PRESS CONFERENCE HELD ON THE IMPOSED SETTLEMENT OF PRESIDENT BOLA AHMED TINUBU ON THE RIVERS STATE CRISIS
By Chief (Dr.) E. K. Clark (19th December, 2023)
Firstly, I wish to commend President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for heeding the various calls, including our own, to mediate in the on-going crisis rocking Rivers State by calling Barr. Nyesome Wike to order so as to restore peace and tranquillity in the State and avert any problem similar to that which occurred in 2013, when Barr. Wike was Minister of State Education.
However, the terms of settlement as contained in the Communique issued at the end of the reconciliatory meeting is what is baffling, appalling and unacceptable to the people, especially, the Ijaw ethnic nationality. From the terms of settlement, it is obvious that President Tinubu sees his role as a mediator, to once again, show gratitude to the current Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), for “delivering” Rivers State to him during the past Presidential elections, having first of gratified him by making him the Minister of FCT.
The composition of the attendees of the meeting was one sided in favour of Nyesome Wike, the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), because while Martins Amaewhule, a former Speaker, (because he has automatically lost his seat the very moment he decamped to another political party), was present at the meeting, it would have only been equitable and expedient, for Edison Ehie, the Speaker as affirmed by constitutional provisions and by the granting of the court, to be in the meeting, if there were sincerity of purpose.
The 8 resolutions reached, are the most unconstitutional, absurd and obnoxious resolutions at settling feuding parties that I have ever witnessed in my life. As a matter of fact, some medias captured it very well when they described it as Directives. And for the fact that such thing was done at the Villa, the seat of the Federal Government of Nigeria, is sacrilegious, because any place housing or is a custodian of symbol of authority, ought to be sacred.
It is obvious that Governor Siminialayi Fubara was ambushed and intimidated into submission. President Tinubu should know that with all the powers he possesses, he cannot override the Constitution. From all that transpired at the meeting, the laws of the land have not been obeyed. President Tinubu simply sat over a meeting where the Constitution, which is the fulcrum of his office as President and which he swore to uphold and abide by, was truncated and desecrated.
27 or so members (because the figure is not certain), of the Rivers State House of Assembly left the political party on which platform they were elected. The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is very clear on that. Section 109 is quite clear on that and it says:
A member of a House of Assembly shall vacate his seat in the House if
Being a person whose election to the House of Assembly was sponsored by a political party, he becomes a member of another political party before the expiration of the period for which that House was elected:
Provided that his membership of the later political party is not as a result of a division in the political party of which he was previously a member or of a merger of two or more political parties or factions by one of which he was previously sponsored;
The Speaker of the House of Assembly shall give effect to subsection (1) of this section, so however that the Speaker or a member shall first present evidence satisfactory to the House that any of the provisions of that subsection has become applicable in respect of the member.
Nyesom Wike is quite abreast of these constitutional provisions. He shouted his voice hoarse calling for the removal of persons like David Umahi as Governor of Ebonyi State, Ben Ayade as Governor of Cross River State and Bello Matawalle as Governor of Zamafara State, when they decamped from the PDP on which platform they were elected into office, to the APC, citing the above constitutional provisions. What has changed?
A Court of competent jurisdiction has pronounced Edison Ehie as the Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly. That Ruling has not been vacated, and based on that he exercised the duties conferred on him by Section 109 (2) as quoted above, when the 27 or so members openly defected to APC, waving the flags of the party and singing President Tinubu’s campaign songs, from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP). As at today and going by the Constitution, the Rivers State House of Assembly has four members who are recognised by the laws of the land Therefore, on what premise is Mr. President saying that the 27 decamped members should go back to the House? Under what political party, the PDP or the APC. The directives of Mr. President is absurd and cannot hold water. Mr. President should be aware that Siminialayi Fubara, today, is the elected Governor of Rivers State in the same manner Bola Ahmed Tinubu is the elected President of the country. And as a Governor, Mr. Fubara possesses all the powers as conferred on him by the Constitution.
2. Re-Submission of the names of Commissioners who have resigned their Appointments:
Another “directive” of Mr. President that the names of the Commissioners who were nominated by Nyesom Wike and who resigned on their own volition, and who have lost their trust in Governor Fubara, should be represented to the Rivers State House of Assembly for clearance to become Commissioners again, is ridiculous. Who is nominating them to become Commissioners again? Is it Mr. President? Was Mr. President thinking that he was mediating in a matter between Nyesom Wike and employees in Nyesom Wike’s private company? Is it what Nyesom Wike means when he talks about “structure”, referring to Rivers State as his personal holdings or enterprise?
3. Re-Presentation of a Budget already signed and passed into Law:
Another unthinkable “directive” of Mr. President is that a Budget which has been passed into Law, should be represented. It is absolutely ridiculous and unconstitutional.
By President Tinubu’s actions and directives, he has overruled the Constitution of the country; he has shaken the foundation of the country’s democracy. People lost their lives fighting for democracy in this country. Today, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has made of no effect the blood of the freedom fighters shed to salvage this country. He has thrown the country’s democracy fifty years backwards; this is unacceptable. Rather than building a strong system and society, we are building strong, invidious characters, with our national patrimony through corruption and avarice.
By the actions of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, he has really shown his dislike and disdain for the Ijaw people. and confirms his hatred for them. And as the leader of the Ijaws, we will resist it.
