The political crisis in Rivers State may be experiencing a lull going into the yuletide, but there are important takeaways. There is no gainsaying the fact that the intervention of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu in the feud between the governor of Rivers State, Siminalayi Fubara, and his estranged political godfather and Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike, which eventually culminated in an eight-point resolution has calmed frayed nerves at least for now.
Although Fubara and Wike have both pledged commitment to implement the presidential resolution, their body language is saying otherwise.
For example, Wike, while attending the wedding anniversary of his associate and immediate past Commissioner for Works, Dr. Des George-Kelly at the Kings Assembly in Port Harcourt, shortly before Christmas, blamed his successor for the political crisis, insisting that he has failed to play by the rules of the game (politics) and urged people of the state not to involve themselves in a fight they know nothing about.
He stated, “Don’t get involved in any fight between two politicians without knowing the cause.
“In any facet of life, there are rules and they must be obeyed. As a pastor, there are rules you must follow. So as politicians, we must follow rules.
“When I was governor, I followed those rules and that’s why I was able to succeed.”
On his part, Fubara, at his maiden state banquet at the Government House, Port Harcourt, on New Year’s Eve said those fighting him were after his ‘red biro,’ and boasted that he is still firmly in possession of the pen.
The governor added, “What they want is this red biro, but it is still with me. We are the winners, because we are still signing with the red biro.”
Interestingly, the cold war snowballed into the yuletide with the two political leaders trying to buy the heart of the people or at best, ensure that their support bases are intact, especially in the spirit of the season.
Rice is a major staple food in the country, especially against the backdrop of how expensive it is, many will appreciate it as a gift and this was exactly what happened.
Customized bags of rice bearing the bold faces of Governor Fubara and Wike adorned Port Harcourt and its environs, with suspected aides of the duo distributing same to various stakeholders and groups so much so that it has set off conversations in the social media.
In one of the pictures on the rice bags seen by South-South PUNCH reporter, Fubara adorned a native attire with a hat to match, while Wike is seen in suit, in what many indeed believed was his official portrait when he held sway as Governor.
South-South PUNCH gathered that Wike gave 2,000 bags of rice to each local government area of Rivers State, while Fubara was said to have given 100 bags of his own brand of rice to each ward in the state.
Some of the groups that have benefitted so far include some political party members, youth groups, market unions, non-indigenes, landlord associations and counting.
Commenting on the impasse and issues that came up, the governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party in the 2023 election in Rivers State, Senator Magnus Abe, while speaking on a popular radio station, Super 93.3 FM, Port Harcourt faulted the sharing process.
Abe, who had just announced his return to the All Progressives Congress, advised Governor Fubara, “Let me criticise Governor Siminalayi Funara. He sent rice; that rice should go beyond the PDP. It should not be for PDP alone. Give PDP, give APC, give SDP, and give everybody.”
One of the notices of sharing by a landlords association in the outskirts of Port Harcourt obtained by our correspondent reads, “Greetings. We are sharing the rice Governor Sim Fubara gave the Ibos as Christmas palliative @ Tama Galaxy Event Centre Rumuodara, East-West Road, by Overcomers Bus Stop.” The notice carried other information including time and other instructions to the beneficiaries while coming for collection.
For the FCT Minister’s rice, the stakeholder groups were called and informed on phone of the gesture and the item taken to them at their preferred locations.
A Facebook user, simply identified as Clarkson Diri, wrote sarcastically on his page, ‘The bag of rice with red background is full of sand, stones and not suitable for eating. When you cook it, it will not rise, while the other bag of rice with a touch of gold is a wow. Stone-free, suitable for eating, smells good and above all, once you cook, boom it will rise and rise…’
Suggestive of who where they have pitched their tent in the political crisis, another Facebook user wrote on his page, ‘The deceiver giving Rivers people rice with evil intentions.’
However, finding by our reporter reveals that the two well-packaged bags of rice contained clean and stone-free rice, which is very suitable for consumption. After all, there has been no complaint from any stakeholder groups who have been enjoying the staple food gifted to them for whatever reason, just as many people are craving for it.