Show Of Shame In Rivers State

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This editorial, with the above caption, was first used on December 15, 2023. In view of recent developments, we feel obliged to draw the nation’s attention to that oil-rich state that has been turned into a minefield of intrigues and subterfuge. With the court judgment stripping the decamped members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of their legitimacy as lawmakers and the threat by Governor Siminalayi Fubara to probe his predecessors, what happens to governance? Caution seems to have lost its meaning in that state especially as political scavengers mill around for the carcass.

Nigeria is, indeed, a land of the unexpected. With the rascality that is so common among the ruling elite, the citizens have come to take anything that happens in the political space as part of the game of politics where the rules are unimaginably elastic and shame is a scarce commodity.
When the crisis brewing in the nation’s treasure trove- Rivers state, came into the open, most political analysts were ready to dismiss it as one involving a recalcitrant godson and his unforgiving godfather. It led to a sharp division in the House of Assembly with two Speakers emerging and attempts made to impeach the Governor, Siminalayi Fubara.

Eventually, 27 of the members of that legislature, all of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, cross-carpeted to the All Progressives Congress, APC. Before then, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu attempted to mediate in the unfortunate development that was, and is still, considered too early in the new dispensation. That didn’t seem to have helped much.

Matters came to a head when the House of Assembly was reported to have been razed. Observers began to demand explanation as to how the fight got to that point. Now, to compound issues, the government has moved in 10 bulldozers to completely level it down.
The reason proffered by the government for this bizarre development was that due to the fire that gutted the complex and destroyed property worth millions of naira, the facility was rendered unfit for legislation. It further went on to say that it has already provided an alternative place for the lawmakers to carry on their affairs pending the rebuilding of the complex.

Meanwhile, Governor Fubara presented the N800 billion 2024 budget estimates to his faction of the legislature at the Government House the same moment the demolition exercise was carried out.
We are worried at the prospect of the convergence of the legislature and the executive and its implication for the fabled checks and balances that drive the democratic process.

Also, we are concerned that the legislature being the bulwark of political activities in any true democracy, what is happening in Rivers state and the dimension the state government under Fubara is taking it, leaves much to be desired. That arm of government is the seat of the true representatives of the people where laws are made that drive good governance.

We recall that in the United States of America, from where Nigeria borrowed its version of presidential system of democracy, a former president, Donald Trump, is fighting to save what is left of his political career because his supporters, dared to, as alleged, desecrate the Capitol that houses the Congress, the seat of lawmakers.

In the case of Nigeria, no one cares. It happened in Imo state. The governor, not Hope Uzodimma, to stave off unfavourable activities by the House, removed the roof on the pretext that he wanted to renovate the place.

This crisis, as perceived by discerning minds, also casts a stark light on the broader political landscape in Nigeria, a country with a history punctuated by political instability and conflict. Power struggles often steer the nation towards violence and disruption, reminding the nation of the fragility of its democracy and the dire need for robust institutions and effective governance.
Sadly, as usual, in our opinion, the people are divided along socio-ethnic lines as if that is the real issue.

The people must refuse to be fooled. This is about power play and who decides on who gets the bigger share of the cake. But it is important to remind the scheming politicians that the people gave them a mandate, akin to a sacred trust. We urge them not to betray it.

It is from that perspective that we are constrained to imagine the situation in that state with regard to the welfare of the people who may have started feeling that they wasted their time and energy bothering to participate in the election itself that produced these characters who have marginal interest, if at all, in their wellbeing.

Soon, the news will be out. A humongous amount will be announced as the sum to be spent on rebuilding the house with all the sleaze embedded in it. This is the people’s money that would have been channeled to better use directed at improving the lot of the down-trodden.

It is pertinent to remind the governor that all eyes are on him to deliver on his electoral promises. Dividing the membership of the House, allegedly instigating the fire incident and, now, completely bulldozing it, will not be sufficient excuses for failure to live up to the expectation of the people bugged down, already, by other socio-economic factors that are becoming unbearable.

Governor Fubara, and him alone, will take the flak for failure when the day of judgement comes and it will surely come. He is, then, better advised to quit these shenanigans and face the duty of governance. Nothing else will suffice.

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