Rivers state power struggle: Fubara and Wike’s feud threatens democracy

 Rivers state power struggle: Fubara and Wike’s feud threatens democracy

By Ernen Kaanti

Never before, in the long history of Nigeria as an independent political macrocosm, have we the citizens had several issues confronting our democracy until now. One of these menacing issues that continue to complicate our political destiny as a country is the so-called political god-fatherism.

Recently, the Rivers State political landscape has been gushing out certain intrigues that jangled and dangled the ears of spectators. This has been occasioned by a face-off between Governor Siminalayi Fubara of Rivers State and Mr. Nyelson Wike, the current Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) stemming from the question of political loyalty which is making the duo seemingly deviate from governance to sheer personal vendetta at the peril of democracy.

It is undebatable that in every hamlet of the country Nigeria, the masses are tired of hearing about the dividends of democracy. They rightly want to feel the dividends of democracy against divisions in democracy and l have the audacity to believe that time has long been apt to do so.

Our elders say that a bird that jumped from the earth and landed on an anthill is still on the ground; Hon. Fubara was just an appointee under Wike’s leadership then as Rivers State governor and if it were to be about African traditional line of thought, Fubara as a cultured African child would listen to Wike’s counsels without objection. Not only because Hon. Wike had lifted him from an appointee to the status of governor but also because he (Wike) has been in politics before him.

However, Democracy not being solely an African invention has grown our land with its own tenets and someone like Nyelson Wike who has received, practiced and is still practicing democracy; a government of the people, for the people and by the people, will have a tough resistance to deal with when he wishes to subvert it at the same time.

Democracy is about the people not about a person and even if Mr. Wike had heprojected Mr. Fubara, I feel that he who is collectively assigned the responsibility of leadership must be allowed to take the people where they should be, ought to be and must be. Hence the political mumbo jumbo over the control of the state’s socio-political architecture raises wonders as to where and when it is heard that a father, after marrying a wife for the son would demand to take charge of the wife while the son remains a mere ceremonial husband as we most recently can see in the Nigerian political landscape.

Nothing stiffles democracy and provides a life of servitude with a better climate for expansion and infiltration than the continued alliance of the people in leadership with mendacity and manipulative characters throughout their opportunities to be in power. Unfortunately this is what our democracy is faced with today. When an outgoing leader would be hell-bent on strategic succession or cronyism only to maintain political loyalty with no concern about the people it takes war to correct such orientation.

Wike may have done a lot to allow him some respect from governor Fubara even myself but this one thing of godfather craving for anything near absolute loyalty gives me the arrogance to say the minister and anyone in Nigeria with similar disposition still needs a non-toxic probity of his individual mind towards democracy.

I feel a certain compulsion to honestly plead to everyone here that our democracy is in a condition that has passed the alarming level to the fetal stage and it is no longer time for apathy. It is neither time for total mendacity nor half truth.Time is apt to probe our minds as citizens and interrogate the future; of the entire country we claim to love so much and also that of our children.

We have seemingly watched the 20th century pass away. Are we going to allow the 21st century to also pass yet we keep struggling with old problems such as abysmal self-centeredness as against other-centeredness which have long been surmounted by other societies even in our neighborhood? God forbid. For l have a strong belief that democracy whose essence can be classically represented in this our inherited country-house called Nigeria needs no magic but attitudinal renaissance.

We must learn to do what we can in our best styles. I was talking about my headache over the condition of democracy in Nigeria with a friend when he said something very remarkable to me. He said and l quote, “It will amount to nothing but stating the obvious when one delves into how democracy is being suffocated here ranging from electoral integrity; while concerns about vote rigging, ballot box snatching, and manipulation of election results are always in the lips of Nigerians themselves at election seasons, the international bodies bother about the role of violence and intimidation in influencing voter behavior and election outcomes in the country and these are gradually becoming the new normal”.

“In a group of two Nigerians during elections, is either they are discussing the autonomy and efficiency of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in conducting free and fair elections or allegations of corruption among political leaders and public officials and the make-believe impossibility of holding public officials accountable for corruption and mismanagement.

“The influence of patron-client relationships and the use of state resources for personal or political gain seemingly stares judicial Independence in the face. The independence and impartiality of the judiciary in upholding the rule of law against violations of human rights, including freedom of speech, assembly, and the press. All are not really what one may not stop pondering about in a hurry,”Said another friend.

Those concerns of my friends as quoted in the above paragraphs more highlight ill qualities of a nascent democracy like ours just as does the calamity of political god-fatherism.

With practices such as these, it is manifest that our democracy is suffering from kwashiorkor and will die if we think it is slightly indisposed. It is high time we realized that god-fatherism is a systematic political brigandage and it fosters a culture of corruption and patronage to national stagnation. These political godfathers typically expect loyalty and financial kickbacks in return for their support, which has often led to embezzlement of public funds, nepotism, and appointment of unqualified individuals to key positions but mediocrity and democracy can never coexist.

When decisions driven by the interests of the godfathers rather than the needs of the populace, essential development projects and policies can be neglected. This misallocation of resources often results in inadequate public services, poor infrastructure, and stunted economic growth, negatively impacting societal progress. The government’s inability to provide security and maintain stability amidst conflicting interests of Godfathers creates challenges of governance resulting in both coordinated and uncoordinated protests where the citizens are pulled into personal struggles for survival irrespective of the means.

To some, this is a piece of heresy but l have the audacity to say in any society where influential individuals or groups (godfathers) exert control over political sons or daughters in leadership positions affecting their actions it often undermines democratic processes when those sons/daughters become philosophers of prioritizing the interests of the godfather over the will of the people. It leads to the imposition of candidates who may not represent the people’s choice, thereby weakening the foundation of democratic notion.

A penny saved they say is a penny earned.

About the Author

Ernen Kaanti holds B.A Mass Communication from the prestigious University of Nigeria Nsukka. He also holds a diploma in Mass Communication from the Benue State Polytechnic, Ugbokolo. He has interest in both fiction and nonfiction writing. He has interest in sociopolitical, economic and human rights protection. He has been publishing with media platforms including crispng.com.

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