Rivers Crisis and Mr. President’s Obligation – By Ibinabo Jack
It is not known for real men to deny hard truth. No matter what, they face it. This is the quintessence of man’s moral obligation of existence on earth. But the continuous refutation of the presidency of its contribution in the man-made crises that have been rocking Rivers State, betrays this spirit of truth expected of every person, let alone, of the status of the president.
It is evident that there are a lot of comments endorsed to President Goodluck Jonathan through his aides and his strong wife in the political imbroglio in Rivers State. It could be recalled that on
Thursday, 04 July 2013, a group of called “leaders and elders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State” visited Jonathan at the State House, Abuja, on a camaraderie visit. There were statements that Mr. President made, which in some quarters, comments were that he was directing the avowals to Gov. Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State
The acting deputy national chairman of the party, Chibudom Nwuche; factional state chairman, Chief Felix Obuah; former governor of Rivers State, Dr Peter Odili; Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Ms Ama Pepple; former deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Austin Opara; factional state secretary of the PDP, Walter Opuene; Abiye Sekibo, Fred Kpakol, Evans Bipi and amongst others, were among the delegation. You wonder what these persons paid a commonality visit to Jonathan for. To rally against Amaechi, of course.
While receiving the delegation, Mr. President warned that indiscipline would no longer be tolerated in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The delegation insisted that Amaechi can leave the party. They told Jonathan this. And he did not caution them. PDP had suspended Amaechi, with conditions given to him, which no member of the party can meet. Mr. President, as the national leader of the party, didn’t speak against that movement.
Odili, speaking at the meeting, reportedly said that there is no human problem without a human solution; what is important is for ‘them’ to recognise that at any point in time, respect for authority, respect for the rule of law, discipline will be the guiding principles that will make human beings run whatever system of society they are running in an orderly fashion. He added that his assurance to Jonathan on behalf of the ‘new’ leadership of the party in the Rivers State, is that Jonathan will see an end to these ‘open exchanges’ that put the Rivers State PDP in bad light.
Mr. President assured them that he has listened to the introductions and being a Rivers person, he knows key political actors in Rivers State, the who’s who in Rivers State. And they are the ones that paid him the visit. He thanked them for what he described as, “building this political structure for the state, for the interest of Rivers State and to position Rivers State in the politics of the country”.
That was the expression of delight by Jonathan, for the visit these persons paid him in what many observers have ascribed as, against Amaechi, knowing full well that the legitimacy of the factional Obuah-led executive was being challenged in court.
There was also a statement that was credited to the Chairman of Police Service Commission (PSC), former Inspector General of Police, Mike Okiro, in the saga. Okiro had said that his Commission was only interested in the role of the police in the fracas at the Rivers State
House of Assembly. He refused to see from his preconceived-notion spectacle. Was he not interested in how Mbu Joseph Mbu keenly allowed ruffians take over the state Assembly and chase away 27 legislators, leaving the unabashed-five to do their preposterous drama, which
compelled the governor to place a call across and Mbu refused to pick his calls. Mbu was only interested in protecting certain interest and, not to protect the public peace?
President Jonathan has refused to pay heed to the incessant clarion calls by Governor Amaechi that Mbu has thrown professionalism to the winds in pursuing his narrow agenda at the expense of the security of the state. Part of Amaechi’s calls is that Mbu is a ‘political policeman’ and has worsened the security situation in the state since he assumed office in February 2013, by undermining the authority of the Governor as the Chief Security Officer of his state; undermining the security structure put in place by the State Security Council and compromising the Council to such an extent that members no longer speak their minds freely during meetings. The governor went further to say that these are the issues Nigerians expect a non-partisan PSC to
address, with a view to sanctioning whoever it is that paved the way for the disgraceful show that was put up under the klieg light last week (July 9). While the PSC will be right to sanction even the policemen shown to have acted badly that day, the sanctions must extend to their bosses who allowed that to happen.
But would Mr. President support Amaechi in these calls? Are they not glaring facts? The presidency continues to rebuff what has been known as sacrosanct and truth: Its hand in the chaos. Was it not the show of desperation in the second term ambition of Mr. President comes 2015, that the presidency took Amaechi as a foe and wants to cast him out by magic or design? The presidency had set up what is known today as the Peoples Democratic Party Governors Forum (PDPGF), to cause chasm in the once ebullient Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), of which Amaechi is the chairman of the later. What did Jonathan say about the formation of the PDPGF? Did he not prefer the deserter-PDPGF of Governor Godswill Akpabio to NGF of Gov. Amaechi? Wike also instituted the factional Obuah-led PDP in Rivers State, which was said to have sacked the G. U Ake-led PDP in Rivers State, through an opaque court order.
What did the president say?
The height of crises in Rivers State heightened to its crescendo since that not-transparent court order. And President Jonathan and his presidency are still playing the ostrich, by telling the world that they are innocent. Without mincing words, the wife of the president, Patience, preferred the contention of Hon. Evans Bipi for the Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, to the authentic Speaker of the House, in the person of Hon. Dan Amachree.
No gainsaying the fact that Bipi is from Okrika, just as Patience. We all know what played out in August 2010, when Dame Jonathan visited Okrika in Rivers State. Did she not treat a sitting governor, Amaechi, as if, he was her school pupil? Critics had said that she did that because of a development, which the Rivers State Government intended to visit an Okrika waterfront with. And that this move was not pleasing to Mrs. Jonathan, hence she scolded Amaechi in the public.
