President Bola Tinubu has been asked to provide clarification as to why a member of his cabinet and former governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, is interested in retaining party structure despite publicly proclaiming that he would not run against the President in the 2027 presidential election.
Leader of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Chief Edwin Clark, made the demand on Monday in an open letter to the president where he wondered why Wike who he said had previously attacked the concept of godfatherism when Rotimi Amaechi was the minister of Transportation would seek to indulge in the same act.
Clark warned that if all former state governors behave like Wike by insisting on controlling their successors in office as in the case of his relationship with Governor Siminalayi Fubara, the country would be in trouble.
He therefore urged the President to call the minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to order.
Clark wrote: “Mr. President, I want to seek your clarification, why is the Minister keeping structures and for what purpose.
“I recall that in his days as a Governor, he had attacked the concept of godfatherism as totally unacceptable. As a matter of fact, this made him to fall out with his predecessor, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, the immediate past Minister of Transportation, whom we know was not even directly interfering in the affairs of the state.
“So, what purpose are the structures supposed to serve when there is a governor in place? This is a question that he owes you and all Nigerians. If all governors who as a matter of right, insist on allowing their favoured candidates as successor, insist on controlling them, insist on controlling the State Assemblies, insist on controlling the structure which they left behind, what manner of confusion will we have in Nigeria?”
The foremost South-South leader observed that despite the president’s previous intervention in the Rivers crisis, the FCT minister had continued utterances which suggest that trouble lies ahead.
“I thank you for the action which you took at the time, including urging the Governor, HE Siminalayi Fubara and his predecessor in office, Mr. Nyesom Wike who is today a Minister in your government to sheath their swords. However, let no one be deceived, the situation is not yet over and things seem to be degenerating by the day,” the former federal commissioner of education told President Tinubu.
He said the crisis has been compounded by the defection of 27 members of the state house of assembly from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Clark added: “To further put themselves against the governor and possibly drag you and your political party, the APC, we are now receiving breaking news that ‘27 Members of Rivers State House of Assembly’ (all of whom are PDP like the Governor) decamp to the APC.
“The question is what is going on? In his state, at a relatively young age of 55 years, my son Wike had been a Minister of State, Minister in Federal Ministry of Education, before serving as Governor for 8 years and now Minister of FCT.
“So what does he need a structure for? This is very curious.
“If strong politicians such as yourself and other former presidents never talk about controlling structures, so how can a minister be threatening a governor not to touch a structure he has left in place. This is a bad precedent and if other Ministers in your government follow this trend, then it will be total confusion!
“Another very disturbing development is the interview granted by the Minister at another occasion on Thursday, 23rd November 2023 that made the front page of almost every newspaper to the effect ‘I have no intention to contest election in 2027.’
“Having served in the Federal Executive Council myself under General Yakubu Gowon, to some of us, the Office of the President is highly exalted and a minister serving in the Federal Executive Council cannot therefore equate as whether he will be contesting against him in four years’ time or not.
“As a member of your cabinet, you may need to call this minister to order to face the work in the quietness which is demanded of him.
“He should focus on his office and know that he is just one among a cabinet of 48 persons, besides the Vice President and yourself.
“The country has enough problems which your government must sit down to solve.”
Clark further asserted: “Both the Minister and the Governor are my sons and that informs my particular interest to ensure that peace returns as soon as possible to Rivers State.
“Besides, Rivers State is very important to the stability of the Niger Delta and the overall national economy. Therefore any breakdown of law and order there will not be in the overall interest of all.”