The visit of Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, to Rivers State recently brought to the fore the bitter rivalry existing between the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state.
The visit did not engender the much-needed unity to a state that has been at war-with-itself. Every opportunity of public appearance of either the PDP or APC is used to run strong hate speeches against each other. The last week event was no different from previous occasions.
Governor Nyesom Wike had made ready a huge reception for the visiting Osinbajo, to which the professor of Law acknowledged; he topped it up with a town-hall meeting inside the imposing Government House Banquet Hall that was attended by a huge crowd of stakeholders. But barely a day later, the same Wike loudly accused the APC of misinforming the Acting President during their separate meetings elsewhere in Port Harcourt. He berated leaders of the opposition party in the state for allegedly misinforming Osinbajo under the guise of holding “a Niger Delta Stakeholders’ meeting.” The governor lauded Osinbajo for “setting the record straight when he proclaimed the APC slogan and explained that he was at the Tuesday event to meet his Rivers APC family.”
Addressing former Ndoni APC members led by Ofili Enebeli, after their defection to PDP in Port Harcourt last Tuesday, the governor declared that the successful official engagements of the Acting President to Rivers State sent shivers down the spine of political mischief makers, spreading false stories about the state, hence the resort to their usual desperate anti-Rivers politics.
It was said that over 1000 APC members from Ndoni of the Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni LGA defected to the PDP alongside their leaders.
“Satan will never sleep. Satan will always be at work. Satan always wants to turn light into darkness. When we held the stakeholders’ meeting, even the Minister of Transportation was there. But as you know, a chameleon will always be a chameleon. When you see agents of Lucifer you will know. Just because the Acting President slept in Rivers State and went round our projects, then confirmed that this man is Mr. Projects, they suddenly became troubled,” Wike said.
According to the governor, for persuading the Acting President to hold a separate meeting “to talk to APC members, is tantamount to “causing confusion,” although he said he had no problems with Mr. Acting President holding meeting with his party members.
But his angst is that the APC leaders renamed the objectives of the meeting to mean ‘Niger Delta Stakeholders’ meeting.’ “When they got there, they renamed the APC meeting as stakeholders’ meeting. Shame, shame. It was not Rivers Stakeholders’ meeting; and it couldn’t have been,” said Wike, stressing that “It was shocking that the Minister of Transportation and his associates questioned the award of ‘Apostle of Peace’ conferred on me by the Rivers Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), when they simply divided the CAN when they had the opportunity. I remain a man of peace, who will never divide families.”
On their own side, the APC led by Magnus Abe, senator representing Rivers South East Senatorial District, accused the Wike-led PDP of a deliberate scheme to exclude the party from the stakeholders’ meeting.
“There was a deliberate scheme by the state authorities, which prevented stakeholders who are APC members or sympathizers, as well as, those who shared dissenting views from the state authorities, in attending the Niger Delta Stakeholders’ Engagement Meeting with the Acting President.
Abe spoke at the APC organised ‘Niger Delta Stakeholders’ Engagement Meeting with the Acting President, at Aztec Arcum Event Centre, Port Harcourt, that “certain developments on the visit of the acting president indicated that unity and peace are far from being attained in the state.”
He said himself, a serving senator of the state, was not invited by the state government for the forum; adding that he was only invited by the Acting President’s aides at the airport; stressing that “the interest of Rivers people and the Niger Delta region in general, supersedes any personal or partisan interest. I caution those who are playing partisan politics with Rivers interest to stop it forthwith, as the state stands to gain if united.”
“People talked so much about unity at the forum; how we are all united and how what was happening in Government House is the united position of all Rivers people. But, Mr. President Sir, let me say that unity is not what we say or do when the acting president of Nigeria is seated and all the television stations are tuned in to what we are doing. Unity is what we do when the acting president is not there; when the cameras are not there. As a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I did not receive an invitation to yesterday’s meeting. It was at the airport your own staff tried to give us invitation. That is not an act that will promote unity,” said Abe.
For him, the present state government (under Wike’ PDP) had continued with divisive politics, even in the State House of Assembly, where it acquired vehicles for the legislators, and exempted the 6 APC lawmakers.
“Mr. President Sir, the Rivers State House of Assembly has 32 members. Out of the 32 members, the 6 members of the All Progressives Congress, who are members of the Assembly, are the only 6 people that take taxis to the Assembly. All other members drive cars that were bought by the Rivers State Government; and the governor tells us it is his personal contribution to the House; and these other 6 people are not entitled to it. In an atmosphere of that nature, it is clear that there can be no unity because it is not the words that we say in the front of television cameras that will bring unity. It is the actions that we take when nobody is watching.”
Abe said he frowned at the “politics of intolerance adopted by the state government, where the banners mounted by APC, welcoming the Acting President were pulled down by a PDP chieftain in the state. We put up our banners to welcome you to this state, a leading member of PDP had the boldness to go and pull them down. We have reported the matter to the police. We believe that action must be taken so that the impunity that existed before can no longer exist under this administration.”
Speaking further, he alleged that it was regrettable that the state government at the forum was critical of the Federal Government on the issue of the Ogoni clean-up, but failed to admit that the UNEP Report was submitted six years ago, to the past administration, which made no effort to remedy the situation.
“I am from Ogoni; yesterday, when they were talking about Ogoni, the governor started by blaming the Federal Government for the things that have not been done. But, he failed to acknowledge that the UNEP Report was submitted 6 years ago; and that in one year, this government has done more than any previous government,” Abe.
He commended Osinbajo for giving ‘other stakeholders’ the opportunity to engage with him, considering their exclusion from the previous forum in Government House.