This single act attracted a worldwide condemnation. But while the world condemned Dame Jonathan for that foul-mouth behavior, the tone we indirectly heard from the presidency after that unattractive episode, was “Hosanna, in the highest”. Not condemnation. Why? The Tuesday 9 July, 2013, drama, where Bipi led a group of five (dis)honourable members of the House to impeach Amachree, but was botched, also unfolded a lot.
While the world was in a sober reflection, the song we got from Wike was that Rivers residents should be ready for war. What do we know as treason, if not this kind of statement? Did President Jonathan call Wike to order, being a serving Minister? No. So, why would Mr.
President continue to deny any link with the crises in Rivers State? Does he not know that he has not called any of these persons fuming and drumming for war to order? Rather, he was asking the major players in the crises to allow the constitution and the rule of law to triumph. Does the “constitution and the rule of law” that Jonathan meant here to be the unedited words of his wife to Amaechi, the drum of war that Wike has been beating, and the unwarranted attacks on the
personality of Amaechi by the czar of the police in Rivers State and sundry issues?
If there are actions to put to a stop, they should be the presidency’s flesh of Esau, but the voice of Jacob in the heightening political abracadabra in Rivers State. Nothing more! There was no better pristine act that we have experienced in Rivers State, than the public affront that Dame Jonathan reeled out on Amaechi on her 2010 visit. Need say more?
As a wife and mother, she refused to resolve her harboured animosity against Amaechi, when she visited Okrika in that year. Yet, Mr. President is denying his involvement in the Rivers State crises!
Whether Nigeria now has two presidents, the same Patience who was regarded in many quarters as the brain behind the crises in Rivers State, but most especially, the one of July 9, issued a statement through her Special Assistant on Media, Ayo Osinlu, saying that all the parties in the fight should sheathe their swords. Then, you wonder what Constitutional right has the office of the First Lady that Madam Jonathan is carrying herself so much, above the board, issuing press
releases at the same time with her husband’s.
In accounts credited to some members of the River State House of Assembly, they had said that it was the script of Patience handed to Bipi that he was acting. Remember that Patience was the Mother of the Day at Bipi’s wedding. She had raised the hand of Wike and proclaimed him as the leader of the PDP in Rivers State. How else is crisis brewed? Remember that Amaechi is the governor. Did she also not call Amaechi an embarrassment to the state that refused to carry his
admirers and followers along? Did she, again, not say that Rivers State had lost its glory under Amaechi?
Evident of that script was when on that chaotic day at the Rivers State Assembly, Bipi fought to die, because of an alleged insult that his colleague meted out to Patience, a woman Bipi regards as his Jesus Christ. On video during the turmoil, Bipi, the arrow head of the confusion, was heard saying that he was carrying out the orders of “Mummy” in the following statement: “Why must he be insulting my mother, my Jesus Christ on earth?” asked irked Bipi. “I have no mother. Dame Patience Jonathan is my mother”.
Conversely, it was not out of place when the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), called for the removal of President Goodluck Jonathan over the crises rocking the Rivers State House of Assembly, culminating into the entire state. ACN was very apt and fast to see the flawed position of Mr. President and his presidency in the whole situation. And if there was no fight between the President and Amaechi, as Mr. President wanted us to believe, why did he say through Doyin Okupe after the fight in the Rivers State House of Assembly that, Amaechi was too ‘small’ politically for him to fight with? A very irritating statement, you may say.
Gov. Amaechi has continued to show excess maturity in the whole crises. It is his boldness that flatterers of Mr. President erroneously see and characterise as, undermining the Presidency. What Jonathan meant when he said that Amaechi was too small politically for him to fight, was apparently that Jonathan is too big to listen and is always showing a carriage of too big to serve? If not, how could he not have been able to recognise the NGF’s election in which 19 governors voted for Amaechi, as against his candidate in the person of Governor Jona Jang that had 16 votes. In Jonathan’s scientific mirror, is 16 greater than 19? But we could recall that Jang once said that he did not plan for the post, but was drafted into the race…
President Jonathan, with his wife, has been undermining Amaechi. Are Governors Akpabio, Dickson, and Barr. Wike and a host of others not drafted against Amaechi in this fight? Was it not on President Jonathan’s orders that the Commissioner of Police Mbu, withdrew security attaches to Amaechi? What did Mr. President do when a whole National Assembly asked that Mbu be redeployed? Amaechi has even written a letter to Jonathan in respect to that. Has Mbu been redeployed? Before the fight at the Assembly, did Dame Jonathan not have a secret meeting with the five anti-Amaechi legislators in order to carve a way to impeach the Speaker and Amaechi? Did Jonathan allow his security to pave way for Amaechi to exchange pleasantries with him during what is known as Jonathan’s dinner night? Is President Jonathan fooling who, when he said that his hands are not in the Rivers State crisis?
It is in the news bulletins that President Jonathan felt Governor Amaechi, as the NGF chairman, controls the 36 states governors against him. So, to whittle Amaechi’s financial muscles, Rivers State oil wells were ceded to Bayelsa, Jonathan’s home state. And Akwa Ibom State of Gov. Akpabio, shared in that ceding. But apart from these, it would be very essential if President Jonathan should stop showing this trait of extreme power quest. Assuming Amaechi had political ambition in 2015, what is wrong with that in a democracy? As have been advised by Prof. Wole Soyinka, Mr. President should call his wife to order, who, unarguably, has taken the status of a demi-god. What we expected from Mr. President was to tackle the issue of insecurity, joblessness, power outage, pit-of-hell called federal roads, healthcare, manufacturing and so on that are devastating the country and, not to engage Amaechi in outlandish fights today and would place refutations by tomorrow.
Ibinabo Jack, Correspondent with Pilot Group, wrote from Port Harcourt. Email: email@example.com
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