ABUJA— President Bola Tinubu, yesterday, waded into the rift between Governor Siminalayi Fubara of Rivers State and his immediate predecessor, Mr Nyesom Wike, which has plunged the state into a political crisis.
President Tinubu used the opportunity of the Police Council meeting which both attended as members, to mediate and perhaps end the feud between the two political allies.
The President’s intervention was disclosed by the Governor of Bauchi State, Bala Mohammed, while briefing State House correspondents on the outcome of the meeting presided over by the President at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Despite their feud, Fubara and Wike had earlier exchanged pleasantries inside the Council Chambers venue of the meeting before it commenced.
Mohammed, who is the chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party Governors Forum, PDP-GF, also disclosed that the opposition governors had resolved to work with the President because he has shown good faith by not interfering with governorship cases brought before the courts by PDP members.
Police Council confirms Egbetokun as IGP
The peace moves followed the confirmation of Kayode Egbetokun as the substantive Inspector General of Police, IGP, by the council.
The Minister of Police Affairs, Ibrahim Geidam, explained that the council confirmed him because he had acquitted himself since he was appointed in acting capacity.
He noted that Egbetokun has also provided a blueprint on ensuring the security of the country, which indicates his suitability for the post.
To the surprise of some onlookers, Fubara and his estranged godfather and incumbent Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nyesom Wike exchanged pleasantries when they met in Aso Villa.
The duo are among the 36 state governors and others invited to attend the Police Council meeting presided over by President Tinubu.
Other state governors at the meeting were Yahaya Bello (Kogi), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Ahmadu Fintiri (Adamawa), Bala Mohammed (Bauchi), Abdullahi Abba (Kano), and Bassey Otu (Cross River).
Before they went into a closed-door session, some of the governors, including Wike and the National Security Adviser, NSA, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, were sighted as they engaged in discussions while others exchanged banters.
Thereafter, Wike proceeded to shake hands and briefly exchanged pleasantries with Governor Fubara after disengaging from the NSA.
It was the first time Fubara (dressed in white kaftan) and Wike (also spotted in a white kaftan) are meeting face-to-face since the reported spat between them started.
A reported crisis between Fubara and Wike is said to have led to moves by 24 members of the Rivers State House of Assembly to impeach Governor Fubara, resulting in turbulence in the state on Monday, as the governor’s loyalists stormed the Assembly complex in protest against the plot.
This came after the bombing of the state House of Assembly located along Moscow Road in Port Harcourt by suspected arsonists on Sunday. A section of the chamber was damaged, and some valuables were destroyed.
It was also reported that the governor’s loyalists in the House of Assembly have removed the Speaker and replaced him with the Leader of the House.
PDP asks feuding party members to sheathe swords
Meanwhile, the National Working Committee, NWC, of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has called all actors in the political disagreement in Rivers State to sheathe their swords and allow for peaceful and amicable resolution of all the issues.
National Publicity Secretary of the Party, Mr. Debo Ologunagba, said this in a statement, in Abuja, yesterday.
Ologunagba said: “The NWC urges all PDP members and supporters to be calm and assures that it has commenced processes, using the party’s internal conflict resolution mechanisms to ensure that all matters and areas of disagreement are addressed.
“The NWC, therefore, charges all leaders, critical stakeholders and members of our great party in Rivers State to close ranks, unite and focus on the onerous task of governance and delivery of dividends of democracy to the people.”
Rivers govt denies sack of chief judge, 23 LG chairmen, others
The Rivers State Government has denied reports in some national dailies and other social media platforms that the Chief Judge of the state, Justice Simeon Chibuzor Amadi, Chief of Staff Government House, Chidi Amadi, and 23 local government chairmen among others had been sacked by the governor amid the political crisis that enveloped the state on Monday.
Debunking the reports, the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Joe Johnson, said that there had been unfounded reports making the rounds on various media platforms about Governor Fubara sacking certain categories of his aides and local council chairmen.
“This is to clarify that His Excellency has not given me such a directive (to announce their sack) as the official spokesman of the State Government as at today, Tuesday, October 31, 2023”, Johnson noted in a statement.
“Our dear governor is a technocrat with robust civil service background, kind-hearted and a very humane person, who does things according to laid-down rules and with the fear of God.
“We therefore ask Rivers people and the general public to jettison such unconfirmed reports as the public will be properly informed of who may have been removed by His Excellency at the appropriate time.
“It is pertinent to note that as the Commissioner for Information and Communication, I shall keep the public updated of events in due course”, the statement said.
Dispute in Rivers has been resolved- PDP Govs
Also yesterday, the Peoples Democratic Party Governors Forum at the end of its emergency meeting in Abuja, appealed to feuding party members in Rivers State to sheathe their swords and let peace reign.
Chairman of the forum, Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State stated this while reading the communique issued at the end of the meeting.
The forum also offered its platform to Governor Fubara and his predecessor, Nyesom Wike, for resolution of other issues at the meeting held at Oyo State Governor’s Lodge, Asokoro.
Mohammed said: “ The Forum deliberated on issues of concern to the Forum, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and the nation and reached the following conclusions:
“The PDP governors were alarmed at the recent developments in Rivers State and welcome the intervention of Mr. President to bring the crises to an end.
“The meeting urged all parties to the Rivers State crises to sheathe their swords and resort to peaceful means of resolution. The Forum further offers its platform for a quick and just containment of the issues involved.
“The meeting noted the recent judgement of the Supreme Court on the 2023 presidential election and believes that this brings an end to the presidential election cycle as there must be an end to litigation.
