Rivers Crises: No end in sight as Mpigi sidelines Fubara for Wike

Sharon EboesomiApril 22, 202410 min

The unending feud in Rivers State seems to be blowing out of proportion with no solution in sight.

Rivers Crises: A political acrimony

There is no doubt that the political dogfight in Rivers State that has subsequently divided the state is gradually going haywire as Senator Barinada Mpigi (PDP, Rivers South East) joins in the fight.

OrderPaper recalls there has been a political dispute between Governor Siminalayi Fubara and Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, Nyesom Wike, over the PDP’s internal affairs for some time. As a result, 60 members of the House of Representatives demanded that the Acting National Chairman Umar Iliya Damagum resign immediately because he is an ally of Wike.

The opposition lawmakers accused Wike and other party members of romancing with the All Progressives Congress (APC), further exacerbating the turmoil that has rocked the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State. 

In addition, actions to impeach Governor Fubara from office were prompted by the political squabbles in Rivers State. These actions included the dismantling of the State House of Assembly complex, the decamping of 27 PDP legislators to the APC, and the subsequent declaration of their seats vacant. For the two bigwigs to get along again, President Bola Tinubu had to step in and intervene in the Rivers problems.

READ ALSO: Wike, Fubara fight extends to House of Reps as PDP crisis deepens

Meanwhile, in December 2023, Senator Mpigi gave some reasons as to why Rivers South-East leaders were unhappy with Fubara, alleging that he (Fubara) had ignored some of the stakeholders since after his victory in the election.

He said, “Anybody that sows must also reap. We have all sown. So it is not Wike now, because I want things to be very clear.

“We, the leaders of this state, are not satisfied with what the governor is doing currently. So he should not say Wike. I’m representing the governor as a senator, am I aware of what is happening? No, I’m not aware. So I’m not happy. If you are saying Wike is having a problem, no.

“Since we elected the governor till today, a governor that doesn’t take phone calls, a governor that will not call his people. The governor should be able to call us if there is any problem on the ground.

“I think there should be a consultative meeting. We met in Senator Olaka Wogu’s house before the election. Since after the election, has the governor called us? He has not called us.

“We are not slaves and we can’t be slaves. Remove Wike from the equation, we from the Rivers South-East senatorial district, where the governor comes from, we are not happy with the output of what the governor is doing.”

In a recent development, Governor Fubara condemned the ongoing politics of bitterness in the State, alleging his Senator, Mpigi attempted to prevent members of the Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Turnaround Maintenance of Nigerian Refineries from paying him the customary courtesy visit.

Mpigi was evidently in Rivers along with other members of the Senate Ad Hoc Committee, which was led by Senator Ifeanyi Uba (APC, Anambra South), to check out the Port Harcourt Refinery’s ongoing turnaround maintenance. However, Mpigi was noticeably absent on Friday night when the committee paid Fubara a courtesy call at Government House.

While addressing the senators, Fubara said: “I am aware that this is not the actual number of members of this committee. You are more than this. I am also aware that the senator representing, unfortunately, my senatorial district didn’t want you to come here. 

“But because you are men of integrity: the real ones, who have integrity; you decided to come and do what is right. God will bless you. 

“What you are doing is the right thing. Politics is a business of interest. Your worst enemy today can become your best friend tomorrow. It’s a business of interest. But the interest of the people should come first.

“Unfortunately, some people think it is something that has to do with life or death. And that is one mistake everybody makes when you take this business outside of the normal principles and rules.”

“Our government has no business with politics of bitterness because we have the interest of our people at heart. We take their well-being as our priority because that is why they gave us the mandate to govern them. So, their interest, which is the interest of the State, comes first in our scheme of things.”

According to him, while anybody disrespecting a man in a position of authority because of his age or status may succeed in the short term, the agony from such actions will eventually catch up with them. 

“We might be a state, as being presented that we have issues. But we don’t have any issues. Our eyes are on the ball to deliver for our people. Even in the face of this deliberate distraction, we will not fail our people because, in the end, it is the impact we make on our people that counts.”

The Governor, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary (CPS), Nelson Chukwudi, encouraged the senators to feel free to engage with the administration for the mutual benefit of all stakeholders, pointing out the state’s hospitality and peaceful character.

He reaffirmed that his administration was cooperating with the policies of the Federal Government, headed by President Bola Tinubu, to improve people’s lives through the Renewed Hope Agenda.

According to Fubara, the Woji-Aleto-Alesa-Refinery Road, which is currently 70% finished, is being built by his government as a bypass to make it easier to access the Port Harcourt Refinery and to lessen traffic on the East-West Road.

He said: “We, as a State, before the commencement of the rehabilitation job, had a contribution that we wanted to make to support the work at the refinery because of the deplorable state of the East-West Road. 

“There is a road, Woji-Aleto-Alesa Refinery Road. We are almost completing the bridge. It’s about 70 percent completed. We are doing almost the last part of it. With that road, it will help to decongest and reduce the trouble commuters face along the East-West Road while providing easy access, straight to the refinery. 

“So, you can see that our Government is working in line, supporting the Administration of President Bola Tinubu to give our people hope and assurance that things will soon get better. 

“And it is this role that you are playing, genuinely. And with the support of this State Government, that is the only way we can achieve the purpose of governance for everyone. 

“The purpose of governance is to make life easy for the people. I am happy that your investigation will result in making life easy for the people.

“When the refinery restarts production, there will be petroleum products available locally. The issue of importation will go down. We will now make an impact, the economy will grow, and internally generated revenue will increase. More projects will be executed in this State. You can see that it’s a chain effect thing. So, I want to thank you,” he added.

Speaking, Senator Uba, stated that the committee was at the Warri Refinery on Thursday for the same purpose saying the reason they travelled to Port Harcourt was to get an insight into what had been done and determine how ready the old and new refineries were for business to return to operation.

He said: “We will recall that the old Port Harcourt Refinery was the first refinery in Nigeria built in 1965, and the second one was built in 1989. And for so long now, they have not been in active operations. 

“And with the Renewed Hope Agenda of Mr. President, and also the desire of Nigerians and our determination; the Senate led by our President, Senator Godswill Akpabio, we had a resolution in the Senate to look at it and make sure that Nigeria’s refineries are working so that we shouldn’t be depending on importation of petroleum products.

“And that is one of the reasons that we are here, as well to look into the contract and investigate the level of compliance vis-a-vis the contract specifications.

“We are pleased to note that what we saw is most encouraging as the refinery upgrade and full rehabilitation is almost at 90 per cent completed. We are confident that the refinery will soon be operational before the end of the year.”

Sharon Eboesomi

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