Rivers State Governor, Siminalayi Fubara, on Monday defended the peace deal initiated by President Bola Tinubu between him and his predecessor, Nyesom Wike, over the crisis in the state.
Fubara, in a broadcast on Monday, said the resolution brokered by the President to resolve the crisis was not a death sentence, adding that it would ensure lasting peace in the state.
He expressed his commitment to the implementation of the peace agreement in such a way that would restore political stability in the state.
But the Peoples Democratic Party National Working Committee in its reaction warned the governor against implementing the agreement he signed without the input of the party (PDP) on whose platform he was elected.
The PUNCH reports that the crisis rocking the state took a new turn on December 11, 2023, when 27 members of the state House of Assembly defected from the PDP to the All Progressives Congress.
At the instance of Tinubu, Fubara on December 18 signed an eight-point peace agreement with Wike, who is the Federal Capital Territory, in a move to end the political crisis in the state.
However, the PDP officially joined a suit seeking to declare vacant the seats of the lawmakers who defected from the party to the APC.
The party vowed to vigorously pursue the case despite Tinubu’s peace meeting with Rivers State political stakeholders.
But speaking on the peace pact during his Christmas Day broadcast, the governor pledged to implement the agreement without compromising the interest of the people of the state.
Fubara said, “By this singular effort, our dear President has demonstrated that he loves Rivers State and cherishes nothing short of a reign of perfect peace in our State with his presidential peace proclamation on the 18th of December 2023. Mr President’s Peace Proclamation has naturally elicited mixed reactions from our people and across the country.
“As a principal participant in the entire saga, I have taken some time to study the terms therein and have come to the conclusion that the peace pact is not as bad as it may be portrayed by those genuinely opposed to it.
“It is certainly not a death sentence. I reaffirm my acceptance and my commitment to implementing both the letter and spirit of the declaration in such a way and manner that will restore political stability to our dear state without compromising the collective interest of our people and our cherished and shared democratic values.”
The governor also confirmed that he had released the allowances of the lawmakers and that the defected lawmakers had withdrawn their ‘purported’ impeachment.
He stated, “Both parties have demonstrated some goodwill in the implementation process with the withdrawal of the purported impeachment notice on their part and the release of hitherto withheld allowances of the members of the State House of Assembly by the Government.
“I have said before there is no price too much to pay for peace and with the realization that the worst peace is better than the best war.
“We will strive to make peace with all segments and interest groups without surrendering our freedom nor jeopardizing the interest and well-being of the good people of Rivers State who graciously entrusted us with their cherished mandate.”
He added he would toe a path that would best advance and protect the collective interest of the state and its people.
The governor said, “Let me, therefore, crave your kind understanding and call on you to have confidence in the process we are embarking upon to find lasting peace in our state as we are confident that we can achieve stability and progress without endangering the collective interest of our people.”
He commended President Tinubu for his intervention that has brought some lasting peace to the political crisis in the state, stating that the effort showed that Tinubu loves Rivers State.
He pledged that 2024 would witness a speedy transformation of the state with the completion of several projects and programmes, such as the sections of the Port Harcourt Ring Road, the Andoni section of the Unity Road, the Ahoada-Omoku Road, the Emohua-Degema Road and the commencement of many other laudable projects, both in infrastructure and human capital development, as outlined in our 2024 budget.
But the PDP NWC in its reaction faulted Fubara’s plan to implement Tinubu’s peace deal.
The party Deputy National Youth Leader, Timothy Osadolor, in an interview with The PUNCH, said the peace pact could not be implemented.
He said “ First and foremost the governor is an adult and he was the Rivers State governorship candidate of the PDP in the last election, now the governor of the state. But the issues at stake that President Bola Tinubu bothered himself with are bigger than him. They are also bigger than the governor because they are constitutional issues.
“ The question of the seats of the defected lawmakers being vacant is a clear constitutional issue, not at the wishes and discretion of President Tinubu or any other person. It is a clear constitutional matter.
“ Also, the PDP constitutionally owns the votes, so I don’t see how Governor Fubara will tell the PDP that because he met with the President in Aso Rock, the PDP should not take charge of its votes. As we speak the PDP is in court, the votes belong to the PDP, not to Fubara or the Villa.
“The one within the governor’s purview is to pay salaries and allowances of the lawmakers to the date their seats become vacant. I am sure the governor knows his limit.”
On his part, a former National Secretary of the PDP, Senator Ibrahim Tsauri cautioned that the governor would be committing a political blunder to implement a peace pact against his party’s stand.
The member of the PDP National Executive Council noted said the implementation would be morally right, but politically incorrect.
Tsauri stated “As a complete gentleman, he went there and signed the agreement, even though without the consent of the party. So implementation will be made by him and not by the party. But certainly, it won’t be in the interest of the party.
“ The PDP will not allow itself to be dragged into that trap, but he failed to consult the party. If he implements it, he is in trouble, if he doesn’t, is in trouble. Implementation of the agreement is like jumping into awaiting problems. And if he fails to implement it, he is going to enter the Federal government’s trouble. So, either way, is trouble for him.”
Also, a former PDP National Chairman, Uche Secondus, in a statement on Monday by his Media Adviser, Ike Abonyi, in Abuja, on Sunday, urged the political class to be wary of actions that might constitute a threat to our nascent democracy and national security.
Abonyi quoted his principal as saying, “With particular reference to the crisis in Rivers State, the former PDP boss contended that the intervention of President Bola Tinubu must be by the spirit and letter of our constitution for it to be implementable.
“There are creative ways a political conflict can be resolved if and when the President acts like a statesman and the President of all Nigerians.
“Mr President would have violated this sacred role if he acted in such a way and manner that gave an unconstitutional advantage to his political party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, and an individual political godfather.
“This is the scenario the unenforceable agreement reached at the instance of Mr President purports to foster.”
He urged well-meaning Nigerians to call on the President and other stakeholders to act in the interest of peace in Rivers State and “ensure genuine, unbiased, generally acceptable, and enforceable reconciliation of the crisis.”