It is time to end the costly crisis

Amid renewed threat of impeachment by some lawmakers, Rivers State governor Siminalayi Fubara has relocated the House of Assembly to the Government House, Port Harcourt. He claimed that the current state of the chamber is unsafe for legislation as it constituted a threat to lives. So, invariably we now have the executive and the legislature under the same roof making nonsense of the separation of powers doctrine without which there can be no transparency and accountability in governance. But we understand what led to this aberration.

The Rivers State House of Assembly has been engulfed in crisis since last October, after some lawmakers loyal to Fubara’s predecessor and current Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister, Nyesom Wike initiated impeachment proceedings against him. That development led to the bombing of a section of the assembly complex. The power tussle between Fubara and Wike has since split the 31-member assembly into two factions. What could trigger another round of violence is the fear that the residential quarters of the lawmakers, built only two years ago, may also be demolished after the unannounced visit of the governor last week. 

The crisis in Port Harcourt is clearly getting messier by the day and casting stark light on the country’s political landscape vitiated with power struggles and political instability. Although President Bola Tinubu has intervened twice to harmonise the relations between the warring parties, the political situation is still deteriorating badly. Indeed, Tinubu’s peace deal was observed more or less in the breach as each side does what they like. In the absence of a functioning House of Assembly, and with a politically embattled state chief executive, no semblance of governance and orderly social existence is now possible. In the meantime, the various challenges that confront the state like the rest of the country are worsening because politicians are fighting over control of public resources and ‘political structure’. As things stand, the people are the ultimate losers.

The present crisis in Rivers is unnecessary and seems simulated by vested interests. The move to impeach the governor is not only premature but reeks of political mischief. It showcases the assembly members as more interested in yet unstated matters than the good governance and peaceful progress of their state. But there must be a limit to meaningless politics. As this newspaper stated earlier in this space, Wike, a serving federal minister cannot be seen as acting in a manner that is likely to imperil the peace and security of his home state while being entrusted with the fate of the nation’s capital. He cannot continue to cheer on the legislators who are overheating the state by their actions. As a former governor, Wike must create room for his successor to improve on his achievements instead of endangering them, for the sake of the people. 

Similarly, Fubara cannot continue to conduct the business of government in contempt of the state legislature, the engine room of democracy. And he cannot, under any guise, assume the powers of the legislature in Rivers State. It is even more unfortunate that the judiciary has been dragged into the dirty politics that has nothing to do with the welfare of the people.

But this crisis also has serious national security implications and that is why the federal government cannot be insulated from it. Rivers remains one of the most strategic states in the country. It is the cosmopolitan home base of the nation’s oil and gas industry. It is home to the nation’s second most important sea access and marine economy. It boasts a few industries as well as manufacturing and hospitality concerns. President Tinubu must not allow petty politics in the state to endanger that axis of our national security.

Related Articles