BY HENRY UMORU
ABUJA— The Presidency yesterday declared that the crisis in Rivers State does not pose any threat to the nation’s democracy. It said Nigeria remains peaceful and cannot in any way be threatened by political developments in the State.
Addressing newsmen in Abuja yesterday, Senior Special Assistant to President Goodluck Jonathan on Public Affairs, Dr Doyin Okupe, said Rivers State is peaceful and calm with residents going about their activities under peaceful atmosphere.
The position of the Presidency on developments in Rivers State icame in spite of the lingering political logjam in the state that resulted in near-impeachment of the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Otelemaba Amachree and a free-for-all in the House penultimate week. The House Leader, Chidi Lloyd; and two other lawmakers — Michael Chinda and Martins Amahule sustained injuries during the fracas.
The Presidency also carpeted the five Northern governors who paid solidarity visit to Governor Rotimi Amaechi, saying they were more interested in political maneuvering and grandstanding at the expense of the well-being of the people in their states. It however commended another set of governors from the South West who paid a similar visit to Governor Amaechi for their statesmanlike advice to the governor towards finding a lasting solution to the political crisis.
Northern govs spreading fear
Okupe said: “We are compelled to react to the unfolding political drama emanating from recent activities of some governors from the Northern part concerning political developments in Rivers State. These political moves, which are clearly intended to create fear, despair and a sense of apprehension among the citizenry are grossly unfounded, misplaced and a deliberate over-sensationalization of the situation.
“We, therefore, wish to state as follows: Insinuations and statements suggesting that Rivers State is on fire are grossly unfounded. So far, as is evident to every discerning observer of political developments, the state is calm and peaceful. Residents of the state continue to go about their various businesses, religious, social and political activities under peaceful atmosphere. A key pointer to the prevailing peace in the state is the fact that Governor Amaechi, the Chief Executive and Chief Security Officer of the state, felt confident enough to travel to the United Kingdom on official assignment. It is doubtful he would have had the luxury of leaving the country if his state is in turmoil as is being canvassed.
“The situation in Rivers State is purely a localized political matter and has no dangerous or far-reaching consequences for the peace and security of the nation. Since our return to democratic rule in 1999, it is on record that not less than 12 states have witnessed incidents of attempted impeachment of speakers of houses of assembly in Nigeria and none has posed any threat to peace and security in the country even when our democracy was not this established.
“Developments in Rivers State do not pose any threat to our democracy. Our democracy remains robust, alive and well. In politics as in every sphere of human activity, different shades of opinion on issues are not uncommon within the polity but often get resolved either politically or through legal channels. It is, therefore, disingenuous for anyone to suggest that the political disagreement in Rivers State would imperil and ultimately derail our democracy.
The Ogun State example
“We recall that in Ogun State in 2010 after series of sustained fracas and attempts at impeachment and counter impeachment, the Inspector General of Police locked up the House of Assembly for several months. In all that time, nobody in the whole country suggested that the situation was a threat to our nascent democracy, and no state governor went on any solidarity visit.
“Nigeria is not in any way in disarray. As is the case in every country of the world, there may be conflicts of ideas and interests here and there, which in itself is the beauty of democracy and should not by any means be construed to mean that there is chaos in the country or that Nigeria is tilting towards anarchy as some people have claimed. Nigeria remains peaceful and is not and cannot in any way be threatened by political developments in Rivers State.
“It is clear that one of the most potent threats to our corporate existence and sovereignty since independence has been the Boko Haram insurgency. This menace has been confronted frontally with strong determination and focus, which has led to decisive action that has brought about the containment of the menace by the Nigerian military and other security agencies. Most reasonable Nigerians would have expected these governors to be deeply concerned and appreciative of the laudable efforts of the Federal Government, which has brought reprieve from fear as well as comfort and solace not only to the people of the affected areas but also to the entire nation and international community.
“Surprisingly, they appear to be more interested in political maneuvering and grandstanding at the expense of the well-being of the people in their states and the stability of the nation at large”.
The Nigeria Governors’ Forum
The Presidency also argued that the issue of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) was like the political development in Rivers State which remains essentially an affair of the 36 state governors. According to it “the outcome of elections in the body is inconsequential to the orderly governance of the Nigerian state by the Presidency. The choice of who becomes leader of the body clearly has no significant ramification on the wider political calculation of who becomes President of the country as events in our recent history bear out.
“We note that the chairman of the NGF in 2011 was clearly at odds with the President. He contested and lost the party’s presidential primaries to the incumbent President of the country who went ahead to be elected President by the overwhelming majority of Nigerians. It is clear therefore that occupying the chairmanship of the NGF does not in any way confer any political influence or advantage as regards who becomes President of the country, neither will it be of any major political significance in the 2015 presidential race as is being bandied about erroneously.”
On S-West govs
“We note with satisfaction and appreciation, the subsequent visit by five governors and two deputy governors including Governors Fayemi, Fashola, Aregbesola, Ajimobi and Amosun, who demonstrated high and commendable sense of patriotism and genuine concern for the nation, with very conciliatory disposition and statesmanlike advise to Governor Amaechi towards finding a lasting solution to the political disagreements between the governor and members of the state’s House of Assembly.
“We want to assure Nigerians that the Presidency is not involved in the dispute in Rivers State.”