• Thursday, July 18, 2024
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Verbal crossfire as APC’s Okocha calls for state of emergency in Rivers

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The caretaker committee chairman of the Rivers State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Tony Okocha, who was an aide to both Nyesom Wike and Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi at one time or the other, has attracted wild fire for calling for a ‘State of Emergency’ in Rivers State.

He said that the state was at war and that only the army can save it. He also accused Amaechi, his former boss, of being part of those who mortgaged the nation through massive loans from China.

These statements have attracted the wrath of both Governor Sim Fubara and Amaechi supporters.

Bullets from Okocha: State of Rivers State in the eye of the APC:

Rivers State is at war. Yes, Rivers State is at war. It is Sim versus Sim. The war is not just looming but is already upon us. I had to sneak out of a hospital where I was taking treatment because neighbours around there were afraid. Also, my security people hinted me that black jeeps were moving around our area

A General does not run away: Yes, let me tell you, a General does not run away. Even as characters from the creeks have filled the city, I will stand and do my work (inspection of NDDC projects). Heroes don’t run.

Origin of the LG crisis: This matter started on January 19, 2024, when the IPAC (Inter-Party Advisory Council) met and asked why the local council elections was not being heralded. The Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission (RSIEC) said they were ready but only waiting for logistics (funding).

I thus highlighted the need for LG elections when I spoke to the media after that meeting.

I said APC was ready too and that our party would win all the 390 wards and the 23 LGAs if election was held. That was when trouble reared its ugly head.

I had expected the governor to also boast of preparedness to win, after all, has there been any state where the opposition won any LG election? Instead, antagonism followed.

Today, this state is sitting on a keg of gun-powder. Many stages of the crisis and election preparation have already passed. But what is the reason for not conducting the election?

His excuse is that there is political tension in the land, but this has not stopped them from going round the 390 wards in the state to dance and do thanksgiving services or rallies.

The APC and the residents in the state are not part of this tension or war. The governor has brought it upon the state and upon himself.

Governor Fubara is not teachable: He does not take advice. He rejected the President’s advice on LGAs; advice from elders do not mean anything to him.

Macheting and robbing passersby at LGA secretariats is not necessary. It is bad. The dogs have been let loose. Criminality has taken over. Why all this desperation? The Supreme Court is about to deliver a position on this matter of LG autonomy, the Court of Appeal is about to (20th June) take a position on the aspect of legitimacy of tenure elongation, but the actions taken so far by the governor will undercut these judicial outcomes.

The Fubara group is lawless. They have gone ahead to invade the lGAs and the police is handicapped. The killings in Omuma were not necessary. The victim was a student leader in Elechi Amadi Polytechnic. Why not just conduct an election and let all this be over? He wants his men to man all the LGAs first. There is fear everywhere.

Demands:

The APC in Rivers State hereby calls for the declaration of a State of Emergency in Rivers State because we believe it’s the only way out.

Indices of war are everywhere. The FG should stop the anarchy. Remember that Rivers State is crucial in the economic survival of Nigeria.

The LG law has outlawed the use of caretaker and heads of personnel as heads of the councils. What if the Supreme Court or the Court of Appeal makes a declaration that is contrary to what has been installed?

The Rivers State House of Assembly did not create term elongation law; it merely domesticated a national law that said when the nation is unable to conduct election, the President can be empowered by the National Assembly to sit for six months in the first instance.

The police said they are tired of all this lawlessness.

When this trouble will go full blown, he (Fubara) will run away. Let the Army be deployed everywhere in Rivers State.

Arrows at Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi:

Why should the former minister and former governor say 84% of Nigerians do not like President Bola Ahmed Tinubu government? We want to know how he arrived at that figure. He contested against Tinubu at the APC primaries and lost a distant second, yet Tinubu led a delegation to all the contestants and asked for their input in the manifesto. It is on record that Amaechi did not reciprocate. His loyalists in Rivers State did not mention Tinubu’s name in their campaigns and voted against him.

This is a Minister who led in the borrowings that led Nigeria to where it is today. He served an administration that put Nigeria into economic straits.

We APC in Rivers State say he spoke for himself. His idiosyncrasies do not override the interest of Rivers State. Rivers people and Nigerians love President Tinubu. We of APC just met in Calabar in Cross River State and when this matter came up, we trashed it as untrue. We resolved to reaffirm our support for Tinubu even if he shows interest for 2027.

First to fire back: Darlington Nwauju:

Spokesperson of the elected APC executives in Rivers State.

My attention has been drawn to an address today June 19, 2024, by those parading themselves as caretaker committee members of the APC in Rivers State demanding for a declaration of ‘State of Emergency’ in Rivers State.

I wish to quickly inform the people of the State that the APC in Rivers State did not at any point in time hold any meeting amongst its members; or hold consultations amongst its leaders to decide that at this point in time, the best strategy or formula to nip in the bud the brewing political crisis is to demand for a ‘State of Emergency’.

There were no such consultations; there were no such meetings, and so it cannot stand as the aggregate opinion of members of the APC across the 390 wards in Rivers State.

