NewsReel July 21, 2013 - Rivers Crisis: Desperado Politics, Impunity And Threat To Nigeria's Democracy

 [ Masterweb Reports: Eze Chukwuemeka Eze reports ] – John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton a Philosopher and the first Baron Acton of Aldenham must have had Rivers State in mind when he stated that, “The most certain test by which we judge whether a country is really free is the amount of security enjoyed by minorities”. Using the above statement, let us see if recent developments in Rivers State show that Nigeria is truly free.

 

“The state of anarchy, oppression, victimization and anomie is indeed here with us in Rivers State. This is just a dress rehearsal for 2015 general elections. The royal rumble continues with personal ambition superseding the will of the people. The outcome of setting a dry bush on fire can never be predicted”, Peter Negedu observed.

 

“The governor however had a close shave with death when upon sighting him leader of the G5 rebel lawmakers Evans Babakaya Bipialaka, who had been proclaimed Speaker by four of his supporters, pointed at the governor and shouted instructions to the thugs and policemen allegedly brought to the premises by his group, saying: “Shoot him! . . . Shoot him! . . .” – News Express an international renowned Social Media said.

 

News Express went further to state after the above directive, “Amaechi reportedly walked towards Bipialaka, saying: “Shoot me?” He then ordered his security details to arrest Bipialaka, but the order could not be effected due to stiff resistance by the rebel leader’s orderly assisted by thugs and policemen”.

 

The Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), while reacting to the shameful incident said that Rivers State was fast drifting into a state of anarchy. It warned that if urgent steps were not taking by government and its security apparatus, the state may return to the dark days of uncontrollable politically motivated gang violence. MOSOP regretted that such a development could cripple both social and economic activities in the state.

 

Last Thursday, Governor Amaechi, who is also Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF while receiving the Senate Committee investigating the fracas that broke out in the House of Assembly on Tuesday 9th and Wednesday 10th July respectively said ‘We are under Siege’ referring to the state, even as he recalled how the Police alleged fired teargas into government house. According to the governor, “We are under siege here. For two months now, we have not met with security men. Security commanders in the state don’t come to me any longer. They are either scared or they don’t deliberately want to see me. They withdrew soldiers attached to me yesterday (Wednesday 10th and this morning, Thursday 1th July). They withdrew the APC attached to Government House”.

 

A journalist with ThisDay Newspapers, Mr. Ernest Chinwo aptly captures the situation in these words: “From the hallowed chambers of the Rivers State House of Assembly, the brawling occasioned by the power tussle in the state chapter of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) moved Wednesday to the streets of Port Harcourt, the state capital. A day after lawmakers loyal to the state Governor, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi, and those opposed to him clashed in the Assembly, injuring some legislators, supporters of the two rival groups took turns to settle their political differences with fisticuffs, leaving an unspecified number of people injured. Wednesday’s clashes between the rival groups roused security agencies to seal off the Assembly complex to prevent a total breakdown of law and order in the state”.

 

In another development, the Minister of State for Education Chief Nyesom Wike had in an event in Buguma the traditional headquarters of Kalabari Kingdom where the Speaker of the Rivers House of Assembly, Otelemaba Dan Amachree, hails from urged his supporters to be ready to fight against those he described as outsiders in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). According to Wike, “We cannot be intimidated. Do not allow anybody to provoke you. Rivers people have said enough is enough. If they say they want to meet us in the field, they should come to the field and meet us. We are not afraid of anybody. If you (Amaechi’s supporters) like, you should continue to put your own band there, we will continue to do what we are doing. What I can tell you today, Nigerians know that those friends from this state, they have lost control of the state. This is the first time that Rivers people are seeing that the National Assembly will be making laws for them. The National Assembly members (from Rivers state) should withdraw. They should all come back home.  “This is not the time anybody will use police to arrest you. If they come for arrest, we will also arrest them back. This is the time for action. Let them know it clearly that we are not afraid of anybody. I have decided to come here (Buguma) to send the message to them. I am not going to be afraid of anybody”.

 

Dame Patience Jonathan Nigerian First Lady and a daughter of Rivers State in a statement noted that impoverished people, including women and children, always bear the consequences of the kind of impasse in Rivers State., “This office wishes to call on all feuding parties in Rivers State to spare a thought for the social, political and economic costs of the crisis, and consider an urgent way to resolve all political differences. It is our position that the greater consequences of the impasse is, as usual, reserved for the poor, the weak and the vulnerable, especially women and children, who are usually innocent bystanders in all these. This derives naturally from the saying that when two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers. On a larger scale, we subscribe to the fact that conflicts and violence are the most lethal threats to peace, which itself is the irreducible minimum condition for development. The situation must therefore not be allowed to degenerate to a level that can be hijacked by miscreants and hoodlums, thus exposing everyone to insecurity from which there may be no easy escape. We therefore call on elders of the state to position themselves appropriately in the circumstances, and continue to seek the highest good of Rivers state and its people, by stone-walling the activities of the few who would rather fan little embers into a consuming inferno. It is therefore incumbent on all people of goodwill to seek to restore peace, brotherliness and love in Rivers State, for the state to press forward in the direction of growth and progress.”

 

Sadly and maybe in defiance to the plea of the first lady some organized youths on 16th July, 2013 stormed Port Harcourt International Airport to embarrass and held hostage the governors of Jigawa, Kano, Niger and Adamawa that came to pay Governor Amaechi a solidarity visit creating the impression that some people from a section of the country is no longer wanted in the State which may scare away some of the investors that will like to invest in the State thereby crippling the economic fortunes of the State. One may be forced to ask the relevance of this type of politics in a State we have a performing Governor.

 

Reacting to the attack on the Northern Governors that paid a solidarity visit to Governor Amaechi on 16th July, 2013 by members of the Grass Root Development Initiatives a pro group of Chief Nyesom Wike the Minister of State of Education, the federal lawmaker representing Andoni/Opobo-Nkoro Federal Constituency of Rivers State, Hon. Dakuku Peterside, described the incident  as barbaric, sadistic and dangerous the hiring of thugs and ex-militants by desperate Rivers politicians to deliberately embarrass the northern governors who were in Port Harcourt to pay solidarity visit to Amaechi.  “When did we degenerate to this Hobbesian and primitive state?” the lawmaker asked. He warned that those fanning the embers of discord must be ready to reap the whirlwind, adding, “They should reflect on the events of the Western Region parliament in Ibadan that eventually led to the end of the First Republic and the disputed Ondo State election in 1983, and decide if this is the path they want to go.” He expressed concern over the indifference of the police in the attack. “I wonder why the police in Rivers State under Commissioner Joseph Mbu chose to play politics with the safety and security of the people of Rivers State and tarnish the image of Rivers people.”

 

In her reaction, the state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, said members of GDI had mobilised hoodlums to disrupt the visit. She alleged: “Wike had boasted after the failed impeachment attempt at the Rivers State House of Assembly that he would set Rivers State ablaze and render it ungovernable. This portends grave danger and has far-reaching implications for our fledgling democracy”

 

On his side, Atiku the former Vice President of Nigeria described the escalating situation in the state as unhelpful, and advised that

 
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