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  • Politics
  • Updated: June 19, 2024

Rivers crisis: Wike, Fubara dig deeper into trenches over LGs as tension rises

Rivers crisis: Wike, Fubara dig deeper into trenches over LG

Fubara and Wike

The political crisis in Rivers State has intensified, with Governor Siminalayi Fubara and his predecessor, Nyesom Wike, entrenching themselves in a bitter struggle for control of local government councils. 

The expiration of the tenure of elected council chairmen and councillors on June 17 has sparked violence and unrest across the state, with both factions engaging in a dangerous game of power and intimidation.

The crisis has its roots in the political feud between Fubara and Wike, which began when Fubara refused to succumb to Wike's influence and control. 

The rift deepened when 27 lawmakers defected from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to the All Progressives Congress, APC, allegedly at Wike's behest. The lawmakers' move was seen as a bid to impeach Fubara and take control of the state legislature.

The current crisis is centered on the tenure of local government chairmen and councillors, which expired on June 17. While Fubara has directed Heads of Local Government Administration to take charge of the councils, Wike's loyalists are resisting the move, insisting that the chairmen and councillors remain in office. 

The pro-Wike lawmakers had amended the Local Government Law to extend the tenure of elected chairmen and councillors by six months, but the state High Court nullified the law and declared their seats vacant.

The situation has turned violent, with reports of deaths, injuries, and destruction of property. Pro-Fubara youths have clashed with pro-Wike groups, leading to the death of a police personnel and an operative of a  local vigilance group. 

The violence has spread to several local government areas, with youths loyal to Fubara attempting to evict chairmen and councillors seen as loyal to Wike.

Governor Fubara has vowed to stand firm and protect his supporters, stating that he will not allow anyone to arrest them on trumped-up charges. He has also directed the Heads of Local Government Administration to continue providing leadership in their respective councils. 

On the other hand, Wike's loyalists are adamant that the chairmen and councillors will not vacate their offices, despite the expiration of their tenure.

The crisis in Rivers State has all the hallmarks of a protracted and bloody conflict, with both sides digging in for a long and bitter struggle. 

The intervention of President Bola Tinubu has failed to quell the unrest, and the situation appears to be spiraling out of control. As the violence escalates, the people of Rivers State are caught in the middle, suffering the consequences of a political feud that seems to have no end in sight.

The President had earlie intervened with an agreement signed by both Wike and Fubara, ending momentarily the crisis rearing its head  in the early part of this year.

Following the renewed crisis, stakeholders and former Niger Delta agitators have warned against further escalation of violence.

A former Niger Delta militant, Askari Dokubo had told pro-Wike’a LG chairmen to respectfully and peacefully vacate their offices. He warned them of the consequences should they continue to remain in office.

The crisis raises questions about the ability of Nigeria's political leaders to manage power and resolve conflicts peacefully. 

Analysts believe that the situation in Rivers State is a stark reminder of the dangers of political polarization and the need for leaders to put the interests of their people above personal ambition and greed. 

As the violence continues to spread, one thing is clear; the people of Rivers State deserve better from their leaders.

Meanwhile, Wike who is the current FCT Minister is yet to officially comment on the ongoing Brouhaha in Rivers State. His silence has not helped the situation as majority of Rivers people believe that he is directly behind the current unrest in the state.

According to Asare Peter, a political analyst from Rivers State, Wike should immediately call his supporters to order to calm the growing tension in the state.

“Wike is directly behind this. And we all know. He needs to call his men to order. These are his loyalists and if he loves Rivers the way he claims, then he should give peace a chance. You can’t love a people and want to destroy them.”

Fubara, in an attempt to forestall peace and ensure security in the state had called for security council meeting, charging that he would do anything to protect the state and his supporters. He said he won’t spare the last blood in him in the fight to protect Rivers and its people.

Meanwhile, the Ijaw Youths Council, IYC, has warned of the consequences should the LG chairmen remain in office. 

Also, Mr Olatunji Disu, the commissioner of police in Rivers State has vowed that police will do everything within its power to maintain peace in the state. The commissioner warned those causing trouble to steer clear.

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