So, I want to quickly dispel such a rumour, and dismiss it as unnecessary, as illogical, and as also unpatriotic. Rivers State must have other means to settle these political issues.

Do not forget that due to the strategic role Rivers State plays in the economy of Nigeria, one must be very careful in handling or making suggestions to possible ways and means to manage these challenges.

We hope as a political party that peace shall return completely across all the nooks and crannies of our dear Rivers State. So, fermenting troubles or causing confusion is not what the state requires at this point in time.

Our prayer remains that the God of Heaven shall cause peace that passeth all understanding on Rivers State.

May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Amaechi did not impoverish Nigeria

Many know that there are those who use blackmail to gain favours, the likes of Tony Okocha want to maximise benefits from the President Tinubu administration, and part of his task is to constantly malign the person of the former governor of Rivers State, Rt Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi.

Let me quickly say clearly, the railway loans were instruments carefully considered by Attorney-General’s office. And anybody who understands intricacies of offshore loans will agree with me that the terms and conditions for taking such instruments would be carefully considered by the Ministry of Justice. So, it is very important that I make this clear to him.

Again, part of the agreements for taking the loans used for the rails under Amaechi was that 50% of the accruals must go into payment of the loans. So, these loans are being repaid because of the self-liquidation mechanism.

Now, let me also mention that the railway infrastructure that was recently commissioned (PH-Aba) was fully paid for under Amaechi. Also, the Lekki Deep Seaport was also fully paid for under him. So, one wonders why the often-repeated accusation that Amaechi threw Nigeria into debt.

This steady deployment of opaque accusation of the person of the former Transportation Minister cannot reduce him or make him equal with Mr Tony Okocha in anyway. I day say so, and I stand to be challenged.

Eze Chukwuemeka Eze: An Amaechi ally:

Another staunch Amaechi ally, Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, described Okocha’s claims as hubristic exudation of crass ignorance, and said the call for ‘Emergency Rule’ in Rivers State was dead on arrival. Rebutting the call, Eze said it was the target of the FCT Minister to create an unhealthy and crisis-ridden environment in the state and use cronies like Okocha to push for ‘State of Emergency’ in the state.

Eze called on the President and Nigerians to disregard what he called the blabbing of the unstable and politically stranded person and their irks whose motives were in sharp contrast to the administrative precepts of President Tinubu. He said Gov Fubara is committed to realign Rivers on the path of progress.

The erstwhile national publicity secretary of the defunct New People’s Democratic Party (nPDP) and chieftain of the APC described what Okocha said about the former Transportation Minister as; “A noisy exudation of appalling savagery exhibited to sway unsuspecting members of the public into a perpetually futile scheme of smear campaign against the former Minister.”

Reacting further, Eze flayed Okocha for what he called flamboyant ignorance particularly over the loans from China to facilitate major rail and road projects in the country during the Muhammadu Buhari era which he said was a direct agreement between the Nigerian Government through the Ministry of Finance (on the one part) and the China (on the other part).

He restated that the terms of the loan were in compliance with the provisions of Section 41 (1a) of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007 and the low interest rate of 2.50% per annum reduces the Interest Cost to Government while the long tenor makes possible the repayment of the principal sum of the Loans over many years.

The impact of these Loans, especially on rail transportation, Eze noted, was evident, citing the Idu – Kaduna Rail Line which has become a major source of transportation between Abuja and Kaduna while the Lagos – Ibadan rail line has significantly eased traffic on the busy Lagos -Ibadan Expressway.

He said Okocha does not have the authority of Rivers APC to speak on their behalf in whatever capacity and every opinion expressed by the political jobber represents his personal view or the opinion of the interest he represents and should not be seen as the collective asseveration of committed party faithful in Rivers State.

Gov Fubara buries the matter:

Gov Fubara seemed to bury the matter when he made light the call for state of emergency in the state by Okocha. The governor rather said Rivers State and its people were enjoying an enduring atmosphere of peace to promote sustainable development, fast-paced investments, and accelerated economic growth.

He said the recent negative narrative that portrays the State as immersed in crisis with disrupted peace was untrue, misguided and was the handiwork of mischief makers.

Governor Fubara made the clarification when he spoke to newsmen in Egbelu Community, shortly after inspecting the progress of work on the 14.6km Omodu-Eberi Road project in Omuma Local Government Area on Thursday.

The Governor said it was important that Nigerians know of the uninterrupted peaceful atmosphere in the State because the people are going about their normal activities, while governance was thriving.

He stated: “And to also tell Nigerians that Rivers State is peaceful. You can see that we are moving about inspecting projects as against what you see on the screens of your television sets that police are everywhere, that we don’t move about anymore, and that Rivers State is under siege.

“We are not under siege. Our State is free and peaceful. If at all there is any problem in any part of the State, I know quite well that Nigerians know where the problem is coming from, not from us,” he clarified.

Gov Fubara emphasised: “We are peace-loving people. It is already written all over us. Our actions and our deeds have confirmed that we are peace-loving people.

“We will continue to maintain the peace that we promised everyone, for the betterment of the good people of Rivers State,” he added, and encouraged the business community, especially potential investors to take advantage of the vast investment opportunities that abound in the State.