Before Violence erupts in Rivers State… by Taiwo Olapade

Before violence starts in Rivers State, there is the need for an urgent and sincere political solution to the ongoing crisis because the Collateral Damage will be more than enough for the state to bare. God help us if other States in the region do not have their own fair share of it.

This is due to the visible beating of war drums already sounding loud from both sides of the divide.

The great fear that we cannot wish away in a jiffy is the fact that the South-South among other regions in the country is ever known for high level of militancy and proliferations of firearms. I make bold to say that Rivers State top the list in this regards.

During the solidarity walk to the Government House, the President of Ijaw National Congress, Prof Benjami Okaba asked President Bola Tinubu to call his Minister for the FCT, Nyesom Wike to order.

He also warned that the safety of oil installations and pipelines within the Niger Delta region is now threatened by what he described as unlawful and arrogant behaviours of the FCT Minister.

At least ten Commissioners in Governor Siminalayi Fubara-led executive in the state said to be loyal to Mr Wike have within the last twenty four hours resigned their appointments. As expected, some of them gave personal reasons for their decisions to walk away from the service to the people of oil-rich state.

The massive resignation came barely hours after Governor Fubara signed the State #800bn 2024 Appropriation Bill into law.

Governance is at standstill in Rivers at the moment since the focus of the embattled Governor Fubara is on how to survive the impeachment plot from the camp loyal to Nyesom Wike.

The question on the minds of the people of Rivers State and Nigerians at large is how much of time does President Tinubu have to wade into the ongoing faceoff between Governor Fubara and his estranged political godfather and predecessor, Mr Nyesom Wike.

As expected, the follow up question is who will offset the bill for the reconstruction of the burnt Rivers State House of Assembly Complex.

Nigerians on December 13th, 2023 woke up to the reality of the demolition of the Rivers State House of Assembly complex which was badly damaged after the October 29th arson attack on the edifice.

While the demolition was being carried out, Governor Simi Fubara was also performing a crucial state function, the presentation of the 2024 budget proposal to a four-member State Assembly which had their sitting at the Rivers Government House.

The Rivers State Government has attributed the demolition of the House of Assembly complex to structural defects arising from the fire outbreak in the wee hours of October 29th.

Joe Johnson, who is the State’s Commissioner for Information told newsmen in Port Harcourt that the incident rendered the building unfit for human use.

According to him, the Governor sought professional advice from a consultant on the integrity of the building after inspection to determine the level of damage.

He promised that the state government will ensure speedy reconstruction of the building while also provide another conducive environment for legislative business for the lawmakers.

Reacting on behalf of the All Progressives Congress, the State Chairman pf the party, Tony Okocha accused the Governor of responsible for the arson on the House of Assembly complex.

A River-State born Legal practitioner, Emmanuel Anene however described the demolition of the Assembly Complex as descreation of the Hallow chamber in the state.

He was of the view that the Complex after the fire outbreak should have been cordoned off by security agencies to avoid anyone tampering with possible evidence to uncover the perpetrators.

According to him and quote” what Governor Fubara should have done in the first place was to set up a panel of enquiry into the fire outbreak and establish the extent of damage on the building aside the one being conducted by the police”. End of quote.

He said the demolition is unacceptable adding it will further makes it difficult to unravel the perpetrators.

According to him, the Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Edison Ehie does not have absolute power to declare the seats of the decampees vacant unless the competent court of law had done so.

The legal practitioner wondered what will become the fate of the workers at the State House of Assembly.

In his view, the Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Femi Falana faulted the claim on the division within the Peoples Democratic Party given by the 27 lawmakers that defected to the All Progressives Congress.

It is a litmus test for the new state Commissioner of Police, Tunji Disu in ensuring protection of lives and property of residents in the wake of the current political faceoff.

In a recent interview, Disu said those who wish to come to celebrate Christmas with their loved ones in Rivers are free to return home.

He described what’s going on in the state as a localised issue.

Before the violence erupts in Rivers State, a word is enough for the wise.

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