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 leaders of whatever hue be given the respect they deserve wherever they go. He reminded politicians to be mindful of “our political history” in all that they do. He said he was still vividly reminded of the chain of political crises that had disrupted democracy in the past.
Meanwhile, in a bit to whittle down the security of Gov Amaechi and maybe exposed him to grave danger, the Inspector General of Police, Alh Mohammed Dahiru Abubakar through a press statement issued by the Police Public Relations Officer, CSP Frank E. Mba has summoned leading Pro-Amaechi and Security Figures that includes Rivers State House of Assembly Majority Leader, Hon. Chidi Lloyd, the Aide-De-Camp (ADC) to the Rivers State Governor, Ag. ASP Debeware-Semeikumo, and the Chief Security Officer (CSO) to the Governor, Tony Iwelu to report to Force CID, Force Headquarters, Abuja without summoning the Assemblyman Evans Bipi who ignited the clashes by invading the House of Assembly with thugs in order to impose himself as the Speaker.
In another development, Governor Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State has raised the alarm over the presence of Policemen not known to either him or officials of the Rivers State Government. Gov. Amaechi in a statement signed by Commissioner for Information, Mrs. Ibim Seminatiri alleged that one Inspector Bawa yesterday reported to the Government House claiming to have been posted from the Police Headquarters Abuja to “monitor the Rivers State Governor’s lodge.” The Governor noted that, “we are aware that on issues of personal safety, an official reserves the right to pick the security personnel to whom he or she may entrust their safety. This is more so in the case of a State Governor. We are worried that we can no longer guarantee the safety of Governor Chibuike Amaechi and wish to reiterate our call on all relevant authorities to ensure the safety of Governor Amaechi and the peace and security of everyone in Rivers State.”
REPLAYING THE UGLY PAST:
Records have it that before the incumbent administration came to into power in 2007, Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital was turned into a war zone or aptly put a jungle where the fittest determines the fate of the lesser animals. It sounds pretty surprising, but not unexpected that this hitherto ‘garden city’ was at it were, ranked among the three most dangerous cities in the world. The human resources unit of New York-based Marsh & McLennan Cos. had equated Port Harcourt with Baghdad, capital of Iraq, Sana in Yemen and Khartoum in Sudan, as the world’s most dangerous cities.
Going by the ranking published by Bloomberg, Port Harcourt ranked with Baghdad as one of the world’s most dangerous cities for foreign workers as criminal gangs and militia groups seeking greater control of energy revenue step up attacks.
Is this where these gladiators want to take Rivers State to, we are watching?
The genesis of the present crisis in Rivers State stems from claims that Governor Amaechi may contest the office of the President or Vice President with a candidate from the Northern part of the country come 2015, thereby truncating the second term ambition of President Goodluck Jonathan who is from the same geo-political zone with him (South-South). To these people annihilating Amaechi politically by deploring any undemocratic machinery does not matter if their agenda can be achieved. While this assumption held sway, one day one problem became the order in Rivers State. With her oil-wells reallocated to neighbouring sister states, Rivers is being denied billions of Naira, some of which would have helped to defray the cost of rehabilitating terrible and impassable Federal Roads in the State like the Aba-PH road where travellers have to spend three hours before entering Port Harcourt a journey of 20minutes. Apart from Ebonyi and few other States, Rivers is denied appointments into federal establishments; the state-owned jet has been grounded, even when facts points that it genuinely belong to the State. The Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF election where Amaechi defeated his Plateau State counterpart, Jonah Jang with 19 to 16 votes is in a manner of speaking, in the state of invalidation. The Governor has been suspended from a party he has contributed so much in building even against the constitution of the party. Insecurity is all time high in the State, as investors who trooped to the state are now scared, due to the unfriendly atmosphere under the State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Mbu Joseph Mbu.
