Jonathan: Fubara, Wike Are Like Two Elephants, Rivers Will Suffer from Their Feud

•Warns their quarrel could sink into regional, national crisis

•Says governor, minister must work together for collective good

Chuks Okocha in Abuja and Blessing Ibunge in Port Harcourt

Former President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, said the disagreement between Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT,  Nyesom Wike, and Rivers State Governor Siminalayi Fubara was like two elephants fighting, while the people of the state would bear the brunt.

Jonathan appealed to the duo to ceasefire, warning that the quarrel can snowball into a bigger regional or national crisis with greater consequences if not nipped in the bud.

The former president, who gave the advice while performing the flag-off of a multi-billion naira Trans-Kalabari Road project, at Rumuolumeni community in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area, urged the two leaders to work together for the collective good of the people of the state.

While commending the efforts of some leaders, who had intervened in the festering political crisis, Jonathan addressed the problems associated with transition of governments in Nigeria, and the crisis it often came with.

He stated, “There is this common saying that when two elephants fight, the grass suffers. Both the governor and the minister are young people, very 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.

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

“Rivers State is very critical in this country. Rivers State is the heart of the Niger Delta. If Rivers State is destabilised, the whole Niger Delta will be destabilised.

“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.”

Jonathan said, “Leaders must know that nobody takes 100 per cent. You must learn the principle of give and take. So, our political actors most work together if you love Rivers people.

“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-emphasise that there is the need for a ceasefire. Let us do things that will rather project this state positively.”

The former president added, “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.”

Jonathan explained that even at the federal level, where presidents had taken over from presidents, disagreements had been better managed, regretting that it has been worse at the state level.

He emphasised that outgoing governors and incoming ones must know that they had to work together for the collective interest of their states. He urged them to address their minds to the need for mutual acceptance.

Jonathan, however, commended Fubara for his vision, commitment and courage to take up the construction of such road that had numerous benefits, including making movement easy, enhancing response time to security issues, and promoting integration and economic growth.

He stated, “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 by providing the 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.

On his part, Fubara assured the people that his administration was determined to deliver the Trans-Kalabari Road project to stimulate socio-economic activities in rural communities for the overall development of the state.

The governor advised the people to buy into the project and ensure that they warded off any form of sabotage that might delay or frustrate timely completion of the project.

He noted the difficult swampy terrain that the road would traverse, and the associated cost, but said he had decided to embark on the project.

Fubara said the project was at heart of his administration’s principle of putting the wellbeing and advancement of the people first.

The governor maintained that there was money saved from Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) and federal allocations to fund the project to completion without borrowing, which was why 30 per cent of the contract sum had already been paid to mobilise the contractor to site in order to deliver on schedule.

Fubara thanked Jonathan for accepting to perform the flag-off of the project because he understood the magnitude of the project and the transportation needs it would address.

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