November 10, 2023

Yet another Rivers drama, By Donu Kogbara

Yet another Rivers drama, By Donu Kogbara

FCT Minister, Nyesom Wike, the flamboyant, high-profile former Governor of my state, Rivers, has recently been at loggerheads with Siminalayi Fubara, the hitherto timid successor he handpicked.

Wike and his heir were embroiled in a power struggle that was, we were informed, about who should control state funds, key appointments and the political structure that Wike has built.

As is the norm in Rivers, a spat that could have been resolved in a civilized way behind the scenes quickly escalated into a very visible and very toxic melodrama, with the State House of Assembly being set ablaze, the Speaker being replaced and the Governor being threatened with impeachment and teargassed.

There were even shocking claims that Sim was shot at. 

I and many other onlookers were dumbfounded by these developments because Sim, as he is popularly known, had till last week been amazingly docile. And I assumed that Wike promoted Sim over more qualified gubernatorial aspirants precisely because he was sure that Sim would always be a good boy and do as he was told.

During the election campaign that culminated in his installation as CEO of our state, Sim’s voice was hardly heard. I’m told that he was happy to leave the talking to Wike and did no media interviews at all.

He is the last person I expected to suddenly wake up one day and start rebelling against his godfather; and so soon too!!!

I thought Sim was the type who would be eternally grateful for any crumbs that were bestowed upon him by the man who made him.

It just goes to show that a book should not be judged by its cover. 

This incident also proves a longstanding theory of mine, being that seemingly servile individuals often wind up being more troublesome than those who relate to VIPs less sycophantically from Day One.

Often, people who go out of their way to come across as meek and mild in front of their masters are only pretending to be meek and mild. Often, the enormous pressure of pretending and suppressing their true feelings gradually becomes unbearable and they lash out.

Masters should seriously consider the possibility that they are more likely to maintain healthy, collaborative long-term relationships with protegees who stand up for themselves ab initio, refuse to be treated like doormats and occasionally disagree with the master.

My view is that someone who has a strong character and can do well without you – yet CHOOSES to be on your side – is a more reliable ally than someone who sees you as his or her only path to progress.  

Interestingly, because the general public tends to sympathise with underdogs, Sim gained lots of new fans last week, especially when Wike responded unrepentantly to accusations that he is an abrasive tyrant who makes extremely avaricious financial demands.

Before this matter hit the headlines, almost everyone I know regarded Sim as utterly unimpressive. But last week, people started to talk about Sim as if he was a David to Wike’s Goliath. And Wike’s detractors rubbed their hands in glee at the prospect of Sim becoming a freedom fighter of sorts and leader of the opposition.

Then leading lights of Sim’s influential Ijaw ethnic group, including Chief Edwin Clark, weighed in and warned Wike, who is an Ikwerre.

Then some Rivers Elders flew to Wike’s defence and issued a statement in which Sim was told off in no uncertain terms.

These elders faced a barrage of criticism and ridicule from those who felt that they should, instead, have advised Wike to leave Sim alone, focus on his duties as the Federal Capital Territory Oga and say as little as possible, publicly, about an embarrassing situation.

But Wike and his Elders seem to have won. Sim suddenly went quiet after making a sheepish remark about it being no big deal if a father and son disagree from time to time. Or words to that effect.

So there is peace for now. But will it last? Will Wike TRULY forgive Sim’s brief period of insubordination? Will Sim ignore those who are urging him to acquire a backbone and become his own man?

Watch this space!!!

I, meanwhile, will keep praying that we can reach a point at which the Rivers representative in the Federal Executive Council works closely and harmoniously with the Governor of Rivers State to ensure that our state becomes an enviable oasis of development.

For more than a decade, our Ministers and Governors have been embroiled in avoidable conflicts that have severely undermined the state. And many Riverians are sick and tired of destructive tensions.

Politicians need to remember that their constituencies are not their personal properties, treasuries or battlegrounds.

Rivers is the capital of the Niger Delta and the oil industry. Port Harcourt was once proudly known as The Garden City. And there is no reason why we cant build on past glories and create new triumphs.

I agree!!!

Rotimi Amaechi, onetime Transport Minister and Wike’s predecessor, has said that “Nigerians don’t react to anything.”

He was referring to our penchant for tolerating – and even hailing and enthusiastically voting for – individuals who are clearly dubious.

Amaechi has not claimed to be a saint himself. And he has a point.

I myself have often wondered why the average Nigerian is so daftly willing to pander to the lowest common denominator and allow those who run the show to get away with all sorts of rubbish, even when they do not benefit from the rubbish, either directly or indirectly.

Is this willingness to be oppressed by perpetrators of bad governance masochism and/or stupidity? Do you blame our leaders for lacking respect for such mumu-ish followers?


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