The Presidency said yesterday that the nation’s democracy is not threatened by the Rivers State crisis, contrary to the position of some eminent citizens.
It declared that the crisis is “purely a localised political matter” which has “no dangerous or far reaching consequences for the peace and security of the nation”.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Communication Dr. Doyin Okupe, in a statement, also called on the five northern governors who visited Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi in Port Harcourt last week to stop crying wolf where there is none.
Okupe accused Dr Babangida Aliyu (Niger), Sule Lamido (Jigawa), Musa Kwankwaso (Kano) and Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), all Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governors, of deliberately trying to heat up the system in Rivers State through their actions and utterances.
Okupe also faulted the visit of Lamido, Aliyu, Kwankwaso and Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto) to two former military leaders — Generals Ibrahim Babangida and Abdulsalami Abubakar— in Minna where they urged them to intervene in the crisis. But he praised the visit of the progressive governors, saying they showed patriotism.
Okupe said: “We are compelled to react to the unfolding political drama emanating from recent activities of some governors from the northern part concerning political developments in Rivers State.
“These political moves, which are clearly intended to create fear, despair and sense of apprehension among the citizenry are grossly unfounded, misplaced and a deliberate over sensationalization of the situation.
“Insinuations and statements (by the governors) suggesting that Rivers State is on fire are grossly unfounded. So far, as it is evident to every discerning observer of political developments, the state is calm and peaceful.
“Residents of the state continue to go about their various businesses, religious, social and political activities under peaceful atmosphere. A key pointer to the prevailing peace in the state is the fact that Governor Amaechi, the Chief executive and Chief security Officer of the state, felt confident enough to travel to the United Kingdom on official assignment.
“It is doubtful he would have had the luxury of leaving the country if his state is in turmoil as is being canvassed”.
The President’s aide restated his earlier position that the Rivers crisis remained a local political wrangling among competing interests which has no consequences on the nation’s political stability whatsoever.
Justifying his position, Okupe continued: “Since our return to democratic rule in 1999, it is on record that not less than 12 states have witnessed incidents of attempted impeachment of Speakers of Houses of Assembly in Nigeria and none has posed any threat to peace and security in the country even when our democracy was not this established.
“Developments in Rivers State do not pose any threat to our democracy. Our democracy remains robust, alive and well. In politics as in every sphere of human activity, different shades of opinion on issues are not uncommon within the polity but often get resolved either politically or through legal channels.
” It is therefore disingenuous for anyone to suggest that the political disagreement in Rivers State would imperil and ultimately derail our democracy.
“We recall that in Ogun State in 2010 after series of sustained fracas and attempts at impeachment and counter impeachment, the Inspector General of Police locked up the House of Assembly for several months.
“In all that time, nobody in the whole country suggested that the situation was a threat to our nascent democracy, and no state governor went on any solidarity visit.”
Okupe reminded the governors that rather than the Rivers crisis, the Boko Haram insurgency has posed the greatest threat to the nation’s corporate existence since independence, a situation which he said, had cost the Federal Government huge human and material resources to confont.
“Most reasonable Nigerians would have expected these governors to be deeply concerned and appreciative of the laudable effort of the Federal Government, which has brought reprieve from fear as well as comfort and solace not only to the people of the affected areas but also to the entire nation and international community.
“Surprisingly, they appear to be more interested in political maneuvering and grandstanding at the expense of the well-being of the people in their states and the stability of the nation at large”, the President’s aide stated.
Okupe however, commended the mode of intervention by five Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) governors and two other deputy governors who visited Amaeci.
He said: “We note with satisfaction and appreciation, the subsequent visit by five Governors and two deputy Governors, including Governor Fayemi, Governor Fashola, Governor Aregbesola, Governor Ajimobi and Governor Amosun, who demonstrated high and commendable sense of patriotism and genuine concern for the nation, with very conciliatory disposition and statesmanlike advice to Governor Amaechi towards finding a lasting solution to the political disagreements between the Governor and members of the State’s House of Assembly.
“We, therefore, admonish governors having serious issues with their party to take advantage of various channels within the party machinery to resolve it.
“Also, they may first of all try to show good example of their commitment to peace by working to put their own house in order through restoration of peace and consensus within the NGF.
“While we note their current political moves, they should be mindful that in all they do as political leaders, they ought to put the interest of the nation and our democracy first. This indeed, is the hallmark of true patriotism.”
The President’s man refuted reports that Ameachi’s problem arose from his election as the chairman of the Nigeia Governors’s Forum (NGF) and its implication for President Goodluck Jonathan’s 2015 re-election bid.
According to him, the choice of who becomes leader of the NGF clearly has no significant ramification on the wider political calculation of who becomes President of the country, as events in our recent history bear out.
“We want to assure Nigerians that the Presidency is not involved in the dispute in Rivers State and will not deliberately engage in any act of destabilisation of Rivers State or any state in the country neither is it interested for whatever reason, in destabilisation of the NGF.
” In consonance with the dictates and practice of true federalism and the supremacy of the rule of law, it will be advisable that whatever political entanglements may still exist in Rivers State should be resolved politically or by employing due process of law, in the interest of peaceful co-existence and overall well-being of its citizens,” Okupe said.