December 17, (THEWILL) – The political drama unfolding in Rivers State is a sad commentary on governance in oil-rich Niger Delta. The problem, which broke out sometime in October, appeared settled when President Bola Tinubu intervened to bring the two warring parties to the conference table.
With the turn of events last week, that presidential move looked like the prelude to a full -blown battle.
Unfortunately, the two protagonists in the drama, Governor Siminalaye Fubara and his predecessor, Nyesom Wike, renewed their fight last week. As at press time on Saturday, members of a deeply fractured Rivers State House of Assembly had openly taken sides. Fubara’s cabinet was similarly affected, with 10 out of 29 Commissioners said to be Wike’s loyalists quitting their jobs.
The House of Assembly complex in Port Harcourt had been bulldozed by the state government, which claimed that the structure needed to be rebuilt after it was gutted by fire, which incidentally happened when the fight started.
Meanwhile, stakeholders from two big local governments in the state have joined the fray. On Thursday and Friday, stakeholders from Wike’s Obio/Akpor Local Government and Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government, “declared their unalloyed support of and solidarity with the governor.”
Fearing a breakdown of law and order, the Commissioner of Police in the state, Tunji Disu, called for a peace meeting. The presidency has washed its hands off the matter, leaving the state to find a way out of the dilemma.
That is how it should be. A few weeks ago, President Tinubu was also called in to settle the supremacy battle between ailing Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State and his Deputy Lucky Aiyedatiwa and their followers. Fortunately, some sanity has returned to the dire political situation in Ondo, with the governor handing over to his deputy before he embarked on another medical tour to Germany last week.
Even so, the current stand of the Presidency on non-interference in the situation in Rivers State after the initial truce called by President Tinubu failed, is praiseworthy. Any such intervention should be the last option when all else fails.
Nigeria is a federating republic and the sub-national governments must exhaust all instruments within the law to restore order. Ceding their authority to the center is anathema to the principles of federalism.
The Commissioner of Police, Disu, who had already called for a truce should be supported by all the parties to the feud. He must be firm in deploying the necessary manpower to prevent the breakdown of law and order. The protagonists and their allies are so well known that the police should do their work with neutrality.
The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, on whose platform all the combatants were either elected or appointed, should be up and doing for a fight that is political. It should be able to assert its authority and set boundaries for which any violator must be sanctioned.
We call on the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, to mind his office. He recently signed a performance bond with the President alongside other ministers to deliver on the administration’s governance project as captured in its Renewed Hope Agenda for Nigerians.
We think Wike’s hands should be full with the issues of pervading insecurity in the FCT, the decayed infrastructure crying for renewal and revenue generation to deliver on his mandate. He arguably started well as Minister with plans to remake the FCT as home to Nigerians. We think he is lossing focus by engaging in this uneccessary duel with his successor as governor
In any case, existing video clips by some national television in which he vowed to keep the distance from the administration of his state, give the governor a free hand and offer assistance only when he is contacted stand as indictment of his altercation with the governor.
Finally, we call on Governor Fubara as chief security officer of the state to support the peace truce called by Disu and pull all the stops to ensure the state does not erupt into violence whose end no one can predict in a badly fractured country where hardship, insecurity, kidnapping and poverty stalk the landscape.
Governance is at present on hold in Rivers State due to the ongoing duel between him and his predecessor Wike. The interest of the people, who voted for him, should be uppermost in his mind in further moves he makes henceforth.