New Telegraph

Rivers Crisis: Odili Declares Fubara State’s Political Leader

The battle over control of the political structure of Rivers State between Governor Siminalayi Fubara and Minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT)/immediate past governor, Nyesom Wike, assumed a fresh twist yesterday, following ex-Governor Peter Odili’s declaration of the governor as the political leader of the state. Odili, who governed between 1999 and 2007, declared this at the commissioning of a primary healthcare centre donated by his PAMO Foundation in Ndoni, his hometown in the Ogba-EgbemaNdoni Local Government Area of the state.

He said that Fubara, having secured electoral victory both through the ballot and the courts, is now the political leader of the oil-rich state. He also used the opportunity to praise the governor for defending the interests of the people of the state. Emphasising the strategic importance of Rivers State in Nigeria, Odili said the entire nation catches cold if the state sneezes. He, therefore, urged Governor Fubara to act with this awareness in all his decisions.

The former governor, who assessed Fubara’s performance since he assumed power, commended him for making significant strides in critical sectors within his first year in office, particularly focusing on the well-being of Rivers people. He noted that Fubara’s administration is in alignment with President Bola Tinubu’s agenda, especially in the health sector, following the recent launch of the Primary Healthcare Fellows scheme by the Federal Government. Odili encouraged the governor to maintain this alignment with the President and his policies to attract Federal Government’s attention and support to the state.

His words: “Thanks for standing up to defend the interest of all Rivers people. We are proud of you. Politics is over; it is now time for governance. You have hit the ground running. Your government is aligning correctly with President Tinubu’s government, especially in the area of education, agriculture and now the health sector.

“Our people said I should tell you to stand with the President and align with his positive policies and link the people of Rivers State with the centre. They have also asked me to tell you that you are the political leader of Rivers State.

Rivers people say where you go, they will go with you; where you stand, they will stand with you. Don’t look back, stay focused, knowing that your people are behind you.” The political battle between Fubara and Wike over control of Rivers political structure has continued to fester despite the purported truce brokered by President Tinubu in the wake of the crisis. Wike had ensured that Fubara, who served as Director of Finance and Accounts, Government House and Accountant General, while he held sway as governor emerged as his successor given their friendship, which is beyond politics.

However, the collapse of the once father-son relationship less than six months after exchange of the governorship baton left many bewildered. The crack in the duo’s relationship was noticed shortly after the May 29, 2023 inauguration but was dismissed by their respective camps. However, the move by some members of the Rivers State House Assembly loyal to Wike to impeach Fubara on October 30, 2023, confirmed the speculation of a no love lost relationship between the duo.

Wike, who denied that he sought for financial gratification from Fubara, however, accused the governor of hobnobbing with his political adversaries, which according to him, suggests that the governor is trying to take control of the PDP structure in the state. It would be recalled that Odili’s intervention on the River crisis, recently drew Wike’s ire. The FCT minister, a protégé of the former governor, confirmed in a media chat that he and Odili have parted ways politically due to “some political differences.”

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