Mbu’s ignominious move to empower the five anti-Amaechi lawmakers: Chinda, Kelechi Godspower Nwogu (Omuma), Evans Bapakaye Bipi (Ogu/Bolo), Martins Amaewhule (Obio/Akpor I) and Victor Ihunwo (Port Harcourt III) who are loyal to the Minister of State for Education, Chief Nyesom Wike to impeach the Speaker, Otelemaba Dan Amachree, to pave the way for the eventual removal of the Governor (Amaechi) clearly bears this out. That the situation was resisted and the machinations of the five lawmakers failed is a thing of joy. Although, attempts to thwart the plan of the five dissenting voices resulted in the exchange of blows by the lawmakers and their supporters in the hallowed chambers of the Assembly, with both sides sustaining injuries, while the mace, the symbol of legislative authority was broken.
Though President Goodluck Jonathan hosted most of the key actors in this macabre dance in Rivers State few days ago at the State House, Abuja, while his wife and Nigerian’s first lady, Dame Patience Jonathan had spent about eleven days in Port Harcourt, where she allegedly met with the gladiators opposed to governor Amaechi but reacting to the futile attempt by the five lawmakers to impeach the Speaker of the 32-members State Assembly, the President described the Rivers PDP crisis as untoward and regrettable and called on all those involved in the crises to show greater respect for the constitution and the rule of law in a statement by the presidential spokesman, Reuben Abat”i.
Mr. Emeka Reuben Okala a Social Commentator who is based in United Kingdom asked, “If I may ask: What were the crimes of Hon. Otelemaba Amachree, the Speaker that drove a group of just five disgruntled lawmakers to hastily declare him impeached just like that? The last time I checked, before an elected officer is impeached in a democracy, charges are preferred against him or her for whatever alleged offences that they may have committed. A chance is given to them to defend themselves, even in a kangaroo court. I have waited patiently since yesterday as many versions of the story of this very disturbing, macabre incident unfold, but have not yet read anywhere about the offence(s) of the Speaker and the chance he was given to defend himself. Do you just get into the Chamber and pronounce the Speaker impeached just like that? I’m still struggling to understand the meaning of the madness of yesterday (9th July)! To make the whole drama look most idiotic, the ‘so-called’ lawmakers who carried out the ignoble act, were just only five in number out of a total number of 32 thirty-two, a far distance from a quorum. I don’t get it! To add insult to injury, the Governor of the state gave an order to a policeman to get the unruly and dangerous lawmaker [law-breaker] arrested and the policeman disobeyed, even in the very presence of the Commissioner of Police Mr. Mbu. This cannot happen even under a military rule. It happened once in Nigeria immediately after Gen. Aguyi Ironsi was senselessly wasted, and law and order totally broken, with the attendant near war situation. An ordinary foot soldier refused to take an order from Brigadier Ogundipe who was then the highest ranking army officer. The soldier told him (Ogundipe) in the face that he would only take order from his boss! Who was his boss? A far junior officer to Ogundipe.
Is Rivers State at a brink of war? Has Law and Order totally broken down in my State? The policeman who refused to carry out the Governor’s Order couldn’t have had the gut to do so without an instruction from his “boss” in that regard — a boss who should be reporting to Amaechi in the first place, being the Chief Security Officer of the state.
With what happened yesterday, the current Commissioner of Police in the state Mr. Mbu failed in his duty to provide security when it was most needed. Suppose Mr. Bipialaka’s (acclaimed speaker) supporters or thugs had obeyed their commander and shot the Governor; what would have happened could better be imagined than experienced. More so, with the CP present, but doing practically nothing!
For crying out loud, the CP’s duty should be reviewed as a matter of urgency, especially as there is clearly no love lost between him and the Governor, in the interest and safety of the State and its people.
If the account of Ibim Semenitari, the State Commissioner for Information and Communications, is authentic, then Mr. Evans Bipialaka should be arrested and investigated for giving instruction to thugs to “Shoot him (the governor)”, and for engaging in and instigating an illegal action that threatened Law and Order in the state”.
