Rivers crisis: Youth group secure airport as 8 governors visit Amaechi

by Rachel Ogbu

Rotimi Amaechi

Five  Action Congress of Nigeria governors –  Babatunde Fashola (Lagos); Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti); Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo);  Rauf Aregbesola (Osun); and Ibikunle Amosu (Ogun) and the  deputy governors  of  Imo State ( Eze Madumere);  Nasarawa (Dameshi  Luka),  and Muktar Ankar (Zamfara) have paid a solidarity visit  to  River Sate Governor  Rotimi Amaechi in Port-Hacourt.

Youths were said to have welcomed them at International Airport in Omagwa Rivers State whih was different from the reception four governors from the North received about two days ago when  youths believed to be  supporters of the  Minister of State for Education, Nyesom Wike, protested  and  had  pelted  some vehicles on Amaechi’s convoy with stones.

After the meeting, Fayemi reportedly said Amaechi had briefed them on the security situation in the state, they had also advised Amaechi to brief President Goodluck Jonathan on the dwindling security situation in the state.

They also urged the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Abubakar, to restore the confidence of the people in the state police command.

According to reports, Fayemi stated that the situation in the state  also required the moral authority of the President to solve.

“It is just to stress the importance of our concern  for the security of the citizens of Rivers State. We have met with our brother, the Chairman of our forum (Nigeria Governors’ Forum), Governor Amaechi,” he said.

“We  had extensive discussions; he has briefed us on the situation on the ground here (Rivers State) and we feel very strongly that having listened to him, that it will be quite important for him to actually go and brief Mr. President,  who is our leader and the chief security officer of this country on the very challenging security situation here in Rivers State.

“We believe that our chairman and brother, as the chief security officer of Rivers State, should go and brief Mr. President on the security situation in the state.

“It is also of importance for the   police authorities, especially the IG  to help in restoring the confidence of the people of Rivers State  in the Police Command here in Rivers State.

“We believe that the IG  is very well placed to help take the necessary steps to restore the confidence of the government, of the governor and the people and every step that is crucial to making these  possible is an aspect that we believe that Mr. President can address.”

[READ: Rivers crisis: There was no attack on the northern governors’ convoy – Police ]

The Punch reports:

At the airport on Thursday, the youths said to be members of the Ikwerre Youths Movement, ensured that no opponent had a space to spring any surprise that could embarrass Amaechi and his visitors, who were driven straight to the Government House, Port Harcourt.

Fayemi explained though the National Economic Council was holding in Abuja on Thursday (yesterday), their  presence in Rivers State  did not mean the denigration of the meeting.

“We believe Mr. President,  being our leader, we are all President’s men;  we are all President’ s governors, he is our leader and we feel that he actually occupies a very critical position that necessitates wielding his moral authority in ensuring peace reigns here and that nobody uses him by subterfuge to create situations that are entirely avoidable.

“The tension in Rivers State is entirely avoidable and we want all parties to sheathe their swords and to help restore the peace and security here.”

Also,  Ankar  said, “We   advised him (Amaechi)  to meet with the President to discuss with him so that we can find a way out of this crisis which is avoidable. We  believe that his meeting with the President will actually bring this crisis  to an end  and strengthen  democracy in Nigeria.”

But the Peoples Democratic Party in the state and the state government differed on the visit by the  opposition parties’ governors.

While the PDP   insisted  that the visit  was a sign that Amaechi  had moved to the opposition,  the  government  said that the Ikwerre-born politician was still an ardent member of the PDP.

The PDP, in  a statement signed by the Special Adviser, Media, to the State Chairman, Mr. Jerry Needam, argued  that the   solidarity visit  to Amaechi had  justified its petition against the governor.

The party said, “It’s no longer hidden that Governor Amaechi has pitched his tent with the opposition where he belongs but only plans to destroy the PDP in Rivers State before leaving finally.

“One clear quality of Gov Amaechi is that he does not leave anybody in the dark as to his moves and plots as proved by the solidarity visits of four northern governors on Tuesday, July 16, 2013 and that of the Action Congress of Nigeria governors, the Congress for Progressive Change governors and All Progressives Grand Alliance governor today; Thursday, July 18, 2013 in Port Harcourt.”

But the  Chief Press secretary to the Governor, Mr. David Iyofor, told The  PUNCH in a telephone interview that Amaechi was still in the PDP.

Iyofor argued that since the governor  is the NGF  Chairman , it was not out of place for  members of the forum  to pay solidarity visit to him over the situation in the state.

Iyofor described the allegation that Amaechi had left the PDP as the handiwork of mischief makers.

He said, “The governor has not left the PDP. Those making such a statement should realise that Amaechi is the NGF  chairman  and other governors can decide to pay  him  a solidarity visit because of  the challenges in the state.

“Again as a governor, other governors may want to visit him (Amaechi) as their colleague. So, the solidarity visit by some governors today (Thursday) has nothing to do with the Rivers State Governor leaving the PDP. He is still a member of the PDP.”

Also, the Chief of Staff, Government House, Port Harcourt, Mr. Tony Okocha, recalled that PDP governors also paid solidarity visit to Amaechi, wondering why the visit  by the opposition parties’ governors  was being  misinterpreted.

Okocha explained that there was nothing wrong in governors coming to the state to see the “impunity from Wike and his cohorts”.

“The governors that came to visit are saying no to what is happening in the state. Apart from that, Nigerians are watching and they know the reason for the crisis in the state. The fact is that Amaechi still remains an ardent member of the PDP,” he said.

Meanwhile, a  former  Head of State, Gen.  Abdulsalami Abubakar,  has  described the lingering crisis in Rivers State  as unfortunate.

Abdulsalami,  at an interactive session with newsmen in Minna on Thursday , therefore advised  politicians  to put a break to the crisis so that the country’s democracy  would not be truncated.

He said,  “The  happenings in Rivers State are quite bad. Politicians should try to  reflect on what they are doing in order not to truncate democracy in this country.  They should  check themselves. But certainly, what is  happening  in Rivers State is unfortunate.”

Abubakar also spoke on the situation in both the North and South Sudan, where he has been very much involved in ensuring a lasting peace.

On this, he said, “We  have been making efforts and there is peace in North and South Sudan. South Sudan marked her  second  independence anniversary  four days ago. So we have been involved and trying to make sure that peace reigns in these  countries and that is what we have been doing on behalf of the African Union ”.


One comment

  1. The likes of Wike and his cohorts have no love for the Rivers people. I however think that the visit of the governors to their NGF Chairman was the right thing to do. Am not a fan of Amaechi or any other politician but the anti-Amaechis haven’t done well. PERIOD!

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