1). The jaw National Congress (INC) recalls that Nigerians were on the 30th of October, 2023 woken up from sleep with the news of the failed attempt to impeach the incumbent Governor of Rivers State, His Excellency, Siminalayi Fubara who is barely six months in office by members of the State House of Assembly, a process believed by many to have been orchestrated by Mr Nyesom Wike, the immediate past governor and current Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
- The INC, with many well-meaning Rivers people and Niger Deltans in spontaneity, condemned the attempted impeachment, as they saw it as barbaric, self-serving and capable of derailing the fragile democratic consolidation agenda and efforts, as well as generating crisis of unimaginable proportions in the Niger Delta and Nigeria at large.
- We are constrained to release this press statement to express our worry and disappointment over the insistence of Mr Wike to relentlessly continue his plot to unceremoniously remove his godson-successor, Siminalayi Fubara as Governor of Rivers State for no just cause, in spite of the intervention of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and pleas from other senior citizens and respected advocates of peace and decorum in the national polity.
- We are also bothered by provocative and unguarded comments reported to have been made by Mr Wike (on the 31st of Oct 2023) at different public fora that the “..crisis in Rivers State is purely state politics, internal wrangling and is in no way an ethnic issue…and that political structures of the state belong to me and I will not see any one take them from me,impeachment is not a military coup, it is provided for under the constitution…”
- It may suffice to restate that the INC, the apex socio- cultural organization of over
40million jaws globally is built on the solid pillars of Truth and Justice, and is morally bound to stand for and by one of their own – His Excellency Siminalayi Fubara, particularly because no one has identified a single wrong or crime he has committed against the state as a citizen and as governor to warrant impeachment attempt or any form of attack. It is important to note that politics is just one of the vital components of a people’s culture, therefore, we have no apologies for being politically conscious of damning existential threat the case in point portends.
- Instead, Siminalayi Fubara has received accolades from all the tribes and sections of Rivers State and beyond as a technocrat with a robust sense of public service background, open and kind-hearted gentleman and very unassuming, humane, prudent of manager of the meager resources available to him, and committed to the even development of the state; who does things in accordance with laid down rules and regulations and with the fear of the Almighty God.
- In Rivers State, across political party
lines and ethnic divide, the massive condemnation of the attempted “civil coup d’etat” and the emergent pro-Fubara movement must be best underscored as a liberation movement from political tyranny, spiritual strangulation and economic disarticulation.
- It is just an ljaw affair as a few myopic minds intend to portray, but a matter of great concern and relief to Rivers people and Niger Deltans, hence the massive jubilation.
- Political structures should not and cannot
be any one’s personal property. Just as power is transient so also the political architecture be completely surrendered to the succeeding leader in command and authority, in this instance the incumbent governor of the state. We expect that in the same manner that the
PDP structure built by Dr. Peter Odili and sustained by Celestine Omehia and Rotimi Amaechi was bequeathed to Mr Wike, the former governor should, as a matter of political tradition, also properly and completely relinquish same to his successor. It is on record that Mr Wike served out his two tenures peacefully without being terrorized, hounded and haunted by his major benefactors- the ijaws who set the stage for him to attain his much orchestrated Eldorado.
- Keeping the political structures and the incumbent governor under his armpit
is an aberration with dire consequences for the human capital, political, economic and social development of the state and by extension, the Nigerian state.
- The jaw nation remains profusely grateful to Mr Wike for making our son, Governor of Rivers State. However, it might be necessary to state for the records that Mr Wike enjoyed great love and political benevolence from an Ijaw son, Dr
Goodluck Ebele Jonathan who appointed him as minister and later aided him to be governor of Rivers State. His godson Siminalayi Fubara also served him in several strategic capacities as a very loyal and diligent confidant. As a faithful
labourer,he deserves Mr Wike’s reward by way of support and providing the enabling environment to function effectively and maximally as the sitting governor of the state. A common African adage says that even when your biological son is crowned a king of your kingdom, you as a father/mother must accord him all the respects and entitlements.
- In the midst of this drama that has played out in the last few days by various interest groups, we found the recent Rivers State PDP Elders Forum position statement more worrisome, misplaced, lopsided and repressive. However, we sympathize with them on their inability to summon the needed courage to speak
truth to power and affluence. We unequivocally state that their views do not represent the
ethno-heterogenic political aspirations of majority of Rivers people both in politics and otherwise.
- The INC wishes to remind those who may not know, that the ljaw people played a prominent role in the emancipation of the Old Rivers from the then Eastern Region, leading to the creation of Rivers State (now Rivers and Bayelsa) in 1967. This is well documented. No one, no matter how mischievous he/she intends to be, can undermine the great works of Alfred Diete-Spiff, Melford Okilo and Ada George in building a united and prosperous Rivers State for all indigenes of the state, in spite of ethnic and class divide.
- As crucial stakeholders in the Rivers State project where the ljaws remain predominant ni 13 out of the 23 LGAs, we must join other ethnic groups ni championing the cause of ensuring that due diligence, peace, justice and fair play prevail and that no man should play God in the affairs of men.
- At this juncture, we wish to re-emphasize that our support for the current governor is solid and total. We can’t be detracted by characters that demand that he jettison the courageous
battle he has started well. We also consider as unacceptable and appalling the demand by this same group of persons for a sitting governor to publicly apologize to his godfather as a precondition for reconciliation. They may wish to tell Nigerians what crime Fubara has committed against Rivers people outside his genuine desire to properly manage the commonwealth of the state.
- Mr Governor of Rivers State, you owe Rivers people and the entire citizens of the Niger Delta a duty to remain strong and steadfast in this fight for justice and stability of the state because the God Almighty who, of course, is mightier than al your foes put together is your strength and shall surely see you through.
- We call on Mr President not to relent in his well-calculated effort to prevail on his cabinet minister, Mr Wike to sheath his sword unconditionally and support his own dearly beloved godson to succeed. This is because political instability in any state of the federation could be a source of distraction for
Signed for, and on behalf of Congress.
Prof. Benjamin Ogele Okaba
President Ijaw National Congress