On pending court cases
On pending cases in courts, Governor Mohammed said: “As a forum, we believe and re-state our faith and confidence in the judiciary to do justice in political and other cases before the courts.
“We are concerned that while the Supreme Court has laid down precedents on pre-election issues, PDP candidates in Plateau State are being disqualified on the same grounds.
“We urge the judiciary at the apex level to ensure that our jurisprudence is not distorted. We remain vigilant in the struggle for democracy and good governance in the country.
“On the national economy, the meeting urgently requested the patriotic intervention of the Federal Government to stabilize the Naira, control inflation, stem the unemployment crises, and bring more succour to Nigerians.
“The meeting vowed to reposition and strengthen PDP as a viable opposition political party ready and willing to play its role as the vanguard of the Nigerian people for democracy, good governance and accountability.
“The PDP Governors congratulated the host, His Excellency, Governor Seyi Makinde, for his hospitality in hosting of the meeting,’’ he said.
Soon after reading the prepared speech, Governor Mohammed explained that the crisis had been resolved.
According to him, the dispute between Governor Fubara and his predecessor who are both members of the PDP “has been resolved. As you can see, our brother governor is here, he has settled with his mentor.”
After the Monday chaos, there appears to be relative peace in the state. This may not be unconnected to the last-minute peace moves made by the elders of the state on Monday night.
Though the outcome of the peace meeting has not been announced, sources said the elders pleaded with the two factions (Siminalayi Fubara and Nyesom Wike) to sheathe their swords and allow peace to reign in the state.
Meanwhile, Rivers Youths Rescue Mission, RYRM, has joined in calling the two political leaders to exercise restraint and work for peace and tranquillity in Rivers State.
In a statement jointly signed by Comrade Solomon Lenu, Director General and Comrade Tuka Loanyie, Secretary, the group said: “We want to further call on all Rivers men of conscience once again, to all join hands together to support Gov Sim Fubara, for this is not a time to sit idly on the fence for the observance of party or tribal delineation.
“We condemn in its totality the unprofessional approach of the Rivers State Police High Command on how they have handled this impasse in the state as seen in a video excerpt circulating on social media, where the revered office of the executive governor was openly denigrated when water cannons were pelted at the Governor. This is unacceptable and we call on the Force Headquarters to intervene immediately and redeploy the leadership of the current state command because he has clearly shown his inability to protect the people of Rivers State.”
Youths maintain occupation of Govt House gate
However, some youths have continued their occupation of the entrance gate to the Government House, Port Harcourt, in protest against the move by some lawmakers to impeach Governor Fubara.
The protest had begun on Monday in the wake of the chaos and had continued through the night till Tuesday morning.
The protesters are insisting that they would ensure that the governor is not removed from office unlawfully.
Yesterday, thousands of youths entered the Government House gate with music bands and DJs, displaying all forms of entertainment.
The State Chairman of National Youth Council of Nigeria, NYCN, Ambassador Chijioke Ihunwo, said the youths will continue the occupation until they are sure that Fubara is secured.
“I want to condemn what happened in the state where a few persons, who want to cause a crisis in our state by wanting to impeach the governor of the state, Fubara. It is uncalled for. This is just the beginning and we are going to occupy the streets. We are saying no to Godfatherism. The youths will occupy the streets because we have a governor that has passion for Rivers youths.
Police arrest Rivers NYCN chair, 15 pro-Fubara supporters
Nevertheless, operatives of the Nigeria Police have arrested the Chairman of the National Youth Council of Nigeria, NYCN, Chijioke Ihunwo, and about 15 other youths in the pro-Fubara protest.
Ihunwo, his Chief of Staff, and many others were picked up by the Police around 3 p.m. during the protest.
Ihunwo and many other youths who were occupying the state Government House gate had moved on information that the anti-Fubara lawmakers were at the moment sitting at the House of Assembly Quarters on Port Harcourt-Aba Road.
The youths had allegedly gone to the said venue to stop any proceeding that would be against the governor of the state, but were apprehended by policemen stationed in the Assembly.
Ijaw group condemns impeachment plot against Fubara
Speaking on the issue, the Ijaw National Development Group, INDG, condemned the Monday chaos caused by the attempts to launch an impeachment move against Fubara.
The President of the group also known as Ijaw People’s Assembly, IPA, Prof. Prosper Ayawei, in a statement, called on the stakeholders to exercise restraint and settle the existing disagreement without throwing Rivers State into chaos.
According to INDG, Rivers State, which had become a good example of where democracy works with exemplary infrastructural projects under former Governor Wike should not be turned into festering sore of violent clashes due to ego and greed.
“We are shocked that the political actors are out to destroy achievements recorded in Rivers State. We call for caution and amicable settlement of issues that might have ignited the crisis. We urge the stakeholders in Rivers State to stand firm behind Governor Fubura against any anti-democratic forces. We call for a peaceful settlement.”
The group also calls on the Speaker and leadership of the Rivers State House of Assembly to rescind its decision to suspend the Majority Leader, Edison Ehie and notice of impeachment to Governor Fubara, warning that the Ijaw Nation is watching developments in Rivers and would not resist protecting the mandate handed to the governor, who is an Ijaw man.
Also, stakeholders, traditional rulers and Ex-militant leaders from the Niger Delta region under the aegis of Citizens for the Sustainable Development of the Niger Delta, CSDND, described lot to remove the Majority Leader of the Rivers State Assembly, Edison Ehie and Governor Fubara as “evil machination.”