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Rivers crisis must not be allowed to spread, destabilise Nigeria – Goodluck Jonathan

Rivers crisis must not be allowed to spread, destabilise Nigeria – Goodluck Jonathan

Goodluck Jonathan, former president of Nigeria from the south-south, has warned that on no account should the political crisis be allowed to spread and threaten Nigeria.

Jonathan who flagged off the N225.1Bn Trans-Kalabari highway starting from the outskirts of Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Monday, May 20, 2024, said the crisis could destabilise Rivers State and the south-south and them swirl into Nigeria’s larger political space.

He said: “Rivers State is very critical in this country. Rivers State is the heart of the Niger Delta. If Rivers State is destabilized, the whole Niger Delta will be destabilized, and it will not end within the Niger Delta alone because I am from this part of the country, and I know how the system works. We don’t want any crisis in Rivers State.”

The former president also cautioned on sharing of political spoil, saying: “Leaders must know that nobody takes 100%. You most learn the principle of give-and-take. So, our political actors must work together if you love Rivers people.”

He said he preferred to join the leaders that were working for peace and reconciliation between the former governor, Nyesom Wike, now minister of the FCT, and his political son, Gov Sim Fubara. “”And, I join the leaders of Rivers State and well-meaning Nigerians who have been calling for truce, who have been calling for ceasefire, to also re-emphasize that there is the need for a ceasefire. Let us do things that will rather project this State positively.”

Political war in the state began when Jonathan was president and his wife (Patience) and then minister of state for education (Wike) were fingered as those who vowed to overthrown the then Rivers governor, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi. Many said no effort came from Aso Rock to reconcile Amaechi and Wike, thus Amaechi lost out and lost the ability to install a successor.

Now, it is between Wike and the person he handpicked to be his successor. The crisis threatens development because of unending threats of and attempted impeachment.

Jonathan now says it is dangerous to allow such crisis to grow.

Performing the flag-off, Jonathan commended Gov Fubara for his vision, commitment, and courage to take up the construction of such road. He said the road has numerous benefits of making movement easy, enhancing response time to security issues, promoting integration, and boosting economic growth.

He said, “When I was asked to come and flag-off this project, I felt that it is only a person who has vision and the commitment to develop his people that can do this.

“Your Excellency, let me commend you for your vision and the courage to start this project. In fact, it is not going to be a tea party. If you must develop a nation, region or state, there are critical elements that count. These are good road network, airport, rail and water transport systems as well as security,” he said

He said that by providing these enablers, development would thrive in the State, and thanked the governor for daring to dream big, and venture into projects that previous administrations had avoided.

The former president, who commended efforts of some leaders who had intervened in the festering political crisis in Rivers State, also asked both Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Wike, and Gov Fubara to ceasefire so that the crisis does not snowball into a bigger regional and national challenge with greater consequences.

The former president noted the problems associated with transition of governments in Nigeria, and crisis that it has come with.

He explained that even at the centre, where presidents have taken over from presidents, it has been better managed, but regretted that it is worse at the state level. He warned that it is not the best.

The Bayelsa-born former president emphasised that outgoing governors and incoming ones must know that they have to work together for the collective interest of the citizenry of their states. He urged them to address their minds to the need for such mutual acceptance.

He added, “In this case of Rivers, Minister Wike and Gov Fubara must work together for the development of the land and the people of Rivers State. The tension will not help us.

Speaking further, the former president stated: “There is this common saying that when two elephants fight, the grass suffers. Both the governor and the minister are young people, but they are powerful, and if you continue to fight, Rivers people will suffer. We don’t want the Rivers people to suffer.

“So, we are calling on them to embrace themselves. One hand does not clap. It takes two hands to clap. So, we want them to work together for the collective interest of Rivers people.

“Whatever has happened has passed. Let us move to a new phase for the interest of the State, for the interest of the Niger Delta, and indeed, the interest of the country,” he added.

In his description of the project, Permanent Secretary, Rivers State Ministry of Works, Atemea Briggs, said Gov Fubara was making true his commitment of providing infrastructure that promote socio-economic growth and urban expansion.