PORT HARCOURT—PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan has expressed worry over the political crisis in Rivers State.
Urging those behind the development to sheathe their swords, the President, who spoke, yesterday, at a centenary symposium organised to mark the one hundredth anniversary of Port Harcourt, said he was deeply pained by the crisis, which he blamed on rivalry among politicians.
The President, who was represented by his Special Adviser on Documentation and Strategy, Mr. Oronto Douglas, charged leaders in the state to take steps to resolve the crisis.
He said: “Even as we celebrate, I have observed with pains that the struggle for political space in recent times is creating unnecessary tension in this city, which had served all of us well. I believe that this is not what Port Harcourt deserves.
We can all as fathers, mothers and leaders, do more to intervene and help douse the fire of partisan differences, in order to preserve the peaceful glory of Port Harcourt. This city will always be home to me and I believe, for millions of others as well.”
He charged the political class to sheath their swords, adding that they should pursue the path of peace for the common good of the state.
“Port Harcourt is the commercial nerve centre of the South-South. And we all should continue to move on the path of peace, unity and stability. The city of Port Harcourt helped to shape my life and by the grace of God to be the President of Nigeria.
“Port Harcourt is a special city. It is difficult to talk about Port Harcourt and not have a sentimental attachment to the city. Port Harcourt, whether in terms of palm oil or crude oil, is an oil city. Port Harcourt fills me with nostalgia. Port Harcourt is a city of hope.
“The future of Port Harcourt is the creative population of its youths, who learn and work hard. We must all continue to nurture Port Harcourt City as a home to an amiable, lively and resourceful indigenes and residents. Port Harcourt City is a city where all visitors share a feeling of nostalgia,” Jonathan added.
Earlier, the chairman of the event and former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon (rtd), called for what he dubbed a centenary handshake between President Jonathan and Governor Amaechi.
According to Gowon, the foregoing was the first step towards settling whatever differences existed between the two.
After the handshake and warm embrace between Governor Amaechi and Mr Douglas, who represented the President, General Gowon assured that he was going to get President Jonathan to personally return the warm handshake from Governor Amaechi, probably in Abuja.
He said: “I call this the centenary handshake. It was to be between the President and the governor and not with a representative. The handshake will be repeated in Abuja. I call it the centenary handshake,” he said.
Gowon, who said he was deeply disturbed by the crisis in the state, appealed for peace, adding that efforts should be made at all times to “preserve the sanctity of the state and “enable it serve as a beacon of hope.”