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Fubara vs Wike: Fist-fighting In Troubled Rivers, By Ebuka Onyekwelu

“It is important to at least acknowledge that there is something that makes Rivers attractive to trouble or trouble attractive to Rivers,” —Ebuka Onyekwelu

IN many ways, Rivers State politics is an interesting game to behold. There is no former governor of Rivers State who never had an eye on the Presidency of Nigeria. Also, there have been none of those governors since 1999, without a life-defining political battle. Without prevarication, both the ambition and the battle are united by the same reason. Could it be that the state always goes for overly ambitious and battle-ready governors? Why must Rivers State be like that? Dr. Peter Odili had a long-drawn sword with the former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo

Dr. Odili’s robust and most effective national campaign for the presidency in 2007 was thwarted by Chief Obasanjo’s big hammer when he settled for Yaradua. After Odili, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi had an intense battle with Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, former Nigeria’s president, and eventually tried his luck to battle the APC ticket in 2023, after he had deployed every arsenal within his reach, to help realize Buhari’s Presidency in 2015 which earned him a ministerial slot for eight years. Then, in 2023, Barr. Nyesom Wike put up a formidable fight for the presidential ticket of the PDP and came short due to Atiku’s firm hold on the party’s existential roots and capacity to service them. Like his predecessor, Wike is now a minister after his massive support to President Tinubu.


So, it is important that we at least acknowledge that there is something that makes Rivers State attractive to trouble or trouble attractive to Rivers State. But obviously, the current impasse between Wike and Fubara should not be looked at in isolation. It does appear that the ongoing rift between Wike and Fubara is in line with the expected consequences of the impact of Rivers petrodollar, which entices the governors and enslaves them to their hunger for power. Worse still, the enormity of wealth a Rivers governor is disposed to in a Third World like Nigeria, makes even his wishful thinking look noble and feasible.

The ongoing fight between Fubara and his former boss Wike, is expected because that’s how Rivers State is. The recent effort by Fubara to “take charge” is the exact route he is anticipated to follow for his own political survival, as dictated by the capacity within the reach of Rivers State, now under his firm control. So, this has nothing to do with him or his former boss. The fact of this matter is that there must be a face-off and it is this fight that will announce him as the new man in charge except he doesn’t know what to do with what he has. This is what his colleagues before him did. The four-year consequence is that like Ameachi did, Wike might try to unseat him during his second term bid, but he can always assert himself just as Wike did. It is also expected that Amaechi and Fubara will quickly align against Wike.

Although the crisis has shown that Wike has a strong followership and admirers in Rivers, but, for how long are they going to remain with him when the troubled Rivers money is with Fubara? So, I reckon that many of them will still change their minds and switch allegiance eventually. But if they don’t, Fubara can raise his own well-greased army of followers who can match all of Wike’s structures in Rivers State. Even more, as time goes on, Wike might become distracted with federal issues or disinterested in the fight. But if he continues, Fubara will conveniently run him out of Rivers political equation, almost like Wike did to Amaechi. It’s a full cycle in Rivers and so long as the money is there, the state will continue to be unsettled by political taekwondo of the magnitude as all former governors of the state have gone through without any exception.

The assumption, if any, by Wike, that Fubara as governor would be as gentle as a lamb, perhaps as he had always been, is without prejudice, on the borderline of naivety. State power is enough, but when Rivers money is added to it, it becomes too much of a burden that must be relieved. Viewed from this light, Wike might be a victim of the appurtenances of Rivers State, while Fubara is just as much a victim of his heritage from his predecessors. In the end, there is always a limit to what power and money can accept for a truce in political misunderstandings. Wike will learn his lessons, Fubara too. But Rivers’ money will continue in its character.

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