Segun Adeniyi, Spokesperson of the late President, Yar’Adua and a columnist with Thisday Newspaper seems to have a clearer piece of this funny and strange happenings in Rivers State in an article he titled, ‘What a National Disgrace’. According to him, “Such is the level of chicanery in our system today that 16 is officially recognised as a bigger number than 19 while a “majority” of five is now enough to impeach a speaker in a House of Assembly where there are 32 members; and as a commentator pointed out during the week, since the Bible says “one shall chase a thousand”, those five lawmakers are more than enough to also impeach the sitting governor! The problem, however, is that a system that encourages these kinds of perfidy is clearly endangered”. The Conference of Speakers of State Legislators of Nigeria through Mr. Inuwa Garba its Chairman and the Gombe State Assemble Speaker condemned the purported ousting of Rivers State House of Assembly Speaker Otelemeba Dan Amachree, saying it is unconstitutional and barbaric. “It has come to the notice of the Conference of the Speakers of State Legislators of Nigeria that five Honourable members of Rivers State House of Assembly with the aid of hoodlums allegedly invaded the Honourable House and announced the impeachment of the Speaker of the House, Right Honourable Otelemeba Dan Amachree and purported to have replaced him with Honourable Evans. “The Conference of Speakers do hereby condemns the action of the five Honourable members of that House in totality as it contravenes the Constitution. “Section 92 (2c) of the 1999 Constitution as amended provides that the Speaker could only be removed by the resolution of the House via the vote of not less than two-thirds majority of the entire members of that House. “In view of that Constitutional provision, five members alone cannot remove a Speaker of the House of Assembly of 32 Honourable members. This therefore, implies that the action of those five members is unconstitutional and null and void.” Garba urged the National Assembly “to declare action of the five honourable members as treason and commence process of taking appropriate constitutional action against them in order to save our democracy”.
NOW, THE QUESTION WE SHOULD BE ASKING IS THAT ARE THOSE ENGINEERING THE MESS IN RIVERS STATE ACTUALLY INTERESTED IN THE FUTURE OF THE POLITICS OF PRESIDENT JONATHAN?
In a previous article on the macabre dance in Rivers State, I have said Governor Amaechi is never the problem of President Jonathan actualizing his future political calculations, but some people who felt otherwise have continued to engineer one crisis or the other creating the impression that they are very interested in the future political feats of the President, while destroying all his democratic legacies and his feats these past few years. Today the institution of the Presidency in Nigeria has been reduced to an indecorous and unseemly status by those who feel that bringing down Amaechi is the solution to winning the 2015 presidential election not knowing that they are working towards bringing down the aspiration of Mr. President and can only said to have succeeded to bring his image and his person to scorn, if the statements by these great Nigerians and Institutions are anything to go by.
First to react to this macabre dance was the former Vice President Atiku Abubakar who expressed regret that the failure to punish similar crude attempts in the past such as the Ngige saga in Anambra State in July of 2004 had encouraged impunity among those seeking to impeach elected leaders by means other than that enshrined in the constitution. “It is sad that those who are seeking to subvert our nascent democracy are some of those who never fought for what many laid down their lives for. These persons are advised to take heed to the festering crisis in Egypt following a forced change of leadership in that country,” Atiku said.
Second, in its Editorial of July 12th titled ‘Jonathan’s rivers of shame’ the Nation Newspapers stated thus: “THE theatre of the absurd unfolding in Rivers State should give any patriotic and peace-loving Nigerian a sense of foreboding. With impunity in the air, the constitution in peril and official stamp from the high office of the presidency, the moral legitimacy of this republic is fast sliding downhill. By the week and recently by the day, the conflict between Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, and President Goodluck Jonathan, imbues the nation with nausea. Respect for law has swapped places with brigandage, and the average Nigerian watches as the President engages in a bestial war of proxies. The recent development has all the trappings of déjà vu. The first open show of power was the order to strand Governor Amaechi’s aircraft. The presidency failed to cloak it as a matter of technical procedure without political undertone. Findings from investigations have exposed not only the imbecilities of the aviation authorities but also revealed them as couriers of malicious orders. The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) election has showcased, more than any other evidence, the desperation of the president. After defying the rules of aircraft landing, the necessity for peace, he and his proxy governors defied the purity of arithmetic by making 16 superior to 19 votes. He executed that anomaly purely in bungled bid to remove Governor Amaechi as chairman of the NGF. He also inspired the factionalisation of the group such that his loyalists now formed a parallel forum”.
