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OPEN LETTER TO FCT MINISTER, CHIEF NYESOM WIKE by Richard Akinnola II

God has been so good to you. Though I don’t have the details of your feud with Fubara but you claim he is an ingrate but this same “ingrate” took bullets for you as your Accountant-General when the EFCC was investigating your government. If you didn’t have confidence in him, you wouldn’t have put him forward to succeed you.

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Dear Hon minister,

First, a disclosure. You may not know me but we have met on two occasions in the house of our mutual respected Oga, first as a minister of State and second as a Governor, but l doubt if you can recognize me now. I’m one of your admirers and critic.

As a two-time Governor of Rivers state, you did well in terms of infrastructures, for which l often commend you. I however, sometimes disagree with you, particularly what l consider your streaks of high-handedness against those who disagreed with you politically.
I’m writing this letter, with the hope that don would send it to you, after watching your media interview with particular reference to your protégé and successor, Sim Fubara, a guy l have never met. No doubt, he wouldn’t have emerged as Governor without your imprimatur. I don’t have the details of your disagreement and I’m not even interested. What I’m interested in is you to rise above the alleged offence.

Take a deep breath and have an introspective view of your political trajectory since 1999.
*1999-2007: Obio-Akpor LGA Chairman
*2007-2011: Chief of Staff, Rivers
*2011-2015: Education Min. (State)
*2015-2023: Governor, Rivers State
*2023-till date: Minister of FCT
And you are just 55!

I stand to be corrected, nobody from Rivers State has been so politically favored and blessed by God as you are, not that you are the most politically-savvy politician from the state but it’s just the Grace of God. I plead with you, don’t take such grace for granted.

As Governor of Lagos state in 2010, Governor Babatunde Fashola told me something that has stuck with me till today, regarding power and leadership. There was a three-month old strike by doctors in Lagos over pay increase. I stepped in to mediate between the doctors and State, which by the grace of God, l was able to pull through after extensive negotiations with the doctors and the strike was called off to the relief of millions of Lagosians. In the course of the mediation, Fashola told me that some people asked him to fire all the doctors but he made this profound statement: “Restraint is a powerful tool in leadership; the fact that you have the power to do something but chose to look the other way.” That statement has stuck with me till date. Why do you think American presidents, despite the temptation to press the nuclear button, when their interests are threatened, rather exercise restraint by refusing to go that route. It is leadership restraint.

Permit me to recall a story which you yourself regaled your audience with at the 70th birthday reception you held in honour of Dr Peter Odili. You said that when you wanted to contest for the Chairmanship of Obi/Akpor local government in 1998, you approached Dr Odili, whom you were meeting for the first time and sought his support. He obliged by giving you his support and according to you, he gave you the first financial support towards your ambition, even when he himself was campaigning to run for the governorship of Rivers State. You became the Chairman and when you wanted to go for a second tenure, some political actors removed your name and according to you, you ran to Dr Odili who was then the governor and he saved your political career by reinstating your name.

Fast forward to when you completed your tenure as the Chairman of the local government, when your erstwhile friend, Rotimi Amaechi who just became the Governor, appointed you his Chief of Staff and that administration commenced a process to humiliate Dr Odili by setting up the Rivers State Truth and Reconciliation Commission where your benefactor, Odili was the target and was put in the witness box.

Later when cracks began to emerge in your relationship with your boss, Amaechi, you ran back to your benefactor, Dr Odili to apologise for how your administration humiliated him. As a large-hearted person, he forgave you and that began a wonderful relationship till date. Why am l making references to these incidents? If Dr Odili could forgive you and took you back, why can’t you also forgive your political offenders, including Fubara, particularly since God has been so good to you?

Anyone who has transversed Ada George road, Port harcourt and seen the humongous, palatial estate you reside in, that takes a substantial part of that road, would know that you are not lacking materially. Coupled with that, you are a minister in the current government and your wonderful wife is a judge. What else does any human being want?

My brother, please calm down and let go of your ego and learn from history. Who would have thought that a whole General Shehu Yar’Adua (rtd) could die like a chicken inside prison; who would have imagined that a whole Bashorun MKO Abiola, the then richest man in Africa could spend five years in detention and die in custody, despite his international connections; who would have imagined that Major Hamza Al-Mustapher, the de facto Head of State during the junta of General Sanni Abacha, a man even Generals genuflected for, would spend 14 years in prison? Please, pause and think. This life is ephemeral. As the book of Ecclesiastes 1 states, life is vanity.

In Oyo state, there used to be the strong man of Ibadan politics, Lamidi Adedibu but his house in Molete, Ibadan is now desolate after his death. Adedibu was law as far as Ibadan politics was concerned. He was feared by all political actors across the nation. Before him, there was Busari Adelakun, otherwise known as “Eruobodo” in Ibadan politics. They have all been consigned to the dustbin of history. Learn from these because whether you like it or not, you would also pass away one day like all mortals.

God has been so good to you. Though I don’t have the details of your feud with Fubara but you claim he is an ingrate but this same “ingrate” took bullets for you as your Accountant-General when the EFCC was investigating your government. If you didn’t have confidence in him, you wouldn’t have put him forward to succeed you. Please, rise above political offences and be a leader. May it not be counted against you that since 1999, your successor would be the first Governor of Rivers state to be impeached. No garland for such feat. It would be a pyrrhic victory and your new political masters in Abuja would even be wary of you. You are new to Tinubu’s school of politics. Don’t get carried away.

May God guide you right.

Richard Akinnola
(Your admirer and critic)
Richard Akinnola is a Nigerian journalist, author, lawyer, and activist

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