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Rivers State: Calls to Avoid State of Emergency Amid Political Crisis

Rivers State: Calls to Avoid State of Emergency Amid Political Crisis

The escalating political crisis in Rivers State has prompted discussions about a potential state of emergency, a move some argue could be disastrous for both the state and the nation. Chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors, David Ndii, addressed this contentious issue on Saturday, June 22, amidst the ongoing turbulence.

The suggestion for a state of emergency was notably put forward by elements within the All-Progressives Congress (APC), including Tony Okocha, a self-proclaimed Chairman of the Caretaker Committee of a faction of the Rivers State chapter. However, Ndii and others have warned against such a drastic measure, suggesting it would be a perilous path for President Bola Tinubu’s administration.

The crisis reached a new peak when Governor Siminalayi Fubara took decisive actions to assert control. These moves included the appointment of Caretaker Committees to replace local government chairmen whose terms had expired. This decision was met with significant opposition and turmoil, culminating in irate youths occupying local government secretariats to prevent the former chairmen from overstaying their terms. The unrest led to several casualties, including the death of a police officer.

The police responded by cordoning off all 23 local government headquarters to prevent further violence. Governor Fubara, in a statewide broadcast, declared the chairmen’s terms expired and mandated forensic audits of their tenures, advising the Caretaker Committees to begin their duties even if it meant using alternative locations due to anticipated resistance.

Calls for a state of emergency are viewed by many as a reaction to the rapid and chaotic developments in the political landscape of Rivers State. The power struggle between former Governor Nyesom Wike and the incumbent Fubara has exacerbated the situation. Wike, now serving as the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) despite his allegiance to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), is seen as a central figure in the ongoing crisis. His influence, combined with the ambitions of APC leaders to secure control over Rivers State in future elections, adds layers of complexity to the conflict.

Critics argue that a state of emergency would only serve to deepen the crisis and place the federal government in a precarious position. They emphasize the already significant challenges facing President Tinubu’s administration, including severe food shortages and social unrest. Adding the management of an emergency in the economically vital Rivers State could prove overwhelming.

The underlying issues also reflect poorly on the political strategy involving Wike. His influence in Rivers State has waned due to various scandals and protests from disgruntled associates and public officials. These controversies have diminished his credibility and effectiveness as a political operative in the state.

The broader implications of a state of emergency are profound. Rivers State’s strategic importance to Nigeria cannot be overstated, and destabilizing it could have far-reaching consequences. It is imperative for the Tinubu administration to carefully consider the ramifications of such a move, balancing immediate political interests with long-term national stability.

In conclusion, the political crisis in Rivers State demands thoughtful and measured responses. While calls for a state of emergency may appear as a quick fix, they risk exacerbating the situation. President Tinubu’s administration must navigate these troubled waters with caution to ensure the stability and prosperity of both Rivers State and Nigeria as a whole.

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