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CLOSE-UP: Who is Siminalayi Fubara, the ex-Rivers accountant-general who may succeed Wike?

To many political stakeholders and observers in Rivers — especially stalwarts of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) — Siminalayi Fubara is in pole position to succeed Nyesom Wike as governor of the state.

He is the anointed candidate of the incumbent governor of the ruling party in the state. Hence, the odds appear to favour him.

When he secured 721 votes to defeat 16 other contenders in the governorship primary in May 2022, Fubara’s first remark was that “grace is at work”.

“It is not a victory for Fubara. It is a victory for the party. It is not just a victory for the party, it is for moving the state forward,” he added.

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But who exactly is the accountant vying to take over the leadership mantle from Wike?

FORGED IN OPOBO

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Fubara was born in the historic Opobo town in Opobo/Nkoro LGA of Rivers on January 28, 1975.

In the Opobo-Ibani dialect, his name, ‘Siminalayi’, translates as ‘the poor may beget the rich’.

He is the second of five children and the first son of the late Joseph Fubara, a former soldier, and the late Love Joseph Fubara, a civil servant. His parents were both descendants of the Fubara and Jaja families of Opobo town.

Such is his strong ties in Opobo that during the PDP’s recent campaign rally in the town, Fubara said he did not need to solicit votes.

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“I don’t think I need to campaign in Opobo/Nkoro, if I campaign here, then it means that I am not prepared,” he said.

“I just want to dance and thank God because victory is sure. I want to urge Opobo/Nkoro people to appreciate this great opportunity with your vote. No single vote must be wasted. Use your vote to make this bold statement.”

CAREER IN CIVIL SERVICE

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Fubara is a technocrat who, in 2020, was named the accountant-general of Rivers state.

His career in public service, which spanned a total of 18 years, began in 2003 when he was appointed as a teacher by the Rivers State Post-Primary Schools Board, and posted to the Comprehensive High School, Alesa-Eleme.

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He taught there for five years and moved to the ministry of finance as a senior accountant in 2007. Fubara was later promoted to principal accountant, and subsequently chief accountant, assistant director, deputy director and director. He ultimately became permanent secretary, and then rose to the pinnacle of his career as accountant-general.

Fubara has a master of science degree in finance and a master of business administration, both from the University of Port Harcourt Business School. He also has a postgraduate diploma in accounting from the Enugu State University of Science and Technology.

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He has a degree in business education with a specialisation in accountancy from the former Rivers State University of Science and Technology (now Rivers State University).

The governorship candidate is a fellow of the Nigeria Institute of Management, a fellow of the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria and a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria.

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VOLUNTEER & PHILANTHROPIC WORK

Fubara is a member of several social organisations and is renowned for his philanthropic endeavours.

He is known for his volunteer work and for facilitating projects towards the development of Opobo Kingdom and the LGA.

The accountant collaborates with local outreach groups, including SWITCH-ON and Caregivers Humanitarian Outreach, on poverty alleviation, skills acquisition, scholarships and other empowerment programmes.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, SWITCH-ON was at the forefront of the palliative efforts for residents, while the group also facilitates empowerment programmes in the state.

Fubara is a patron of the Women Prayer Network in Opobo, a group dedicated to supplicating for peace and progress of the town.

In recognition of his community efforts, Fubara was conferred with the traditional title of Amaopusenibo of the Opobo Kingdom.

GRASSROOTS POLITICIAN

Regarded as a grassroots politician, Fubara has been ever-present in the River state political machinery for the past 10 years.

A staunch member of the PDP in Rivers, Fubara served in the Wike school of leadership and politics, where he got firsthand mentoring from the incumbent governor.

He is credited for rebuilding the party structure in his LGA during a period of instability and leadership vacuum. Apart from assuming leadership of the party in Opobo/Nkoro, he is said to have also played a key role in reuniting several party stakeholders in his LGA and across the state.

A devoted Christian and an adherent of the Anglican faith, Fubara is married to Valerie Fubara and they have three children.

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