Rivers: One Assembly, Two Speakers, Multiple Battlefronts

The disagreement between the Rivers State governor, Siminalayi Fubara and his predecessor, political godfather and now Minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nyesom Wike, appears not to be winding down anytime soon, despite the peace brokered by President Bola Tinubu.

Rivers State was plunged into political crisis between October 29 and 30, this year, when the hallowed chamber of the House of Assembly was burnt, following alleged moves to impeach Fubara. That consequently led to the emergence of two factional speakers – Matins Amaehule, who is loyal to Wike; and Edison Ehie, a strong supporter of Fubara.

Fubara returned to the state after the peace meeting in Abuja with the President and apologised for the anxiety sequel to the crisis, assuring that he was ready to embrace the path of lasting peace to advance progress and development of the state.

He appeared remorseful while Wike also insisted that there is no bad blood between them. But his words have left many suspicious.

Recently, at a book launch in Port Harcourt, Wike said: “Let nobody deceive you, if I say there would be problems, there would be. I do not need to win. When you want to make peace, open your door so that when you make the peace, it will follow you.”

It was in the same vein that Mr President has also intervened to broker lasting peace among the gladiators.

But the mediation only postponed the evil days, as there is still factional leadership in the Assembly allegedly carrying on legislative business, with alleged threats to life and assassination attempts on Ehie. Consequently, the festering crisis is driving the state to the precipice.

Ehie’s residence was allegedly invaded and attacked by suspected gunmen penultimate week. Ehie, while confirming the attack, noted that the hoodlums were led by a senior Police officer in the state, who allegedly ordered the gunmen to shoot sporadically in his residence.

Accordingly, the factional lawmakers have continued to have separate sittings in different locations.

The Ehie-led faction, at its meeting in an unknown location last week, passed a vote of confidence on Fubara, declaring to ‘swim or float’ with him. They vowed to continuously give the governor the required support to accomplish his consolidation and continuity agenda to benefit the state, stressing that “one man cannot cage the state.”

On their part, about 24 out of 32 lawmakers, led by Amaehule, who also sat separately last week, reportedly deliberated on two items concerning the suspension of the strike by the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN). They tasked the newly deployed Commissioner of Police, Olatunji Disu, to investigate the explosion that razed parts of the Assembly Chamber and destroyed several properties.

Meanwhile, 122 youths groups, under the aegis of National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN), led by Chijioke Ihunwo, who were arrested and arraigned before a Magistrate Court in Port Harcourt for allegedly protesting and trying to gain entrance into Amaehule’s residence at Forces Avenue, Old GRA, Port Harcourt, have been granted bail in the sum of N100,000 and one surety each for the total defendants, while the case was adjourned to December 5, for trial.

Effects of crisis to governance

FUBARA recently commissioned two world-class hospitals in the state, the remodelled Dental, Maxillofacial, Ophthalmology Hospital and the Kelsey Harrison Hospital aimed at improving the healthcare of the people.

At the ceremony, the governor said his administration was partnering with the Bank of Industry (BoI) to invest a N4 billion facility to drive sustainable economic opportunities in the state.

It is, however, glaring that governance is languishing, and development is at a ridiculous slow pace without much to show for progress.

The governor is struggling to push forth his administration’s plans. For instance, after his visit to the Songhai Farm, which was intended to revamp the farm and boost food productions, create employment opportunities for teeming youths and tame insecurity, nothing has been heard of the bold step.

Before the crisis blew open, sources close to Government House said Wike, who handpicked Fubara, was against revamping the farm, which was started by ex-governor Rotimi Amaechi. It was also learnt that some of the issues around the crisis include Wike’s alleged influence on Fubara’s programmes and policies that could impact positively on the people.

Yet statewide, there is high apprehension over growing insecurity. Investors are anxious with attendant job losses. Disharmony in the House of Assembly, to carry out legislative business and oversight functions, among others, has also opened a new vista of uncertainties.

However, while other states are working and passing the Appropriation Bill for another fiscal year, all eyes are on Rivers State to see how it will pull through with only eight lawmakers out of 32 supporting the governor.

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