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The Crisis Rocking The Oil-Rich Rivers State



Rivers has been in a political deadlock since late last October following the impasse between former Governor Nyesom Wike and his successor Siminalayi Fubara. Following an attempt by the State Assembly to impeach Governor Siminalayi Fubara, the political crisis assumed a different dimension on Monday, 11th December with 27 out of 31 lawmakers in the state defecting from the ruling party People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressive Congress (APC). The state lawmakers split into two factions – a faction loyal to Minister Wike and a faction loyal to Governor Fubara. Martin Amaewhule is the Speaker of Wike’s faction while Edison Ehie, a former leader of the Assembly who was removed for not supporting the Governor Fubara’s impeachmnent is the speaker of the faction loyal to Fubara.

After what seemed like a brief interlude due to the mediation of the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Wike acknowledged that his rift with Governor Fubara was purely political. The Minister said it was politics if he demanded N20 billion monthly because he had earned it when he fought for the good of the state. Wike had also once claimed that the political crisis in the State was a People’s Democratic Party affair and that the party was looking into it.
Fubara also admitted there was nothing wrong with a “father and a son” having problems, apparently referring to the rift between him and Wike, who helped install him as governor.

However, Fubara recently changed conciliatory tone, vowing never to surrender the State to blackmail and intimidation.
According to him, the State is the people’s inheritance, insisting he would protect and defend it from blackmail. He spoke on Monday during a quarterly general meeting of the Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers in Port Harcourt.

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“Let us not forget that Rivers State is our collective inheritance, presently under my watch, to protect, defend and advance it as the governor.
“I assure you that I will not fail in this responsibility nor surrender our mandate and progress to intimidation, blackmail and deliberate sabotage.
“I reaffirm my earlier statement and recommit myself to the path of peace as there is nothing to gain in a state of needless crisis,” the governor said.

According to a source, Chetam Thierry Nwala, a lawyer and Pan-Africanist who spoke on Arise Television, he alleged that the political unrest culminated from the unfulfillable demands by the former governor of the state, Nyesom Wike. He claimed that the ongoing face-off between Wike and his successor was as a result of the later’s refusal to remit 25% of all the state’s allocation to his predecessor. He went ahead to also allege that the FCT Minister, Nyesom Wike had demanded N2 billion from the N5 billion recently disbursed by the Federal Government to the state as palliatives to mitigate the effects of the fuel subsidy removal.

Wike on the other hand accused Fubara of orchestrating the burning of a section of the State House of Assembly complex as a ploy to deter to move of impeachment against him (Governor Fubara). Meanwhile, the PDP national leadership has written to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, demanding fresh elections to replace the 27 Rivers lawmakers. This was contained in a press statement signed by the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba.

According to Ologunagba, the seats of the defected lawmakers have become vacant owing to the fact that they contested elections on the platform of the party in their respective constituencies. Citing the party’s constitution, Ologunagba said, “The seats of the respective 27 former lawmakers have become vacant by virtue of the provision of Section 109 (1) (g) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).’’

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The Labour Party (LP), has also requested the Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly to declare vacant the seats of the 27 members who dumped the party that sponsored their election.

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