July 29, 2013

Needless Rivers crisis

THE ongoing political brouhaha in Rivers State is assuming a perilous dimension that should be halted before it snowballs into complete breakdown of law and order.

The foiled impeachment attempt on the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Hon. Otelemaba Amachree by only five members out of the 32-member assembly is the latest in the dance of shame going on in the oil-rich state.

The crisis in Rivers State, though unnecessary, is beginning to assume a more embarrassing and dangerous turn, with the supporters of both sides now confronting and attacking each other openly.

After the violence had ensued, some lawmakers were seriously injured, making the House of Representatives to hurriedly pass a resolution mandating the National Assembly to take over the duties of the state assembly while the Senate too decided to probe the entire saga.

The turmoil in the state is believed to be a calculated attempt at creating a scenario that could lead to the collapse of the political ambition of the Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, perhaps through impeachment, for rivaling President Goodluck Jonathan’s quest to come back to the Aso Rock Villa in 2015.

Before this impeachment drama, earlier efforts by the five recalcitrant legislators to make their colleague lawmakers see reasons why the governor should be removed had failed, hence the latest conspiracy.

What is, however, saddening is that these young men, who are supposed to be bastion of democracy by virtue of being law makers, should find themselves in this illegality and mess.

The leader of the five anti-Amaechi lawmakers, Evans Bipi – who ordinarily should have been arrested by now in a sane clime – kept insisting that he remained the authentic Speaker, having led four other members Assembly to hatch the plot, running afoul of the constitution, which stipulates that for the impeachment of any elected official to be valid, ‘not less than two-thirds of the members of the House must vote in its favour’.

For me, I don’t see any big deal why Amaechi should become targets of all sorts of political bashing because of a feeling that he posed a political threat.

With the growing violence and acrimony in Rivers State, many observers are beginning to feel that the next general elections may not be free, fair and credible.

Critical appraisals of the unfolding scenario in these last few weeks indicate that there is every likelihood of an unseen, powerful hand behind the travails of Amaechi.

The non-recognition of his re-election by the-powers-to-be as the Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum could be the fall-out of his refusal not to re-contest as NGF Chairman when his party told him so, as well as his opposition to the running of the Sovereign Wealth Fund, Excess Crude Account and call for complete transparency and accountability in the payment of petrol subsidy, among others could also be his ‘offence’.

Is it transfer of aggression or how does one  refer to the experience of the four Northern states governors; Sule Lamido (Jigawa), Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano), Murtala Nyako (Adamawa) and Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu (Niger), chairman of the Northern States Governors’ Forum on a solidarity visit to Amaechi, who were allegedly pelted with stones by protesters ?

The Vanguard reported that the attack was sponsored as “thousands of Nyesom Wike’s loyalists stormed the airport, protesting the visit of the four northern governors. The protesters literarily took over the exit gate of the VIP lounge of the airport, singing anti-Amaechi songs. Some of the placards they carried read: ‘Northern governors leave Rivers State alone!’ ‘Amaechi must go’, ‘Rivers money for Rivers people’ …”

Therefore, if the speculation is true that the needless crises in Rivers is borne out of politics, Jonathan should ensure that a stop is put to this and work harder to win the hearts of the people by putting more efforts in the areas of security, power and unemployment.

Amaechi too could leave the PDP and look for another platform where he could realise his ambition, if his membership of the party that had already ostracised him, will continue to cause him nightmare.

The way it is, the current political situation in the state is being worsened by bitter political infighting, ethnic, enmity and religious conflicts going on  in other parts of the country, almost on a daily basis.

In another twist, THE PUNCH reported that contrary to her earlier denials of involvement in the political crisis rocking Rivers State, wife of   President Goodluck  Jonathan, Patience had opened up on the crisis rocking the state.

Dame Patience Jonathan allegedly told 16 bishops from the South-South, who visited her at the Presidential Villa, Abuja that her misunderstanding with Governor Amaechi, started about four years ago in Anyugubiri in Okrika when she appealed to him to engage her people in dialogue instead of demolishing a part of their community.

She had accused Amaechi as “hot tempered,” ignored her advice and went ahead to sack the chairman of the local government for holding a reception in her honour.

According to her, “Amaechi did not only stop at those, he imposed a curfew on the community, which is where she hails from and all her pleas with the governor to lift the curfew fell on deaf ears”.

Irrespective of what is brewing the crisis, one thing that is certain is that any nation that is serious about the welfare of its people, its image and attainment of development will realize that it cannot go far under an atmosphere like ours, where peace and order remain an illusion.

Mr. ADEWALE KUPOLUYI wrote from Federal Varsity of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State.