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What Fubara, Assembly members must do to end Rivers crisis –Magnus Abe


In this interview monitored on TVC Politics, former Senator representing Rivers South East Senatorial District, Magnus Abe, spoke on the emerging politics of Rivers State among other issues.

What do you make of President Bola Tinubu’s intervention in the issues between Governor Siminalayi Fubara and his predecessor, Nyesom Wike and how the resolution is being implemented?

The main thing was that the president was able to bring the parties to an agreement on what would have thrown them apart. First, the House has agreed that it would not impeach the governor and the governor in turn had agreed that he would recognise the House. I said it so clearly at that time that having agreed on this fundamental point, the issue becomes that there must be accommodation. They must be able to reach a point where the governor and the House would have some mutual understanding as to how they can operate together so that there would be peace. But if having agreed that you would not impeach me as the House and I continue to act on the contrary, there would be no way forward.

So, I think that if the governor is able to take his mind back to how he became the governor and the members of the House themselves understand their obligations to the state, the state would move forward. So, my appeal to everybody has always been the same and I would not change that, that they must be able to put Rivers State first and act in a manner that would put those brewing conflicts to shame. Any time there is a disagreement of this nature, all kinds of people gather round one party and begin to stoke the fire on something they know nothing about.

I don’t know what the fundamental cause of the dispute is. But I know that the governor himself has a clear idea of how he became the governor and the members of the House of Assembly also have a clear idea of their obligations to Rivers State. I think if the parties are able to reach an accommodation, they can work out a situation where there can be some measure of progress. In the absence of that, I’m afraid, I really don’t have any magic wand that can bring peace to the situation.

What would be your advice to the party in the interest of peace in Rivers State?

Let me also say this. I see what is happening in the state as more of an internal crisis between the PDP and has already led to a loss of several members of the party. And I think that it is more of the responsibility of the party to try to look for that solution than anybody else. For me and for us as members of the APC, once anybody comes to the party, it should be our place to reach out to them with open arms because they would only make the party stronger. So, for the sake of Rivers State, we must all pray and advocate peace. But that peace is not in the hands of anybody except in the hands of the actors themselves.

Clearly, if the advocacy of conflict entrepreneurs are put aside, the interest of the state is put in front and clear ideas and memories as to how we got here are entertained and resolved; I think there could be a way forward. But I really don’t have any magic wand that can bring peace to the situation. That’s why I have been reluctant to say more than I said the last time, which is that, that agreement that the president was able to broker and the governor has accepted it, if it is followed in the spirit, not just in the letter, I think the entire state would benefit and the governor himself would benefit because it would allow the opportunity to actually deliver dividends of democracy to the people of Rivers State. A continuous atmosphere of crisis and contention cannot help but put the state backward.  And I don ‘t think that is in anybody’s interest at this time. So, that will be my advice to the parties.

His Excellency should remember how he got to that position, the members of the Assembly should understand that their obligation is to create a pathway for the state to move forward. In either way, there can be an understanding they can work out to enable the state to move forward. But I don’t think the present atmosphere would be in the overall interest of the state in the long term.

The battle is for the soul of the state, based on your political experience, who should be regarded as the political leader of the state?

That question is subjective in so many ways. Fubara is the leader of the government of Rivers State because he is the executive governor of the state but when you say political leader, that is something that you have to work to earn. Let me try to put into a context. When you say Mallam Aminu Kano was the political leader of Kano, he was not the governor of Kano at the time.

That kind of political leadership where everybody submits to you is something that you have to earn. You work for it. It doesn’t come automatically within the head of the government. But is Fubara the governor of Rivers State, yes, he is. Nobody is disputing that. But to say he is the political leader of rivers state, that is a much wider context of leadership and it takes time to build that kind of confidence, followership, support and trust. Leadership is all about trust. And sometimes, how you navigate these difficult waters is what helps to bring you out as a leader, when everybody now begins to trust you and can rely on the direction that you provide.

But Fubara is the governor of Rivers State and it is his responsibility to work towards that leadership. But to say that he is the political leader of Rivers State, I think it takes time to get there. It takes efforts, it takes relationship, it takes knowledge of the different terrains and issues, it takes bringing people together. You earn trust; that’s how you get there. As a governor, you have the opportunity to build that but I don’t think it is automatically conferred by the office of being the governor.

You can be the political leader of your party, but to be the political leader of a state in that context, it takes a lot of efforts and there is still quite a lot to be done.

But there are those who hold that there are circumstances, forces threatening actual implementation of the agreement with the president.

Time passes and with time comes a wider vista. The reality of today is that Siminilayi Fubara is the governor of Rivers State. That’s the reality. Everybody in Rivers State knows that there were forces and powers that made that possible. Nobody can become governor by himself; people help you and support you and that always comes with some measure of expectations. So I believe that if those expectations are properly managed, there should not be a war that is unending. I know that the state is not the greatest beneficiary of this conflict. So, when I say that I’m not sitting in judgment over anybody or over anything, I’m just looking at the practical reality of the frame of mind that will enable people to think clearly in a manner that will achieve peace.

Those are the kind of words that can bring out the kind of minds that would make peace possible. But if you discard that and begin to go fishing round issues that would not help in bringing the kind of situation that is desirable, I don’t think that would help. So, for me, the practical reality on the ground is that these are issues that need to be managed. Sometimes, when this battle rages, by the time the parties realize that it serves no interest, it is often too late. So, I think that for the sake of the state and for the sake of the people of Rivers as a whole, a conflict of this kind at this time is not in the best interest of the state or in the best interest of the governor or even in the best interest of the House of assembly or the minister or any of us as stakeholders in Rivers State.

So, if there is a resolution, it will help everybody. That is why I said that you need to think back because without looking at those surrounding circumstances and to say the least, a lot of concessions and efforts have been made. It is good that the agreement reached with the president has taken off. I don’t say that if there is crisis on the way, we should now knock down the whole thing down and forget it. No, I think we should encourage them to continue on that path of peace and continue to work towards it within the spirit of what they have already agreed and signed.

You can’t make a new agreement at this time.

Credit: The Sun

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