Third, Lagos State chapter of the PDP described the crisis in Rivers State as “highly embarrassing.” Speaking in an exclusive chat with Daily Independent on Tuesday, Publicity Secretary of the party in the state, Taofik Gani, said the action of Rivers lawmakers was unbecoming because it is sending a wrong signal to the outside world about how democracy is being practiced in Nigeria. He added that politicians, as leaders and elder statesmen, must learn to resolve their differences amicably in the interest of the citizens of the state.
Similarly, the Action Congress of Nigeria, Accord Party and the National Coordinator of Northern Politicians, Academician and Professional Businessman [CNAPAPB] Dr. Junaid Muhammed have in their statements called for the immediate impeachment of Mr. President as a recourse to saving our democratic principles from further ignobility.
The Jigawa state chapter of the PDP condemned the political crises and fracas in the River state House of Assembly saying “it is real unfortunate and quick attention is needed to save the situation“.
Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka while lending his voice on the matter, blamed President Goodluck Jonathan for the political crisis rocking Rivers State, warning that Nigeria was fast sliding towards monarchism; the system of government where too much power is vested in one person”.
Human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana said it was regrettable that exactly 10 years after a group of thugs attempted to abduct a sitting governor in Anambra State, another set of thugs attempted to undermine democratic institutions in Rivers State. Falana said the silence of President Jonathan on the unfortunate development in Rivers State was tantamount to an endorsement of the political crisis. “We have been through this route before. We must tell them that we are not a conquered people. The case of Rivers is more absurd, more odious, where five members of the assembly aided by the state invaded the Assembly chambers and chased away their colleagues”.
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Governor Muazu Babangida of Niger State, Speaker of the Kwara State House of Assembly, Razak Atunwa and a non-governmental organisation, Stop Impunity Nigeria (S.I.N.) all deplored the mayhem in the State House of Assembly.
The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) on their own side has threatened to suspend operations over the crisis rocking the Rivers State House of Assembly.
To the National Labour Congress (NLC) the anti-Amaechi lawmakers are desperados; describing the acts as shameful. “While it is unimaginable and ridiculous in a democracy that five members of the House of Assembly would contemplate impeaching a speaker who enjoys the support of 26 other members. It is a shameful tactics employed by the combatants in their desperation for power,” Omar added that the disturbing part was the ignoble role of the police in the crisis. “It is not helpful for the Presidency to continuously deny the stoking of crisis in the state. The travails of the Rivers State Governor, Mr. Rotimi Ameachi, in recent times and the reaction of stalwarts in government and the ruling party are apparent indicators that the Presidency cannot absolve itself from the crisis in the state. The threat to withdraw security to the Governor, which is guaranteed by the constitution, and the sour relationship between Amaechi and the state Commissioner of Police, whom he has called for redeployment and the request turned down, are clear pointers to the complicity of the Federal Government,” NLC argued.
Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and the Environment Rights Action/Friends of the Earth, Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) in a statement signed by its Executive Director, Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani), said Nigerians considered it embarrassing and appalling, the unfolding scenario that made members of the Rivers State House of Assembly to resort to uncivilised action and barbarism reminiscent of the jungle. “We are alarmed at the preceding events which indicated an attempt by five legislators in a house of 32 members purportedly impeaching the Speaker and replacing him. This act, which is a flagrant disregard of all laid down rules of the House and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is not only illegal, unlawful and undemocratic, it is also immoral, retrogressive and a threat to
To Anthony Cardinal Okogie, Archbishop Emeritus of Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos, “I condemn the crisis in the Rivers State House of Assembly. More importantly, it is very disappointing to see our so-called honourables exchanging blows like gangsters.“Such an act, if not checkmated, is an invitation to terrorism and gangsterism. I call on every right thinking Nigerian to rise and speak against such unruly conduct by men who are supposed to be making laws of our land.
Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) National Leader Asiwaju Bola Tinubu in his reaction stated, “However, we all know the truth but most are afraid to speak. There are no way the police and small number of five lawmakers would act so brazenly, unless they receive instructions from their high places, attempted to impeach the Speaker. Nigerians must ask: Is this way the President Jonathan intends to transform Nigeria? By turning it from an imperfect democracy into a perfect mess? “In some ways, this Rivers episode is not surprising. What happened in the Rivers House is one more reminder. PDP leaders hold democracy in contempt and will trample on it, if given the slightest opportunity. If they invert the relatively small numbers involved in the Nigerian Governors Forum and the Rivers State House, what they might do to general elections involving such a large population as ours is a hard piece of wood to chew.”
My question is, must we continue in these acts of impunity and continue to give the image of Mr. President a negative outlook without Mr. President intervening to stop all these inimical acts geared towards creating unnecessary enemies for him?
But not minding all these provocative acts, Governor Amaechi have demonstrated uncommon leadership making his detractors and those that want him out to look dumb and confused!
INTERVENTION OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY.
Though the Senate has sent its Committee to visit Rivers State and investigate the matter the crisis in the assembly, the House of Representatives have in a resolution said it was taken over the affairs of the Rivers Assembly in a in bid to restore sanity to the State. In a unanimous voice vote, the House of Representatives, on Wednesday, invoked Section 11(4) of the 1999 Constitution as amended and resolved that the National Assembly should take over the functions of the crisis-ridden Assembly.
Also, the House resolved that the Inspector General of Police, Mr Mohammed Abubakar, should as a matter of urgency re-deploy the Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Mr Joseph Mbu.
The senator representing Rivers South-East in the National Assembly, Senator Magnus Abe, commended the timely intervention of the House of Representatives in the crisis in Rivers State. He said the unanimous position of members during the debate on Rivers Assembly crisis rekindled their commitment against undemocratic tendencies now creeping into the national polity. He said a situation where democratic institutions were abused and crippled by agencies established to protect democracy portended danger at the tunnel and urged other democratic institutions in the country not to sit and watch Nigeria’s hard earned democracy being wasted on the alter of political interest.
Anthony Cardinal Okogie, Archbishop Emeritus of Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos in a statement commended the House of Representatives for declaring legislative emergency in the state stating that such a step was necessary in order to safeguard the integrity of governance in the country.
The fact remains that many Nigerians and institutions have cried out for Governor Amaechi to be left alone but sadly, the more the pleas, the more those who want to continue to disparage the President will continue in acts capable of undermining the image of the present occupant of such exalted office.
Even as I congratulate Pastor Ayodele Oritsejafor on his well deserved re-election as CAN President, let me appeal to him to intervene and find a way out of this madness in Rivers State seeing that the two political leaders (Jonathan and Amaechi) have much respect for him and may listen to him as other pleas in this regard seem to have fallen on deaf ears.
Also, the General Overseer of Redeemed Church of God, Senior Pastor, Enoch Adeboye need to intervene in this mater, as the present faceoff between the two is already threatening Nigeria’ s democracy, hence these respected men of God should not watch from the sides.
I will conclude this article by quoting Alan Barth (1906–1979) an Author and a journalist specializing in civil liberties and best known for his 30-year stint as an editorial writer at the Washington Post when he stated that, “Thought that is silenced is always rebellious. Majorities, of course, are often mistaken. This is why the silencing of minorities is necessarily dangerous. Criticism and dissent is the indispensable antidote to major delusions”.
While to Woody Allen an American film director, writer, musician, actor and comedian must have foreseen our present sorrow state when he stated, “We stand today at a crossroads: One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other leads to total extinction. Let us hope we have the wisdom to make the right choice”.
>>Eze Chukwuemeka Eze Writes From Port Harcourt, Nigeria