The public learnt about a long-standing battle, but the godfather-godson dynamic often fails in our politics, as seen with Tinubu and Ambode, Orji Kalu and Theodore Orji, Chimaroke Nnamani and Sullivan Chime, Rasheed Ladoja and Adebayo Alao-Akala, and Rabiu Kwankaso and Abdullahi Ganduje
The godfather bestows blessings onto a godson, helps in securing the position, and frequently forces the godson to choose him over others who may even be more capable or qualified. Not long after taking power, the godson seeks to break up his mentor’s system in order to establish his own political base.
The godson usually succeeds, and with his powerful mix of wealth and political clout—which is frequently tainted with cronyism and nepotism—he has the ability to drive the godfather into early political obscurity. Every now and then, the godson finds his equal in the godfather, who takes a stand and destroys his former political son. Of course, just as in other conflicts, there are occasionally bumps, cuts, and bruises that could take a while to recover.
That is the current situation in Rivers state. Nyesom Wike, the current minister of the Federal Capital Territory, is mostly referred to as a “stormy petrel.” is trying to show his godson, Governor Siminalayi Fubara who truly is in charge of Rivers. It started as whispers until videos surfaced earlier on Monday (Oct 30-2023).
As a disruptive and energetic figure in Nigerian politics, Wike has made himself the Leviathan, the hippopotamus, the omnipotent, the omniscience and the omnipresence, and the octopus of Rivers and to a large extent Nigeria politics. Few would have predicted that things between former Rivers State governor and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister Nyesom Wike and his godson, Governor Siminalayi Fubara, would turn bad so quickly. It has become increasingly common in Nigerian politics for incumbent governors to have falling out with their godfathers, who are thought to have played significant roles in their emergence.
It’s just five months after Fubara succeeded Wike, the tense relationship between the two was exposed when the state House of Assembly caught fire, escalating the impeachment plot. The House ousted Edison Ehie, a majority leader and Fubara supporter, after he thwarted an impeachment attempt against the governor, who stormed the Assembly building with armed security personnel.
Speaking to his supporters at the Assembly building on Monday morning, Fubara denied any wrongdoing that could lead to his impeachment and charged the security services with being compromised.
In his words, he said, “From what I have seen the security agency is even compromised. They were shooting at me directly but it doesn’t matter, somebody will die one day.
“When people here ask who is this Fubara? He is that man that was killed for his struggle. I am not against anybody. I’m not planning anything against anybody that I don’t know where these things are coming from.
“Let it be put on record that whoever masterminded this is trying to shift… I heard some people gathered to do whatever. That is purely rubbish. You can’t sit when there is a problem and say you are doing anything. What are you doing? I’m the chief security officer. I’m the head of the government… whatever action that is taken here is null and void. For our good people, I know you are prayerful. You have been praying for me. God will see us to the end.”
The drama that is playing out in Rivers is fascinating, but it is not very uncommon. Wike had followed a similar course with former governor Rotimi Amaechi, his predecessor and former Rivers Governor
A CHECK BACK ON TINUBU VS AMBODE
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who served two terms as the governor of Lagos State before stepping down in 2007, has grown to be a powerful figure who sets the political leadership of the state’s compass. In addition to the current governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who is in his second term, he played a key role in the rise of former governors Babatunde Fashola and Akinwumi Ambode.
But when Ambode ran for re-election in the run-up to the 2019 governorship election, he ran afoul of Tinubu. It was learnt that he had mistreated Tinubu’s allies in the party leadership, known as the Lagos State Governing Advisory Council (GAC).
Ambode remained steadfast. Participating in the party’s primaries, he publicly opposed Tinubu’s and the GAC’s favourite candidate, Sanwo-Olu. Due to his broken relationship with Tinubu, Ambode was, in contrast to Fashola, essentially invisible in the grand scheme of things after leaving office.
HAVE WE FORGOTTEN KWANKWASO VS GANDUJE ?
The Former Kano State Governor, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso enjoyed the respect of his successor, former Governor Abdullahi Ganduje, for a considerable amount of time. From 1999 to 2003 and again from 2011 to 2015, Ganduje served as Kwankwaso’s deputy governor twice. Ganduje collaborated extensively with Kwankwako from 2003 to 2007, during his tenure as Minister of Defence, as their bond deepened. However, their relationship quickly soured after Ganduje took office in 2015 and submitted the state House of Assembly with his list of cabinet picks for approval. Many Kwankwaso supporters vehemently complained that Ganduje had excluded them.
The two leaders attempted to contain the situation at first, but it was only a matter of time until it turned into a full-fledged rivalry that put Ganduje against Kwankwaso’s chosen candidate, Kabiru Abba Yusuf, in the 2019 governorship race, which Ganduje ultimately prevailed in a “controversial circumstance.”
In their rematch in 2023, Kwankwaso backed Yusuf once more while Ganduje backed Nasir Yusuf Gawuna. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) pronounced Yusuf the winner, but a tribunal later dismissed him for reasons that have since been contested.
Both Wike and Fubara will undoubtedly fail since they are now dependent on one another; ideally, logic and common sense will win out. However, how much longer will Wike be able to control Rivers? Recalling that even the sun never sets empire is currently fighting Brexit would be wise for him. Politics and administration are entwined, and if growth is to occur in either field, neither can function apart.