Nyesom Wike is not an emperor. For the eight years he was in power as Governor of the Rivers State, he ruled with an iron fist. As Governor, he will not accept such treatment from anyone, as he is spear heading to be meted out to the current Governor of the State, Siminialayi Fubara. Barr. Wike destroyed his opponent’s houses and even threatened to kill them as cried out by Senator Lee Maiba from Ogoni, and Dr. Abiye Sekibo from Okrika
It is still fresh in our memory, how Nyesom Wike, as Minister of State, Education, used federal might to fight the then Governor of Rivers State, Chibuike Amaechi that almost led to the grinding to a halt of governance in Rivers State when the Judiciary was closed down and the House of Assembly was shut down by the then Governor, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi. President Jonathan did not interfere in his action because if he did, he will definitely be breaching Section 5(2) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal republic of Nigeria, which President Tinubu has deliberately breached, despite his oath of office to uphold and promote the Constitution. Nyesom Wike is Minister now, and again, he is using the federal government to truncate the wishes of the people of Rivers State. The rule of law in the country is completely truncated by President Tinubu. While it will be noted that presently, the National Assembly is discussing on the Bill of Local Government Autonomy, President Bola Tinubu is directing Governor Fubara to put into effect, a Bill passed by people who are no longer law makers.
4. The members of the House of Assembly choosing where they will sit to carry out their legislative duties:
It is the duty of the executive to provide legislative accommodation for the Houses of Assembly including the National Assembly, and not the members of the House of Assembly to choose a place to meet. It is in this vein that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in presenting his Budget to the National Assembly, recognised the FCT Minister, Nyesome Nwike, as the land lord, because he is of the executive arm of government. It is the FCT that owns the National Assembly complex and maintains it. It is, therefore, ridiculous and unconstitutional for President Tinubu to direct, in his settlement, that the members of the Rivers State House of Assembly, should meet wherever they want to meet.
We will resist such draconic, arbitrary and unconstitutional action by Mr. President and his customer Nyesom Wike. We will go to court to challenge this so-called one-sided and oppressive action of Mr. President.
On his part, the Executive Governor of Rivers State, Siminialayi Fubara, who has the mandate of the people of Rivers State to govern them for the next four years, has shown feebleness of character, by agreeing and appending his signature on a document containing such absurdity. He has betrayed the people who elected him as Governor and those who stood behind him in this cause. Mr Fubara has shown naivety in his actions; by signing that document, he has signed his death warrant, believing that the President will show him some sort of favours. Mr. Fubara’s mandate is Constitutional and so, he cannot surrender it in the face of intimidation from any quarter. And it is quite unfortunate. Did he go to that meeting to speak and justify his actions, or he went there to take directives from an equally elected President. As Governor of a State and as the Chief Security Officer of the State, he has shown tremendous lack of courage and competence. It will be in his best interest to resign if he cannot govern the State as constitutionally provided, or he may as well decamp and join APC, and be taking directives from Nyesom Wike and President Tinubu on the governance and leadership of the State.
Like I stated earlier, these obnoxious directives will not stand. The people of Rivers State, particularly, the Ijaws, who are in the majority and who have about 11 (eleven) Local Government Areas, out of the 23 Local Government Areas in the State, will resist it. Because by it, President Tinubu has delivered Rivers State to Nyesom Wike as a reward for “delivering” the State to him. I call on the people of Rivers State and indeed all well-meaning Nigerians, to stand up against it, using all Constitutional and legal means, because we do not know the next State in the country that will be affected or pawned to another political customer by President Tinubu, as political patronage. It is absurd, it is draconian. It is transactional. It is a rape of our democracy. The people of Rivers State should remember that it was the same lopsided solution/directive that President Tinubu gave to the people of Ondo State but they resisted and rejected it. Today, the needful has been done in that State.
Bola Ahmed Tinubu would not allow himself to be treated the way he oversaw Mr. Fubara being treated. We all can recall what happened when he governed Lagos State for eight years, and when he successfully resisted President Olusegun Obasanjo’s dictatorial tendencies when he tried to prevent him from creating more Local Government Areas in Lagos State. Nigerians hailed Bola Ahmed Tinubu for standing up to the occasion. That made him to be the undisputed leader of Lagos State. But today, he is overseeing such draconian and authoritarian action as President of the country, giving directives to a Governor to take action on things obviously not in tandem with the nation’s Constitution.
I, Senator Edwin Kiagbodo Clark, as leader of the Ijaw nation, and as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Ijaw National Congress (INC), decided to hold this emergency Press Conference with the full authority of my people. We are prepared to face any consequences that may result in the political crisis in Rivers State. We will resist any attempt subtle, subterranean, convert, overt, to make an elected Ijaw son, Siminialayi Fubara, the Governor of Rivers State, a servant, a stooge to Nyesome Wike, who had boasted that any attempt by the Governor to touch his so-called ‘Wike’s structure’, with the connivance and support of President Bola Tinubu, will be resisted by us.
Like I said, we will go to go court to resist this oppressive action using all available constitutional and legal means. It is on this note I wish to appeal to the youths who are aggrieved, to remain calm, as we will use legal means to dethrone this hydra headed monster, called oppression.
Enough is Enough