clear winner. Whoever wins this would likely rule till 2027 and probably beyond. And whoever boasts of 2027 is basing it on the analogy above.