Rivers Crisis: Pressures mount on Gov Fubara to dump PDP

Fubara

On Thursday, the raging political crisis in Rivers statetook another interesting twist. The judgment of the Appeal Court in Abuja gave some degree of reprieve to Martins Amaewhule and his group of 26 Assembly members.

The judgment sparked a wild jubilation in the camp of the former Governor and serving minister of the FCT, Nyesom Wike. It gave the minister some edge over Governor Siminalayi Fubara in the ongoing political war of attrition. Wike’s ardent supporters were seen dancing and jubilating all over the state based on their relative interpretations of the judgment. The ruling further choked the political system in Rivers and further ignited the raging political tension.

The Appeal court’s judge in the ruling held that the Rivers State High Court in Port Harcourt lacked the jurisdiction to rule on the validity of the defection by Martins Amaewhule and his colleagues.

In its reaction to the judgment, G-60 Federal Opposition Lawmakers Coalition in the National Assembly argued that the Pro-Wike 27 sacked Rivers lawmakers remain sacked, their seats remaining vacant as the Appeal Court didn’t decide on the validity of their illegal decampment nor the declaration of their seats vacant. The Coalition’s spokesperson, Hon Ikenga Ugochinyere said the Appeal Court only declared that the Federal High Court was the appropriate court with jurisdiction to decide on the legality or illegality of decampment thereby ruling against the decision of the Rivers State High Court.

But Chief Tony Okocha, the caretaker committee chairman of APC in Rivers state responded that “Justice was served, the reasoning adduced by the venerated Justice of the Court of Appeal under which stood the bedrock of their unanimous decision, is very sound and unimpeachable”

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Calls to exit PDP
In view of the raging imbroglio in the state, some persons sympathetic to the state Governor, Siminalyi Fubara, have suggested a defection from the PDP, following the obvious lack of support from the leadership of the PDP both at the state and national levels despite the governor’s plight.

Franklin Ntekim, a political commentator in the state explained that with the seeming neglect of the Governor by the national leadership of the PDP, “it is obvious that he does not enjoy the support of the party. It is also clear that the FCT minister must have won the party to himself and thereby made the PDP in the state to be toxic to the governor. I want him to leave the PDP. I also don’t see why the former Vice President and the Presidential candidate of the 2023 elections, Atiku Abubakar has refused to visit the Governor in the face of the battles he is going through. It is very difficult to believe. It clearly shows a party that does not care for its own but dances to the whims and caprices of a single man”.

Solomon Lenu, a human rights activist was also in support of the call for Fubara to exit the PDP.

According to him, “He (Fubara) cannot win any election in the state if he remains in the PDP to conduct the LG election in October. The state chairman of the PDP is the Minister’s loyalist. Remember that he refused to attend the stakeholders meeting last Monday by the state electoral commission, RSIEC. My fear is that the party may not give the tickets to the Governor’s candidates for the election.

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This is why the Governor should not hesitate to look elsewhere to save his political career”. On which party the governor should go to, the Convener of the Ogoni development Drive, ODD, said “SDP or Accord party may be okay. I will not want him to make a mistake of going to the Labor Party because its national leadership has been bought over by certain powerful forces in Abuja. The two parties mentioned earlier have a bit of popularity in the state. I would have preferred the Labor party, but that has been blocked by these forces”.

Recall that in April, 60 PDP lawmakers in the House of Representatives demanded the resignation of the party’s acting National Chairman, Umar Damagum, for failing to address the political crisis in Rivers state. The 60 lawmakers led by the PDP member representing Ideato North/Ideato South Federal Constituency, Imo State, Ikenga Ugochinyere, accused Damagum, of, among others, taking sides with Wike and working for the APC, a party that gave Wike the FCT ministerial appointment.

“Have Nigerians wondered why Damagum kept quiet while 27 members of Rivers State House of Assembly elected on the platform of PDP left the party? He kept quiet while they were threatening to impeach a governor in his party. Nigerians will be shocked to hear that Umar Damagum was consulted and was fully aware of the entire details of the plot to impeach the Rivers State Governor, and he gave his approval to the plot, yet he refers to himself as a chairman of a party. The shamelessness in this entire episode is limitless”, Ugochinyere had alleged.

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Diffusing the call for Governor’s defection, the director general of Simplified Movement, Governor Fubara’s grass root political group, Hon Evans Bapakaye Bipi, said “the governor is the leader of PDP in Rivers state. He has not given us the direction of where to go. Wherever he wants us to go, we will go there”, he said. Bipi. a former Chief Whip in the House of Assembly said the Appeal Court judgment was “fair”. He said that the Judge was right when he said that the High Court in Port Harcourt lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the case. “There was no declarative judgment. The Judge did not talk about defection. For now, we have two parallel Assembly”, Bipi said.

Responding to the call for Fubara’s defection, an elder statesman and leader of the pan-Niger Delta Elders forum, PANDEF, Chief Anabs Sara-Igbe said it was too early to start agitation for the governor to leave the PDP. “To me, the game is becoming clearer. But it is too early for that”.
Sara-Igbe, a one time security adviser to the Rivers state government said “if the governor is not comfortable with his party, he can leave. It is clear that the present leadership of the PDP is tilting towards another direction. Like I said, it is too early in the day. Let us wait and see how things unfold, maybe in 2027”.

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