When Rivers State was created by the Nigerian federal government led by General Yakubu Gowon in 1967, the nation’s likelihood of civil war was sealed. Apart from the fact that the decision split some of the richest oil sectors in the eastern region from the control of the region’s dominant ethnic group, the Igbos, it also transformed Port Harcourt, the region’s richest and most dynamic metropolis, into a subject of controversial land ownership. Given the nature of the controversy and dissent surrounding the state’s founding, it should come as no surprise that its growth has also been constantly plagued by political controversy and territorial disenchantment.

For several years, the political discourse in the state centered on the issue of the choice of leadership between the so-called riverside communities that are occupied by peoples of the Ijaw ethnic nationality and the so-called highland communities occupied by people regarded as closely related to their Igbo neighbors. This issue became even more central to the nature of politics in the state when in 1996 the Abacha-led government removed most of the state’s riverside communities by creating the state of Bayelsa. This controversial land issue was resolved in the year 2000 with the election as Governor of Dr. Peter Odili, a quintessential highland leader, whose heritage as an opinion leader in the state could hardly be questioned or challenged. Dr. Odili’s two-term tenure as elected leader was not only highly successful in providing unquestionable dividends of representative government in the state, but also changed the dynamics of communal relations and the terms of transitional power in leadership. So far, it can hardly be denied that the leadership that has succeeded under him has evolved out of his own legacies of political conduct.

After a controversial run for the presidency, which was halted by his party leader President Obasanjo under controversial circumstances, Dr. Odili first supported the rise of his own political constituency, Rotimi Amaechi, to contest the party ticket. When, for some vaguely inexplicable reasons, President Obasanjo also expressed his disenchantment with the choice of successor, Amaechi’s selection was aborted, Dr. Odili supported another political pupil of his from highland communities, Celestine Omehia, who he arose from the same community as Amaechi. Amaechi successfully challenged Omehia’s selection in the Supreme Court and thus, under the most controversial circumstances, Odili’s influence on state leadership continued but under the strain of partisan disenchantment. It wasn’t long after Rotimi Amaechi became governor before the far-reaching consequences of the fallout from local political crises in Rivers State became apparent as a vital element of national politics.

Although Amaechi had been granted permission to serve as governor on behalf of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), he soon made it clear in his remarks that he had serious doubts about the party’s support for his vision and intentions. Nyesom Wike, a mutual member of Odili’s team, served as his Chief of Staff for a short time, but within a few weeks it became clear that they were operating at opposite ends. Soon, the president of the Federation, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, who hailed from the neighboring state of Bayelsa, which had once been an integral part of the state, was severely attacked by Governor Amaechi. Soon it became clear that although he did not have popular support, he had decided to leave the PDP. He became a major supporter of the APC when he managed to defeat the PDP in national elections and thus gained appointment as Chief Minister in Buhari’s administration despite the fact that his main adversary at home, Nyesom Wike, kept the state firmly.

The consensus of public opinion in the state now holds that, despite the dysfunctional circumstance of his promotion, Amaechi served the ministerial mandate, in which he managed the transport portfolio, commendably, and as a result still has a credible reputation among his members. local and national supporters.

In terms of the contemporary relevance of local Rivers State politics to national political direction, it is particularly notable that Governor Nyesom Wike’s authority at the national level emanates from the principles he has promoted in his country. In recent times, he has assumed the mantle of the validity of the precedent represented by previous crises to firmly defend the principle of regional zoning and power sharing as a productive convention within his party. Throughout his tenure, he has publicly cooperated with prominent and popular community leaders from various parts of the state, such as Chief Ferdy Alabrabah of Abonemma, OCJ Okocha of the Ikwerre community, King Dandeson Jaja of Opobo, and King Edward Pepple of Bonnie among others. His respect for and close alliance with such prominent community leaders has been regarded as one of the most exemplary aspects of his conduct as his leader, and he has helped secure popular support in the country for the initiatives of him abroad.

As a result, Governor Wike’s stance against the outcome of his party’s recent primary that presented the nation’s former vice president as the party’s presidential nominee has increased public support for him in the state. Although he appears to have turned his back on the party for which he was elected, this perception has drawn greater public loyalty in the state. The Rivers State electorate may be inclined to show a willingness to ditch the status quo and reflect the clamor for an unconditional change in policy in the upcoming election. His steadfast adherence to sentiments of disenchantment could eventually cement the Rivers State’s role as a political anomaly where the leadership achieves genuine change by fostering public dissent rather than maintaining allegiance to an elitist status quo.

Barett resides in Abuja